Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Melinda Gates: "Every Life Has Equal Worth"

Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is this year's recipient of CARE's International Humanitarian Award for her work in the field of global health and development. Here is her acceptance speech.

The world does not need us to think small and accomplish easy goals. It needs us to think big and to strive for constant progress. That's the same posture I see in CARE's work. This is not an organization that is content to focus on nutrition or sanitation or education alone. CARE's mission is to end poverty.

This evening I want to talk about fighting inequity. Because for Bill and me, realizing the scope of inequity in our world is what really lit a fire under our philanthropic efforts.

I remember several years ago sitting with Bill and reading an article we'd been given. It was about the millions of children dying in poor countries every year from diseases we don't think about much in this country. The article that we were reading at the time was focused on a disease called rotavirus, which kills about 600,000 children a year.

Bill and I read this article and we were just getting started with the Foundation and we just said this can't be! 600,000 children, one disease. How come we never hear about it? We take our children to be vaccinated. We think. We read. We don't hear about it. And we thought if a single disease were killing that many children, certainly we'd be running races in the United States. It would be front page news.

But it wasn't. How could we reach any other conclusion but this: Some lives in this world are seen as worth saving and others are not. The realization that we had in reading that article drives all the Foundation work that we do today and will continue to do throughout our lifetime. Every human life has equal worth. That is the premise on which we founded our mission.

Read Melinda's entire speech at CARE.org.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fr. Michael Lapsley redefines the MDGS


EGR Board member and Bishop of California Marc Andrus blogs about the breakfast he and his wife had with Michael Lapsley of the Institute for the Healing of Memories. You can read Bishop Marc's regular reflections on his own blog.

Today, Sheila and I had breakfast with Fr. Michael Lapsley, Themba Lonzi, and Edwin Waite at Ella's, in San Francisco. Fr. Michael is an Anglican priest, religious,and one of the great spiritual leaders of our world.

Fr. Lapsley founded and heads the Institute for the Healing of Memories, in Cape Town, South Africa. The Institute came into being to continue the transformative work begun by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, following the end of apartheid.

The Institute's work has extended into new and exciting areas of healing and reconcilation. Themba heads the youth involvement program; there is work in Minneappolis with veterans hospitals. "It doesn't matter whether you come home from war as a hero or a villain," Fr. Michael said, "no one wants to hear your nightmares."

Work by the institute has also begun with refugees from political oppression, war, and famine. Themba and Fr. Michael were open and energized about beginning some work with both our Pilgrimage for Peace, and with our ministry to immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

The most revelatory thing Fr. Michael said was this: "Healing and Reconcilation should be a Millennium Development Goal for the faith community. Jesus said, 'Humans do not live by bread alone', meaning we don't offer spiritual nurture INSTEAD of material development work, but WITH it."

Millennium Development Goal # 9: Healing and Reconciliation

10 Key Aspects of Leadership to End Poverty


This fantastic piece is from our friend John Conrood at The Hunger Project. It was written specifically to describe the philosophy in training Hunger Project leaders, but is an excellent general guide for all anti-poverty leadership. This version for space and to make it more generally applicable. Please read the entire piece here (and read more about and support The Hunger Project -- it's pretty cool).

Ending hunger requires leadership — but not our grandfathers’ leadership. Not hierarchy. Not giving orders. Ending hunger requires transformative leadership — leadership that is inclusive, collaborative, opens people’s hearts and minds to a new possibility, and builds their confidence by producing results. Leadership must be grounded in principles of human dignity, interconnectedness, and an unyielding commitment to unleashing the creativity and responsibility of every person.

Here are 10 key aspects of leadership to end poverty:

1. Changing our own mind-set
The initial motivation for most volunteer leaders is to want to “help the poor” — a natural impulse that is unwittingly condescending. A key step in training leaders is to transform that impulse into a profound respect for the self-reliance of impoverished people. Similarly, both women and men need to examine their inherited gender attitudes. Women have needed to learn to speak out; men have needed to learn to listen to women.

2. Inclusion
Leaders must transcend barriers of caste, religion and family rivalries to ensure that the most marginalized members of the community have access to lives of dignity and self-reliance.

3. Appreciation
The best leaders deeply appreciate those with whom they work, and cultivate the skill of powerfully listening and acknowledging people — holding up the mirror so that people experience their greatness.

4. Mutual learning
Effective leaders have a profound humility. They don’t have the answers or even necessarily the questions. They are on a shared journey of discovery, and are as open to being taught and transformed by those they lead as they are to contributing.

5. Courage
Even after we change our mind-set once, we wake up each morning in a culture that pulls us back. Effective leaders must have the courage to go against the cultural grain — to call on families to send girls to school, and for men to support the leadership of women.

6. Powerful distinctions
The best leaders make things clear. They develop the skill to awaken people to new possibilities by drawing powerful distinctions — between self-reliance and dependency, between equality and injustice, between how society has conditioned us and who we truly are.

7. Integrity
Effective leaders must cultivate a degree of personal integrity that includes not only honesty, but also a willingness to have one’s whole life be an expression of deep human principles, and the courage to stand up against corruption and injustice.

8. Vision
Leaders bust be able to clearly see, powerfully articulate and tirelessly inspire people with a widely shared, achievable vision. Leaders take responsibility for generating inspiration from the depths of their being.

9. Commitment and discipline
Making things happen against tremendous odds requires leaders with extraordinary focus and persistence.

10. Catalytic action
Success is achieved through catalyzing the leadership and success of others. Once people are inspired to take action, it’s vitally important that they succeed. With each success, confidence grows.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Global Fund Saves 1.8 Million LIves



From Christian Today and the ONE Campaign

The Global Fund recently announced that major progress has been made in the fight against treatable, preventable diseases, saving an estimated 1.8 million lives so far.

ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History reports that an additional 3,000 lives are saved each day by programmes the Global Fund supports like those that distributed around 30 million insecticide treated nets to families with children who are at risk of contracting the disease. That is an increase of 165 per cent over 11.3 million in mid-2006.

In FY 2006, members of the ONE Campaign urged the US Congress to increase support for the Global Fund. Congress responded by voting in favour of an amendment that secured $544.5m for the Global Fund.

For FY 2007, ONE’s members sent over 200,000 letters to Congress, urging them to continue efforts to support the Global Fund. In response Congress included $724m for the Global Fund in the Continuing Resolution that passed Congress in February 2007, an increase of $179.5m over last year.

“The Global Fund is a success story and is getting results,” ONE Campaign spokesperson Kimberly Cadena said. “It’s crucial that America’s leaders continue to support and fund the programmes that work. When the G8 meets in June, the United States and other leading nations must rise to the challenge of replenishing the Global Fund.”

Read the whole article here.

USC Bishop: MDGs are "thermometer for gauging spiritual health and mission accomplishment"


"We cannot ignore the great opportunity that we have—unique to our day and time—to be doing the work that Christ would have us do—to be faithful to his self-proclaimed mission to “bring good news to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, (and to) proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. That blessed opportunity comes to us as the Millennium Development Goals.

