Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jim Kelsey - Friend, Pioneer, Advocate

EGR Northern Michigan diocesan contact Burt Purrington offers this tribute to Bishop Jim Kelsey.

Dear EGR Friends,

As many of you know, one of the Episcopal Church's shining lights, the Rt.Rev. James Arthur Kelsey, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, died in an auto accident last Sunday, June 3. Jim was a champion of inclusiveness in the Episcopal Church and beyond, a pioneer in mutual ministry, a staunch advocate for the poor, disenfranchised and oppressed and a promoter of the MDGs well before the 2006 General Convention.

The Upper Peninsula is a region in severe economic decline, and the Diocese and congregations regularly suffer budget shortfalls. In the face of these fiscal challenges, Jim made a remarkable leap of faith and (successfully)asked the Diocese to set aside 0.7 per cent of its annual budget as a line item with the recipient(s) to be determined each year by our Justice and Peace Committee. He also asked each congregation and each parishioner to prayerfully consider making donations of 0.7 per cent of their income to one or more programs consistent with the MDGs. He believed that the search and vetting processes that go with selecting effective and
accountable programs would be not only a learning experience but a transformative one as well. One congregation after another, already operating on a shoestring, has dipped deep in their pockets to do their part to make the MDGs a reality.

Jim, his wife Mary and the Diocese have been long time supporters of and participants in missions to Honduras to Our Little Roses home for girls and young women. The Kelsey's also were looking forward to accompanying me on a working visit to Croix-des-Bouquets Parish in Haiti which has an established mission that our Diocese recently joined.

Jim always kept his hand on the plow, but in his ministry the reins were shared with many others. The world is greatly diminished by the loss of his warmth, generosity, compassion and humor. But with the mutual ministry to which he was deeply committed, his dreams and his work will continue -- and that will include his commitment to the MDGs.

Please keep Jim's family, his diocese and all who knew and loved this great man in your thoughts and prayers.

Burt Purrington
Coordinator for Global Missions and ERD
Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan

Monday, June 11, 2007

ONE Vote '08 Launches Today!!!

Every day, every paper in America carries a story about the 2008 presidential election - sometimes as many as two, three, or four in a single day.

Even more amazing is the fact that we are still eighteen months away from Election Day!

And while the press is saturating the media with election coverage, people are dying every single day from extreme poverty and global disease. This global crisis can no longer be overlooked.

We need your help to bring ONE's message to the forefront of the 2008 presidential race.

Today we will launch ONE Vote '08, an unprecedented national campaign to make every 2008 presidential candidate take a clear position on extreme poverty and global disease.

Sign up for the conference call tonight, June 11th at 7:30 pm eastern time.

We are just days away from launching an aggressive field effort, placing ads on the air, and launching a new website that will track the '08 candidates on the ground and on the issues like AIDS, malaria, access to clean water, and universal basic education.

But to reach the widest audience possible, we need to tap in the power of the ONE community. I need you to share your vision for an America that leads the global fight to end extreme poverty and disease.

So tonight, we're kicking-off ONE Vote '08 by hosting a conference call with Senator Tom Daschle, Senator Bill Frist, and you.

Sign up for the conference call Monday, June 11th at 7:30 pm eastern time.

We'll start the call by discussing campaign strategy, and then quickly open up the floor for your questions and to hear your thoughts.

We've anticipated a huge response, so we lined up some powerful technology for the occasion. Instead of having to dial into the call, we'll be calling you. That's right, no dial-in number and no time to keep track of. Just follow the link below and we'll call you at 7:30 pm eastern time on the 11th.

Sign up with your phone number to join-in on this conference call.

Our efforts on behalf of the world's poorest people to raise awareness and spur our leaders to action have saved millions of lives. Taking our campaign to the 2008 presidential race means taking our fight against extreme poverty to an entirely new level.

Together, we will ensure that - no matter who ends up being elected president - the next leader of the free world will be a leader in eradicating poverty and global disease.

I look forward to hearing from you on Monday.

Thank you,

Susan McCue, ONE.org

Can You Spare a Dollar?

Here is a great piece from Roger Waters about the Millennium Villages -- a new model on fighting extreme poverty in Africa designed and managed by Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. As a respected economist on the world stage, he had been a tremendous advocate for the poor in Africa and Asia while making an impact advising leaders on economic models that fight the causes and side effects of poverty.

