Monday, October 12, 2009

Diocese of MD and MDGs


Exciting times are here again this year in the Diocese of MD - we have 10 applicants for the Diocesan MDG grants - including many new applicants. The Committee is excited to learn of the work parishes are doing in alleviating extreme poverty and the variety of ministries they are participating in. The Committee will make our recommendations to Diocesan Council in November. Our website is http://www.globalmission.ang-md.org/

Monday, September 7, 2009

E4GR Half the Sky - MDG#3

Dear E4GR Friends:

I try to track news coverage of the MDGs via a Google News Alert, and I have to say there is little in the US press about extreme poverty and the attempts to address it.

Thus I was delighted to see the significant coverage around the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer Prize winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. My copy should be arriving this week.

There was a major piece in the New York Times Book Review section a couple of weeks ago:
And last night on Dateline, Ann Curry interviewed Nicholas Kristof and Mukhtar Mai, one of the heroines of the book -- a woman who turned her rape into incredible efforts to build a new society in rural central Pakistan, by building schools for girls. See more on the story here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032600/

Kristof and WuDunn have not only written a book, they are starting a movement for women's rights, and have set up a web page on the movement, here:
http://www.halftheskymovement.org/ . The Get Involved section shows some of the many organizations working for women's rights, education, maternal health, stopping sex trade trafficking and more.

Perhaps some of these resources can be helpful to us as we plan our MDG campaigns.

--
Eleanor Braun
Diocese of Virginia Co-Coordinator

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Millennium Development Goal #1 – by John G. Miers


Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

“I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
- Matthew 25:31-46

Extreme Poverty and Hunger. Have you seen it? Are you sure? People are quick to say “sure, I’ve seen hunger and poverty….just downtown earlier this week.” I’m sure they saw some hunger and poverty, but that is not exactly what this goal is speaking to. This Goal is to Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty. It also refers to this eradication as being done throughout the world, not just “downtown.”

What is meant by “Extreme?” Just what does it mean? How hungry can you be before your hunger is “Extreme?”

This is a hard question, because there are many definitions of hunger.

If a person doesn’t have lunch, is he or she hungry?
If a baby does of malnourishment in its home is he or she hungry?
What about one who dies in the hospital?
If a school age child only eats junk food for lunch, is her or she hungry?
If there is a crop failure in Nigeria, will the people be hungry?

The same set of questions can be used as to just what defines “Poverty.” How poor do you have to be before your poverty is “Extreme?”

I think that the terms for the title of MDG #1 were chosen carefully. I believe that what the MDG-drafters were – and are – referring to is a pair of root and basic situations where many people do not have sufficient nourishment or wealth over an extended period of time, with not much hope to turn the situation around.

The MDGs were crafted to force us to look away from “downtown” and to a bigger picture, one that is world-wide, one that is “over there.” Poverty and Hunger can, indeed, be “Extreme” here, close to home, but the odds are much greater that they will be “Extreme” when you go to another part of the world. It is these places to which our attention must be directed, and our plentiful resources need to be directed “over there.”

How should this be done? How can we tend to our own people as well as tending to the others? This is a hard question, and one that is not easy to answer. Part of this difficulty is that when we see Poverty and Hunger in other places, the causes are often significantly different than they are “downtown,” and the ways to deal with them are also different than the easy ways that work over here. An entirely new way of thinking is needed; creativity and imagination are essential. We need the proverbial new set of lenses.

One of the most far-reaching impacts of the MDG effort will be the shifting in our perspectives from “downtown” to “over there.” This will be the most long-lasting and valuable effects. I hope that we can be “opticians to the world,” issuing everyone a new set of lenses!

We are currently in the series of Gospels where Jesus states that “I am bread.” Not the short-lived manna, but the long-life bread. This is what we need to give to the world.

John Miers is from Bethesda, Maryland, where he was employed at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 2005. He serves on the board of St. Luke’s House, a halfway house for persons recovering from mental illness and also serves as Jubilee Officer for the Diocese of Washington. He was a member of National Commission on Science, Technology and Faith for the Episcopal Church and is active in his local church, where he is in the choir, worship committee, pastoral care committee, and the prayer team, and he also visits patients in a local hospital on behalf of the Chaplain.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The EGR Volunteers

By John Hammock

Today my thoughts go to the EGR volunteers here at Convention—and all over the country—that have been so tireless in their work to promote the MDGs. It is a testament to their faith and their commitment to the Gospel. It is the volunteers who have led the charge in getting the 0.7% reinstated into the Church budget. It is impossible to name all the people who have contributed to this team effort. But we have had folks working the booth, selling t-shirts and passing out literature on the MDGs and EGR. We have had people testifying for the EGR supported resolutions; we have had volunteers handing out leaflets to delegates as they enter Convention to remind them of tonight’s U2charist. And we have had our EGR members and Board members as delegates working tirelessly to get specific legislation approved.

Today I want to spend a moment reflecting on the volunteer work of the EGR Board. We have a Board meeting today. It will be a short meeting where we welcome Devon Anderson as our new Executive Director. It is hard to believe that we have made a transition of Directors right in the time leading up to Convention! Devon has been front and center in the legislative EGR work at Convention—as has been Ian Douglas and Jeffrey Rowthorn. Dahn Gandell, in addition to being a Delegate to Convention has been tireless in organizing the work at the EGR booth and the U2Charist. Her energy and drive put together much of the EGR presence at Convention—very much helped by Debbie Shew, who spent countless hours at the booth with me day after day. For the first week of Convention we were joined in the booth by Arington Chambliss and in the last few days we have been joined by Board member Gary Cartwright. Yesterday Craig Cole joined us, though he is looking after the Five Talents booth also. And Laura Smith has been in and out—letting us know about what has transpired. Truly the Board members at Convention have been involved—given their time and talents to the EGR work.

I focus on the Board because this is an active board—one that takes time to work on the real issues. As Board Chair it is a pleasure to work with these committed individuals. And here at Convention we see directly the passion of our other volunteers—folks who make all the work possible. I cannot thank everyone by name, though in my next blog I want to single out several of the volunteers that have been so helpful.

With our wonderful booth and our legislative presence, some people may think that we have a large paid staff and a large budget. Neither is true. We have a staff of one and a half and a budget that is about $150,000 a year—for all that we do. And our Board is committed to keeping this a volunteer organization—building a movement for social change and personal transformation. With the help of all our volunteers, the Episcopal Church (TEC) has recommitted itself to the MDGs. Thanks be to God.

Not Just Another Day

We have a big day today. First let me thank you all AGAIN for your fabulous legislative work -- despite the slashing of the budget ($23 million) -- MDGs came out clear and strong. This is a direct result from all of you who showed up and spoke at hearings, as well as everyone out there praying and advocating from a distance. THANK YOU.

We said good-bye yesterday to Jason Long who volunteered all last week for EGR and said hello to our own Mike Kinman. God is good.

Tonight: U2charist--Dahn suggested making the time a bit later for the service with which I wholeheartedly agree. It's Dahn's call. Stay tuned. We'll keep you updated!

Short and sweet--but filled with HUGE gratitude.

Devon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Press Release: EGR Applauds Critical Funding for MDGs

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Contact: The Rev. Devon Anderson
Executive Director, Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation



EPISCOPALINANS FOR GLOBAL RECONCILIATION
APPLAUDS CRITICAL FUNDING FOR MDGs

The budget for the Episcopal Church presented to the joint session of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops today includes over $800,000 (or 0.7% of the budget), for the Millennium Development Goals. If approved, the funding will be directed to the Nets for Life program through Episcopal Relief and Development.

“The inclusion of the MDG line-item is a courageous and prophetic expression of faith,” said the Rev. Devon Anderson, Executive Director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation.