"Episcopalians in USC are off to a great start in numerous, exciting ventures in mission associated with the MDGs. This is not so much a goal in itself as it is a way to measure how effective we have been with the three challenges I have set before you: the Healthy Church Initiative, mission strategy, and Christian formation.

"Our involvement in reaching the MDG’s is a thermometer for gauging spiritual health and mission accomplishment—and, along with evangelism, a demonstration of our commitment “to act in the world as the Body of Christ.”

Those are the words of Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson at this month's diocesan leadership conference, "The Healthy Church Initiative, Nuts and Bolts of Church Health and Growth."

According to this ENS article, it was announced during the conference that

"more than $18 million dollars in pledges had been raised in two years for the support of local growth initiatives.

"The money will fund the new Healthy Church Foundation of Upper South Carolina, according to a diocesan media release....

"Henderson, who is 69 and must resign not later than his 72nd birthday (Episcopal Church Constitution Article II, Section 9), outlined for the conference "where we need to be when the next diocesan bishop of Upper South Carolina is seated in the Cathedra."

"They include the Healthy Church Initiative, planting new congregations, a plan for lifetime Christian formation and a commitment to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals."

Read the whole ENS article here.


Read all of Bishop Henderson's address here.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

EPPN alert: Climate Change, Global Poverty and the G8


An action alert from the Episcopal Public Policy Network.

This summer marks the half way point for the targeted achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Despite high promises from G8 leaders, a new report this week by DATA, one of the Episcopal Church’s partner organizations, shows that while progress has been made in some of the anti-poverty commitments made by G8 leaders at their 2005 summit, much bolder action is needed if the MDGs are to be met by 2015.

In a few short weeks, leaders of the G8 nations, including President Bush, will meet in Germany with an agenda that includes addressing the onset of climate change throughout the world, as well as the world’s progress toward eradicating deadly poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Tell President Bush, the G8 must keep their commitments to the MDGs and need to address the role that climate change will play in their success.


This is a critical time for the climate and the MDGs. On Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle printed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s opinion column urging that world leaders consider the two issues simultaneously, as climate change propels global poverty and global poverty propels climate change. "By understanding how the two crises, and the people they affect, are connected, we can begin to understand how humanity can triumph over both," wrote the Presiding Bishop. To read the full article, click here.

Click here to send a message to President Bush now -- Urge him to work with other G8 leaders to keep the promises they have made toward meeting the MDGs, and in particular, to address the relationship between global poverty and climate change as part of this meeting’s agenda.

More U2charists -- on video on BBC -- and today in Maine, Seattle



A BBC story about the U2charist (written before this one happened) is here.

For information about other U2charists coming up go to the EGR U2charist calendar. (For example, today there are two -- at St. Catherine's Church in Norway, ME and at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle -- sponsored by Karen Ward's awesome Episcopal-Lutheran church plant, Church of the Apostles).

Want to host your own? Go to the EGR U2charist pages for everything you need to know!

You can also read feedback and reports from U2charists held around the country (and around the world) on this page of the EGR U2charist website.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Make Clinton, Obama and Edwards talk about the MDGs!


Do you want to hear the democratic front-runners' answer to this question?

In the Millennium Declaration of September 2000, 150 heads of state committed to halve extreme poverty by 2015. Are you committed to the Millennium Development Goals, and what is your view on the role of the U.S. in global partnerships to extinguish extreme poverty?

I sure do. Go to the Sojourners website and vote for this question.

On June 4, Clinton, Edwards and Obama will be live on CNN with Jim Wallis of Sojourners for a conversation on faith, values and poverty. Sojourners is giving us a chance to pick one of the questions -- so this is your chance to make the candidates talk about the MDGs and what they will do to make them happen if elected.

Go and vote ... and then go tell your friends to vote. Making poverty history means making our leaders know that we care -- and that we're watching them.

Ian Douglas: Lambeth Conference won't look like past gatherings


EGR board vice president Ian Douglas is also a member of the Lambeth Conference design team. In this article from ENS, he talks about the different look the coming conference will have -- and the MDGs will be a big part of it.

[Episcopal News Service] The Lambeth Conference 2008 will be a significantly different gathering from the 1998 and 1988 sessions of the once-a-decade meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, according to a member of the Conference's design team.

The design for Lambeth 2008 "is not driven by production of reports and enabling resolutions building out of the reports, and that's a significant departure from previous designs," the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas, a member of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council and of its delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council, told the Episcopal News Service. "The focus here is on transformation, the building of communion and the engagement with each other, the goal of which is to equip the bishops to be more effective and faithful servants to the 'Missio Dei' [God's mission]."

(snip)

The last two Conferences featured four issues-related groups that developed resolutions for the entire group of bishops to consider. Instead, in an effort to equip the bishops as leaders in God's mission, the 2008 Conference will begin with groups of eight bishops from different provinces meeting in what are being called "ndaba groups" to begin the practice of encountering God's Word and encountering each other through sharing their stories and God's story, Douglas said.

The word "ndaba" is Zulu, which Douglas said can be translated as a gathering for conversation for the sake of conversation.

Groups of five ndaba groups will be combined for discussions of issues. Douglas told the Executive Council that some of those issues could well include the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), global economic justice, environmental concerns, interfaith dialogue (especially between Christians and Muslims), how to include voices not normally heard at Lambeth (such as women, young people and other parts of the laity), Anglican biblical hermeneutics, Anglican identities, the Listening Process, and "human sexuality writ large."

The bishops will also receive "very practical and hands-on opportunities" for learning about a range of mission and ministry issues, from how to develop a communications strategy for their diocese to the latest epidemiological information about HIV/AIDS, he suggested in November. Those opportunities will come by way of "self-selecting" groups, he said.


Read the whole story here.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

MDG Update from EPPN/ONE Episcopalian


Alex Baumgarten filed this report for Tuesday night's EGR conference call.

FARM BILL: The farm bill continues to be the top MDG priority currently pending in Congress. Delegations of religious leaders – many chaired by Episcopal bishops – are in the process of setting up meetings for the Memorial Day congressional recess with approximately 60 key lawmakers around the country. Our EPPN alert last week encouraged all Episcopalians to do the same, and provided resources on how to set up a visit, what to say during the meeting, and what information to leave behind with the office. All of that is available online.

All participants in meetings will be invited to participate in a conference-call briefing next Tuesday for final key information for the meetings. Participants will be given a choice of two different conference-call times, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

The ONE Campaign will do a targeted email this week to their members in the 60-or-so key districts we have identified, urging messages to be sent to their lawmakers. ONE organizers will also be joining our meetings in districts around the country. Bread for the World’s June national conference in Washington will also focus on the farm bill, bringing more than 700 people to Washington to lobby their lawmakers. It’s not too late to join. Information can be found at www.bread.org. There will be an opportunity for all Episcopalians at the conference to meet as a group for a separate briefing.

ONE: By way of advance notice, the ONE Campaign will launch its presidential initiative – called “ONE Vote” – in the first couple of weeks of June (date TBA) in a forum that is likely to highlight faith participation in the MDGs. I will send information to the EGR list (and we'll post it on the blog - MK) as soon as I have it.

