Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gordon Brown to Anglican Communion: "here are millions of people whom you may never meet who owe you a debt of gratitude"

A week ago, the bishops and spouses attending the Lambeth Conference marched through London to show their commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. They were addressed by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Below is a transcript of those remarks.

Let me say first of all that I am privileged and I am humbled to be at a conference of so many men and women for whom I have got the utmost respect, the greatest admiration and the highest affection. And let me immediately thank the Archbishop of Canterbury, let me thank Cardinal O'Connor, let me thank Dr Sachs, Dr Singh, Dr Sacranie, Helen, who have all been on the platform, and all those members of the different denominations who are here today. Let me thank you on behalf of the whole of this country for the work that you do for justice and humanity. And let me thank all men and women, Bishops, Archbishops, families from the 130 countries who are represented here today.

Let me tell you there are millions of people whom you may never meet who owe you a debt of gratitude for the work that you do in upholding the cause of the poor, and I want to thank every person from every country for what you do to remind the world of its responsibilities.

This has been one of the greatest public demonstrations of faith that this great city has ever seen, and you have sent a simple and very clear message, with rising force, that poverty can be eradicated, that poverty must be eradicated, and if we can all work together for change poverty will be eradicated.

You know it was said in ancient Rome of Cicero, that when he came to speak at the forum and crowds came to hear him, they turned to each other after he had spoken, and said: great speech. But it was said of Demosthenes in ancient Athens that when he came to speak and the crowd heard him, they turned to each other and they said: let's march.

And you have marched today under the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, you have marched to stand up for the 10 million children in this world who because of our failure to act collectively will die unnecessary of avoidable deaths from tuberculosis, from polio, from diphtheria, from malaria - all diseases we know we have it in our power to eradicate. You have marched today to speak up for the 77 million children who tomorrow, and every day until we change things, will not be able to go to school because there is no school to go to. And you have marched also, just as 50 years ago many of us marched for the Freedom From Hunger Campaign, for the 100 million people who shamefully and disgracefully today face a summer of starvation and an autumn of famine, all because we cannot yet organise and grow the food we need to meet the needs of the hungry people of this world.

And you have marched, because as Rabbi Sacks once said: "You cannot feast while others starve, you cannot be happy while others are sad, you cannot be fully at ease while millions suffer, and as long as millions of people are in poverty, our whole society is impoverished."

And I believe you have marched because whenever you see suffering you want to heal it, whenever you see injustice you want to rectify, whenever you see poverty you want to bring it to an end. And has that not been the message of the churches and faith groups throughout the ages?

200 years ago was it not men and women of faith and religious convictions who saw an evil and said for the first time that slavery must be brought to an end? Was it not true 100 years ago that men and women of faith and conscience came together with their religious beliefs and said democracy must replace tyranny and every single person should have the vote - a message that we send to Zimbabwe and to other countries where democracy should be flourishing today?

And 50 years ago was it not men and women of conscience and religious faith that when they saw discrimination and prejudice and racism said that you cannot live in a world unless every single citizen, whatever their colour, their race, their background and their birth enjoys equal rights? And was it not the religious movement for change that made it possible for us to talk about a world of equal rights?

And was it not you as individuals in these last 10 years, was it not you in the work you did in Make Poverty History that realised the vision of Isaiah, to undo the burden of debt and let the oppressed go free, and that instead of debts being paid to bankers in rich countries, debt relief was used, so that there are hospitals and schools now open in the poorest countries of the world, thanks to your activities over these last 10 years?

And I want to thank you also because it is because of your efforts in Make Poverty History that there are two million people who are receiving treatment for AIDS today, where otherwise they would not be alive. In the greatest vaccination and immunisation campaign the world has ever seen, as a result of your efforts, 500 million children have been vaccinated. Three million children who would otherwise have died for lack of vaccinations are now living today. And 40 million children are now at school because you have built the schools and you have made it possible for us to employ the teachers in every continent of the world.

But we know that that is not enough, and we know we have only just begun. The Millennium Development Goals that the Archbishop has just mentioned said that by 2015 we would cut infant mortality by two-thirds, and maternal mortality by three-quarters. But on present rates of progress, let us be honest we will not achieve that change in life, not in 2015, not even in 2020 or 2030 - we would not under present rates of progress achieve it until 2050 and lives are being unnecessarily lost as a result of our failure to act.

Take the Millennium Development Goal on children, our promise that every child would be in school by 2015, and on present rates of progress we will not meet that goal in 2015, or in 2050, or even 2100, not before 2115. And take all our Millennium Development Goals to provide water and sanitation and equality and to cut poverty by half, as the slogan said today, and we will not meet that Millennium Development Goal on current rates of progress in this century or in the next.

And I say to you that the poor of the world have been patient, but 100 years is too long for people to wait for justice and that is why we must act now.

We used to be able to say if only we had the technology, if only we had the medicines, if only we had the science, if only we had the engineering skills then we could meet the Millennium Goals. But we know that with the technology we have, the medicine we have, the science we have, it is the will to act that now must be found.

And each of us has our own personal stories of what we have seen.

In Kibera in Kenya I came out of a camp and I saw a young child who was the only person caring for a mother with Aids and with tuberculosis, and that child was only five.

And then I met in Mozambique young children of 11 and 12 who were begging me to have the chance of education.

I met a young man with AIDS in a village hut in Africa who was suffering not just from Aids, but from the stigma of AIDS, and he said to me are we not all brothers?

I saw the sight of a woman leaving a hospital with a dead newborn baby in a sack.

And perhaps the story that I witnessed that influenced me most was a young girl of 12 called Miriam, and I met her in a field in Tanzania, her mother had died from AIDS, her father had died from AIDS, and she was an AIDS orphan being pushed from family to family and she herself had HIV and tuberculosis. And her clothes were in a mess, she was wearing rags, she had no footwear, she was barefoot, her hair was dishevelled. But what struck me most of all was when you meet a young girl of 12 there is hope in their eyes, there is the feeling that their life is ahead of them, a family ahead, work and all the opportunities of youth.

But for that young girl there was an unreachable sadness, hope all but gone. And I decided there and then that if every child is precious - as I believe they are - if, as from my own experience I know, every child is unique, and every child is special, and every child deserves the best chance in life then we must act as a community to change things.

So we need a march not just on Lambeth, we need a march also to New York, to September 25th when the United Nations will meet in emergency session. It is a poverty emergency that needs an emergency session. And I ask you to go back to your countries and I ask you to ask your governments, and I ask you to ask all of civil society to tell people that on September 25th we have got to make good the promises that have been made, redeem the pledges that have been promised, make good the Millennium Development Goals that are not being met.

And I ask you to ask governments to pledge three things, which I pledge on behalf of our government.

The first is instead of 100 years of children not getting education, that by 2010, 40 million more children are in schools, on the road to every child being in schooling by 2015.

