Christian Leaders Gather for ‘Historic’ Meeting with UN Head

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October 12, 2007

For Immediate Release

Contact: Marion Uzac, Press Secretary, [email protected]
Sylvia Soon, Chief-of-Staff, [email protected]

World Evangelical Alliance (WEA): World Evangelical Alliance is made up of 128 national evangelical alliances located in 7 regions and 104 associate member organizations. The vision of WEA is to extend the Kingdom of God by making disciples of all nations and by Christ-centered transformation within society. WEA exists to foster Christian unity, to provide an identity, voice and platform for the 420 million evangelical Christians worldwide.

Key Christian leaders came together in Arlington, Virginia, on Thursday, October 11, for a historic gathering attended by the Secretary General of the United Nations (U.N.) Ban Ki-moon.

Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), was among a host of evangelical leaders who joined the Global Leaders Forum with Mr. Ban.

The event was convened by Micah Challenge USA and the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) to educate and inform evangelical opinion makers about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and emphasize the significance of the MDGs and their potential of making a lasting impact on poverty.

It is also the first time that the Secretary General of the UN has met church leaders on the MDGs since they were agreed by country leaders in 2000.

“Tonight was a historic moment for evangelical leaders in the USA as they engaged in a very important dialogue with the Secretary General of the United Nations,” said Dr. Tunnicliffe. “It is my hope that this event will help deepen the growing movement of Evangelical Christians around the world in responding to the injustices of extreme poverty. Further it is my hope the UN Secretary General became more aware of our shared commitment with the UN to see extreme poverty in the world halved by the year 2015.”

Mr. Ban addressed hundreds of Christian leaders from the Global North and South and praised evangelical institutions such as the NAE and Micah Challenge for their efforts in helping meet the MDGs.

“We need the National Association of Evangelicals, the Micah Challenge and others in the faith community to help be a voice to the voiceless people. Your engagement can push governments to push through on their commitments,” he said.

He also encouraged the Christian leaders not to underestimate their power to make a real difference at a critical moment in history for those suffering in poverty.

“Please join me in this great cause,” he said. “With faith and the will, we can make a difference.”

Rev. Joel Edwards, head of the UK Evangelical Alliance and International Co-Chairperson of Micah Challenge, welcomed the Secretary General’s affirmation of Micah Challenge and the role of Christians in the fight against poverty.

“To actually have the Secretary General of the UN saying that the Micah Challenge is regarded as a serious and critical partner in the enterprise to reduce absolute poverty is just great news,” said Rev. Edwards.

“World governments are realizing that they cannot ignore the church in the battle to eradicate poverty. Micah Challenge is in a unique position to bring together some of the expertise within the Christian world and to work positively with governments to end extreme poverty.”

The President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Rev. Leith Anderson, also commented, expressing his thoughts on what this event signifies for WEA.

“WEA has a major influence on what is happening around the world as voice for the evangelicals and is an important part here with the NAE,” said Rev. Anderson. “It is most appropriate that WEA be connected with the Secretary General of UN and wonderful voices from around the world from evangelical community who are speaking at the Global Leaders Forum. And this reflects that great things are happening.”

He continued: “Mainly, what was more important than what he said was his recognition of evangelicals and the importance of the evangelicals in doing good in the world today. More than the specifics, he certainly talked about the needs of the world and the difficulties and the opportunities that we have. It isn’t that he produced new info, but that he was present and aware of who we are and what we’re doing. That’s great.”

Micah Challenge is an initiative of the World Evangelical Alliance, an umbrella organization representing three million churches worldwide, and the Micah Network, an incorporated network of more than 300 Christian relief and development organizations. National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) represents more than 45,000 local churches from 61 different denominations and serves a constituency of millions.

Following this historic dinner with Mr. Ban, leaders met for the Global Leaders Forum on Friday, October 12, to discuss various issues including poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, bioethics, human rights, creation care, torture, and peacemaking.