BISHOP KATHARINE’S OP-ED ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE MDGs: As part of the lead-up to the G8 meeting in early June – which will focus primarily on climate change but also devote discussion to global poverty – the San Francisco Chronicle this past Sunday published an op-ed by the Presiding Bishop urging world leaders to consider the two issues simultaneously, as climate change propels global poverty and vice versa. It's posted below on the EGR blog.


DEBT CANCELLATION: With the strong support of the Episcopal Church, the JUBILEE Act – a piece of comprehensive legislation to bring debt cancellation to those countries who need it to meet the MDGs – will be introduced in Congress in the next several weeks. The lead sponsors are Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Spencer Bachus (R-AL). The legislation was drafted in close consultation with our office, other coalition partners, and Jubilee USA and is based on some of the innovative debt-relief proposals offered by Chancellor (and likely soon-to-be Prime Minister) Gordon Brown in the UK. The legislation has the strong support of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the chairman of the House committee with jurisdiction, who has pledged to us that he will move the legislation through his committee and hold a major hearing this year focusing on the vital need for further debt cancellation around the world. The Jubilee Act also has the strong support of the ONE Campaign, where it is one of the top seven legislative priorities for the year.

Folks should also know that the week of October 14-20 is an international week of action on debt cancellation and will see a major advocacy focus in the U.S. and around the world. A congressional prayer breakfast on debt and the MDGs will be among the events scheduled for that week. Archbishop Ndungane of South Africa has been invited to keynote that prayer breakfast.

Finally, folks should know that Jubilee USA’s annual grassroots conference will take place in Chicago during the third weekend in June. I sit on the Board of Jubilee USA on behalf of TEC, and our Church will have a major role at that event. People can register at jubileeusa.org.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This Saturday -- U2charist live and on your computer!


Wondering what this U2charist thing is about? Now you can see (and hear)one from your own computer.

This Saturday at 5 pm GMT (Noon, eastern time), the U2charist at St. Swithin's in Lincolnshire, UK, will be streamed live at this site.

Some highlights:

-This service will mix the music and message of U2, which is about global reconciliation, justice for the poor and oppressed, and the importance of caring for your neighbour, with a Holy Communion service.

-The Celebrant will be the Bishop of Grantham, Tim Ellis.

-U2's songs will be performed live by the Lincoln New Life/Grapevine band which will be led by Howard Williams.

-The sermon will be based around the Millennium Development Goals, delivered by EGR's own Paige Blair.

-The Bible reading will be performed by singers from the University College of Bishop Grosseteste, Lincoln.

-And Revd Richard Coles, Lecturer of Boston Stump on piano.

You can learn more about the service here.

Oh ... and yes, there really is a St. Swithin's (no joke) ... and Paige reports it is actually St. Swithin's in the Fens (Yes, a fen is a swamp).

As Casey Stengel said ... you could look it up.

The Growing Connection


This post on food security from Ann Fontaine's excellent Green Lent blog:

Here is a site for a grassroots project developed by the UN and American Horticultural Society. A way to grow locally and support others around the world to improve nutrition.

The Growing Connection links people and cultures in a revolutionary campaign that introduces low-cost water efficient and sustainable food growing innovations hand in hand with wireless IT connectivity. It provides a sound educational foundation, and offers hundreds of families, both in America and abroad, a concrete opportunity to earn income and climb out of desperation. Perhaps most important, The Growing Connection engages people – a network of committed individuals - in an elegant solution to one of mankind’s fundamental challenges.

How does it work? School gardening programs and community gardens in the U.S., Ghana, Mexico and Nicaragua grow vegetables in an EarthBox system. that becomes a common growing platform for all participants. Students grow food, conduct horticultural experiments and share their lessons and experiences with each other using IT connectivity. Through modern IT installations, The Growing Connection participants in U.S.,, Ghana, Mexico and Nicaragua are directly linked. And importantly, they are also connected to sources of vital information and advice on growing food. Those once the most isolated can now grow, learn, and chose their own opportunities and destinies.

Minnesotans Moving on the MDGs!


There are lots of wonderful models emerging of dioceses actively engaging God's mission of global reconciliation in the Millennium Development Goals. At the top of the list is Minnesota, where the Rev. Devon Anderson has assembled a great team that is doing great work. You can see the first fruits of their labor in this excellent article by Joe Bjordal:

Here are some highlights of grants given to congregations for MDG work:

The grant recipients and supported projects are:

Messiah Church, St. Paul,
$700 for its ongoing work with the Leogane Communal District’s Saint Croix Hospital in Haiti;

St. Alban’s Church, Edina, $700, also for ongoing work at the Leogane Communal District’s Saint Croix Hospital in Haiti (in partnership with Messiah Church);

St. John’s Church, Minneapolis, $700 for work with the Parish of St. Philippe-St. Jacques in Haiti through the Haiti Parish Partner Program;

(Three Minnesota Episcopal congregations now involved in work in Haiti—Messiah, St. Alban’s and St. John’s—are planning ways to both deepen their partnership and find ways to invite other congregations in the Diocese of Minnesota to join in work in Haiti.)

St. James’ Church, Marshall, $750 for the Rwanda Reads Program;

St. Luke’s Church, Rochester, $500 for its ongoing work with the Zumbro River Watershed Partnership; and

St. Matthew’s Church, St. Paul, $750 for its ongoing work with Hope Multipurpose, Incorporated and the Blue House in Uganda, an home for AIDS orphans.

They've also got a MDG training conference planned for September 15 that should be a model for other dioceses doing the same thing (North Carolina recently had a very successful one themselves!).

Again, read all about it on the Minnesota website!

Great work from the Land of 10,000 Lakes!

Anglican Women “Go Public”


From the Rev. Margaret Rose at the Episcopal Church Office of Women's Ministries

For the past four years our office, in partnership with the Anglican Observer’s Office has brought women from around the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion to participate at the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Through a movement called AWE, Anglican Women’s Empowerment, the women—and this year there were fifty—participated in forums at the UN, met with government officials and led strategic regional caucuses. Their voice, along with others, claimed that the voice of faith is vital as we seek to make the world a better place to live, not only through churches but also through so called secular means, as in governments, non profit institutions and civil society. Often in national dress, the international women carried their AWE tote bags, which served as a name tag and gave visible proof that the Anglican delegation was the largest Non Governmental Organization present at the UN meeting. As important as their work at the UN however, was the work the women did together as leaders in their churches, dioceses and communities gathered from around the Anglican Communion.

None is unaware of the controversies facing us as a church and as a communion. Yet in our years together we have been clear that our work is about poverty, AIDs and the issues of survival which face so many around the globe. These take top priority. The women working at the UN, and among ourselves, saw that when our voices were joined in community—out loud and in public, we could indeed make a difference in the church and in the world. At the close of this year’s meeting, the women issued a unanimous statement, sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Communion, which read in part:

“Given the global tensions so evident in our Church today, we do not accept that there is any one issue of difference or contention which can, or indeed would ever cause us to break our unity as represented by our common baptism. Neither would we ever consider severing the deep and abiding bonds of affection which characterize our relationships as Anglican women. This sisterhood of suffering is at the heart of our theology and our commitment to transforming the world through peace with justice. Rebuilding and reconciling the world is central to our faith.”