And the second pledge I ask you all to ask of your governments to make is instead of 10 million children dying unnecessarily a year, we invest in training four million nurses, and doctors, and midwives and health workers, and provide the equipment so we can do what medicine allows us to do and eradicate polio, tuberculosis, malaria and diphtheria, and then go on to eradicate HIV Aids in our generation.

And I also ask you to go back to your countries and ask your governments to pledge that in a world where 100 million are suffering today from famine, that we set aside $20 billion for food aid, and not only for food aid but to give people the means, free of the old agricultural protectionism for which we should be ashamed, free of that protectionism to grow food themselves with help from our countries to develop a green revolution in Africa. And it is only by doing that [INAUDIBLE]

And if people say to me that these are unrealisable goals, that we are just dreamers, that we are just idealists with illusions, let us remember that 20 years ago they said it was an impossible dream that apartheid would end, they said it was an impossible dream that Nelson Mandela would be free, they said it was an impossible dream that the Cold War would be over, they said it was an impossible dream that the Berlin Wall would come down. But because men and women of faith and religious belief fought hard for these changes, these changes happened.

And so I would say to you to have confidence today, have confidence today that just as Mandela went free and apartheid came to an end, that while the arc of the moral universe is long, it does bend towards justice. And I would say to you, have confidence that just as you managed to achieve debt relief, and just as we have managed to deal with many injustices in the past, that hope even, when trampled to the ground, will rise again and people of goodwill will continue to fight for what is right.

And I ask you finally to have confidence, have confidence that all people round the world of goodwill, people of faith, conviction and religious beliefs, will ensure, in the words of Amos, that justice will flow like water and righteousness like a mighty stream, and there is nothing that we cannot do for justice. If what we do for justice is doing it in unison and together, let's work together for the transformation we know together we can achieve.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Beijing Circles" -- by Lallie Lloyd

The EGR blog in recent days resounds with the voices of people from around the world talking about the MDGs and ending extreme poverty. On July 24 we heard from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was Tony Blair’s Chancellor of the Exchequer and helped make the MDGs a top priority of the 2005 Gleneagles G8 meeting. Mr. Brown stood before a gathering of interfaith leaders hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and thanked people of faith for holding political leaders accountable for their promises to end extreme poverty.

We heard the voice of Martin McCann, who told the story of his Tanzanian namesake, seven-month old Martin Mazengo, who died from malaria. And how that one loss touched so many in their village – a loss that is felt 4 million times a day as children die from malaria, which is both preventable and treatable.

We heard the voice of Fanta Lingani from Burkina Faso, who only eats after the children and her husband are fed, if there is any food left now that food is so expensive.

How do we here in the US raise our voices and make a difference?

On September 26 and 27 Episcopal Divinity School will host a conference on “Beijing Circles,” a process for building community and encouraging women to find their voices, to speak and to act for the change they want in the world.

Beijing Circles are a circle process so-named because their content comes from a 1995 Beijing conference when 189 nations of the world called for changes in girls’ and women’s status, access and support. The circle process reminds us that the challenges facing women around the world are the same as those faced by women in our own communities and that when we do our work, as individuals and neighbors as well as citizens, we build relationships and community with those who may differ from us, and we make the oneness of the body of Christ alive and real.

The Beijing Circle process is intimately related to all the MDGs and especially to the gender-related ones (#2 Universal primary education; #3 Promote gender equality and empower women; #5 Improve maternal health). And that 1995 conference was an important foundation for the work of the 2000 Millennium Summit that spawned the MDGs.

It turns out that when we listen to women around the world, they want food for their children, and nets to protect the children from malaria. They want roads and clinics and schools. They want the fighting to stop and the men to stay home.

And when women gather in circles here at home, we can find our longing and recognize our passion and know that our desire to heal the suffering of the world is a God-given grace that will not overwhelm us if we speak it to others, ground it in prayer and reflection and release it through action and expression.

So come to the Beijing Conference in September if you can. And tell your circles of friends and colleagues. And learn about Beijing Circles. Material and information is available through the Office of Women’s Ministries at the Episcopal Church and through a website founded by Eleanor Ellsworth and Janie Davis (

"Rwanda's Women are Leading the Way" -- by Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain wrote this op-ed for yesterday's edition of the Wall Street Journal about her travels in Rwanda and the living example she found of the critical nature of women's empowerment.

I have recently returned from Rwanda. I was last there in 1994, at the height of the genocide that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandans. The memories of what I saw haunt me still.

I wasn't sure what to expect all these years later, but I found a country that has found in its deep scars the will to move on and rebuild a civil society. And the renaissance is being led by women.

Women are at the forefront of the physical, emotional and spiritual healing that is moving Rwandan society forward. One of them, from eastern Rwanda, told me her story -- a violent, tragic and heartbreaking testimony of courage. She spoke of surviving multiple gang rapes, running at night in fear of losing her life, going days without food or water and witnessing the death of her entire family -- one person at a time, before her eyes.

The injuries she sustained left her unable to bear children. Illness, isolation and an utter lack of hope left her in abject despair.

And yet the day I met her, she wasn't consumed by hatred or resentment. She sat, talking with me and a few others, beside a man who had killed people guilty of nothing more than seeking shelter in a church. She forgave him. She forgave the perpetrators of her tragedy, and she explained her story with hope that such cruelty would never be repeated.

It is a humbling experience to be in the presence of those who have such a capacity for forgiveness and care. It is also instructive. If wealthy nations want their assistance programs to be effective, they should look to the women who form the backbone of every society. With some education, training, basic rights and empowerment, women will transform a society -- and the world.

Women today make up a disproportionate percentage of the Rwandan population. In the aftermath of the genocide, they had to head households bereft of fathers. They had to take over farms, and take jobs previously done by men. But there were opportunities, too: Today, 41% of Rwandan businesses are owned by women.

I saw their impact first hand at a coffee project in the city of Nyandungu. All the washing and coffee-bean selection is done by hand, by women there. Women to Women International, a remarkably active and innovative nongovernmental organization, has already helped over 15,000 Rwandan women through a year-long program of direct aid, job-skills training and education.

The organization is launching a project to train 3,000 women in organic agriculture, and is reaching out to females across the country. The women who instruct their fellow war survivors in economic development are an inspiration to those who cherish the essential benevolence of humanity.

But that is just the beginning. A new constitution ratified in 2003 required that women occupy at least 30% of the seats in parliament. (In our House and Senate only about 17% of the seats are filled by women.) Some wondered at the time whether it was feasible to meet this target. Now, nearly half of parliament and a third of the president's cabinet posts are held by women. Rwanda today has the world's highest percentage of female legislators.

Rwanda has a dark past but a bright future. It has a long way to go -- the country remains one of the world's poorest, and the social reverberations of the genocide are evident everywhere. Yet in the midst of tragedy, the women are building something genuinely new. Perhaps it is fitting that a nation so wracked by death could give birth to a vibrant new age. I know that one thing is clear: Through their bold and courageous actions, these women should inspire not only their fellow Africans, but all individuals -- men and women -- across the globe.

