Thursday, September 25, 2008

Remembering to make poverty history

Today has been declared a day of prayer, fasting, and witness in support of the Millennium Development Goals by various faith communities around the world. The United Nations is renewing its commitment to end extreme poverty in a special session of the General Assembly.

If you're not familiar with the Goals (I eschew the popular acronym "MDG" because it sounds like something you don't want in your Chinese food), there are lots of sources of information. I'll leave it to you to read up on them. While the goals are a direct product of the United Nations, they reflect the basic underpinnings of most faith communities involved in peace and justice and active mission around the world. Some folks squawk that churches are doing the bidding of the UN, but actually the opposite is true. Faith communities (and many others) worked long and hard with the United Nations to craft the Goals in 2001.

My visit to Africa in 2007 brought me face to face with the reality of need and progress of the Goals. Hunger, child mortality, HIV/AIDS/Malaria, universal education take on real meaning in a community situated on the town dump or one with hundreds of AIDS orphans. Seeing first-hand the work of teachers and medical personnel combating these enormous problems 24/7 brings the need to achieve the Goals into sharp focus.

What can ONE person do? Well, in the Episcopal Church, we believe that if every individual, parish, and diocese designated just .07% a year to alleviate poverty, we could make a little head-way. Now, .07% isn't a lot per year, even in the current economic car-crash. It's only $350 for an income of $50,000. You probably already donate at least that much in support of one of the 8 goals, whether you call it supporting the Goals, or not. (Feel free to wear one of the white ONE bracelets or a big ol' "ONE" button.) Episcopalians believe that actively supporting the goals is one way we serve Christ in the world.

On this day of prayer for the Millennium Development Goals, look over the eight goals. Think about what you can do to help achieve one or more of them in your own community or the wider world.

For more information about the Goals and the Episcopal Church, visit Global Good, Episcopal Relief and Development, or Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation.

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