But it is not just those women who come to the UN, but all of us, who have the gifts and talents to claim what I call a PUBLIC voice in the church and in the world. Our call is to use that PUBLIC voice for the Gospel mandate of reconciliation in a world riven by controversy and polarization, to say nothing of disease and violence and hunger. Let me explain myself with a story:

Read the whole thing here.

Get more info about Beijing Circles here.

Get more info on Women’s Public Vision here.

Immigration policy and the MDGs

Turn on the news – national or local – and you’ll find a story debating the points of the recent bi-partisan immigration bill working its way through the halls of Congress. Because it’s the eve of an election year, folks like Lou Dobbs and other “talking heads” scream about it and the summer news cycle always slows down, the issue has been revived as the latest topic of conversation in D.C. and throughout the country. It's an issue that has brewed just under the surface of the political landscape for years and years, but has never been sexy enough to deal with on a grand stage. Times have changed in a less secure world, and now it time to face the music. What do we do?

Daily, I see a Hispanic community looking for its place in society. With agriculture and manufacturing playing large parts in Morgan County, Alabama's economy, large numbers of Hispanic families have come to the area looking for work. I see groups of Hispanic men gathered in front of a nearby Mexican grocery store each morning waiting for contractors to come by looking for cheap, non-benefit, laborers to work a construction site or serve as replacements on a manufacturing assembly line. Whether they are legal or illegal, it makes me wonder what it's like to live each day thinking this could be the day INS comes by and rounds you up and sends you home.

This is more than a policy issue – immigration is a moral issue. As most moral issues are, it's hard to come up with the "right" answer. In each case, there are about a thousand ways to look at it. There is no "silver bullet" fix.

There is the legalistic way... if you come to the U.S. seeking out a better life for you and your family, you need to respect the established laws and go through the process of becoming a legal U.S. citizen. We are living in a world where we have enemies that want to cause us harm and we need to account for all the people flowing into our country. Plus, if you become a citizen, you get the benefit of citizenship: Social Security, government health care, defense, public education and the great joy of paying taxes (a bit of sarcasm there). On top of that, you get the rights afforded to you: speech, assembly and the chance to voice your beliefs at the ballot box. If you can't follow these rules, you're going to be arrested, charged with a felony and sent back to your home country.

There is a historical way... we are a nation of immigrants. I'm reminded of the poem by Emma Lazarus found on a bronze
display at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Written in 1883, the poem includes the famous quote "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free!" We should let anyone into the country who is looking for an opportunity to pursue the American dream of working hard and providing for their family. Many come to the U.S. because there is no opportunity in their own poverty-stricken country and an education system is an unrealistic myth. Immigrants come to the U.S. and work jobs Americans won't do: work in the fields picking vegetables or take jobs in the service industry like maids in hotels or busboys in restaurants. Without immigrant labor, the economy would come to a screeching halt. There should be a guest-worker program that allows people to work and apply for citizenship while they stay here illegally.

In nutshells, these are two of the main arguments on the issue. Both sides have fair points that need to be addressed. And like issues in the church, there are Godly, faithful people on both side that generally disagree. Issues like... why should people have access to a guest worker program that allows for eventual citizenship while those who came before had to go through the long process of applying "the old-fashioned way?" Another issue... it's unrealistic to think every immigrant is going to be rounded up and shipped home; the
U.S. doesn't have enough federal manpower to corral 12 million immigrants, charge them with felonies and send them packing. As mentioned above, the service, agriculture and construction industries would lose between 10 to 35 percent of their workforce. Our economy – healthy or otherwise – can't afford that.

There is, perhaps, another way to look at it. In Sunday School, we always try to ask the question "where do you see Christ in that?" One of my goals in Christian Education is to bridge the gap between what we talk about in studying scripture and Sunday School to the rest of the week. Everyday application of what's revealed in scripture is something we should try to do. With that in mind, where do we see Christ in this issue?

Everyone knows the parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke's Gospel (Luke
10: 25-37) If you've never heard it, you never went to Vacation Bible School or paid attention in Children's Church! We're asked to show mercy and comfort to those beaten down and hungry. In some faith communities (especially in Catholic parishes along the U.S./Mexico boarder) churches provide shelter and food to illegal immigrants "passing through." Some argue this is actually encouraging people to immigrate illegally with the promise of comfort. Even look at Leviticus. Known to hold the harshest punishments of Hebrew law, it tells us in Chapter 19 that "when an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God" (v. 33-34).

The flip side of this is, of course, we must obey the laws of the state and the country as outlined in the Constitution. I would never endorse not obeying laws. Instead, think about what we can do to reflect Christ's love in the laws that are to be written – and in some cases rewritten. I think a balance between both extremes can be found in the middle. We, as a country, must protect ourselves while "seeking a more perfect union."

Be prayerful about what we can do to shape the debate, and demand a MORAL and JUST conversation from our leaders about the future of those wanting to join our citizenship. We need to obey the laws we've established while treating every human being with respect and dignity, as we are called to do in the Baptismal Covenant. Legislators in state capitals across the country and in D.C. are getting ready to debate and make more decisions that will shape the future of this issue. Speak up and be heard!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Religious leaders unite to address global warming


From Episcopal News Service
Uniting through a common concern for creation, Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders announced May 21 a pact to fight global warming in a statement delivered to the White House and Congress.

"An Interfaith Declaration on the Moral Responsibility of the U.S. Government to Address Global Warming" comes on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's most recent report that makes clear the serious risks of delay.

The religious leaders, including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, declare acceptance of the scientific evidence for global warming and pledge mutual support in addressing this severe challenge.

Recognizing the human contribution to global warming, the statement's signers call for legislators to enact mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and to make a healthy and healthful environment a priority.

"Our Earth is in great peril," the declaration says. "We cannot risk the consequences of inaction. Recognizing that human beings are largely responsible for creating this problem we stand together as brothers and sisters dedicated to finding solutions."

A pdf of the declaration is available here.

Read the whole story here.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Presiding Bishop's Reflections on Poverty and Climate Change


From Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle. (Finder's kudos to Ann Fontaine!)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Before I became a priest, I was a professor of oceanography. One of
the things I learned was that oceanographers couldn't just study
squid or fish in isolation. We had to study interconnected systems.
We had to understand not only the animals' environment, such as the
water, but its chemistry and circulation, the atmosphere above the
ocean and the geology below it. And that, I believe, is how we must
understand our world: We must see everything, and everyone, as
interconnected and intended by God to live in relationship.