Mrs. McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain and mother of four, founded the American Voluntary Medical Team, which helps bring doctors to war-torn countries.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Death has a name" - by Martin McCann

On April 6th, we went with a beloved Msalato Theological College student, Ayubu Mazengo, to baptize his five-month old son, Martin Nyemo, named for me, the godfather. We meet Mollen, his mother, and the rest of the family in their village. Sandra preaches and does the baptism. It is a joyous occasion. Ayubu related to Sandra some of his dreams and hopes for Martin’s life. Martin looked just like his father, Ayubu, (Job in English) and is robust and healthy.

Click here to see a short slide show of little Martin's baptism.

Slightly over two months later on June 9th, I got a call from Sandra that Martin is very sick. After work I stopped at the local hospital to visit. He was getting IV medicine for malaria and was nursing. I was relieved and brought good news of his progress home to Sandra. No one could have been more surprised than me when the next day Sandra calls to say he had died in the morning. How fragile life is. We were devastated.

Sandra was asked to do the sermon for the funeral that day. We went back to Martin’s village that afternoon for the sermon and burial. Many faculty, students, and staff from Msalato went with us. The massive assemblage of people from the village was overwhelming. It was too much for words to describe, and we felt photos were not appropriate. Sandra’s sermon was as uplifting as one could be in such a situation.

Martin was wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid out on a kanga on the dirt floor of his home. For the funeral service, which took place on the grounds outside his home, his body was placed under a tree on a low table. After the service, we gathered at the gravesite a few hundred meters from Martin’s home. A priest friend of Ayubu jumped down into the grave and received the body, which he laid on the floor of the grave. Some men then handed down to this priest pre-cut tree branches that he wedged into the sides of the grave above the body. The result was what looked like a ladder lying flat above the body. A piece of a plastic feed sack was laid on this wooden lattice upon which were placed piles of beautiful green leafy branches followed by layers of deep red bougainvillea. (While this was happening, a priest leaned over to Sandra and said, This is the way we make our coffins.) Then the red earth was shoveled on top of the flowers after those around the grave had thrown in handfuls of dirt saying, Earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. The gravediggers filled the grave to overflowing and meticulously molded and smoothed the heaved-up mound of dirt with sticks. Finally, they laid the handle of the shovel onto the molded earth and made the vertical and horizontal imprints of the cross in the red dirt. Men around the grave then gathered small stones and filled in the imprints producing a natural stone cross. At the close of the service- family and friends came and laid more bougainvillea on top. It was all very moving, very beautiful, and very sad.

The death of a child in the West is no less traumatic for the families involved, it is just so much less common. Worldwide there are 300-500 million new cases of malaria annually. It is the most deadly vector-borne illness, causing 3.5-5 million deaths annually. Many of these deaths are in children 1-4 years of age. It is estimated that in Africa a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. Treated bednets are a priority of the World Health Organization’s program, Roll Back Malaria.

A fellow priest wrote to Sandra after hearing of Martin’s death: Guess we need to preach more about sleeping under mosquito nets and making sure that we destroy all breeding places than preaching about soul winning and going to heaven! A lot also needs to be done to reduce the delays and shortcomings in delivery of treatment. A major problem has been the emergence of Chloroquin resistance in Plasmodium falciparum (the major killer and commonest form of malaria in Africa). Millennium Development Goal #6 is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

In our grief, Magi Griffin, the other Atlanta missionary in this diocese who had gone to Martin’s baptism with us, reminded us in a sweet note: Death has a name. Precious Martin. How easy it is for us to fall into the terrible trap of thinking that because death is so common here that it is not as traumatic for them as for us. Martin’s death has certainly brought this home to us. Although we have watched his family cope in a very heroic and stoic fashion, nevertheless we have witnessed the picture of deep grief etched in their faces; we have seen their silent tears; we have heard the quiet groans of grief that only a mother could make.

I have heard many people from abroad say: Death is different here. People just accept it. It is just a part of life. The latter is a true statement, but the fact that it is common does not in any way reduce the particularity or the pain. As Magi so aptly reminded us, Death has a name.

One of the hardest things to accept about Martin’s death is that we do not think that this would have happened in the West. Poor village families are late to get to a hospital because of distance, lack of transport and money. And even after getting to a hospital, we find ourselves wondering if treatment is appropriate and timely. I think most of the missionaries feel that if malaria were such a huge problem in the US or Europe that even if a cure or vaccine had not been discovered, we would have found ways to successfully control it. We are grateful for the NetsForLife program. We tell Martin’s story not only because it is the one we know but also in the hope that it will encourage you not to forget that it is individuals with names who are make up those overwhelming statistics which can make one’s eyes blur over.

Dr. Martin McCann set up a histopathology laboratory in the Mackay House Anglican Mission Clinic in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. In addition, he is working as a consultant and teacher at the Mvumi Anglican Mission Hospital in the same diocese. He and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Sandra McCann, are living in Tanzania as appointed missionaries of The Episcopal Church. You can read more about their life and work at

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Love my neighbor -- through conversation rather than clash" -- by the Micah Challenge

Today's post is from the Micah Challenge, a global Christian campaign to achieve the MDGs. Part of their mission is a weekly prayer emailing like the one you see below. You can receive it in your email box every week send a blank email to with the words 'subscribe prayer' in the subject line.


We are living in ‘an age when different civilisations will have to learn to live side by side in peaceful interchange, learning from each other, studying each other’s histories and ideals and art and culture, mutually enriching each other’s lives. The alternative in this overcrowded little world is misunderstanding, tension, clash and catastrophe.’

Today’s reflection is a short book review on Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order.

‘The book’s thesis sees the world becoming made up of resurgent major civilisational (or cultural) people groups transcending artificial country borders and previous political / trade / security alliances. In this new world, local politics is the politics of ethnicity; global politics is the politics of civilisations.’

Julian Doorey, who is working in Bangladesh, reflects on questions like: How can we love all people, even those different to ourselves? How can we share something of the ‘Kingdom of God having come amongst us’ to our Muslim neigbours?

He concludes: ‘Is this not to love my neighbour - through conversation rather than clash?’

The story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ in Luke 10: 25-37 is essentially a story about loving our neighbour across religious and ethnic differences.


Let us pray:

*That as Christians we will be known for sincere and respectful conversations with our ‘neighbours’ despite possible differences in worldview and religion.

*For Micah Challenge New Zealand. The campaign has recently recruited Paul Thompson to be its part-time coordinator.

*Please pray for energy and enthusiasm for Paul as he settles into the job, develops a campaign strategy for the rest of the year and starts to engage with supporters and key stakeholders.

*Rev Patson Netha from Zimbabwe writes:
‘Please could you continue to pray for Zimbabwe particularly in the political negotiations that are taking place. This looks like one of the best options that Zimbabwe has in solving its crisis.’