“Tough financial times require us to make heart-wrenching choices, separating the urgent from the important. The budget reflects the heart of our church. While we realize that this is a sacrificial budget, the heartbeat of mission beats the loudest. And for this reason, we can be very proud as a church.”

“We are so grateful that the 0.7% for MDGs was reinstated and that domestic mission will also enjoy a 0.7% line-item. God is calling us to mission and these investments will equip us to be faithful to this call.”

Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation is a grassroots organization serving Christ in the extreme poor around the world. Earlier this week, both Houses passed D019, which called for the reinstatement of the MDG line-item at the 1% level. The line-item had been removed by Executive Council in its draft budget sent to General Convention. D019 was sponsored by the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, EGR and Dr. Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies.

The line-item can be found in the budget, page “B 8 of 11” on line 405 and amounts to $803,694 total over three years (2010-2012).
###

Today is BUDGET DAY

Good morning EGR friends!

Well, today is the day--the budget for 2010-2012 will be revealed to both the House of Deputies and bishops today at 2:30 pm by the Program, Budget and Finance Committee. If you haven't sat in the visitor's gallery at the House of Deputies, today would be an excellent time.

The U2charist flyers are ready to be passed out--again, can I tell you how awesome they look!?! Folks willing to help pass out U2charist flyers to deputies as the come into the convention center this morning please meet Tim and Debbie outside at 8:45 am. We will meet again tomorrow--so tell your friends that are in Anaheim, we would love to have a bunch of people helping. We are still looking for a few extra friends to help at the U2charist itself, stop over to the booth--again, easy work--HUGE impact.

KEEP THE FAITH and keep praying that despite the fact that PB&F had to strip $9 million from the triennium budget, that MDGs prevailed.

See you today in the booth at lunch time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another FANTASTIC and busy day


Hello friends and fans! How is everyone doing?

We are over the hump. On the floor of the House of Deputies yesterday we seemed to turn some kind of corner -- no longer did we have time to play around with floor procedure antics and word-smithing amendments requiring a vote. We are still considering resolutions from Legislative Day 4 and today begins Legislative Day 7.

Today Arrington (EGR Board Member and Secretary) leaves for home and I'd like to thank her for all of her help and support for EGR this week. She's been a great presence at the noon-day lunchtime speakers and she and I had a great meeting yesterday over a hurried turkey-sandwich dinner. Today we will also welcome board member Gary Cartwright who will be with us for the duration of GC.

We are in great shape for MDG funding at the 1% level. As you know D019 passed both houses before the Sunday at 6:00 pm deadline. The budget will be presented to both houses in a joint session on Wednesday from 2:30 - 3:30 on the floor of the House of Deputies. ERD Sunday is still stuck in my legislative committee -- I've tried to get it considered higher on the queue but the chairs anticipate a bit of resistance and want ample time for conversation in committee. I expect it will go through, we just need to hear people out. I will move to have it added to the Consent Calendar once it passes. We are not clear on where D018 is , but we will let you know as we know. Thanks to Tim for his tenacity around legislation. This has been a tremendous contribution.

The booth is happy and lively. Thanks to John and Debbie and Jennifer in particular who are putting in the long booth hours. Next GC I think we should have daily "behind the scenes hero" awards given out to the stellar EGR volunteer of the day -- because we definitely have no shortage of behind-the-scenes-heroes this General Convention.

Dahn says the plans for the U2charist are coming along nicely. We have not received any responses to our invitation for EGR affiliates to help us hand out fliers on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Can you or do you know someone who can help? Let us know! Stop by the booth. Its an easy way to make a huge difference.

That's about it for now.

HANG IN THERE -- this is the point when we (and SO many others at General Convention, you are not alone) are running on fumes and I ask you to be resolute in knowing that our collective efforts are making a huge difference. Thanks for your leadership, creativity and commitment.

With gratitude,
Devon Anderson, Executive Director

Monday, July 13, 2009

A note to the team

Dear EGR friends:

We had a GREAT day yesterday in the march toward the eradication of global poverty. D019, in an 11th hour floor maneuver to get considered before PB&F's 6:00 pm deadline, PASSED the House of Deputies yesterday. Ian and I were poised and in-line to speak, but that wasn't necessary. Someone called the question after a few random folks stood to support (much more powerful anyway) and the resolution passed resoundingly.

While we can all breathe a collective sigh when we actually SEE the budget, we are in very good shape for 1% for MDGs, and specifically Nets for Life. This is very good news and a prophetic statement to the world that no matter how tough things get financially, we will not back away from the poor. I was proud of our church yesterday.

THANKS to each one of you for the part you played in making this happen. Between the participation at the various legislative and budget hearings, to providing hearing testimony, strategizing with our new best friends ERD, handing out buttons, talking to people, distributing talking points, and communicating on-line we made a GREAT effort and it has paid off.

This morning in my committee we have discussion on a resolution regarding same-sex union blessings. I will move that we schedule the vote for ERD Sunday for tomorrow.

Love,
Devon Anderson, Executive Director

U2charist--Don't Miss Event at General Convention


And on Facebook here.

Be there.

The view from the booth-- a couple of items.

Today I saw just how active the EGR Board is at the Convention; this is no armchair quarterback board! Several board members happened to meet at the same time at the booth today. Ian Douglas, Bishop Rowthorn, Dahn Gandell and Devon Anderson on the front lines testifying and drafting resolutions. Laura Smith who ran in to the booth seconds after the House of Deputies passed the 1% resolution on the MDGs. Arington Chamblis, Debbie Shew and myself at the booth--listening to so many stories of people doing the education and fundraising work on the MDGs in their churches. And we are blessed with volunteers who are making sure that EGR and its message are everywhere at Convention. This is an active, volunteer board. Its strategic vision is paying off.

Next Thursday EGR is hosting a U2Charist at Convention. Today we handed out leaflets to hundreds of Convention participants as they walked to the Sunday Worship Service. It will be a rocking time on Thursday night.

The major worship service today was just awe inspiring, with literally hundreds and hundreds of participants singing, praying and having communion together. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori asked us all to travel lightly for Jesus. Tonight there was a totally different type of Worship Service--a Taize service of song, praise and prayer. About 50 people gathered together. It was a quiet, peaceful moment in a Convention filled with meetings, pageantry and bustle. It was a time to stop and give thanks. We are blessed. "Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The view from the Booth


EGR has unveiled a Crabby for Change project--asking people to give up coffee and/or smoking and give the money they save to EGR. As you can see here, the attractive poster of the new campaign has a big crab on it. So, there we were, in the booth, and along comes a priest from Maryland who wants several copies of the poster--not because of the campaign itself, but because of the crab.

He showed me why: his unique business card has a crab on it. Distinctive, so very Maryland--a true crab for change fellow.

On a more serious note a doctor stopped by today. He told the story of a woman in Malawi who was ready to die. She had HIV/AIDS and no medicine. She had to be on a waiting list. The doctor mentioned this to a friend who then gave the small amount of money to tide her over to get the medicine. A year later she is fine, living a normal life. Her son has a mother and is not an orphan.

This is what this whole thing is all about: What one person can do--save a life and family.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rule of Life: In Practice


It is amazing the people we are meeting in the EGR booth in Anaheim. Like this, one story from yesterday.

One woman had joined EGR's Rule of Life last year. She came by the booth to make sure we had a change of email address for her. What did the Rule of Life mean for her?

  • She started to go to the Cameroon where she was involved in a building an orphanage.
  • She became aware that they were over $50,000 short to be able to finish the project. Though not a fundraiser at all, she put herself to the task.
As she said, "there is no doubt in my mind that it was my being part of the EGR Rule of Life that made it possible for me to raise the money needed between Thanksgiving and Christmas." I was humbled and awed by the power of community, of prayer and of the Holy Spirit at work.

