New York, NY - December 11, 2014
Christian leaders from four continents met for a Micah Summit at the United Nations in New York this week. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted at the same venue in 2000. Participants from the Micah Challenge campaign (formed by the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Network as a response to the 8 MDGs) grappled with the implications of being a prophetic voice to tackle poverty injustice and having a thoughtful and balanced approach to advocacy.
|Micah Challenge leaders from around the world during 'Celebration & Sorrow' at the United Nations Church Center in New York|
According to Dr. Ron Sider, distinguished theologian, Christians have for too long taken the "ready, shoot, aim" approach to social issues. Instead they should take more careful aim at systemic change by careful research and fact finding, so that "shots" are effective.
The Micah Summit marked the end of ten years of global campaigning by 25 national campaigns and a transition to a new Micah structure to address the UN's post-2015 development goals.
According to prominent theologian, Professor Miroslav Volf from Yale University, the Church must speak prophetically into market economics. "The well lived life needs to embrace contentment beyond the inherent greed of owning more", he claimed, "and that means conversations about God and transcendence."
Ron Sider, who has written about social and economic issues for 30 years urged that "we need to be troublemakers to the system. (...) The Church needs to be intelligent and strategic."
The Summit included lively discussion about what that means for local churches in situations of violence, religious persecution, or corruption.
Speakers from nations with troubled histories including Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Nepal all stressed that doing justice must complement acts of mercy for effective long-term transformation.
The gathering culminated in a 'Celebration and Sorrow' service stressing the achievements and shortcomings of the last ten years of campaigning by churches around the Millennium Development Goals.
There has been dramatic increase in primary school access for millions, and absolute poverty levels halved and child mortality have both been cut in half.
However, maternal mortality remains stubbornly high, the quality of education and health care globally is patchy and a billion still lack basic sanitation.
Revs. Gabriel and Jeanette Salguero from Lambs Church in NY spoke powerfully about lamenting, ‘Once we have walked in the despair of people in suffering we have licence to speak of hope...the way things ought to be.’
The Summit service ended with Mercy Hilderbrand from Canada, born at the beginning of the millennium. Now 14, she pleaded for adults to be "utterly relentless" in their determination to see the MDGs fulfilled. "You must refuse to give up. You must leave the Micah Summit with an urgent calling to be the generation that ends extreme poverty once and for all."
Over two billion Christians in the world today are represented by three world church bodies. The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is one of those, serving and representing more than 600 million evangelicals. Launched in 1846 to unite evangelicals worldwide, the WEA continues to be a dynamic movement with 7 regional and 129 national Evangelical Alliances, and over 150 member organizations. WEA's mission is to speak as a trusted voice, to equip members and leaders for global impact and to connect its members and others for common action in the furtherance of God’s reign. For more info e-mail at [email protected] or go to Worldea.org.
Micah Challenge, an initiative of the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Network, is a global movement active in over 40 countries whose aim is to encourage Christians to be committed to the poor, and hold governments accountable to the Millennium Development Goals, signed by 189 countries in the year 2000 which committed to halving world poverty by the year 2015. See www.micahchallenge.org for more information.