*Reflecting on the statistic below: we give thanks that an increasing number of men, women and children have access to improved sanitation facilities.

We pray that governments will be determined to improve access to safe water and sanitation by providing access to low-cost technical options for safe sanitation.

Meditate on the Statistics

As you spend time in prayer and reflection, you may like to take a moment to silently understand with your heart the focus statistic we include each week (see below). Our hope is that you will find this series of statistics a useful resource in preparing presentations.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Target 10: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

‘More and more people are now using improved sanitation facilities - that is, facilities that ensure human excreta are disposed of in a way that prevents them from causing disease by contaminating food and water sources. Though the practice of open defecation is on the decline worldwide, 18 per cent of the world's population, totaling 1.2 billion people, still practise it. In southern Asia, some 778 million people still rely on this riskiest sanitation practice. ‘

‘At current trends, the world will fall short of the Millennium sanitation target by more than 700 million people,’ said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. ‘Without dramatic improvements, much will be lost.’

Source: 2008 Update Report:"Progress on Drinking-water and Sanitation: special focus on sanitation; UNICEF/ WHO, July 2008

"House Passes Broader Plan to Fight HIV/AIDS" -- by the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Thursday to triple financing to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis around the world, giving new life and new punch to a program credited with saving or prolonging millions of lives in Africa alone.

The 303-to-115 vote sends the bill to President Bush for his signature. Mr. Bush, who first floated the idea of a campaign against AIDS in his 2003 State of the Union address, supports the five-year, $48 billion plan.

The passage of the bill was a rare instance of cooperation between the White House and the Democrat-controlled Congress. It was “born out of a willingness to work together and put the United States on the right side of history when it comes to this global pandemic,” said Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, a leader on the issue.

The current $15 billion act, which expires at the end of September, has helped bring lifesaving antiretroviral drugs to about 1.7 million people and supported care for nearly 7 million. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as Pepfar, has won plaudits from some of Mr. Bush’s harshest critics.

Representative Howard L. Berman, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the United States “has given hope to millions infected with H.I.V., which just a few years ago was tantamount to a death sentence.” H.I.V. is the virus that causes AIDS.

According to a study by Unaids and the Kaiser Family Foundation, the United States provided one-fifth of AIDS financing from all sources — governments, international aid groups and the private sector — in 2007. Of the $4.9 billion disbursed in 2007 from the Group of 8 countries, Europe and other donor governments, about 40 percent came from the United States.

Read the whole story here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

March with the Bishops at Lambeth TODAY!

Click here to join the "Virtual March for the MDGs" and get the Jubilee Act through the Senate!

TODAY, the more-than 600 Anglican bishops participating in the decennial Lambeth Conference marched through Central London in a Walk of Witness - a symbolic moment of solidarity and coming together for the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - to reflect to the world God's desire for justice and concern for the poor.

Scroll to the bottom of this post for video of the march from The Daily Telegraph.

Read the Episcopal News Service coverage of the march here.

See coverage of the march on the BBC's website.

Click here for BBC video of the march, including aerial photos.

As a way for Episcopalians at home to participate, the EPPN and Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation are sponsoring a "Virtual March for the MDGs" to coincide with the Lambeth Conference walk. The aim is the same. Only instead of walking through the streets of London, we'll be sending emails to Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. asking them to share our commitment to the MDGs and making poverty history.

As the bishops walk through London, the United States Senate is about to consider one of the most important bills of the last decade to focus on fighting global poverty. The Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Debt Cancellation (S. 2166) would continue the process of canceling the debts of dozens of poor countries around the world so that they can invest in achieving the MDGs. (Click here for comprehensive information about the Jubilee Act from Jubilee USA) The House has already passed the Jubilee Act, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has given the bill its strong bipartisan backing. Senate floor approval is all that remains, but with time tight on the congressional calendar for the remainder of the year, there's no guarantee that the Jubilee Act will receive a vote. That's why your voice is needed to urge action now.

The word Jubilee in the scriptures refers to periods of time in which God commands the children of Israel to free prisoners, release captives, forgive debts, and allow life to return to the equilibrium God intends for it. Today, Jubilee is something very practical for the health and wholeness of our world, as crippling debt burdens are siphoning money from the poorest countries that should be spending it on the health and critical basic needs of their people. The successful Jubilee 2000 movement – which was endorsed by the 1998 Lambeth Conference – resulted in groundbreaking but limited debt cancellation for some poor countries. It taught us that debt relief works, leading to clean water, childhood vaccinations, school enrollment, and fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria. That's why debt relief is one of the spokes of the MDGs, and why it's so important to begin canceling the debts of countries that have seen no debt relief so far and which need it to meet the MDGs by 2015.

The Jubilee Act begins this vital process. Click here to send a message to your Senators urging them to pass this vital legislation immediately.

Click here to download a pdf of the letter Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the bishops and spouses of the Anglican Communion are delivering to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today.

Click here for prayers and bulletin inserts for this Sunday to let your congregation "March with the Bishops"

Click here to email us and let us know if your congregation is participating so we can add you to the list!

The large photos in this post are courtesy of Chris Clement and Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service. The small photo of British PM Gordon Brown and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is from the BBC.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Sudanese Bishops Statement to the Lambeth Conference" -- presented by the Most Revd. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul

There's been a lot of talk about one statement made by Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul yesterday at Lambeth. What has been completely lost in that hubbub is the other statement made by the Archbishop on behalf of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. It is a critical statement and EGR commends it for your prayer and study.

The entire statement is below, but some key "asks" are:

*International pressure for peace in Darfur as part of a "whole Sudan approach" to conflict in Sudan, realizing that the conflicts in Darfur and in the South are inextricably linked.

*Continued education and political pressure around the Referendum of 2011, which would provide the opportunity for independence for Southern Sudan.

*Continued political pressure to abide by the Abyei protocol of the CPA.

*Support for the Church in the North in the face of religious persecution from the government.

*Continued pressure on peace talks with the Lord's Resistance Army and Ambororo.

*Support in terms of relief and development, to help communities provide clean water, security, health and education for returning refugees and internally displaced persons.

*Support from the Lambeth Conference and Anglican Communion to "stand in solidarity with the Sudanese Church and people."

*Prayers and fellowship to encourage and support the Church in its mission.

The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, in consultation with the Episcopal Office of Government Relations, has developed a "Sudan Advocacy Action Guide" that addresses these points and has talking points and a letter template. You can download it here and substitute your own senators' and representative's contact information (as well as tweak the language to suit your situation).

Please spread the word about this "other statement" ... and don't let cries of the Sudanese people get drowned out.

Your Grace, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Your Graces, the Archbishops of our beloved Anglican Communion,
Your Lordships, the Bishops of the Anglican Communion and the clergy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We greet you all in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We, the Sudanese Bishops gathering at the Lambeth Conference, would like on behalf of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) and the whole Sudanese people, to acknowledge and appreciate your prayers and support during the 21 years of war in Southern Sudan and in reaching the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement / Army (SPLM/A) on 9th January 2005. The CPA provides the basis for a just and sustainable peace in the Sudan. We give thanks to God for the agreement and express our support for all efforts to ensure its full and timely implementation.