Two of the most significant crises facing our world -- climate change
and deadly poverty -- offer an example of such interconnectedness. By
understanding how the two crises, and the people they affect, are
connected, we can begin to understand how humanity can triumph over
both. Extreme poverty -- that is, poverty that kills -- afflicts more
than a billion of God's people around the world. Nearly 30,000 of
these people will die today. That's 1 every 3 seconds. The factors
that propel this kind of deadly poverty include hunger, diseases like
AIDS and malaria, conflict, lack of access to education and basic
inequality. Climate change threatens to make the picture even more
deadly. As temperature changes increase the frequency and intensity
of severe-weather events around the world, poor countries -- which
often lack infrastructural needs like storm walls and water-storage
facilities -- will divert previous resources away from fighting
poverty in order to respond to disaster. Warmer climates will also
increase the spread of diseases like malaria and tax the ability of
poor countries to respond adequately. Perhaps most severely, changed
rain patterns will increase the prevalence of drought in places like
Africa, where only 4 percent of cropped land is irrigated, leaving
populations without food and hamstrung in their ability to trade
internationally to generate income.

Conversely, just as climate change will exacerbate poverty, poverty
also is hastening climate change. Most poor people around the world
lack access to a reliable-energy sou\rce, an imbalance that must be
addressed in any attempt to lift a community out of poverty.
Unfortunately, financial necessity often forces the choice of energy
sources such as oil and coal that threaten to expand significantly
the world's greenhouse emissions and thus accelerate the effects of
climate change. This cycle -- poverty that begets climate change, and
vice versa -- threatens the future of all people, rich and poor
alike, and of all things in the world that God so loves.

Read it all here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Church, State and St. Dunstan


"The Church shouldn't be involved in politics."

I hear this one all the time ... particularly when I'm talking about the ONE Campaign or urging people as part of faithful living, to be in dialogue with their senators and representatives particularly about issues concerning the poor.

Enter Dunstan, 10th-century Archbishop of Canterbury, whose feast we celebrate today. Dunstan led a reform movement that closely bound the monasteries of England to the crown. He was a trusted friend of King Edgar and had a great deal of in the royal court.

Talking about Dunstan today as a positive model is liable to make lots of people nervous. Certainly the kind of merging of the State and a particular institution of the Church that existed in England (and greatly encouraged by Dunstan's efforts) is part of what this country was founded over against. Certainly a great fear with the current administration is that they are repeating exactly what happened with Edgar and Dunstan -- that the Church is being invited into the courts of the State and that the Church is actually doing the ruling.

I'm not arguing a return to the court of King Edgar. But I am arguing that even though it isn't part of our tradition as Americans, it is part of our tradition as Christians not to shy away from involvement in affairs of State. Sam Portaro, in his great companion book to Lesser Feasts and Fasts, "Brightest and Best," makes this point better than I:

Read the rest here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

If I Have...

A verse to think about, which always helped keep me mindful of the needs of others...

If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the orphan has not eaten from it ... if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or a poor person without covering, whose loins have not blessed me, and who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have raised my hand against the orphan, because I saw I had supporters at the gate; then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from its socket. For I was in terror of calamity from God, and I could not have faced his majesty.

- Job 31:16-23

Thursday, May 17, 2007

EPPN Alert: Action Needed During Congressional Recess


Here's a note from the Episcopal Public Policy Network about an important lobbying opportunity you can take advantage of without leaving your home town! Read on!

Beginning next week, key congressional committees will begin drafting the 2007 U.S. farm bill. As we highlighted in our Lenten EPPN series, the farm bill affects every American – and most people around the world – in one way or another. US farmers and rural communities. have an important stake in the legislation, as do hungry people in our own country and people living in deadly poverty around the world. To learn more, click here.

Reform of the current U.S. commodity-payment system would allow Congress to invest billions of dollars in farms and rural communities that need it most, and better support programs that fight hunger and poverty at home and around the world.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
During the week of May 27, when lawmakers are home in their districts for the Memorial Day recess, Episcopalians will be joining with other people of faith to visit their Senators and Representatives and share the message of farm-bill reform. The effort will include bishops, clergy, lay people, community organizers, farmers, and others who want to see a fair and just farm bill.

If you have never set up a meeting with your member of congress, it’s easy to do – here are some simple instructions. Ask others in your congregation to join.

Interested, but nervous you won’t know what to say? Register here, so that we can invite you to a special conference call that will walk through the important information. Even if you can’t make the call, all the information you need to talk about the farm bill in these meetings is here in a short front and back summary.

Together, we can help pass a 2007 farm bill that makes historic strides against hunger and poverty at home and around the world.

Please write and tell us about your visits. The information you gather will give us important insights into the concerns, questions and positions of Members of Congress as the legislative process continues.

Meet the Greens!



THE GREENS is a brand new Web site from WGBH in Boston -- you know that station that has its call letters sandwiched around PBS shows like Frontline, NOVA, Masterpiece Theatre and Antiques Roadshow, Zoom and Arthur.

The Greens is an online project that may yet become a TV show -- an animated family (The Greens) who aim to get kids thinking about the world, environmental stewardship and what one can do about it.

"Through the animated episodic adventures, a blog, kids' mail, and regular updates, we will explore green living - sustainability, ecology, environmental care and social equity. We will nudge kids to research, to challenge, to discover, and to take action whereever and whenever they can."

And they even have buddy icons you can download.

What's all the buzz about? $500 for an anti-malaria campaign on your college campus, that's what!



From our friend Seth Green at Americans for Informed Democracy

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS WANTED

Are you ready to change the world? Then, we’re ready to support you in doing it!

A coalition of non-profit organizations have just announced a new initiative called Buzz Cuts that will support young leaders who want to join the fight to prevent malaria, a leading killer of children in Africa. Buzz Cuts will give ten students $500 grants to implement entrepreneurial campaigns on their campuses to raise awareness and funds to prevent malaria. Students selected for the initiative will also receive an all-expenses-paid, two-day training on malaria advocacy and fundraising in Washington, D.C.

Buzz Cuts is a collaboration of Americans for Informed Democracy, the People Speak, and the Nothing But Nets Campaign. The initiative seeks to encourage college students to use their fresh, innovative ideas to support a global movement that saves lives. We want YOU to raise awareness and funds to support the global fight against malaria. And we want you to film what you do and make it into a "Buzz Cut" or video toolkit that other students can use to put on events on their campus.

Find out more about BuzzCuts here.

Submit your project proposal to BuzzCuts here.

Questions -- email buzzcuts@aidemocracy.org or call 203-773-1202.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Know an eco-friendly printer?

EGR is moving from shipping brochures and other printed products to people to making everything available on our website (in the MDG toolkit section).

Most of this is practical. EGR is commited to staying a small organization (right now I'm the only employee -- next week I'll probably be getting a 16-hour a week admin asst. Hooray!). Printing, packing and shipping takes time and resources we can better spend elsewhere -- and frankly, it's kind of crazy for me to print stuff in St.Louis and ship it to you when you can download it, print it where you are and save the shipping charges!

That said, because of convenience, people often just want to have the finished product arrive on their doorstep. So we're looking for some recommendations of really good eco-friendly printers. A quick Google search turned up one - Greenerprinter.com. Does anyone have any experience with them? Does anyone have another eco-friendly printer to recommend. I'm thinking if we can find one that is really green and really good perhaps we can negotiate a lower price ("group rate" if you will) with them (seeing as environmental sustainability is part of what we're doing).