To join the EGR Rule of Life go to
www.e4gr.org and go to Rule of Life.

ERG, MDGs and Global Poverty In the News

News from around--check out these articles:

Bishops Support Increasing MDG Committment to 1%

"This really caught the imagination of many of my small churches in Western Kansas," Adams said. "They really got behind it and they put that .7 percent in their budgets. They won't be able to do 1 percent. They barely did .7. And they're going to feel like they failed somehow.
Dr Schori stresses essentials and recession at Convention
Pat Ashworth, Church Times
“Our time right now is tough, but it is marked by another type of tough times, marked by terrorism and the declining economy. . . In June, it was announced that the first half of 2009 pushed another 105 million people into hunger, raising the total number of hungry people in the world now to more than one billion.” She com­mended the 50 per cent of Episcopal churches that have embraced the MDGs as a mission focus.
Global economics a 'crisis of truthfulness,' Archbishop of Canterbury tells convention
Introducing the forum, Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia welcomed the more than 70 international visitors to General Convention. "It's important that we look outward to the wider world. Our life as Christians compels us to see global poverty as our collective problem," he said.


As heard in the hallway news:
Last night 4 from the ERG team testified at the PB&F hearing.
Today, there was some amazing testimony given to the D018 Resolution--calling for a spiritual look at the global financial crisis.
More as the day rolls on.

EGR Booth: You Never Know What You'll Find


The EGR booth (live and virtual) at convention is a lively place.

It is a place to meet and greet people; it is a place to do emails on the three computers set up by EGR for this purpose; it is a place to rest on the couches and have meaningful conversations.

Just today I looked up and there was a fellow in an army uniform looking down at me. He didn't say a word. I could just not place him. It took a long time but then it dawned on me. He had been a visiting priest at St Stephens church over 20 years ago! He had joined the army and had served as Chaplain in Iraq, Central America, and elsewhere. He had recognized me and there he was. What a treat!

Yesterday I had a long talk with a young woman who wants to run for office in Texas. The booth is not just a place to talk about the Millennium Development Goals and about EGR. It is also a lively meeting place--to make new friends and meet old, old ones. A welcoming place, a place where one can feel the presence of God.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lunchtime Speaker Marshall Ganz


Today @ the EGR Booth

Marshall Ganz today spoke at the EGR booth about the public narrative project. He said that for change to take place it was essential to train leaders. Leadership training was a key to success as was timing. There was no point in embarking on a process of change if people were not fully trained, especially because the training helps to sustain people over time.

Devon Anderson spoke about the public narrative pilot project in Minnesota. Here they had success in four churches out of five in getting congregations to increase their giving for the Millennium Development Goals.

In the discussion there was discussion on who would take on the public narrative after Convention. It was clear that EGR was well placed to take on this organizing work within the Church. It seemed that there was momentum in the church for the public narrative project and for the Millennium Development Goals. The discussion was joined by several members of the EGR Board of Directors, each who expressed strong interest in this community organizing model.



Dr. John Hammock is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy & The Fletcher School, Tufts University. He is currently on leave until September, 2008 and working with fellow EGR board member Sabina Alkire in founding the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative, where he is a senior research associate. He is also the managing director of the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University, where his work has centered on the Human Development and Capability Program, with particular focus on policy issues and implementation. John was raised in Cuba, served as Executive Director at Oxfam America from 1984-1995 and as Executive Director at ACCION International from 1973-1980. John is a graduate of Denison University and the Fletcher School. He has also worked at the Global Equity Initiative. John's Publications.

Don't forget: The "Virtual Booth" is open!


The 'Virtual Booth' is up.
Daily podcasts, news, and more.

Check it out if you haven't already.






And if you haven't seen it yet--there is a great article by

Bishop Jim Adams of Western Kansas said he agreed, but expressed concern for those churches that might not be able to keep up.

"This really caught the imagination of many of my small churches in Western Kansas," Adams said. "They really got behind it and they put that .7 percent in their budgets. They won't be able to do 1 percent. They barely did .7. And they're going to feel like they failed somehow.


Reinstate .7%: a symbol for our church


Testimony heard on the floor yesterday by
The Rev. Devon Anderson (C1, Diocese of Minnesota) and Executive Director, EGR

I am here regarding the reinstatement of the 0.7% line-item for MDGs, and its increase to 1% in the budget PBF presents to GC.

I want to speak about the MDG line-item as a symbol for our church. Symbols convey with an image our stories, core values, and faith in God. Think about the rainbow, the dove, the olive branch. Think about wine and bread, water and blood, the cross and the empty tomb. These are all symbols that convey to the world who we are and what we believe as a Christian people.

Likewise the 0.7% symbol tells the world who we are in relation to the world’s poorest people. It shows CLEARLY, without relying on additional math or examination of our budget, that we are taking seriously repeated requests from our own church and from the Anglican Communion to share our resources with the billions of people who don’t have enough to eat in God’s world. The symbol is a model to the dioceses, congregations and individuals to continue making a similar proclamation with their budgets, remembering that budgets are moral documents that reflect what is in our hearts. And, the symbol gives us critical weight in lobbying our elected leaders so the US can achieve its 0.7% promise – making it clear that we are not asking our country to do anything we are not already doing ourselves.

We are faced here with a defining moment about whether to recommit to this symbol, or break it down into smaller parts and back away. But as we read in 1Corinthians: “If the trumpet sounds an uncertain call, who will follow?” It’s easier to do the right thing when there’s nothing to lose. But we’re in lean financial times, and a choice to be faithful to God’s call to the MDGs will cost us. But isn’t this what we’re about as a church? We have an opportunity to refuel this symbol – to tell the world that under no circumstances will we compromise or water down our promises to the poor. Please re-fund the MDG line-item at the 1% level as a symbol to the world of where our heart is as a church.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We Have Been Living a Lie

Rowan Williams at Convention last night said we have been living a lie. Yes, we have been deceiving ourselves by living three lies:

--that life and economics is all about growth and wealth
--that somehow we do not have to worry about the environment and the climate change
--that individually we can go along merrily living as we now do

He said our role now was to speak the Truth. That if we as Christians could not stand up to speak the Truth, then we were not being true to our faith. He called on economics to focus on well being, not just growth and to work within environmental limits. He noted that government has lost the trust of people (he particularly stressed the UK government) and thought that civil society was crucial. Again, the role of the church was particularly keen, since churches are effective at the grassroots level.

In listening to Rowan Williams I had two thoughts: EGR and OPHI.

EGR has been speaking the truth about the MDGs and about the growing hunger and poverty in the world for some time. At a time when some church leaders think that the budget should be cut for the Episcopal Church work with the MDGs, we have been calling for just the opposite. This is a defining moment for us. We need to take up the challenge to redouble our efforts on behalf of those left out (no, more than left out, they are singled out) of any economic strategy. EGR needs to continue to build its movement at the grassroots level. As Rowan Williams says, it is up to those who people can trust to build up that trust through transparency and thoughtful action.

Yesterday I met our Presiding Bishop and introduced myself. Her reaction when she heard I was the Chair of the Board of EGR was that we had helped mount a tsunami—a groundswell of support for reinstating the MDG funds into the Church budget. It is up to us to continue to have that tsunami expand so that we recommit to the MDGs and then leave Convention ready to organize to make the MDGs a conversion experience and a beacon of what a faith community can do.

The second thought I had while listening to Rowan Williams was OPHI. I work for the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). Our goal, under the leadership of Sabina Alkire, also on the EGR Board, is to build a new economic framework based on the work of Amartya Sen. This is a framework that focuses on the wellbeing of all people, not just growth. Over the last two years we have been setting in place the building blocks for this new economics. And it is now working and being discovered. Our work is now having an impact in Chile, Mexico, and Bhutan to mention just three places. But the exciting thing is that what we are doing fits exactly into the general thoughts offered by Rowan Williams. I would love to see Rowan Williams, Amartya Sen and Sabina Alkire discussing this!!