After 21 years of war, in which more than 2 million people lost their lives and more than 4 million people have become refugees or internally displaced, we are greatly encouraged at thenew future offered by the CPA. However, we remain deeply concerned that the conflict in Darfur, in Western Sudan, continues unabated, and at the localized conflict in several places which threatens stability and the sustainability of peace. We therefore wish to share with you the following concerns:

1. Situation in Darfur

Despite the Government of Sudan's official estimate of not more than 10,000 people killed in the fighting in Darfur, the UN has estimated there to have been some 300,000 war-related deaths since the conflict escalated in 2003. Whatever the exact figures, this continuing loss of life is an affront to all people who value human life and to religious faith in the God of mercy. The finding of a political solution remains an urgent priority as well as the full deployment of an effective UN/AU joint mission. Continuing international pressure is needed on both the Government of Sudan and the now numerous armed groups to bring an end to the violence, to hold its perpetrators accountable, and to engage in constructive negotiations to address the grievances of the region.

Although Darfur is a predominantly Muslim region, the Church is playing a growing role in responding to the humanitarian needs and providing education to displaced communities as part of its practical witness to the Gospel. Substantial humanitarian assistance will continue to be needed for whole communities displaced with no early prospects of return.

We are concerned that the Darfur situation cannot be viewed in isolation. Continuing conflict in Darfur would undermine the prospects of peace in the South, while the going back on commitments made to achieve peace in the South would remove any credibility from the Government of Sudan in negotiations over Darfur. We therefore call for a whole Sudan approach, within which implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, plays an essential part.

2. Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)

For the opportunity for a just and sustainable peace to be realized, full implementation of the CPA needs to be ensured. We recognize the holding of the Referendum in 2011 on the future political status of Southern Sudan as being of key significance in its implementation. We affirm the right of every human being to decide his or her destiny and accordingly we support the right of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan to decide their future, whether for unity or separation. We have therefore committed ourselves to raise awareness of the Referendum, as well as the whole CPA, to ensure that the process is carried out with proper transparency

While progress has been made in several significant areas, including the establishment of the Government of National Unity and of the Government of Southern Sudan to look after the affairs of the South, we remain concerned at the delays or refusal to implement other elements, such as demarcation of the North-South border. This risks undermining confidence between the patties or in the wider communities.

3. Destruction of Abyei

The destruction of the town of Abyei and displacement of the area's population of over 90,000 people in May 2008 represents the most serious violation of the CPA to date. As an oil-rich area on the border between Northern and Southern Sudan, Abyei was accorded special administrative status under its own Protocol within the CPA. The Government of Sudan failed to honour these terms, declining to accept the binding recommendations of the Abyei Boundaries Commission and delaying in providing an administration for the area. Instead, a build-up in troops of both parties to the CPA resulted in fighting and the destruction of the town and displacement of its entire population, for many people the third time they have been displaced by their own government. They are now in urgent need of assistance and of support for re-building Abyei and resettling there.

The non-implementation to date of the Abyei Protocol constitutes a serious threat to the CPA. Vigilance will be needed from the international community to ensure that the parties' commitments are honoured.

4. Position of the Church in Northern Sudan

Although the country's new Constitution under the CPA provides for freedom of religion and the protection of non-Muslims in the national capital, the church continues to face pressure and discrimination in Northern Sudan. Leverage is needed for the repealing of discriminatory laws, such as those which restrict access to land for the building of churches. Constructive dialogue between Christians and Muslims is needed at all levels.

We are further concerned at the church's vulnerability in the North in any future political dispensation. We see the need for the unity of the church whatever the political boundaries and for efforts to consolidate the position of the church through capacity building and developing church links both inside and outside Sudan. The early church in Northern Sudan died through its isolation from the outside world amid the growing influence of Islam. The church there is now alive again and needs sustained support to safeguard its brighter future.

5. Atrocities of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Ambororo

The Ugandan rebels known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) arc adversely affecting the stales of Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria, with their forces stationed in the borders of Sudan with Congo and Central African Republic. Despite efforts to mediate between the Ugandan Government and the LRA, attacks continue on villages, such as the attack on Nabanga in Ibba Diocese on 5th June 2008 in which 500 people were internally displaced and left dispossessed. The LRA presence, together with that of armed Arab nomads known as the Ambororo, is causing fear and instability in the region, disrupting cultivation and schooling. Continued pressure is needed to bring the LRA talks to a successful conclusion and to end these armed attacks.

6. Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced People

The return of refugees and those internally displaced is one of the fruits of the CPA but presents major practical challenges. Lack of support for repatriation is hindering their return, as is fear of insecurity in their areas. The Church is assisting with the re-integration of those returning, co-operating with local government to welcome them on their arrival and helping to prepare communities for the diverse cultures from which people are returning, whether from. Khartoum, East Africa or overseas. Much support will be needed, both in terms of relief and development, to help communities to provide clean water, security, health and education.

On all these issues which are key to the prospect of peace for Sudan, we appeal to those attending the Lambeth Conference, and the whole Anglican Communion, to continue to stand in solidarity with the Sudanese church and people. We request support in political advocacy to tackle the challenges before the country. We appeal for practical support to help respond to the many needs faced. But above all we request your continued prayers and fellowship to encourage and support the church in its mission. We believe that God has called us to preach the Good News in the Sudan, the land referred to in the Bible as the land of Cush, to reach the unreached so as to fulfill His great commission in Matthew 28.16. Our people are hungry for spiritual food and seek to grow to maturity so that they may propagate the culture of love, peace and justice which we have lost during the struggle. May God bless us all in this mission.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Africa's Last and Least" -- by Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post Foreign Service

From Sunday's Washington Post, a great and terrible story about how the global food crisis disproportionately affects women.


After she woke in the dark to sweep city streets, after she walked an hour to buy less than $2 worth of food, after she cooked for two hours in the searing noon heat, Fanta Lingani served her family's only meal of the day.

First she set out a bowl of corn mush, seasoned with tree leaves, dried fish and wood ashes, for the 11 smallest children, who tore into it with bare hands.

Then she set out a bowl for her husband. Then two bowls for a dozen older children. Then finally, after everyone else had finished, a bowl for herself. She always eats last.

A year ago, before food prices nearly doubled, Lingani would have had three meals a day of meat, rice and vegetables. Now two mouthfuls of bland mush would have to do her until tomorrow.

Rubbing her red-rimmed eyes, chewing lightly on a twig she picked off the ground, Lingani gave the last of her food to the children.

"I'm not hungry," she said.

In poor nations, such as Burkina Faso in the heart of West Africa, mealtime conspires against women. They grow the food, fetch the water, shop at the market and cook the meals. But when it comes time to eat, men and children eat first, and women eat last and least.

