‘Preacher’ Nutter cites census value

Philadelphia Daily News

medinar@phillynews.com 215-854-5985

Mayor Nutter found himself acting as a “preacher without a license” yesterday, meeting congregants at five churches to explain the importance of the 2010 census.

He topped off his day’s outreach to constituents by attending the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, although it’s unclear whether he waded into the census agenda there.

When the mayor addressed members of the Tindley Temple United Methodist Church, on Broad Street near Catharine, he explained how the city had received a failing grade (56 percent participation) in the 2000 Census.

The city’s Philly Counts initiative – which aims to do extensive outreach in hard-to-reach communities within Philadelphia – is working overtime to ensure that the city’s grade is closer to perfection when the results are released next year.

“This is about funding for our city,” Nutter said. “You work hard, you pay your taxes, we want to get our fair share back from the federal government. We don’t want to leave a dime on the table. That’s not being greedy.”

Nutter soon plucked on the right heartstrings when he directed congregants to pick up their Bibles and turn to Luke, chapter 2.

Joseph and a pregnant Mary went to Bethlehem to be counted in a census ordered by Augustus, according to the scripture. “Each to his own town,” said Nutter, reading from a Bible.

“People of God, this is our town,” the mayor said. “This is for our children, this is for our seniors, this is for our communities, this is for our families.”

Nutter’s pep talk reinforced the idea of filling out the 10-question form, some Tindley Temple Church members said.

“When they hear from the horse’s mouth quoting Luke, chapter 2 . . . it’s very powerful,” said Raymond DeBrest, lay leader at the church.

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