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Monday, October 2, 2023

“Where does it hurt?” Listening to heal our children

Marian Wright Edelman / October 1, 2021

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Defense Fund’s interfaith National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths. We are grateful to the hundreds of congregations across the country that join us in this celebration, recognizing that the shared values of justice, compassion, and care for the most vulnerable are at the heart of every faith tradition. Children’s Sabbath weekend engages places of worship in prayer, worship, education, and action to confront and address the urgent problems facing our nation’s children. It is celebrated on the third weekend in October and this year falls on October 15-17. The 2021 theme is “Where Does it Hurt?” Listening to Heal Our Children.

We stand at a critical moment of crisis and opportunity, and we must unite in living out our faiths and seeking justice for children. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep, longstanding inequalities and threatened to reverse decades of progress for our most vulnerable young. Children and families have lost homes, health, education, security, celebrations, rituals, and routines—and too many have lost hope. The national reckoning with racism and White supremacy, over-policing, and police killing of unarmed Black and brown youths and adults and ongoing assaults on our democracy have added to the pain of these profound injustices.

Children’s Sabbath invites people across all faiths to respond to children’s needs by asking “where does it hurt?” listening deeply to their voices, and reaching out to them to heal and prevent further harm. It is a time to reinforce the actions many congregations already take to serve and seek justice for children in their communities and engage in new efforts to improve child well being. No congregation can do everything, but every congregation can do something. If we join together now, we can make a transformative difference in the lives of many children and families.

CDF has resources available to help you and your place of worship sponsor a Children’s Sabbath celebration. Please join us October 15-17 and all the months and years that follow. Our children are crying out and we all must respond with love, care and action.

Marian Wright Edelman is founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information, go to


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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