Soaring prices for food and fuel have pushed more than 130 million poor people across vast swaths of Africa, Asia and Latin America deeper into poverty in the past year, according to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP). But while millions of men and children are also hungrier, women are often the hungriest and skinniest. Aid workers say malnutrition among women is emerging as a hidden consequence of the food crisis.

"It's a cultural thing," said Herve Kone, director of a group that promotes development, social justice and human rights in Burkina Faso. "When the kids are hungry, they go to their mother, not their father. And when there is less food, women are the first to eat less."

A recent study by the aid group Catholic Relief Services found that many people in Burkina Faso are now spending 75 percent or more of their income on food, leaving little for other basic needs such as medical care, school fees and clothes.

Pregnant women and young mothers are forgoing medical care. More women are turning to prostitution to pay for food. And more families are pulling children -- especially girls -- out of school.

Read the entire story here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Urgent Action - Ask Your Senators to cosponsor the Global Poverty Act" -- from Bread for the World

Ask your senators to cosponsor the Global Poverty Act (S.2433) and pass the legislation before the end of this congressional session. Call 1-800-826-3688 as soon as possible but no later than July 25.

[Note: This toll-free number will connect you to the Capitol switchboard, where you will ask to be connected to your senator's office in order to leave your message. Find out who your senators are.]

  • Please cosponsor the Global Poverty Act. (If your senator is already a cosponsor--click here for the list--your talking points will be different. Read the list of talking points for senators who have signed on as cosponsors.)
  • With time running out on the legislative calendar, Senate leadership needs to see a robust list of cosponsors to move this important bill to the floor.
  • The Global Poverty Act seeks to bring clarity, coordination, and accountability to our foreign assistance programs. It has already passed through the House and has bipartisan support in the Senate.
  • The act would require the president to develop and implement a coordinated strategy of U.S. aid, debt relief, and trade policies to meet the goal of cutting by half the number of people who live on less than $1 a day by 2015.

  • Background

    As Congress approaches the end of the current legislative session, the Global Poverty Act (S. 2433) still awaits passage by the full Senate. This bill must be passed before the session ends, or the process will have to start all over again in the next Congress. The Global Poverty Act has already passed the full House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; it is now time to push Senate leadership to move this bill to the floor for full Senate consideration.

    The best way to make the case to leadership that the Global Poverty Act should be considered by the full Senate is to have a strong bipartisan list of senators cosponsoring the legislation. Presently, the bill has been cosponsored by 24 senators. To see if your Senator is already a cosponsor, click here.

    The Global Poverty Act seeks to bring clarity, coordination, and accountability to our foreign assistance programs. Currently, U.S. global development policies and programs are scattered across more than 25 different federal agencies. Increased coordination is sorely needed to be more effective. The act would require the president to develop and implement a coordinated strategy of U.S. aid, debt relief, and trade policies to meet the goal of cutting by half the number of people who live on less than $1 a day by 2015. The legislation would require regular reports to Congress on U.S. efforts to fight extreme poverty.

    The Global Poverty Act does not establish any new programs. Instead, it highlights the fact that extreme poverty won't be solved by aid alone, but needs to be supported by good trade policy, debt cancellation, and public-private partnerships. These functions are currently scattered across the U.S. government. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bill would cost less than $1 million to implement.

    The Global Poverty Act (H.R. 1302) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and collected 84 bipartisan cosponsors before it was passed on September 25, 2007. The Senate bill, S. 2433, was passed by the Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year and awaits the full approval of the Senate.

    Thanks to EGR advocacy team member Madeleine Beard for forwarding this alert from Bread.

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    "A message from Sudan" -- by Mama Daria Kwaje

    Dear readers,

    Long time I did not participate in writing due to my being away to the areas where I could not have access to internet.

    First thing I want from you is to pray for my country Sudan, last months I was in one of my state the Western Equatoria State for the Mothers Union training of entrepreneurship to give them skills of how to start a small business to support their needs, and the purpose is to fight poverty according to the MDGs.

    I want to tell you what happened before the day of the training, somebody ran to the house of the Rev. where we were accommodated and said that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) the rebels of Uganda, has entered to the town so we should be on stand by. And we found that all the neigbours ran and stayed for the whole night in and out side the compound of the Rev with and aim that, that was the house of the Rev. God will be available there to guide them, that was their belief, and nothing happened it was just a rumor. The whole population was staying in fear -- that was my concern. We need to pray for the community there because any rumors approach them, they took it into consideration with a lot of fear.

    Thank God we were able to strenghten them with the word of God and lastly the government took that initiative to call all the community for a demonstration against LRA. And now the commnity is calm again.

    Today the Mothers Union and the women in the community together with the students and all the men and our government, we celebrated the World Health Day Population, marching from Ministry of Health to the Culture Centre, It was organized by the Mininistry of Health.

    The theme was the Family Planning, It was picked from MDG goal 5 because today the rate of maternal deaths was so high, even the mortality of the infants especially those under 5. Most of our people have not access to take care of the children due to economic factors. This affects even the education of our children and all the basic needs, so the challenge goes to the parents if they could decide for the number of children that they can produce due to their economic status. So still we need prayers for that because it greatly effects affects women and the children.

    God bless you all.

    Mama Daria

    Mama Daria Kwaje is a Mother's Union Provincial Worker for the Episcopal Church of Sudan.

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    "Advocacy for Abundance" -- by the Micah Challenge

    Today's post is from the Micah Challenge, a global Christian campaign to achieve the MDGs. Part of their mission is a weekly prayer emailing like the one you see below. You can receive it in your email box every week send a blank email to with the words 'subscribe prayer' in the subject line.


    ‘If Zambians work like donkeys, why is poverty so rife especially among communities where people work in the morning, at noon and evening?’ asks Lawrence Temfwe from Micah Challenge Zambia, reflecting on a recent article in the national newspaper and a song by a Zambian musician.

    One of the reasons, he argues, is the lack of long-term planning: ‘most of our people work that they have food to eat at night.’

    In Genesis 41: 25-38 we read of Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream and his recommendation to be good stewards of resources in the years of abundance so to be prepared for the years of famine.


    Let us pray:

    *Lawrence asks us to pray for our political and civil society leaders, that they may ‘provide guidance on how we should live and perform duties in order to profit from the abundant resources God has blessed us with’.

    *Next Thursday, July 24, more than 600 Anglican bishops, their spouses and other faith leaders from around the United Kingdom will march through central London on a Walk of Witness - a symbolic moment of solidarity and coming together for the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals to reflect to the world God's desire for justice and concern for the poor.

    Please pray for:

    *The Micah Challenge team as they help to organise this event and further participate in specific sessions around global poverty issues at the forthcoming Lambeth conference.

    *A joint statement that will be issued by the Anglican Communion as a call to action towards achieving the MDGs to world leaders gathered at the UN summit in September.