In any event, there is no doubt that this Convention has the opportunity to have the Church take up the defining moment—and to let its faith and not economic shortfalls—dictate its mission. A big thank you to Rowan Williams for his vision and his willingness to speak the truth. We have been living multiple lies. And they are catching up with us. It is time for us Christians to lay down those lies and take up the truth—though it may hurt and may make us change our living patterns. God calls us to repentance and new living. The time is now.

If you are interested in more information of OPHI, please email me john.hammock(at symbol)tufts.edu or go to our website www.ophi.org.uk

A great article from tonight

The article from Episcopal Life Online about tonight's event, Global Economic Forum with Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, is just wonderful.

So--we commend it to your reading pleasure and in the mean time, we are gathering up a round up of sorts of legislation and news from around the booth and throughout all of convention--to share with all of you the excitement and overwhelming commitment that has been outpouring in support of the MDGs and global poverty.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

From the gallery

It has been a great day for the MDGs and the worlds poor.


Right now we are writing from the press box and just heard the Archbishop of Canterbury give his address to a full room.

One of many hope-filled words he gave us tonight:
"If you want to see the MDGs realized, you have to count on the small faith-based communities and churches to accomplish that."

More to come!

An incredible (not quite) first day!

General Convention has not even officially opened yet--but you would hardly be able to tell by the energy and passion heard in today's PB&F Hearing. If you have not had the chance to see the video--check it out here. It is quite a range of voices all standing up giving witness to the world's most poor and vulnerable, and our commitment as a church to the ongoing work with the MDGs. Additionally, this was an exciting and historic witness as it was the beginning of a coalition forming with EGR, ERD and ECW.

A few highlights of testimony for you today, here reprinted with permission not
only to share--but for you to please continue to share. PLEASE, share our words with everyone who has ears to hear.

From Kay Meyers, President of the Episcopal Church Women

Episcopal Church Women have been doing and living into the Millennium Development goals since our very inception with the beginning of the domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and the Women's Auxiliary. We have expanded our hearts and minds through participating in recent years in the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women and beginning to attack the cessation of Human Trafficking and Genital Mutilation and other horrifying atrocities.

We are the largest network in the church representing thousands of women in the pews on every level of the church. Our national budget comes mostly from them and 17% of it currently goes to meet the MDGs. AND on top of that, they individually and in parishes, dioceses, convocations and deaneries and provinces give far more in money as well as in time, prayer and energy. We are working toward 0.7% line-item for each entity within the network.
And Devon Anderson, Executive Director of EGR

On behalf of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation I am standing in solidarity with Episcopal Relief and Development and the Episcopal Church Women to advocate for the top priority of global mission and the MDGs.

There is a great saying of which I am fond: Never waste a crisis. We are feeling the constraints of the global economic crisis on every level of the church. And no one is exempt from having to make heart-wrenching choices. But we also have an opportunity to define ourselves as Christians in the midst of that crisis. We have before us nothing less than a defining moment.

The MDGs have been our #1 budget and programmatic priority for the past triennium. Your leadership in 2006 was the spark that literally set the church on fire. We have started to build momentum. We have started to learn how to translate national goals to local action. Because of this momentum, we should make every sacrifice to invest in building on this initial foundation and sharing this learning for other mission imperatives.

We need your leadership again to model that despite every reason not to, despite every competing interest – it is time to recommit to the poorest of humanity and to keep going at full throttle, and not back away. For these reasons I am asking that MDGs be designated a priority among priorities for the triennial budget.

Thank you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

An Inspiring Word to Begin General Convention 2009


Well, the hours are clicking away, the booth is coming together (further than what you see here!) and the team is so excited as we move towards the beginning of the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

In preparation--the prayers are ascending, and we are re-reminding ourselves of why we are doing what we are doing. So with that, we'd like to share with you this sermon, from Sabina Alkire. She is currently the director of the Oxford Policy and Human Development Initiative at Oxford University. Her publications include Valuing Freedoms: Sen’s Capability Approach and Poverty Reduction, as well as articles in philosophy and economics.

We hope you enjoy her words as much as we have, and may they help you remember why we do what we do. And THANK YOU, for what YOU are doing.

In the late 4th century, Basil preached three powerful homilies aimed at stirring his Caesarean congregation to share with the starving, not simply as a gesture of kindness but as a straightforward Christian obligation. Indeed he took a year out himself to work in a refuge with the poor. Why? The context had changed, and in a time of famine and drought, Christians had to respond – not out of guilt, but out of unfeigned love.

Every year, the international financial institutions produce a bureaucratic statistical report monitoring progress on the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs – a set of goals to reduce hunger, put children in school, improve the health of children and mothers, address key diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, provide clean water and sanitation, etc by 2015. It is produced by analysts for whom poverty is not shocking – rather it is their professional speciality. But this year, the cover of the report shows darkening shadows and turbulent boiling clouds. The title is blunt, and not quite so professional. Written in red on a black background, it reads: 2009: A Development Emergency.

Poor people concur with this bureaucratic report. Kevina, a 60-year old woman farmer in Uganda, said, Poverty is a cruel wild animal. If you doze, it eats you up. So people are not sleeping...

On the start of Christian Aid week I would like to talk with you about global poverty and how, as it is evolving, we are invited to respond differently this year – not out of guilt, but because we are people of love.

Imagine for a moment that all of us in this chapel represented the globe. If you were to look around you, you would notice that one in five of us earned less than 83 pence per day, which is the new $1.25 a day poverty line. One in six of us – perhaps an entire section – was malnourished. But as you were looking around, you would notice a long line of people waiting to be re-seated in the poorest section. In terms of actual numbers, the line would contain at least every single inhabitant of England and Wales – and perhaps also Scotland, Ireland and half of Spain – waiting to be seated in the poorest pews.

Where did this queue come from? Poor people’s sloth? No, our financial crisis. A bit of background may be in order.

In 2005, the UK had a ‘make poverty history’ campaign to instigate actions that sharply reduce hunger, illiteracy, extreme poverty, malaria, tuberculosis, aids, and the proportion of child and maternal deaths. Here in the UK, the post offices stocked a ‘rough guide to a better world’ to share how each person could lend their strength to this common goal. Tremendous progress was made – although not at the hoped-for pace. Instead of giving up, in 2007 and 2008, in the face of the fuel and food crises, leaders, including the UK urged for a redoubling of commitment.

In September 2008, crisis struck. The 1929 crash had reduced global inequality. Of course it touched the poor, but it struck the rich countries, and the rich within those countries most. In contrast, insofar as we can tell, the current crisis is not hitting the richest the most.

Neither is it hitting the naughtiest the most. Due to our interconnectedness, countries that had sound policies are now in recession. And while opinions are divided about which individuals bear most responsibility, all candidate culprits share one characteristic: they are wealthy and likely to remain so.

If the crisis is not mainly striking the rich or the naughty, who is affected? People like me watch the numbers – we wait for new poverty numbers to come out each year, praying for progress. Dark clouds are unmistakable. In 2007 854 million people were hungry; by September the number will climb past 1 billion for the first time ever. And according to recent estimates 55 to 90 million people will fall into extreme poverty this year – hence the image of the queue for re-seating in chapel.

So we have a situation in which actions by a small number of elite are resulting in tragedy, poverty and the associated human pain for others. This might be considered a situation of injustice. From the darkened clouds come hoarse grumbles of the prophets.

