Press Releases

Clergy for Justice Announces Gathering to Support Medicaid Expansion

Press release from Clergy for Justice; August 29, 2013:

Hundreds of Ministers from Across Tennessee Descend Upon Nashville to Call on State, Federal Government to Put Politics Aside, Come Together to Adopt the Tennessee Plan to Reform, Retool and Expand Medicaid 

Candlelight Vigils to be Held Across State to Pray for Gov. Haslam and other Officials to Find Compromise that would Provide Health Insurance for Thousands

Thursday, August 28, 2013 – Hundreds of ministers from across Tennessee, representing virtually every faith and denomination, descended upon Nashville today as part of Clergy for Justice’s “Faith Statewide Day of Action” in support of reforming, retooling and expanding Medicaid.

The event, led by Rev. Dr. Marvin Mercer of Mount Olive Baptist Church, brought together hundreds of ministers from every corner of the state to call on Governor Haslam, Lt Governor Ramsey, members of the State Legislature and federal officials in Washington to answer God’s call and find a compromise that would reform, retool and expand Medicaid in the state of Tennessee.

“Fifty years ago yesterday, men and women gathered together in Washington to ask their elected leaders – not as politicians, but as men and women of faith – how they could turn a blind eye to the injustice experienced at that time,” said Rev. Mercer. “ Today, we gather here in Nashville, and in Memphis, and in Knoxville, and in Chattanooga, and in Jackson to ask our Governor and all elected leaders to answer the following question not as politicians but as men and women of faith – How can you turn a blind eye to suffering when you have the power to help and to heal?”

“If the $10.5 billion dollars were for roads instead of health care, we would be building new roads today, no questions asked. Instead,” said Mercer, “We traveled those roads to gather here today, in Nashville, from all across the state, to pray for and encourage Gov. Haslam, our Lt. Governor, State Legislature and Washington to make the right decision to ensure that we can provide health care for all Tennesseans.”

Rev. Roderick Ware, of New Monumental Baptist Church in Chattanooga, said that “If the legislature will do as the clergy have done and pledge support and vote for the Governor’s Tennessee Plan then we will have the necessary funds to provide health care for up to 175,000 Tennesseans and create thousands of jobs. We should do more than just look to heaven for a miracle and instead open our hearts to use the resources provided for us.”

“We urge Gov. Haslam, and all elected leaders both here in Tennessee and in Washington, to put politics aside and to agree to a compromise that would allow us to reform, retool and expand Medicaid in our state,” said Rev. Matthew Kelly of Arlington United Methodist Church in Nashville. “Doing so enables us to faithfully answer the Biblical call to care for those whom our world considers ‘the least of these’.”

“If we pass on this opportunity, hospitals will close and access to health care in areas that are already underserved will become even scarcer,” said Rev. Kelly. “Doing nothing will not only be missing an opportunity to do justice, but actively allowing injustice and suffering to take place. As followers of Jesus, we cannot remain silent at this critical moment.”

“Providing health care saves people’s lives, which is what our faith traditions are all about.” said Rev. Ralph White who made the trip from Bloomfield Baptist Church in Memphis. “It is time that our Governor, Lt. Governor, Legislators and federal officials in Washington recognize what we already know: that this is a moral issue, not a political one.”

“Our Faith compels us to compassion. Uninsured people in Tennessee need this funding,” said Rev. P. Morgan Gordy of Christ Lutheran Church in Nashville. “Our rural hospitals need this funding. Instead of letting our tax dollars go to another state, which is what will happen if we do not accept them, we need keep our tax dollars here to help provide health insurance for up to 175,000 people in our state who today go without healthcare, not to mention the thousands of jobs that this funding would create.”

Following the event at the State Capitol, hundreds planned to gather Candlelight Vigils all across the state in Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, Chattanooga and Knoxville.


Temple Baptist
Christ Lutheran Church
Seventh-day Adventist
Antioch United Methodist
Arlington United Methodist
Mt. Olive Church Assemblies of God
Bellevue UMC
Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church
Holy Trinity Lutheran
Tennessee Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention
Vanderbilt Divinity School
Southminster Presbyterian
Wesley Foundation
New Monumental Baptist Church
Bloomfield Baptist Church
Wesley Foundation at the University of TN, Knoxville
The United Methodist Church; former Chaplain at Harvard University
Mt. Olive Baptist Church
Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
New Hope Baptist Church


United Methodist Church
Missionary Baptist
Assembly of God
Seventh Day Adventist
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Church of Christ
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Church of God
Disciples of Christ
Free Will Baptist
Catholic Church

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