Any thoughts? Leave a comment!

You Choose 2008



Our good friend Kim Smith at ONE offers this on the ONE Campaign blog.

As the 2008 presidential campaign is heating up around the country, ONE members are reaching out to candidates on both sides of the political aisle to make sure that fighting extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS in the world's poorest countries is a priority for our next president. We need to show all the candidates that there is a growing and visible number of Americans who care about our issues and who are going to local candidate rallies and forums to speak out!

If you don't live in a state that the candidates are visiting yet there are other ways to get involved – YouTube has is highlighting a different candidate each week as part of their new campaign, "You Choose 08 Spotlight." For the campaign, people can submit videos of themselves asking questions to the candidates.

ONE member Sean Camoni has taken on this challenge and posted videos for multiple candidates, from both political parties, to let them know he wants our next president to be a leader in the fight against extreme poverty around the world. Sean has already sent in videos asking presidential candidates Hunter, Kucinich, McCain, Edwards and Romney questions about their policy on extreme poverty.

Let us know in the comments below (and let ONE know, too) if you send in your own YouTube YouChoose 08 video about global poverty.

Bono says G-8 Behind on Aid to Africa


From the Associated Press:

BERLIN -- The world's biggest industrial countries are failing to keep up with financial promises they made to Africa, rocker-activist Bono said Tuesday, calling a new progress report "a cold shower" for the Group of Eight.

G-8 members in 2004-2006 contributed less than half the amount needed to make good on promises to double Africa aid to $50 billion by 2010, according to a report released by DATA _ Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa _ an advocacy group founded by Bono, the 47-year-old frontman for Irish band U2.

"The G-8 are sleepwalking into a crisis of credibility. I know the DATA report will feel like a cold shower, but I hope it will wake us all up," he said.

Bono is urging German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chairs a G-8 summit in Germany next month, to ensure that members contribute what they said they would.

The report shows the G-8 increased aid by $2.3 billion but says they need to increase aid by an additional $3.1 billion to substantially help the people of Africa.

"These statistics are not just numbers on a page," Bono said. "They are people begging for their lives, for two pills a day, a mother begging to immunize her children, a child begging not to become a mother at the age of 12."

Read the rest here.

Download the Data2007 report here.

Download/stream a podcast of Bono talking with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta about Bono's love for music and "passion to save the world."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sign Avaaz/Global Call to Action Against Poverty's petition to G8 finance ministers

This Friday, the finance ministers of the world's richest countries meet to plan the G8 summit in Germany. Two years ago, they pledged to double aid to Africa--but despite their promises, aid from the G8 has actually gone down, and 30,000 children every day are still dying preventable deaths.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has signed on to a letter organised by activist website Avaaz.org and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. The letter will be featured in big ads in the Financial Times and German press on Friday morning, so that the finance ministers are reminded of their promises before they meet.

The text of the letter is below. Click here to go to avaaz.org and sign it yourself.

Together you represent the world’s economic powerhouses. We write to ask that when you meet in Potsdam Germany this May, you also strive to represent the millions of people whose lives are blighted by extreme poverty. Poverty can be overcome, in part through more and better aid, and we urge you to make good your longstanding commitments to provide 0.7% of national income in effective aid, and to commit to binding timetables to reach aid targets. We also urge you to implement innovative finance mechanisms as a key source of much needed finance for development.

Aid is not a panacea. The aid that is given must be predictable, untied and coordinated. Harmful conditions can undermine the return on investment and aid will not deliver maximum benefit without reform of world trade rules, more debt cancellation and improved governance in the recipient countries.

But economic history shows us what aid can achieve. Marshall Plan aid from the US kick-started the rebuilding of a Europe shattered by war and delivered real benefits to the US in terms of new markets for its goods. Aid to East Asia helped catalyse the economic miracles that have lifted millions of people out of poverty. Today many African governments are using aid to underwrite growth and provide essential schools, health services and water supplies for their people. The poorest countries in the world need you to honour these aid pledges if they are to meet the Millennium Development Goals and end poverty.

Through their unprecedented support for the international movement against poverty, taxpayers have already given you permission to spend their money saving lives. Please seize that chance tomorrow/today.

Keep your promises to end poverty!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why should we as Christians care about the MDGs?

Part of what we're looking to do is collect and create the best resources for establishing the deep theological foundation and context for this mission of global reconciliation. An excellent example is this paper prepared by the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas (Ian is vice-president of EGR's board and a professor of world mission and Christianity at Episcopal Divinity School) for the House of Bishops' meeting this past March.

Ian gives an excellent exposition of the shifting of mission from something done by voluntary associations of the church to the "central calling of the Church," takes us through the scriptural proscription for mission and engagement with the world and finally leads us to the MDGs as a 21st century incarnation of the Church's mission. It's a must read -- and you can read it here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Be the next (or first) Episcopal video star

We've collected some good resources on how to lobby your senators and representatives ... but they're predictably dry and dull. So we figured we'd put your creative talent to work on this.

What we're looking for is a 3-10 minute video that is edgy (even over the edge) and entertaining/hilarious that shows people how to lobby and as a contrast (and here's probably where the funny comes in) how NOT to lobby.

AND THERE'S A PRIZE (that keeps on growing!) So far we have $600 for the winner to either

-donate to an MDG-related organization of their choosing
-put toward an airline ticket for them to travel to the developing world to do MDG work

All entries will be put up on the EGR website and the winner will get their video (with credit given) on the homepage of the EGR website and YouTube group (and we'll spam the Church with emails telling them to watch it) plus we'll play it at diocesan conventions and any other places where we talk about political action for the MDGs.

If you're interested, just email me and I'll send you the "how to lobby" materials we've collected for you to work off of. Deadline for finished product is June 15.

Forward this to anyone you think might be interested. And don't miss this chance to be the next Spike Lee of funny Episcopal short films on lobbying for the MDGs!

Honor Your Mother


Here's the latest from the ONE Campaign -- a great, easy action for Mother's Day:
+++++
Every year, 10 million mothers lose a child under the age of 5 to a completely preventable disease. This Mother's Day, you have an opportunity to give these mothers, and yours, a special gift.

Yesterday morning Congress introduced the U.S. Commitment to Global Child Survival Act. It will provide resources for simple and cost effective tools to save the lives of the 30,000 children who die each day from treatable infections, waterborne illness, malnutrition, and the half a million mothers who die from complications in childbirth.

1. Today, you can honor mothers around the world by sending a letter to your members of Congress asking them to support the Global Child Survival Act.

2. You'll then be taken to a screen where you can send a special ONE Mother's Day greeting to let mothers know you did this in their honor.


Sponsored by Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Gordon Smith (R-OR), the act sets realistic and effective guidelines for child survival programs and quadruples funding for these programs over the next three years.

This bill doesn't just save lives; it empowers mothers to provide for their children so they can safely give their children the gift of life.

Write your member of Congress and encourage them to support the Global Child Survival Act and send a ONE Mother's Day card.