Further, because of a natural concern with poverty in their home countries, many citizens, churches, philanthropists, and governments are reducing their support for global poverty reduction abroad. Even those such as Sweden who are maintaining the same percentage will give less, because their national income is falling.

So in a nutshell the arc of poverty is widening, and given shrinking responses, will widen further. It is this that causes even a secular bureaucratic report on poverty to be tinged with dread, even alarm. And this is why I ask you to take Christian Aid week this year particularly seriously.

An Episcopalian church movement that supports spiritual renewal and commitment to global poverty reduction calls the present financial crisis ‘God’s defining moment’. But that is not exactly right. God already has defined God’s purpose. Particular aspects of the missio dei or mission of God to humanity do not seem a great mystery. Jesus’ very name, his true essence, means the Jehovah of salvation. And God is drawing all people to fullness of life – to salvation. This includes attending to people’s physical nourishment, health, and understanding as well as loving relationships, vocation, holiness, and prayer.

No – it is not God for whom this financial crisis and the development emergency is the defining moment. It is the Church. And that is you and me, and this our Chapel, and the Anglican leaders gathered in Jamaica who generate email messages with many words. God has defined God’s mission; God is already out there, out there in the queues, among those who have been poor for decades and with those who will tomorrow endure a fast less voluntary than Bono’s, with those whose faith and prayer are stronger than ours, who are being purified and strengthened. It is this active God in whom we are called to abide as branches on a vine, as people of love – each in different ways. It is a defining moment for us because our own identity will be chiselled by how we respond to an evolving situation not of our making, and whether we join the God who is already responding.

The reading from 1 John began with this sentence: Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. The sentence is beautiful and it is forceful. It is worth pausing to reflect how we do this. Yet in the epistle of St John, the sentence also responds to a question, posed in the verse that directly preceded it: How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? … The implication is, it doesn’t. Rather we must love in truth and action. Given the changed context, we must love the distant poor, the silent poor among whom God walks, as well as those in our towns and streets.

There are many ways to give and many important debates about what are the best ways which we could discuss over lunch. But any giving boils down to giving time– be this in prayer, volunteering, or one day through your own professional work – or giving money. I heartily commend both. People say that money is not the answer, and I fully agree. But no one says that money is the answer. Money can be spent in many ways. It mainly pays people who do have the time, vocation, skills, attentiveness, and energy to attend to a particular situation full time. We will vary greatly in how we will prefer to give of time and money – some prefer local charities, others campaigns – but the point is to try to abide in God, and join our efforts to what God is already doing.

Magdalen traditionally has been the biggest supporter of Christian Aid - and is active on these issues in many other ways. We are not like Dives, who ignored Lazarus at his Gate. We are not, to quote Martin Luther King, “Conscientious objectors in the war against poverty.”1 How, this year, will we respond to the poor by abiding in God, and in doing so renew our church?

When I was a student here, I was not very good at dinnertime banter – a trait which continues. On some occasion I was seated next to Tony Smith, then president of Magdalen. This was not a good situation. At all. Being a sacristan I tried to ignite a conversation, with some hint of desperation, using some vague and incoherent enquiry like what his hopes for the Chapel community were. To my greatest relief, he answered with clarity and conviction. He said something like, ‘I wish that they would stand up on the tables in hall [I’m sure about the tables bit], and say how privileged we are, and incite action.’

During Christian Aid week, the chapel community are invited to take some new action in our own small ways – all through prayer, some through donations, some through volunteering, and perhaps even some through standing on tables. Little children, let us love in truth and action.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Resolution A178:Establishing the First Sunday in Lent as ERD Sunday

Good MorningE4GR Friends!

Here is the 3rd of the 3 resolutions we are actively working on at General Convention this year. As you know, there are many other legislative initiatives which E4GR wholeheartedly supports and will advocate to pass, specifically those surrounding just economy, and unsustainable debt in the developing nations. But in these last three--this is where our planning, time and efforts has gone.

Thank you, for standing with us but more importantly those who without you would not have a voice, the poor.

A178: Establishing the First Sunday in Lent as ERD Sunday
(read the resolution here)

Background
In 2008, our Presiding Bishop designated the first Sunday in Lent as ERD Sunday and advocated for an annual celebration of ERD’s role in our collective mission to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

Since that time, six dioceses have submitted resolutions to General Convention to establish this practice across the church (in the form of several “C” resolutions) and over 30 dioceses officially observe ERD Sunday on the first Sunday in Lent already. This initiative enjoys widespread support as a set-aside Sunday to recognize and celebrate ERD.

Talking Points
Our church, at General Convention 2003 and 2006, placed peace and justice as expressed through the Millennium Development Goals at the top of our programmatic and budget priority list.

ERD is our church’s relief and development agency – the “on-the-ground” ministry in far-reaching places across the globe to alleviate extreme poverty and preventable disease.
Designating a special Sunday for ERD would provide the church opportunities to:
• Celebrate the reality that when we as individuals combine our resources, prayers, and intentions through ERD we can make significant change in the world
• Learn about – and delight in – the work of ERD which is saving lives on a daily basis on our behalf as a church
• Draw attention to the needs of the “bottom billion” of the world who live in extreme poverty.
• Raise our voices together in worship through song and prayer in giving thanks for God’s abundance and reminding ourselves of our baptismal promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” ERD Sunday can remind us that one way to be responsive to this promise is to participate in ERD’s ministry.
• Designate a “loose plate offering” on ERD Sunday for the ministry of ERD
• Lend our own organic creativity to new ways of observing this Sunday across the generations and sharing it with each other

Friday, July 3, 2009

Resolution D019: Recommit to MDGs as Mission Priority

OK - Here is the second of three installments--getting to know the resolutions E4GR is working on for General Convention. Do you feel called to testify? The Virtual Booth for E4GR is OPEN! Find out more about who to talk to and how to testify at the Virtual Booth--and in Anaheim, in the Convention Hall in the E4GR Booth.

D019: Recommit to MDGs as Mission Priority
Ready for you to download, click here.

Issue
Reinstate the 0.7% for MDGs into the 2010-2012 budget and increase it to 1% as a “cost-of-giving” adjustment.

Background
Resolution D022 from 2006 General Convention established “achieving the MDGs as a stated mission priority of the Episcopal Church” and urged each diocese, congregation and parishioner to give 0.7% of their annual income toward the goals. The resolution also called for a line item equal to 0.7% in the Episcopal Church’s 2007-2009 budget for work supporting the MDGs. The 2007-2009 budget DID pass with 0.7%. In those years about $924,000 was dedicated to the MDGs through ERD. Since that time 82 of the 110 dioceses in the Episcopal Church have designed a 0.7% line item in their annual diocesan budgets as have hundreds of congregations and countless individuals.

The draft 2010-2012 budget submitted by Executive Council at its January 2009 meeting suggested – as a cost-saving measure in the current economic climate – eliminating the 0.7% line item for MDGs.

The good news: the budget going to General Convention is a draft, and General Convention will have the final say. We have a huge opportunity to affect the final decision.

Talking Points

We must not back away from our commitment to MDGs as a church, but rather reaffirm our promises and deepen our commitment.

• Promises made to the poor are particularly sacred.

• We have promised ourselves, God, the world, and particularly our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion that we will join with the global community to end extreme poverty through 0.7% giving.

• We have reiterated these promises in the House of Bishops over the past three years and at Lambeth last year.

• As a church we have identified the MDGs as our #1 budget and programmatic priority.

• We have covered a lot of ground, but we are far from finished! The MDG movement is through 2015 and there is much to do.

• Dioceses, congregations, individuals are still learning about the MDGs and looking for ways to connect themselves and their faith lives to MDGs and make them concrete within the life of the parish.

• This is the time to intensify our efforts, mobilize people in deeper, intentional, effective ways – not move on to something else!

