Faith-Based Coalition Requests Legislators Protect Maternal and Child Health and International Family Planning Funding in 2015 Budget

Sen. Bill Frist, Amy Grant, Kimberly Williams Paisley, Jennifer Nettles and Dr. Tony Campolo among signatories on letter sent to Congress

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 8, 2014 – As Congress is expected this week to finalize and vote on its funding bills for Fiscal Year 2015, which includes the funding for global maternal and child health programs, the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers & Children Worldwide is seizing this moment to encourage the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to protect these vital investments.

The Coalition, which was formed by the faith-based medical nonprofit Hope Through Healing Hands, recently invited dozens of leaders across the country to “stand up and advocate this holiday season for the lives of mothers, newborns and children around the world,” just as they do for those in need in their own communities and congregations this time of year.

The letter to Congress states:

Our coalition is comprised of advocates who are speaking out about the struggles that mothers and children in developing nations face every day. When women and girls lack access to the education and resources they need to create a healthy plan for becoming mothers, the result is tragic: 287,000 women in developing nations die from preventable complications during childbirth, and 6.6 million children die before their fifth birthday each year.

We seek to galvanize faith-based leaders and their constituencies around the issues of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) as well as healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies (HTSP) to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality. We recognize the difficult decisions you face as you finalize funding levels, and we respectfully request that you make the Maternal and Child Health and International Family Planning accounts a priority as you decide the final FY 2015 funding levels. We have seen firsthand the life-saving impacts that these programs achieve, and as people of faith we believe that we all have a duty to do what is within our power to help these women and their families to achieve their potential through improved health.

The list of individuals of influence who have signed their name to the letter includes:

Tony Campolo, Ph.D., Author & Speaker, Eastern University, St. David’s, Pennsylvania

Gary Edmonds, President/CEO, Food for the Hungry, Phoenix, Arizona

Bill Frist, Hope Through Healing Hands, Nashville, Tennessee

Gary Furr, Ph.D., Pastor, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

Mike Glenn, Sr. Pastor, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, Tennessee

Amy Grant, Artist, Nashville, Tennessee

Scott Hamilton, Olympic Gold Medalist & Philanthropist, Franklin, Tennessee

Tracie Hamilton, Philanthropist and Mother, Franklin, Tennessee

Dan Haseltine, Artist, Jars of Clay, Franklin, Tennessee

Brian McLaren, Author & Speaker, Marco Island, Florida

Bill Mugford, Pastor, HIV&AIDS Initiative, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California

Jena Nardella, Blood:Water Mission, Nashville, Tennessee

Jennifer Nettles, Artist (Sugarland), Nashville, Tennessee

Lindsey Nobles, COO, If: Gathering, Austin, Texas

Scott Sauls, Sr. Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tennessee

Rev. Sarah Shelton, Sr. Pastor, Baptist Church of the Covenant, Birmingham, Alabama

Anita Smith, Childrens AIDS Fund, Washington, D.C.

Michael W. Smith, Artist, Franklin, Tennessee

Shepherd Smith, International Youth Development, Washington, D.C.

Third Day, Christian Band, Atlanta, Georgia

Larry Thompson, Pastor, First Baptist Church Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, Nashville, Tennessee

Kimberly Williams Paisley, Actor & Philanthropist, Franklin, Tennessee

Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners, Washington, D.C.

As a signatory and CEO/Executive Director of Hope Through Healing Hands, Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is excited about the variety of individuals who are coming together to lift their voices on behalf of women and children in the developing world.

“In the words of Margaret Mead, it ‘only takes a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens [to] change the world.’ Such is the case with global health advocacy. These activists are taking a stand for women’s health worldwide. We hope Congress hears their voices.” said Dyer.

Hope Through Healing Hands is a Nashville-based 501(C) 3 nonprofit with a mission to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace.  Senator Bill Frist, M.D., is the founder and chair of the organization, and Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is the CEO/Executive Director.

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