Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune has been named director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative (EPI), an anti-poverty ministry led by an active partnership of ecumenical leaders from diverse denominational, geographical, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, which adds a prophetic voice and collective action to the fight to end poverty.
Dr. Copeland-Tune, who has been serving as the policy analyst and communications consultant for EPI, will fill the position recently held by Rev. Sekinah Hamlin, who accepted a position with an allied organization closer to her home and family in Greensboro, N.C. Rev. Hamlin will continue to be involved with EPI as Senior Advisor.
According to Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston, Executive Director of the Disciples Center for Public Witness and a co-convener of the EPI working group of ecumenical leaders, “We are excited that Dr. Copeland-Tune will help us to continue the important work that the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative has been doing, empowering and mobilizing the ecumenical faith community to bring an end to the scandal of poverty in the United States.”
Currently, EPI’s work is focused on ending predatory lending practices; advocating for fair and just wages for low-income worker; mobilizing partners to advocate for national, state and local policies and practices that help end poverty; and, an exciting new campaign, “We Say Enough” that is bringing faith and community leaders together to break down barriers to economic justice. In addition, EPI plans to expand its “Pastors Ending Poverty” initiative, which galvanizes pastors to work to end poverty nationwide.
EPI Working Group Co-Convener The Rev. Dr. Eli Burke, who is also Director of Health, Wellness, Men’s and Social Justice Ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, said, “We welcome the gifts and wealth of experience that Dr. Copeland-Tune brings to EPI as an advocate, strategist, communicator and organizational leader. We look forward to moving EPI to the next level under her leadership.”
Dr. Copeland-Tune has more than 15 years of experience working in the faith-based community. She served as the assistant director for justice and advocacy for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, where she worked on numerous justice issues including ending poverty, environmental stewardship, domestic violence, human trafficking, affordable health care, comprehensive immigration reform and racial reconciliation. She also staffed the NCC’s Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast, which began after the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In addition to her work at the NCC, Dr. Copeland-Tune has worked as a consultant for a broad range of faith-based groups, non-profit organizations and corporations including Health Care Without Harm, Faith in Public Life, the Conference of National Black Churches and New Baptist Covenant. She also formerly served as the director of communications and resource development for the D.C. Baptist Convention. An ordained Baptist minister, Dr. Copeland-Tune contributed a chapter on Christian leadership in the book, Church on Purpose: Reinventing Discipleship, Community and Justice edited by Adam L. Bond and Laura Mariko Cheifetz. She has a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, a MBA from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in theological studies from Duke University and a doctorate from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. She also attended Oxford University’s Summer Theology Program in England where the focus of her study was on faith in the public square. Dr. Copeland-Tune is blessed to have two wonderful children.
The Ecumenical Poverty Initiative began as a ministry of the National Council of Churches USA and in July 2013 found a new home at the Disciples Center for Public Witness, which, together with the Christian Church Capital Area, shares this important ecumenical ministry with religious organizations and communities across the nation. Through its work with national denominations, local and state ecumenical bodies, faith-based groups and church leaders, EPI brings faith leaders together to speak and act to end poverty.