We need the 0.7% line item (with the 1% cost of giving adjustment) as a powerful symbol of our commitment to ending the world’s misery.
• Symbols are very important. They are one way we communicate our stories, deepest-held values, and passion.

• A separate, 0.7% line item is the Episcopal Church’s symbol – its clear declaration -- of its commitment and intent to play a serious and significant role in eradicating global poverty. It signals our intentions and faithfulness. It reflects what is most important to us.

• The fact that the Episcopal Church has taken the leadership step of committing 0.7% is powerful leadership by example.

• 82 out of the 110 dioceses in the Episcopal Church have followed the example of the Episcopal Church by committing 0.7% of their annual budgets toward MDGs.

• A budget reflects what is in our hearts as a church. The world’s extreme poor are in the center of our hearts as a Gospel people. A budget is also a moral document, in that it illustrates what we most believe by where we place our resources.

• If we erode or eliminate the symbol it signals that we are backing away from our promises.

In these tough financial times, this decision is a defining moment for our church.

• God’s call to us has not changed: we are to be the Body of Christ in bold and powerful ways in worship, praise, and service – particularly among those who have the least.

• In this defining moment, God gives us the opportunity to proclaim our faith to the world at a moment in history when it is particularly challenging to do so.

• In its March Pastoral Letter, the House of Bishops called us to repentance, claiming that we have “too often been preoccupied as a Church with internal affairs…to the exclusion of concern for the crisis of suffering both at home and abroad,” and “our commitment to the eradication of extreme poverty through the MDGs moves us toward the standard of Christ’s teaching…”

• Our wealth is determined by what we give rather than what we own.

• In a time of economic scarcity the Holy Spirit invites us to hope. We are Gospel people, called to break through barriers of fear and anxiety. Call to share how Christ has reshaped our hearts and lives through the increased engagement with each other in ministries of compassion across the communion that our MDG work has fostered.

• We want to be that church that even in the midst of a global economic crisis we were able to stay faithful in our commitment to the poorest of the poor.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Resolution D018: Addressing the Global Economic Crisis


Over the next few days in the lead up to General Convention, we want to equip YOU--our best allies and friends--to help us lead the church in to not only keeping and renewing promises made to the worlds poor, but taking it a step further and leading in new bold ways. Please join with us.

We will present to you the pieces of legislation that we will be focusing our attention on, equipping you with the resolution itself and some talking points for you to use when talking to your deputation or if you feel called--to testify!

As always, please email us with any questions. We are so thrilled to have such an amazing group of leaders who are mobilizing our church to heal the world.


D018: Address the Global Economic Crisis

Resolution D018: The full resolution and text, here.
Issue

To equip our church to begin to engage the global economic crisis as faithful, gospel-centered Christians.

Background

This resolution has four parts:

    1. Makes the claim that we in the Episcopal Church are complicity in the financial crisis because we have embraced an unrestrained free-market form of capitalism that results in predatory practices of lending and income generation divorced of accountability,
    1. Thanks the Archbishop of Canterbury for his leadership and teaching around Christian response to economic crisis,
    1. Invites dioceses and congregations to focus on Lent 2010 as a time of penitential reflection on the brokenness of the global economic order
    1. Urges diocesan deputations to address the global economic crisis in their own contexts using Public Narrative and community organizing models.

Talking Points

  • This resolution asks Episcopalians to understand and confront our complicity in the current global economic crisis and to be converted anew through prayer, study, giving, advocacy, acts of mercy and ACTION.
  • The global economic crisis is as much as spiritual, moral and ethical crisis as it is a financial crisis.
  • Given the household of the world, we are threatened in our future existence because of an unsustainable economy and environmental practice that requires a turning around and a realignment of our values with God’s vision for the wholeness of creation.
  • We do this by opening ourselves to God’s vision of unity for the world and how, as people of faith, both at home and to the ends of the earth – we can participate in a just, equitable, sustainable economy.
  • God’s mission is to restore all people to unity.
  • It’s not about the church.
  • The question as Christians is – how have we participated or not participated in the economy of God?
  • We are calling the church to a season of reflection, repentance, and amendment of life. This amendment of life would understand study, repentance and prayer as a foundation that leads to ACTION.
  • We are calling on congregations, dioceses, individuals to seek models that assist in mobilizing people to act (Public Narrative being one such model) for a just economy.
  • Utilize PN methodology to come together in their parish and dioceses to tell their stories in God’s economy, discover who we are together, and what we are called together to do given that we are on the brink of peril.
  • We are asking that Lent 2010 be set aside by the church as a season of study, reflection, repentance, and action concerning the global economic crisis.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Re-Commit to 0.7%



Dear EGR Board Members, Deputy Friends, and EGR Leadership:



The 76th General Convention will be a defining moment for the Episcopal Church. In it we can recommit ourselves as a church to the MDGs. We will have the opportunity to choose to deepen our partnership with the world's bottom billion-those that live on less than a dollar a day-or we can choose to back away from them.


At General Convention we can reaffirm, with renewed resolve, the promises we have made as a church to the world's poorest people. Simply, we can lead this effort anew, calling on all dioceses, congregations and individuals to stand with us. Despite progress we have made, we are not finished.

The world needs us--actually, YOU--more than ever.

EGR is embracing General Convention's opportunity with anticipation and joyfulness. Please join with us, inviting our church to face this moment with courage and confidence in the abundance of God.

Put MDGs back in the budget-and back in our hearts

Recommit

Although the MDGs have been our church's number one budget and programmatic priority since 2006, the draft budget coming to General Convention actually cut the MDGs line item. Our highest legislative priority is to reinstate the 0.7% line item for MDGs in the budget for the Episcopal Church. More than this, EGR proposes that this line item be increased to 1% as a cost-of-giving adjustment. EGR will work to reinstate the MGDs line item through two venues: the budget process and resolution D019.

Two other priorities are to:

1. Encourage all levels of our church to address the global economic crisis by dedicating Lent 2010 to prayer, study and action on the MDGs (D018).

2. Establish the first Sunday in Lent as ERD Sunday (A178).

You can view all these resolutions here: http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation/

Please help! Give your heart to this mission through some simple actions.

Contact your diocesan deputation TODAY!

* Get their commitments to support these initiatives through their votes and testimonies.
* Ask members of your diocesan MDG network and other justice networks contact deputies, too.
* Let us know you've contacted your diocesan deputation and networks. Contact us at e4gred@gmail.com so we can continue to build on your work.

Testify on behalf of the MDGs at General Convention!

* EGR will provide talking points, testifying tips, and connections to our two EGR Legislative Coordinators: Tim Baer and Debbie Shew. We'll also save you a place in line!
* Hearings will be held in several committees, including the Program, Budget and Finance Committee, which sets the budget.
* If you will testify with us, please contact Tim Baer, our EGR Legislation Coordinator at: tbaer@gmail.com. He'll answer questions and provide everything you need.

Follow us on EGR's General Convention Virtual Booth

* We are re-launching our Web site - www.e4gr.org - very soon. For the duration of General Convention it will be known as the "Virtual Booth." Though this site you will be easily linked to ERGs presence at General Convention.
* There you will find easy links to stay up to date on news and events through the blog, Facebook page, and Twitter.
* Participate in the new campaign "I'm Crabby for the MDGs", play virtual Bishop Bingo, or view a noonday speaker.

With your help, we can make a bold and prophetic statement to live the Gospel faithfully through the MDGs, even in this current economic climate when making faithful choices seems to cost us the most. But the bottom billion need us and we have promised them-we have promised God. Thank you for your help in this good and necessary work.