    *The ‘Virtual March for the MDGs’ which is organised by Micah Challenge US steering group member Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation to coincide with the Walk of Witness. The aim is to march virtually by sending emails to Washington, D.C. asking US leaders to share our commitment to the MDGs and halve poverty by 2015.

    For more information and to sign up please click here.

    Reflecting on the statistic below: we praise God for the progress that was made in achieving education for all by 2015. We pray for continued good national policies and a renewed effort of the international community to invest in basic education which will benefit the poorest of the poor.

    Meditate on the Statistics
    As you spend time in prayer and reflection, you may like to take a moment to silently understand with your heart the focus statistic we include each week (see below). Our hope is that you will find this series of statistics a useful resource in preparing presentations.

    Goal 2: Ensure access to primary schooling for all children

    Target 3: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

    ‘Primary school enrolment rose from 647 million to 688 million worldwide between 1999 and 2005, increasing by 36% in sub-Saharan Africa and 22% in South and West Asia. As a result, the number of out-of-school children declined, with the pace of this decrease particularly marked after 2002.’

    ‘The cost of schooling remains a major obstacle to education for millions of children and youth despite the abolition of primary school tuition fees in fourteen countries since 2000.’

    ‘Illiteracy is receiving minimal political attention and remains a global disgrace, keeping one in five adults (one in four women) on the margins of society.’

    ‘Aid to basic education in low-income countries more than doubled between 2000 and 2004 but decreased significantly in 2005.’
    Source: Education for All by 2015: Will we make It? -
    Global Monitoring Report 2008, UNESCO, July 2008

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    PEPFAR Passes the Senate 80-16!

    Here's the latest good news from the ONE Campaign blog (
    After weeks of ONE Campaign members relentlessly writing and calling their senators, and great work by so many partner organizations, we’ve successfully unstuck billions of dollars in AIDS, TB and malaria!

    We dodged several potentially devastating amendments over the last 2 days - pieces of legislation that would have put millions of lives at risk. We did lose one amendment-fight, however, so the total funding for PEPFAR for the next five years will now be $48 billion, instead of the original $50 billion.

    After last night's Senate vote, the bill will go back to the House and then onto the president to sign. We are hopeful those processes will be swift.

    Given how much we had to fight to reauthorize this bill this year- this is a great victory for us. Thank you to everyone who contacted their members of Congress to pass PEPFAR. Literally, millions of lives will be saved with this funding.

    Below, a quote from ONE Campaign Legislative Director Tom Hart (who, BTW, is the former head of the Episcopal Office of Government Relations):

    “Even as Americans face serious concerns at home, the Senate has proved America’s commitment to providing lifesaving medicines to the world’s most vulnerable people. PEPFAR is an investment in people around the world; but it is also an example of America’s generosity and a critical piece of American diplomacy. By treating and preventing disease and saving lives, we can help to create more stable communities and a more secure future for Americans.
    "Senators Biden, Lugar and Reid are true heroes for their persistence and patience in passing this bill. This legislation received strong support from co-sponsoring Senators on both sides of the aisle, including both Presidential candidates.”
    For something really interesting go here -- and see all the different proposed amendments and their results.

    Great work, everyone!!! But there's still more. Our senators need to know when they've done a good job ... and they need to know when we're unhappy with their performance.

    Click here to see how your senators voted, then click here to get contact information for your senators, make the call and tell them what you thought of their vote!

    "On the Way to Durban" -- by Jennifer Morazes

    Hi Everyone – This Friday July 18th, I am off to Durban, South Africa to participate in the 34th Biannual Congress of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). I will present a paper called Partnering with Faith Communities: International Social Welfare Cooperation Supporting the Millennium Development Goals. I will also visit friends in Capetown (members of the Anglican Student Federation) and see my godson and his newborn brother! Finally, I hope to visit the Trauma Centre and the Institute for the Healing of Memories while in Capetown.

    The movement of faith-based approaches to poverty, health, education and peace on a global scale is resurging, thanks in part to organizations like EGR. I have been aware personally of various Christian and Islamic faith-based efforts. If you are interested in knowing more about this topic, I would recommend looking at the World Faiths Development Dialogue, as well as two books by Katherine Marshall – Mind, Heart and Soul in the Fight against Poverty and Development and Faith: Where Mind, Heart and Soul Work Together. In the second book, Marshall talks about Five Talents as well as quotes Sabina Alkire and Edmund Newell’s book What Can One Person Do? Faith to Heal a Broken World.

    I hope to send in a blog entry while in South Africa – stay tuned!

    Jennifer Morazes is graduate of Episcopal Divinity School in the area of Theology and Contemporary Society. Currently studying in the School of Social Welfare in the MSW/PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley. Jenn has studied and performed community work in both Mexico and Southern Africa and also participated in the Young Adult Stewards Programme with the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. She has also served as an anti-racism trainer for the national Episcopal Church. Her current clinical work and research focuses on the impact of trauma on particular communities locally and internationally, as well as homelessness,wealth distribution and the role of faith communities in social development.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    "The MDGs at EYE" - by the Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell

    From July 8-13, more than 1,200 9th-12th graders, bishops, church leaders, and adult sponsors gathered at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to being from all over the United States, there were also youth from the Convocation of Anglican Churches in Europe, the Episcopal Church in Micronesia, and the Dominican Republic. All 9 provinces of the Episcopal Church were represented. The theme for the event, “Sown in the Heart of Christ” was carried throughout each day. The first day focused on the path, the second day focused on rocky ground, the third day focused on thorns, and the last day focused on good soil.

    On Thursday, a series of forums were held, all having to do with the MDGs and they were amazing. It was great hearing the witness of the kids: almost all of them already knew about the MDGs and were actively involved in ministries that were supporting the MDGs. A number of them had also traveled to the Gulf Coast to help with post-Katrina recovery.

    I attended a Millennium Development Goals activity led by the Rev. Wes Wubbenhorst, the diocesan youth missioner from the Diocese of Maryland. Wes was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras. Wes divided us into four “countries” and each country had one major food resource. We were each given an initial amount of money and with that money we had to purchase schools, health care centers, and wells. We could purchase them from private industry or the government. Or, if we had a church in our country, the church would help us with schools, health care centers, and wells. We had to work together to trade our food resources and loan each other money when needed. One of the things I realized from participating in the activity is that when there is abundance, people are generous. When people start to think that there is scarcity, they begin to hoard their resources and are less able to think creatively. Even though we were participating in a “game” the stress-level was high! And realizing that our game is other peoples’ reality made it that much more intense.

    I thank God that I was able to attend EYE and see how God is present and active through every generation in the church. I look forward to seeing where we are with the MDGs in 2011 when EYE takes place again.
    The Rev. Dahn Dean Gandell is the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Honeoye Falls, NY, MDG coordinator for Diocese of Rochester.