The scale of America's response to this great tragedy has been woefully inadequate, but we have the power to save lives if we take action today on behalf of mothers around the world.

Happy Mother's Day,

Susan McCue, ONE.org

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother's Day Bulletin Insert on MDGs, AWE

Follow this link to a full-color, camera-ready bulletin insert by Episcopal Life.

Here's the text:

Mother’s Day started as Mother’s Peace Day in 1870 when activist Julia Ward Howe – underscoring the pain and suffering caused by the Civil War – urged women to come together in solidarity against warfare in all forms.

To advance this cause, Howe – who also wrote the text of the Battle Hymn of the Republic – penned in Boston her Mother’s Day Proclamation: “Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of fears! Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, ‘Disarm, Disarm!’ … In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”

President Woodrow Wilson’s official 1912 declaration of Mother’s Day dropped the word “Peace,” ironically two years before the outbreak of World War I. Today, peacemaking remains much on the minds of the world’s mothers, especially those with children deployed in active duty – and also those who must struggle daily to provide necessities for their children.

The Episcopal Church is daily engaged in assisting with these concerns. A notable example within U.S. borders are the efforts through which congregations and individuals are helping Gulf Coast residents rebuild their lives after the 2005 hurricanes.

Internationally, the Episcopal Church’s engagement of the Millennium Development Goals brings central focus to the needs of women and children in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, in achieving universal primary education for girls as well as boys, in promoting gender equality and empowering women, in reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

[For more on the Episcopal Church’s efforts in these areas, visit http://www.globalgood.org.]

The need for sharing in these efforts is underscored by the following text written by a girl living in the Prachakittisuk Church Orphanage in Chiangrai, Thailand. Her writing is displayed as part of a collection of art, poetry and essays created for Anglican Women’s Empowerment, an international grassroots organization founded in 2003 to promote gender equity and to mobilize the power of women to pursue a humane agenda worldwide. [For more on AWE, visit http://www.episcopalchurch.org/uncsw.htm]

Essay About My Mother

My teacher asked our class to write an essay about our mothers. The essay is due tomorrow. But this assignment is too diffi cult for me. I don’t have a mother.

How can I write a good essay?

I don’t understand about a mother’s care. Is it true that a mother’s hug is warm? Eating a family dinner is only a dream for me. I’ve never heard a mother’s lullaby. I’ve never felt the warmth of someone tucking me into bed. My heart has never been warm even when I’m warm in bed. I always sleep alone.

I don’t have anything to write for this assignment. I can’t turn anything in for the teacher to read tomorrow. My paper only has tear drops on it.

Mother, if you still alive, wherever you are, whoever you are, please send love to me. If you hear me now, please think of me just a little bit.

I promise I will be a good child.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Microfinancing gains pace in Africa

Ever since Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize, microfinance has been center stage in the development world ... and with good reason. It's a way of bypassing often-corrupt governmental systems and getting money right where it can do the most good ... building economic power on the grassroots level.

The article below outlines some of the growth.

However, as with everything, there is potential for profiteering and abuse. Two of the best examples of Episcopal-based microfinance I know of are Five Talents International and Opportunity Bank of Rwanda. While neither is officially part of the Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion, both have strong Episcopal origins and relationships. Both also are excellent examples of best practices in the field.

By Bosire Nyairo
Reuters
Wednesday, May 2, 2007


NAIROBI: Selling vegetables at a stall in a filthy open-air market in Nairobi, Fatma Amina barely makes enough to feed her four children, let alone give them an education that would lift the family out of poverty.

The Kenyan government receives millions of dollars in aid to fight poverty, but little of it is available to small traders like Amina unless they can put up collateral.

"I hear of donors but where are they?" Amina said.

But that situation may be changing as African countries follow the lead of Asia, where tens of millions of people have obtained small loans, thanks to an explosion of microfinance operations.

Kenya's Microfinance Act, signed into law late last year, provides a legal framework regulating lenders, known in the industry as microfinance institutions.

"It makes business sense for the government to have a clear policy because this is the fastest growing sector of the economy," said Winnie Kathurima, a general manager at Equity Bank, which won an international award in 2005 for its role in providing loans to microentrepreneurs.

Microfinance has been around for decades, but has mushroomed in recent years, especially in Asia where nearly 100 million people have access to it, according to the Microcredit Summit Campaign, which hopes to bring such services to 175 million of the world's poorest families by the end of 2015.

In Africa, the poorest continent, the campaign's figures show seven million people had access to microcredit at the end of 2005.

Germany will press rich nations at a Group of 8 summit meeting in June to create a microcredit fund for African entrepreneurs as a way to help the continent's poorest, the international development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, said in February.

Anna Awimbo, the Microcredit Summit Campaign's research director, said, "There's a long way to go." She added, "It may look daunting, but there is such a huge potential for growth and that's the region where we are most likely to see the biggest growth."

Some governments have already made progress.

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Millennium Development Goals: Broken promises

Thanks to Newland Smith (EGR contact for Diocese of Chicago) who found this article in the online Sunday Times of Sri Lanka!


By Jeffrey Sachs

The Millennium Development Goals are the world's agreed goals to cut poverty, hunger, and disease. Established in 2000, their targets were to be met by 2015. We are now at the halfway point. So far, despite endless words about increasing aid to poor countries, the rich G-8 countries are reneging on their part of the bargain.

Cynicism abounds here. At the G-8 Gleneagles Summit in 2005, member countries pledged to double aid to Africa by 2010. Soon after the summit, I was invited to a small, high-level meeting to discuss the summit's follow-up. I asked for a spreadsheet showing the year-by-year planned increases, and the allocation of those planned increases across donor and recipient countries.

The response I received was chilling. "There will be no spreadsheets. The US has insisted on no spreadsheets." The point was clear. Though the G-8 had made a clear promise, there was no plan on how to fulfill it; indeed, there were clear instructions that there would be no such plan.

The G-8 is now reaping the consequences of its inaction. For the first year after the Gleneagles meeting, aid numbers were padded by misleading accounting on debt cancellation operations. With those debt cancellation operations largely completed, the data are now revealing the stark truth: development aid to Africa and to poor countries more generally is stagnant, contrary to all the promises that were made.

Specifically, between 2005 and 2006, overall aid to Africa, excluding debt cancellation operations, increased by a meager 2%. In fact, total official development assistance to all recipient countries, net of debt cancellation, actually declined by 2% between 2005 and 2006. Even the World Bank, which usually takes the donors' point of view, recently acknowledged that except for debt cancellation, "promises of scaled up aid have not been delivered."


Read the whole article here.

The metrics Sachs are (rightly) looking for from the G-8, resonate with me ... especially when reading Barack Obama's pledge for increased foreign aid (post below). It's all well and good to pledge an increase over four to eight years. But tell me what you're going to do in your first 100 days ... with your first budget. It seems to me that if we're hoping for the next president to make the MDGs a priority (and I hope we are!), that's the question we need to ask ... and not let candidates get away with long-term pledges that most likely will be forgotten by the electorate.