Faithfully, and in God's abundance,

Rev. Devon Anderson, Executive Director
Episcopalians for Global Reconcilliation
email: e4gred@gmail.com
web: http://www.e4gr.org

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Millenium Development Goal #6" - by John G. Miers


Millennium Development Goal #6
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases


"Jesus went throughout Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues and
proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and
curing every disease and every sickness among the people."
- Matthew 4:23


Curing every disease and every sickness among the people……

When I read this Bible verse, I naturally thought of my career in the federal service. I worked for the National Institutes of Health for nearly forty years. Others in my family have worked there and some still do. My mother was a nurse. Health is in my family. Health is important to me.

When I read the text about “curing EVERY disease” I am stunned as to how large a task that must have been. I am continually overwhelmed by what it must be like to be a member of a medical team in a foreign country. There are so many diseases in evidence. HIV/AIDS and malaria are cited in this goal, but so are “other diseases.”

Other diseases, too. There are infectious diseases, life-threatening diseases, disfiguring diseases, childhood diseases, easily diagnosed diseases, hard-to-diagnose ones, visible ones, and invisible ones. How do we prioritize just what to treat? How are conditions different in developing countries? What can we do here in the developed world to try to assist others? I still am astounded that the Millennium Development Goals were agreed to in 2000 by 189 heads of state and government -- including the United States. This was in response to the deepest material brokenness in the world today. Poverty the likes of which we just don't see within the United States. Poverty levels that lead to a child under 5 dying every three seconds from preventable, treatable causes, and 8,000 people (more than died in the September 11 attacks) dying each day of HIV/AIDS.

When I visit doctors here in the US I always give thanks for what we have here for our medical care. But I also worry about what other people don’t have. This is why this is such a crucial MDG goal. Medical care must be made available in all parts of the world. This is not a complicated project, but it is both expensive and hard to attain. I think of invisible diseases. These are the really tricky set of those “other diseases.” These include addictions, mental illness, heart disease, diabetes, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and other illnesses and disorders that often go unnoticed by both the patients and medical staff. Each can lead to long-term illness and incapacitation, but medical teams often have their hands full with the gruesome and visible disabilities. All must be addressed.

The MDGs seek to provide treatment to all people in the developing world who suffer from these diseases, both visible and invisible. Jesus healed “every disease and sickness.” We can do no less. Jesus was obviously capable of doing this; we need to provide needed resources so his example can be followed.

John Miers is from Bethesda, Maryland, where he was employed at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 2005. He served on the board of St. Luke’s House, a halfway house for persons recovering from mental illness and also serves as Jubilee Officer for the Diocese of Washington. He was a member of National Commission on Science, Technology and Faith for the Episcopal Church and is active in his local church, where he is in the choir, worship committee, pastoral care committee, and the prayer team, and he also visits patients in a local hospital on behalf of the Chaplain.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Goals 4 & 5: Child and Maternal Health News

An article for you from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Maternal, Child Health Lag Behind Other Millennium Development Goals, Study Finds

Despite signs of progress in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and childhood diseases, efforts to reduce maternal and newborn health as part of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) lag behind, according to the 2009 Report of the Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals released Monday, Inter Press Service reports.

The study "highlights practical ways to 'reduce the continuing and unnecessary death toll in developing countries,'" including : "increased political mobilisation; adequate financing and effective delivery; streamlined and harmonised aid operations; free services for women and children at the point of use and the removal of access barriers; skilled and motivated health workers at the right place at the right time; and accountability for results with robust monitoring and evaluation," according to IPS.

To implement these changes, the study "calls for scaling up health services to the tune of 36-45 billion dollars by 2015, over and above the current spending (and cumulatively about 114-251 billion dollars from 2009 to 2015)" – a gap the authors of the report hope can be closed during the G8 meeting in July, IPS writes (Deen, IPS, 6/15).

"Women and children are facing even graver health threats because of the global economic downturn. Even before the crisis, women made up 60 percent of the world’s poor, and maternal mortality was the worst health inequity in the world," U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said during a luncheon ceremony to release the report. "Your influence, your individual passion and your institutional commitment can help us succeed. Together, we can achieve a long-overdue breakthrough for women and children in the developing world. The consensus outlined in this report provides a clear way forward" (ISRIA, 6/15).

"We welcome this report's timely emphasis on the need to increase investments in women's health despite the current economic crisis," Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the UNFPA, said. Obaid added that an investment in the health of women and girls worldwide does not only improve lives, but can generate economic growth as well.

"If we balk now in our efforts to achieve the health MDGs, we will put our present and future generations at risk," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "But if we rise to the challenge, we can set the world on course for long-term prosperity and stability" (IPS, 6/15).

This information was reprinted from kff.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Death in Birth


Important article about the realities of childbirth - Maternal Health - Please Read!

Death in Birth: Where Life’s Start Is a Deadly Risk
By DENISE GRADY
Published: May 24, 2009, New York Times

More than half of the 536,000 women who die each year in pregnancy and childbirth are in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

Go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/health/24birth.html

Monday, May 11, 2009

Millennium Development Goal #2 - by John G. Miers


Millennium Development Goal #2
Achieve Universal Primary Education

"Jesus said to them,
'Let the little children come to me;
do not stop them;
for it is to such as these that
the Kingdom of God belongs."
- Mark 10:14

Achieving Universal Primary Education will be a long process. It will be a very long process and all-encompassing task, an extremely complicated one that has many layers of problems, kind of like an onion!

Each of those four words – “Achieving,” “Universal,” “Primary,” and “Education” – is hard and is important. Each builds on the other three. Each can be done by itself, but the whole will be much stronger than the sum of the parts, which is why this goal is made up of all four.

But it will be an investment – one that will pay off handsomely; not for many weeks or many months or even over many years, but the payoff will be seen for generations into the future.

It will not be easy….we will have to do it differently in different places, and we will have to keep at it, and keep at it, and keep on keepin’ on. That means that we also need to convince people and their leaders that it will be worth doing. There is one other piece of the provision of education that many people don’t see in their first glance: We also need to be concerned about many other aspects of education provision, too, such as food for lunches and breakfasts, facilities for schooling, and health care so that people can be schooled– this even required eyeglasses and laptop computers. There is also the need to train people to be the teachers. And to be the teacher’s teachers. Yes, a large system is required. It is both expensive and complicated, and it must be widespread.

Yes, education not just for little children, but for all people. Everyone needs it at least once. Some need to catch up, but everyone needs to be trained, both to ensure that they live well, and so that they see the value of education. Notice the second word “universal.” A parent who is educated, and has discovered the value of such education, will be much more inclined to ensure that his or her child will also be educated. An educated adult will help ensure that education is available.

Is primary education enough? Probably not, but we have to start somewhere, and, as noted above, once you get someone convinced on the value of education, they will probably do their best to go beyond merely the primary level.

The title of this MDG is “Achieve Universal Primary Education.” Is “Achieve” the right word? Probably not, but we have to start somewhere.

John Miers is from Bethesda, Maryland, where he was employed at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 2005. He serves on the board of St. Luke’s House, a halfway house for persons recovering from mental illness and also serves as Jubilee Officer for the Diocese of Washington. He was a member of National Commission on Science, Technology and Faith for the Episcopal Church and is active in his local church, where he is in the choir, worship committee, pastoral care committee, and the prayer team, and he also visits patients in a local hospital on behalf of the Chaplain.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Renewing the Call

This has been a hard week for me here in Tanzania, lots of frustration and delays. I was feeling incredibly disconnected. So much so that I felt that I had NOTHING to blog about. I have put this off all week, not being able to come up with a single thing to say.

Finally this morning, I decided to go back and read past blogs of mine and of others, hoping to be inspired.