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    "Let Them Eat Cake..." -- by Elaine Thomas

    It seems the biggest story coming out of this month's G-8 Summit on Hokkaido in Japan is the uproar over the 18-course banquet on the first night of the event and the 6-course lunch that preceded it. Sea urchin and tuna, milk-fed lamb and caviar, all accompanied by fine wines from around the world. And this at a summit at which the main topic is the world food shortage? You can’t make this stuff up.

    Now there are those who say that it is perfectly alright for a host country to display its hospitality by preparing a feast and that it would be an insult to do otherwise. I suppose this is true. Didn’t Abraham prepare a fine young calf for the visitors at Mamre and wasn’t the prodigal son welcomed home with a fatted calf? And what does it matter what they eat when they’re making sure that they educate children with a nifty website devoted to the summit and the issues being addressed. Where else can you find information about the wonders of Hokkaido cuisine juxtaposed with a story on miracle rice to increase Africa’s rice yields? (Pardon my sarcasm.)

    It seems to me that the real story is the dismal failure of the G-8 to live up to its promises to those in extreme poverty. At Gleneagles in 2005, they promised to double aid to Africa by 2010. To date, they’ve only hit 14% of that goal. Nicholas Kristof writes of the blatant disregard they’ve shown for the Darfur genocide. The Bush administration trumpets the accord reached on global warming even though the standards would not be as stringent as those under the Kyoto Protocol.

    I’m all for people of good will gathering around a table to make decisions about monumental issues. It’s certainly better than not speaking to each other. But when, oh when, will it actually mean something for those in the world who stand to benefit most from the conversations? The wealth of the countries represented at the G-8 is sufficient to end extreme poverty in our time. Where is the will to use that wealth?

    Editor's Note: To read an excellent, if somewhat depressing, summary of the G-8 summer in terms of the MDGs, go to "2008 G8 Japan Series" on the ONE Campaign Blog.

    Elaine Thomas is a member of St. James in Lancaster, PA where she is a member of the Peace and Justice and Stewardship Committees. She is also the EGR and ERD Coordinator for the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. Elaine works for Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia, a social service agency whose mission is to help individuals and families with multiple needs overcome the impact of poverty.

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    "Linguistic Disarmament" -- by the Rev. Lauren Stanley

    The Rev. Jesse Jackson could probably stand a good visit from Cher right now. She could sing to him and if necessary, spend some time explaining what she meant when she sang If I Could Turn Back Time.

    You remember the song, right? The lyrics from which Rev. Jackson could benefit?

    “If I could find a way I’d take back those words that hurt you and you’d stay. I don’t know why I did the things I did. I don’t know why I said the things I said. Pride’s like a knife; it can cut deep inside. Words are like weapons; they wound sometimes.”

    Perhaps if Rev. Jackson took those words to heart all the time, he wouldn’t have said that nasty thing he said about Sen. Barack Obama last week, and then he would not have had to apologize – before his statement was even aired – and then, of course, half the country would not be excoriating Rev. Jackson for saying such nasty things in the first place.

    When we were children, our parents told us, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” But we all knew that wasn’t true. The first time anyone said anything nasty about us, we were hurt. And for some, if the words were strong enough and the tone harsh enough, they never left us. Their memory still burns in our hearts. Ask anyone who’s ever been denigrated by an ethnic or racial slur, anyone who has been told she or he is a lesser human being, anyone who has been called “stupid” or “useless.”

    Words are weapons.

    And we use them all the time.

    Sometimes, we get caught using them, as Rev. Jackson did. All too often, we don’t get caught, or no one complains about what we’ve said, which is even worse, but that only serves to twist the knife deeper and make the wound more permanent.

    Perhaps because I live part-time in Sudan, a country that has suffered greatly through three civil wars in the last five decades, where genocide continues at this very moment, where tribalism regrettably still reigns, and where hatred runs rampant, I am more attuned to how we use words to hurt and subjugate others all too frequently.

    Perhaps living in that land has made me more sensitive to how we speak here in the United States, calling people names and making derogatory remarks about people. I hear this from children and adults alike, in public and in private, from people whom I know are hate-filled and people who I know even more are filled with love, as least in the general sense.

    I don’t know why I’m more sensitive now, I only know that I am. And that it is more important than ever for me to not only pay attention to and control what I say, but to pay attention to and control what I think.

    I do know this: Whenever we neglect to guard our hearts and minds as well as our tongues, we break the community in which we live, and for which we were created. Whenever we call someone a name, silently or aloud, whenever we denigrate someone as being lesser than ourselves in some way, shape or form, we break God’s love as well. And in doing so, we thus have broken the two Great Commandments, to love God and love our neighbor.

    I may not like someone, I may not like what someone has done, but if I am to live in God’s love in God’s community, I have to control my impulses to lash out, and guide my heart and my mind and my mouth to at least try to love God’s beloved children.

    Years ago, I lived with my brother and sister-in-law and their children while attending university. Because the children were young, the adults had to guard what we said, not only to protect the children from hearing bad language, but also to keep them from repeating it, usually at the most inopportune times. When it came to driving, all of us adults had the tendency to make, shall we say, less than kind remarks about other drivers. The problem was, the little ones repeated whatever we said, and often asked what certain words meant. So we invented words, one in particular that lasts to this day: “Dingeldoof”, “Dingeldoofen” for the plural. (We lived in Milwaukee; the Germanic culture must have influenced us.) “Dingeldoof,” we decided, was safe. Said in the right one of voice, it conveyed our meaning, our disgust with someone else, quite clearly. And if one of the children repeated it somewhere, we were, we figured, safe.

    A decade later, working in Washington, D.C., I was still using this word to convey my, shall we say, dismay with certain people with whom I had to work – not in my office, but throughout my nationwide corporation. I never said it directly to anyone; I always waited until I had hung up the phone. One day, after working in this particular office for years, one of my co-workers, whom I had never heard curse, who had never in my hearing used a “bad” word for someone else in the corporation, in great frustration suddenly shouted, “Dingeldoof!”

    At the time, it was funny. Finally, this co-worker had broken down and joined the rest of us crass human beings.

    Now, I’m sorry I ever taught that co-worker that word. Because in doing so, I gave my co-worker the ability to denigrate another human being.

    Which breaks God’s image of love and community.

    We live in times when denigrating others is so common we often fail to even notice it. Somehow, our public discourse has become overloaded with these kinds of remarks; if you’re not with me, you must be somehow lesser than me, which makes me superior, which means I can say nasty things about you.

    This has to stop. This does not please God, and is not why we were created.

    Perhaps our discourse, public and private, would improve if we would take the time to curb our worst impulses, to do as Paul instructed, looking for whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable. As he wrote, if there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise, we should think of those things, even if it means we have to really work at it.

    God would be much happier, don’t you think?

    The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley is an Appointed Missionary of the Episcopal Church serving in the Diocese of Renk, Sudan. She is a lecturer at the Renk Theological College, teaching Theology, Liturgy and English, and serves as chaplain for the students.