It's a great read, and thankful CNN.com is now using their media influence (somewhat) responsibly.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Avoiding Africa

"I am exasperated," Bono, the activist rock star, told Reuters. "I think it is deliberately the language of obfuscation. It is deliberately misleading."
-- N.Y. Times story, June 8
To give an example of how the Group of 8 nations decided to deal with the AIDS crisis in Africa, allow me to make an analogy:

Africa: Hey G8, we really need help fixing our car so we can go to work, learn job skills, earn money, feed our families and survive.
G8: OK, glad to help. We will give you enough money to fix all of your problems and teach you how to sustain yourself.
Africa: Fantastic! When are you going to send the money?
G8: Well, we're not sure. And I'm not sure when we'll be able to tell you.
Africa: Uh... without this help fixing our car, we can't survive.
G8: Well, sorry. But you should be happy that we at least said we would give you money.

I think anyone can see the lunacy in this. Basically, the G8 promised money to NGOs and faith groups working to save the lives of people across Africa, but didn't give any timeline on when the money would be delivered. In the meantime, malaria spreads and child mortality rates balloon from avoidable illnesses.

And since African nations have no strength in international diplomacy because of civil unrest and corrupt central governments, no one can hold these eight countries accountable to their pledge. It will take voices of those who care about this situation to hold their feet to the fire to the
MORAL commitment they made at the G8 meetings two years ago in Scotland.

For more information about how the G8 summit and how they avoided dealing with the AIDS crisis in Africa, read the entire Times piece here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Going to Cornerstone? Volunteer for ONE!

Are you considering going to the Christian rock extravaganza known as Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, IL June 27-30? Cornerstone will be an excellent opportunity to reach hundreds of people with the message of Bread for the World and the ONE Campaign!

Cornerstone's organizers say of the Festival:

"This event called Cornerstone Festival is far more than a massive musical experience. It is more than a collection of hundreds of solo artists and bands representing every style and sub-genre on the current musical landscape. It is more than a gathering of expert thinkers and speakers offering over twenty separate seminar tracks on an amazingly diverse range of subjects. It is more than the sum of its parts, as is the body of Christ.

Cornerstone Festival is the annual gathering of a community of believers that is spread out all over the world. From young children to senior citizens, Christians of all ethnicities and backgrounds migrate to a patch of 500 acres in central Illinois for four days of fellowship, entertainment, education and edification. One way of looking at Cornerstone is to see it as a continuation of a Jesus movement that began in the first century and remains a beacon of joy and spirit as we move into the next millennium."
If you are thinking about attending the Festival and would like to do volunteer outreach with Bread for the World and the ONE Campaign, please send me an email, and we can discuss the details.


Annie Gill-Bloyer
ONE Campaign Faith Outreach Organizer
Bread for the World – IL/IN/MO

Top Ten Tips to Moblize Young Voters

Young Voter Strategies, a project of George Washington University's School of Political Management, unveiled an excellent new handbook profiling how seven 2006 races "used canvassing, volunteer phone banks, campus voter registration, online social networks, candidate events, and issue engagement to mobilize young voters."

Below is the summary -- in "Top Ten List" form. My question is -- What do you think? How much of this translates into community organizing for Making Poverty History?

(BTW, kudos to Bob Carlton for sending this our way)

1) Keep young voters on your call and walk lists: A contact at the door can increase turnout among young voters by 8-10 percentage points; a live phone call can increase turnout by 3-5 points. (Green, Gerber) The longer and chattier the script, the better. (Nickerson)

2) Utilize volunteers to mobilize fellow young voters: Volunteers are a cost-effective and efficient way to mobilize young voters. Recruit volunteers, give them training, ambitious goals, and lots of responsibility, and they can do great work. But also make sure staff is spending time to train and coordinate them.

3) Talk about issues in ways relevant to young adults: Health care, education, job creation, Iraq, the environment, and taxes are all key issues for young voters, but make the issues relevant. For example, talk about health care access for young adults – not prescription drugs and Medicare.