EPPN Alert: Urge President Bush to Bring Hope To Orphans Around the World


Here is the latest Urgent Action from the Episcopal Public Policy Network. To get personalized actions in your email box, join EPPN.

In the weeks leading up to Mothers' Day, Americans committed to the fight against global poverty are coming together to urge President Bush to launch a bold new initiative to bring access to education to orphans and vulnerable children around the world. You may have read about it, or seen it on TV last week, as Angelina Jolie, Episcopal priest Mpho Tutu, and others held a press conference in Washington that highlighted the initiative. This initiative is particularly important for girls, the future mothers, who disproportionately lack access to education in the developing world.

The Crisis:
By 2010, more than 20 million children around the world will have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. Millions more children will be orphaned as a result of malaria, tuberculosis, conflict, and other facets of poverty.

In addition to food, water, and proper health care, each of these children will need access to education if they are to grow up strong and healthy and able to lift themselves out of poverty. In many poor countries around the world, children going to government schools must pay school fees for things such as books, required uniforms, and classroom construction. These fees and other costs make it impossible
for children living in poverty, particularly orphans, to attend school. Right now, more than 100 million children between the ages of six and eleven – 57 percent of whom are girls – are not in school.

Providing access to education for these children is a critical piece of the world's efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. To learn more, visit Global Action for Children, an organization the Episcopal Church helped found in 2003.

What you can do:
You can help bring hope to these children by emailing President Bush today and asking him to launch a new $2.5 billion initiative that will bring education to millions of orphans and vulnerable children. Click here to email the President:

Obama makes foreign aid pledge - but are the numbers right?


On April 23, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama delievered a foreign policy speech in Chicago which included these words:

Delivering on these universal aspirations requires basic sustenance like food and clean water; medicine and shelter. It also requires a society that is supported by the pillars of a sustainable democracy -- a strong legislature, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, a free press, and an honest police force. It requires building the capacity of the world's weakest states and providing them what they need to reduce poverty, build healthy and educated communities, develop markets, and generate wealth. And it requires states that have the capacity to fight terrorism, halt the proliferation of deadly weapons, and build the health care infrastructure needed to prevent and treat such deadly diseases as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

As President, I will double our annual investments in meeting these challenges to $50 billion by 2012 [emphasis added] and ensure that those new resources are directed towards these strategic goals.

For the last twenty years, U.S. foreign aid funding has done little more than keep pace with inflation. Doubling our foreign assistance spending by 2012 will help meet the challenge laid out by Tony Blair at the 2005 G-8 conference at Gleneagles, and it will help push the rest of the developed world to invest in security and opportunity. As we have seen recently with large increases in funding for our AIDS programs, we have the capacity to make sure this funding makes a real difference.


Obama is the second presidential candidate to make a pledge regarding foreign aid and global poverty (John Edwards being the other), so this is a big deal.

However, there is some question as to whether Obama's numbers are correct.

Blogger Steve Clemons applauds his intentions but says his math is off:

I like Obama's intent -- and his worthy goals -- but it's important not to brush over or white-wash the real starting point of the aid dollars that Obama wants to increase.

If we give Obama's number crunchers the benefit of the doubt on the $25 billion level of current assistance the US is providing, there are only a few potential explanations for these numbers.

Most sources peg American poverty-focused development assistance at $16.7 billion. The OECD bumps this to $22.7 billion because the OECD includes a few non-recurring major debt relief packages in Iraq and Afghanistan -- while most of the professionals in this field do not count debt relief as normalized poverty assistance.

Obama may be defining foreign assistance in broad terms which merges aid and debt relief -- including funding that includes non-proliferation efforts, "GWOT" related efforts, etc. (but this is not customary in any way among professionals who work in the foreign assistance arena). Alternatively, Obama may just rounding up for political effect.

If Obama targeted $35 billion in real global poverty assistance, then he'd be developing what was 'real' rather than imagined in America's aid budget.

To provide some further context for current budget levels, these numbers may be helpful:

FY 2007

International Affairs Budget (includes poverty aid and diplomacy)-$32.6 billion

Poverty-Focused Development Assistance-$16.7 billion (according to DATA.org)
$22.7 billion (according to OECD - includes debt cancellation in Iraq and Afghanistan)

Defense Budget (for comparison)- $447.4 billion

FY 2008

International Affairs Budget (includes poverty aid and diplomacy)- $36.5 to $39.8 billion

Poverty-Focused Development Assistance- $19 billion request (according to DATA.org)

Defense Budget (for comparison)- $623.5 billion


Read his whole post here.

Pope: "Development must not ignore moral and religious issues"



The pope doesn't mention the MDGs, but the song is the same. his "three challenges" focus on
1) environmental sustainability
2) human rights and the growing gap between rich and poor countries
3) universal primary education

A message like this from the Vatican is a good conversation-starter for shared global reconciliation ministry with our Roman sisters and brothers.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 1, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from
the Holy Father addressed to Mary Ann Glendon, president of the
Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and to participants in the
academy's 13th plenary assembly which was held in the Vatican from
April 27 to May 1 on the theme: "Charity and Justice in the Relations
among Peoples and Nations."

In his message, published in English and Italian, the Pope makes it
clear that, according to "the principle of the universal destination
of all the goods of creation, ... everything that the earth produces
and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and
technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development
and fulfillment of the human family and all its members."

The Holy Father goes on to identify "three specific challenges
facing our world, challenges which I believe can only be met through a
firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity.

"The first," he adds, "concerns the environment and sustainable
development. The international community recognizes that the world's
resources are limited and that it is the duty of all peoples to
implement policies to protect the environment in order to prevent the
destruction of that natural capital whose fruits are necessary for the
well-being of humanity. ... Also needed is a capacity to assess and
forecast, to monitor the dynamics of environmental change and
sustainable growth, and to draw up and apply solutions at an
international level."

"Indeed, if development were limited to the technical-economic
aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an
integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end
up by unleashing man's destructive capacities."

The second challenge "involves our conception of the human person
and consequently our relationships with one other. If human beings are
not seen as persons, male and female, created in God's image and
endowed with an inviolable dignity, it will be very difficult to
achieve full justice in the world. Despite the recognition of the
rights of the person in international declarations and legal
instruments, much progress needs to be made in bringing this
recognition to bear upon such global problems as the growing gap
between rich and poor countries."

The third challenge "relates to the values of the spirit." Benedict
XVI explains that, "unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which
are properly human expand and multiply when communicated. Unlike
divisible goods, spiritual goods such as knowledge and education are
indivisible."

Having emphasized the urgent need for "a just equality of
opportunity, especially in the field of education and the transmission
of knowledge," the Pope laments the fact that "education, especially
at the primary level, remains dramatically insufficient in many parts
of the world.

"To meet these challenges," he concludes, "only love for neighbor
can inspire within us justice at the service of life and the promotion
of human dignity. Only love within the family, founded on a man and a
woman, who are created in the image of God, can assure that
inter-generational solidarity which transmits love and justice to
future generations. Only charity can encourage us to place the human
person once more at the center of life in society and at the center of
a globalized world governed by justice."