WORLD CHURCH: Christians Call for Partnership Against Poverty

hurches and governments must pursue partnerships to eradicate extreme poverty if the Millennium Declaration of 2000 is to meet its 2015 deadline, faith leaders who met in September at a two-day consultation at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., said in a communiqué.

Religious leaders from a wide range of denominations crafted and signed the communiqué, which outlined steps for governments and churches to take in building a global movement to help the poor. On September 13, the document was presented to United Nations officials in New York on the eve of the world body's 60th anniversary by a delegation representing the creators of the communiqué.

"This is an urgent call and one that responds to the cry of the least among us-the voiceless," said Rajmund Dabrowski, communication director of the Adventist world church and a participant in the consultation. "It's a cry for justice to be done, and for equitable distribution and accountability for the wealth the world has. As Christians, we know this cry, but we also know that much more must be done and that intentions must turn into actions.

"Managing the world in which we live, a world of so many needs, is what Christians can contribute through their faith and actions," he said.

"In the context of the abysmal presence of poverty, as a Christian I am compelled to consider generosity, solidarity, and human justice and place them at the forefront of my Christian witness and presence, wherever I live. The Christian's response to a world of needs is driven by the gospel commission. Our response to God's call is a response to partner with Him," Dabrowski added.

The call for action against poverty came from a "Consultation of Religious Leaders on Global Poverty." The two-day session was sponsored by the Center for Global Justice and Reconciliation, a new initiative of the Cathedral College of Washington National Cathedral, which is part of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. Among the 36 participants of the consultation was the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Leonard Carey, as well as other leaders of world Christian communions.

The consultation, which came about as an initiative of South Africa's Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu W. H. Ndungane, opened with a series of worship services and lectures in the Cathedral nave, including an address by Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special advisor to U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, and a reflection by the former U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright. The participants also met with Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank.

"At the urgent call of church leaders in the southern hemisphere, we came together at Washington National Cathedral as Christian leaders from diverse traditions and places, both rich and poor, south and north, united in a common concern for those of us living in poverty. We see their faces; we hear their voices; they are a part of us, and we are a part of them," the communiqué states.

"We believe that our communities of faith, representing millions of people and sponsoring numerous human-development initiatives, can provide new models for advancing a global movement against poverty," the communiqué adds. "The churches have a vast network of institutions, trusted relationships with millions of people, and access to countless local communities, all rich resources for development."

The communiqué calls for global governments to make several steps aimed at implementing the "Millennium Development Goals," promulgated by the United Nations. Governments, the document said, should work at creating just societies; build partnerships with "churches and religious organizations so that the poor become protagonists in their own destinies"; "cancel the remaining debt of all nations struggling with extreme poverty"; "dramatically" increase development assistance; make "the world's trade systems fair and just for developing countries and peoples"; and "protect innocent populations, reduce the flow of arms, and support peace building" as a means of reducing poverty.

The communiqué also asks for "accountability and transparency" in global development and antipoverty programs: "Corruption and a lack of transparency and accountability rob the poor of significant resources and pose an obstacle to development in many countries," the document says. "We know that nations and international institutions have undertaken anti-corruption initiatives; we commend these and urge that far greater resources be devoted to their implementation."

In his comments to the media, Archbishop Ndungane said plans are being developed to establish, in cooperation with faith communities, non-governmental organizations, and other groups, an independent, African-based monitoring system to assist with the issues of transparency in the recipient countries.
Dabrowski said, "As a church we can cite many examples of our own involvement with alleviating the dire needs of the planet, whether through the work of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, or the work of education and health care. And there is an infrastructure-it includes local congregations, education, and health centers-to deal with many of the issues identified by the Millennium Development Goals, and global poverty in particular.

"The partnership aspect, as identified in the communiqué, puts Adventists, along with other faith communities, in a position of doing a better job in working together in the arena of common needs, being practical, as well as being more effective delivering help and hope. Christian churches are required to be accountable for the way we should share our abundance with the needy. What is also required [is] that the churches become more effective in communicating about the issues, and do so far and wide," Dabrowski added.

Among the concluding statements of the "Call to Partnership" communiqué is a call for faith communities to actively participate across a broad spectrum in development work: "As Christian leaders we challenge our own churches to pursue partnerships with governments, international organizations, civil society, and across confessional lines," the communiqué says.                                    --Adventist News Network/AR.


Students Representing Four Nations Graduate in Latvia
Ten graduates representing four different nations-Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Albania-received their diplomas for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion in Riga, Latvia, on August 20. The graduation is the culmination of a program that began nine years ago in 1996 when Trans-European Division Education director Orville Woolford and Newbold College vice president Mike Pearson proposed a program of study by extension. Three years later Griggs University validated the existing program and consolidated all former studies on college/university levels. The first group of pastors graduated three years ago in July 2002.                                                                                                                                --Griggs University/AR.

SERBIA: Musicians Worldwide Perform
at International Music Festival

Nearly 2,000 people attended the International Festival of Spiritual Music (FEDUM), organized by the Music Ministries Department of the Adventist Church in southeast Europe on June 11, 2005, in Belgrade. More than 30 selected musical pieces were performed by interpreters and groups that came from Austria, United States, Macedonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Serbia.
                                                                         --Trans-European Division Communication Department/AR.

South England Conference Appoints New President
The South England Conference (SEC) Executive Committee recently appointed Humphrey Walters as the conference's new president. Walters has served as the SEC executive secretary since 1996, and most recently has been special assistant to the president with responsibilities for strategic development, church growth, and LIFEdevelopment.
Walters replaces Donald McFarlane, who has been conference president for 14 years. McFarlane will now serve as a field secretary of the Trans-European Division.          --British Union Conference News/AR.

Lake Region Conference Elects New President, Treasurer
Jerome Davis, who has been serving as ministerial director of the Lake Region Conference (LRC) in Chicago for five years, was elected on September 25 as the conference's new president. Theodore Brown, treasurer of the Southwest Region Conference in Dallas, Texas, has also recently been elected treasurer of LRC. The former president and treasurer were relieved of their responsibilities after an audit revealed irregularities in the Lake Region Conference's operations.

CALIFORNIA: Simi Valley Hospital Names Irish as New CEO
Gary G. Irish has been appointed president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Simi Valley Hospital (SVH), according to Robert G. Carmen, executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) of Adventist Health and board chair for the 197-bed southern California hospital. Irish assumed his new position October 11.

"[Gary] has many years of experience in the area of hospital operations and management," said Carmen, "and I am confident that his leadership will be a benefit not only to the hospital but to the community at large."

Irish was formerly president and CEO of South Coast Medical Center in Laguna Beach, California. Prior to joining Adventist Health, he served as COO of Littleton Adventist Hospital and Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver, Colorado. He has also served in various other administrative and leadership roles, including director of Resource Management and Planning at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.                                                                 --Adventist Health Corporate Communication Department/AR.

News Note:
Employees of the Adventist Church World Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, have donated almost $16,000 for hurricane relief efforts, $15,000 of which has been matched by the General Conference Treasury Department. According to the coordinator of donation receipting of the GC Treasury Department, as of September 21 the combined total given to Adventist Community Services, ADRA, and Adventist Relief from this matching plan is $30,700.76.                                                                                                                   --AR.

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