4) Candidates should mingle and chat with young voters at events: Go to college campuses, attend happy hours or picnics, and talk to these voters about issues that matter. Don’t give a stump speech - listen to and answer questions, and engage in a conversation.

5) Do voter registration: Registering new voters is the best way to build a list of turnout targets and potential volunteers. When deciding if registration is a strategic use of funds, remember this: once registered, young adults are very likely to vote: in 2004, 81 percent of registered 18-29 year olds voted. (U.S. Census Bureau) Of course, remember to collect emails and cell phones so you can follow-up with volunteer opportunities, voter education, and GOTV reminders.

6) Maximize the crowd: Big crowds of young supporters are a goldmine, but you have to work it. Target your speech by talking about relevant issues; open up a Q&A and have a good
conversation; encourage everyone to whip out their cell phones and text “Vote” to your
campaign’s short-code; make sure volunteers are roaming the audience registering voters and
signing up volunteers; ask the audience to take an action to support a hot issue or hit the streets to register voters. The more energy and engagement you give, the more you’ll get.

7) Allocate Resources: Young voters can be mobilized efficiently, but don’t expect it to be free. Allocate staff time and a budget to run a top-notch effort. For example, two or three staff can run a state campaign; one or a half a person’s time can do a significant amount on the district level.

8) Get updated lists of young voters: A few tactics can help your campaign build a better list of young voters: buy a brokered voter file from a youth registration campaign; get the updated voter files from the county clerk late in the election cycle to catch new registrants; register voters; designate precinct captains to update movers’ information and identify supporters; or hold a volunteer phone bank to update voters’ contact information.

9) Use new technology strategically: New technologies – social networking sites, text messaging, etc. – can help a campaign keep in touch with young voters with updates, volunteer opportunities, events, and more. However, remember that new technologies are a good campaign supplement, but not a substitute for old-fashioned peer-to-peer organizing and candidate outreach.

10) Save your money: Don’t use robocalls or direct mail alone for GOTV. Direct mail works well for registration, and robocalls can supplement door-knocking or direct mail. But the best advice is to utilize volunteer or live phone banks – the more personal the contact, the greater the impact.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Lobbying the Farm Bill

Earlier this year my Congressional delegation, led by Senator Patrick Leahy, who's No. 2 on the Ag Committee, held a hearing on the Farm Bill at the State House in Montpelier. I live in a dairying county, so I went to listen. While I was there I met the regional coordinator for OxfamAmerica, and she has recruited me, along with half a dozen other people here locally, to lobby the delegation on the Farm Bill. My "portfolio" on this delegation is faith-and-church, so I get to do MDGs and the ONE campaign. We met with the Ag staffers for Senators Leahy and Sanders in Montpelier last week, and in mid-July we will be doing a "fly-in" to Washington to visit the Senators' and Congressman's offices during markup of the bill.
We are trying very hard to stop commodity subsidies and dumping, especially of corn and cotton. The biggest obstacle is that our Senators have to trade something for milk price supports. Pray for us!
Linda Maloney+
Enosburg Falls, VT

Faith and Policy forum on CNN Monday night

This evening on CNN (7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific), the three "leading candidates" for the Democratic nomination for president will be part of a forum talking about faith and politics. My hope is it will be more than sound bites, giving each candidate the chance to articulate how their faith plays a role in the decisions they would make about poverty, health care, education, social issues and foreign policy -- all of which play crucial roles in making the MDGs a reality in our lifetime. A similar forum for the Republican contenders will take place in the fall.

I think it will be a great opportunity to see a side of the candidates that the media often avoids, and will help everyone -- as Thomas Jefferson called us to be -- "an informed electorate."

Here's the full text of the email distributed this morning by Jim Wallis, CEO and Editor-In-Chief Sojourners and Call To Renewal.

There are very few moments when we have the opportunity to turn the eyes of the nation away from the three-ring circus that our electoral process resembles and onto the concerns of those whom Jesus called the "least of these."

Tonight is one of those moments, as Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama join us for a conversation about faith, values, and poverty broadcast live on CNN (7 p.m. Eastern / 4 p.m. Pacific).

And in hundreds of churches and homes across the country, people of faith like you will be gathering to watch the candidates and help us issue a prophetic challenge to put poverty at the top of the political agenda.