I came across a speech I gave on Stewardship, over a year ago to the General Convention in Ohio. I spoke of feeling the opposite of how I am feeling this week. So, I have used parts of the speech for my blog this week. Hoping to re-inspire myself to feel connected to the MDGs, to my work here in Tanzania, and to that feeling that anything is possible.


... but listening, really hearing other people is what stewardship is all about. Because only when someone is heard can their mission – whatever that might be – be truly empowered. Only when we really listen can we find the best ways to serve those around us. Being a good steward isn’t doing what you think is right, or what makes you feel better. Being a faithful steward is about hearing from those in need what would make their lives better and helping to make it a reality.

I have found that stewardship isn’t easy. It requires effort. But if you are listening with your whole heart it is much easier than we think. I had no idea why I felt the need to go to Africa, of all places. But now I do. Now I understand that by hearing that calling within myself, and following through with what amounted to a leap of faith, I was able to bring stewardship into my life in a way that I hadn’t before. Faithfulness is listening. Faithfulness and stewardship are about realizing that there is an overwhelming abundance in our lives and in turn it is our job to utilize our treasures and our talents in order to help others. It is what God is calling us to do.

My time in Africa drastically changed the path of my life. My whole perspective was changed. I will never be able to go to the mall the way I did before. Or the grocery store. And definitely not Costco. I will never see American children as I did before. Or the nightly news. Most importantly, God has changed for me. Before I lived in Africa, lots of things in life seemed impossible. I always feared that I was being asked to do something that I couldn’t. Fear was a part of the way I perceived everything. I’m not afraid anymore. God will never ask me to do anything that is impossible. It is a huge relief to know that if I feel called to do something, then I will because it is possible.

The possibilities of what we can do to change the shape of the world are incredibly exciting. Most exciting is the fact that the Episcopal Church has become a part of this. By embracing the Millennium Developments Goals, the church is forcing all of us to step outside of our comfort zone. In many ways the MDG’s do not really affect us here at home as critically, after all child mortality is not an issue threatening our country, women dying in childbirth are a thing of the past, primary education is already universal in America, and we have the most empowered female population, I would argue, anywhere in the world. The MDGs bring us face to face with that which is literally foreign to us. We are forced to face our fears about the unknown, about those third world countries that we have been ignoring.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Confirmation Sunday" by Craig Cole

I am continually thankful to be part of the worldwide Anglican Communion in part because of its interconnectedness. There is a thread that ties us together as brothers and sisters in Christ no matter where we find ourselves in the world. There is almost always a recognizable church nearby that is a member of the Anglican family.

During this Easter season, I am reminded of this kinship by a story that happened to me about the same time, 12 years ago.

I woke up to the roosters arrogantly crowing at 5 a.m., or maybe it was a little earlier. All I knew was that it was dark out. I also knew I was not where I wanted to be - and I was where I wanted to be all in the same moment.

It was Confirmation Sunday at the Chapel of St. Andrew in Boca Raton, Fl. The confirmation class, I had helped teach, was going through the sacrament that confirms their belief in Jesus Christ. As the Book of Common Prayer says, “In the course of their Christian development, those baptized at an early age are expected, when they are ready and have been duly prepared, to make a mature public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their Baptism and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop.”

I was going to miss confirmation. I had cleared my schedule to be there. I had taken every precaution necessary. Yet, a change of plans at the last moment left me feeling like I had let my kids down.

God, however, had not let me down. He had given me another place to be - literally - in the middle of nowhere. It was Sunday morning, and I was in a little village called Cange about 1,000 feet above a huge reservoir in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

The church in Cange, The Good Saviour, didn’t have an organ, but an electric guitar, bass and drums. I also couldn’t understand much Creole but the service was exactly the same so I felt at home despite the language barrier.

Finally, it was time for Holy Eucharist. Not just the remembrance of the last supper, but a chance to be united with Christians anywhere in the world; no matter race, or country, or culture. Holy Eucharist only knows the boundaries man has set for it.

After the adults received communion, I was in for a surprise. I, along with another member of my group, were each given two huge bags of candy by the priest. Then, almost at once, there was a long line of children streaming down the aisle and out the door. So, for the next 30 minutes as the music played in the backround, my companion and me sat at the front of the altar as children, some dressed in beautiful white dresses, others in jeans, came forward to receive their own sweet “Communion.”

As we sat there with this multitude of children endlessly parading by, I sneaked a glance at my watch. I almost laughed out loud. God, in all his thoughtfulness, had provided me with an unexpected experience at just the right time. It was just past 10:30 and the Confirmation service at St. Andrew’s had just begun. God’s timing is perfect.

Every time I think about that experience, I thank God for his love for me and for those beautiful Haitian children whose smiles couldn’t have been brighter despite their poverty. Also, for God’s love for the confirmation class back in Boca Raton.

This story reminds me that as Christians, and as Anglicans, we are all connected by God to each other, no matter who we are, where we live, or how rich or poor.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Social Entrepreneurs and the MDGs" by John Hammock

Social Entrepreneurship and the MDGs

At the end of March I attended the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. This brought together over 800 people from 65 countries interested in using the power of the private sector for social good. The range of people included heads of non-profits, private businessmen, venture capitalist, academics and social entrepreneurs. As the Skoll website puts it:
“Social Entrepreneurship is about solutions and transformations that will benefit individuals, communities and, ultimately, society at large…
Tackling complex challenges from the ground up, social entrepreneurs work in areas such as climate change, sustainable business, public health, education for the poor, human rights, conflict, and water scarcity. Social entrepreneurs are at the forefront of a growing movement to scale-up positive, sustainable change…
With a focus on learning, leverage and impact, the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship connects prominent social entrepreneurs with essential actors in the social, academic, finance, corporate and policy sectors—all working to accelerate sustainable social benefit.” The Forum brings together over 785 delegates representing 65 countries.” Skoll Foundation: http://www.skollworldforum.com/
People who work with poverty often think the solutions must come from Government or Churches. Clearly I believe strongly in the role of both. But it is also important to think of how to harness the power and creativity of the private sector in our battle against poverty. Business does not have to be about just profit. Businesses exist that make a good profit but also have a positive impact on the society in which they work. And it is not just the enterprise; it is also the philanthropist that can be a positive force for good by focusing on venture philanthropy—philanthropy that supports social entrepreneurs.
Micro-finance, fair trade, social entrepreneurship, and socially responsible business all are practical methods for realizing this new economic framework. Growth and profit are tangible economic goals, as are a vibrant private sector and a responsible government sector, but the enhanced framework must also encompass other social dimensions that people value and have reason to value. Micro-finance is not just about loans and repayments; not just about business profit. It is also about cultivating individual and social empowerment, about instilling dignity and overcoming shame and humiliation. Micro-finance is a tool—not a panacea—which can either advance human development or exacerbate inequalities when applied without an understanding of the multiple dimensions of
Social entrepreneurs want to bring about change. How do we go about measuring that change? Is there a way using one tool to measure the various dimensions that social entrepreneurs think are important?
I work with the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). It has developed a robust and workable method of incorporating a number of dimensions or categories into a new OPHI-designed measure of poverty or well-being. This multidimensional measurement methodology was applied by Bhutan to devise its Gross National Happiness Index.
This same approach has private sector applications where there is concern with quality and process as well as growth and income. The OPHI multidimensional measurement methodology can be applied by social entrepreneurs to measure the type of multi faceted economic, social and environmental change that they seek. Work is currently underway on a project focused on fair trade that will use this OPHI methodology.
[OPHI is also in conversations with a number of governments about adopting the measurement tool to redesign their existing income-based poverty measures. In so doing, governments can apply this method to put into practice a more accurate poverty line—based on several dimensions—not just income.]
Those of us in churches need to reach out to our members in the private sector to engage in a discussion on how the private sector can combine profit and social change. It is possible. There are companies and entrepreneurs doing it.