It's not too late to join them -- click here to find a watch party in your area.

We're calling the event "Faith Guiding Our Votes," because it will be a unique forum to ask questions not just about issues, but about values. Not just what policies the candidates propose, but why. Not just whether they believe privately, but about how they live out their faith in public life.

Be sure to stay tuned immediately after the forum (8 p.m. Eastern / 5 p.m. Pacific), as I'll be interviewed live on CNN by Paula Zahn to offer my own reaction to the evening's events.

Tonight also marks the launch of our efforts leading up to the 2008 election -- including a similar forum with the Republican candidates we're planning for the fall -- and the launch of our campaign to Vote Out Poverty, challenging candidates from both political parties to go on the record with specific plans for overcoming poverty at home and abroad.

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you'll tune in.


Jim Wallis and the rest of the team at Sojourners/Call to Renewal

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Bishop Jim Kelsey, R.I.P.

Northern Michigan Bishop Jim Kelsey was killed earlier today in a car accident while coming back from a parish visitation. Jim was a wonderful pastor and bishop with a heart for mission and a great sense of humor.

To give you a sense of who Jim was, and a sense of what we have lost, here is the beginning of his speech to his diocesan convention last year:

Grace to you, and Peace, my sisters and brothers, in the Name of the One who gives us life and who still awakens us to all of the promise and hope and joy of creation.

Desmond Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape Town in South Africa, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, and a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, wrote a book in 2004 which captivates me, by its title alone: “God Has a Dream”. Have any of you read it?

Listen to his words: Dear Child of God, before we can become God’s partners, we must know what God wants for us. “I have a dream,” God says. “Please help Me to realize it. It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into their glorious counterparts, when there will be more laughter, joy, and peace, where there will be justice and goodness and compassion and love and caring and sharing. I have a dream that swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, that My children will know that they are members of one family, the human family, God’s family, My family.” (pp. 19-20)

“I have a dream,” God says. “Please help me to realize it.” And the thing about it is this: It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than us. Bigger than the any of our congregations. Bigger than our diocese. Bigger than the U.P. Bigger than the Episcopal Church church-wide. Bigger than the United States of America. Far bigger than the Anglican Communion world-wide. It’s bigger than our imaginations, and our own self-interests. Far bigger than our own dreams or goals or expectations for ourselves and for one another.

I don’t know about you, but I know that I am one who needs to be drawn out of my own preoccupations and myopic vision. Day to day, I get caught up in my own personal agenda and at times (because of my job) our shared institutionalized agenda of budget meetings and personnel matters and group dynamics; what have you...

And because I am distracted by the many things, I lose sight of the One Thing, the Dream - of God’s Dream for us and for all of Creation. I forget, and I start to think that life is all about me, and I lose my focus on what matters most to me - which really isn’t so much about me, but us and all of Creation. It is what I think Desmond Tutu is calling “God Dream”.

God’s Way of Love in a world in which violence erupts on a daily basis and people and politics and public policy seem shaped more by fear and self-centered arrogance than by a vision of the connectedness which God has made as basic to creation as is the one blood which courses through the veins of all people everywhere...

And in the midst and in the face of it all - is our life together as the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan.

You know, this diocese is really something. I’m not sure what it is - but I know it’s really something. And I wonder: Is it diminutive? Or is it mighty? Is it one of the smallest, one of the poorest, one of the least viable dioceses (institutionally speaking) in the Anglican Communion? Are we living beyond our means? Do we have delusions of grandeur about ourselves, when we try to convince ourselves that we are the cutting edge of the Church? Are we beginning (or continuing) to shut down our engines? - whereby in 1977, there were twenty compensated clergy in the diocese, and when Mary and I came to the diocese in 1989, there were twelve and as of January 1st, 2007 there will be eight.

And what of the average attendance in our congregations on a Sunday morning? And what of the average age and the cultural make-up of our congregations? What are we to make of these circumstances in which we find ourselves? Are we a diocese in decline?

Or are we one of the most innovative and energetic and dynamic dioceses in the Anglican Communion? Do they look to us from near and far for a pathway to the future shape of ministry? Have we discovered something vital about the heart of the life and mission of the Church? ...so that, out of our poverty has come a new wealth of experience and faithfulness?

In other words, I wonder almost every day: do we, as a diocese suffer from delusions of grandeur, or delusions of meagerness? Will the real Diocese of Northern Michigan please stand up?

Go ahead. Stand up. And look around this room. And consider the rest of the members of the congregations we represent. And let’s be honest about the fact that we are, in one way, the best of what the Church has to offer, and we are, in another way, ... just us.

We are both meager and mighty - and in both cases, it’s even worse (and better) than we think. We are fragile and we are unbreakable and resilient. It’s all true. And where do we find ourselves today, as we pause again this morning as we do each year at this time, to reflect upon our life and mission together in this time and place? And, more importantly, what does it all have to do with God’s Dream for us and for the rest of Creation?

Read the whole thing here.
May the soul of Jim, and of all the faithful departed, by the mercies of God, rest in peace.

Utah U2charist raises awareness to help the poor

From the Salt Lake Tribune (thanks to EGR Utah contact Kathy Horvat for the link).

CENTERVILLE - Standing in the church lobby, Ivan Adams wasn't sure what to expect. The 75-year-old Brigham City resident knew all about Episcopal Church services; his wife is a deacon, after all. But U2 and Bono? The relevance of those names, silly names he wasn't sure how to pronounce, meant nothing to this fellow.

"The last singer he knows the name of is Bing Crosby," his wife, Deanna Sue, whispered.

Adams was in for an education on a recent Saturday evening, when he strolled into Utah's first U2 Eucharist, or "U2charist," service at The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Centerville. The special event, part of a worldwide movement, would combine the music and lyrical messages of the Irish rock band with church liturgy - all in an effort to raise awareness about and meet the needs of the world's poorest.

Returning to Haiti: Always Expect the Unexpected

From The Colorado Episcopalian - read the whole article here (turn to page 4). Written by Don Snyder of the Three Bishops Fund for Haiti in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. Read about and donate to the Colorado Haiti Project here.

On the heels of an inspiring event at St. John’s Cathedral, which featured Father Kesner Gracia and Dr. Paul Farmer, a small, energized group of people headed off to Haiti. Leading the trip would be a former president and the first executive director of the Colorado Haiti Project, Deacon Pat Laudisio. Pat and her husband Antonio, leaders of many trips to Haiti over the years, had “taken a break” from the project. Part of that “break” was due to the overthrow of then President Aristide and the ensuing political instability. But the situation has calmed, and while always unpredictable, travel to Haiti was again possible. It had been more than 3 years since Pat’s last visit to Petit trou de Nippes and the mission at St. Paul’s. And while many things had changed in her absence, it felt good to be home. – Don Snyder, Three Bishops’ Fund

Finally, after three years, I was on my way back to Haiti.

The past two trips that I had planned had to be cancelled at the last minute due to political unrest. But now our group of six was on the plane and I gave a sigh of relief\ as I settled back into my seat during takeoff. “What will unfold during this journey?” I wondered. No two trips are ever the same and one can always expect the unexpected.

The purpose of this visit was to provide an opportunity for Jennie March-Aleu, a photo-journalist, Aimee Heckel, a writer, and Leslie Sosnowski, a Konbit sponsor, to see the elementary school and women’s vocational center in full operation. All three women were donating their time and expertise to help us share the story of St. Paul’s mission, particularly the educational programs for women and children. Dr. Warren Berggren, who has a lifetime of experience in the development of public health programs in Haiti, the Belgian Congo and
Rwanda, was coming with survey materials designed to establish some basic criteria related to demographics, education and health. The information being collected would be used as a guide for further program development and was based on the criteria established for the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, goals that provide a framework from which the Colorado Haiti Project works.

Read the rest here (page 4)

Also read: "Ascension Parishioners Find Hope and Faith in Haiti" (page 9)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Indianapolis, PB and MDGs

MDGs will be the focus of a visit by The Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori to the Diocese of Indianapolis, June 15-17. According to the Diocesan web site this will be an unique initiative with the Presding Bishop guiding a discussion and developing action on the Millennium Development Goal Eliminating Extreme Poverty. On Saturday a day long event open to the public will feature the Presiding Bishop and sessions to develop action plans to address poverty, regionally and globally.

Read it all Here