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Faith leaders to urge governments: Stick to Millenium Development Goal pledges

   
 


Kids take care of infants in Burkina Faso, the world’s second poorest nation according to CIA statistics.

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October 30, 2009
-Deborah Froese

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Add Mennonite Church Canada to the list of approximately 100 religious groups who will hold G8 leaders to their 9 year old pledges to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In 2000, G8 leaders pledged support to the goals set by the United Nations – but progress is not keeping pace with promise, and faith leaders are determined to speak to the situation. The goals – to be achieved by 2015 – seek to enhance conditions for peace by addressing the root causes of conflict such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, gender inequality, child mortality, and unsustainable environmental practices.

Mennonite Church Canada will add its voice through its membership in the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) – the body that has helped form the 2010 Interfaith Partnership which will ultimately host the 2010 World Religions Summit at the University of Winnipeg, Man., (June 21-23), just prior to the G8 Summit in Huntsville, Ont., (June 24-26).

Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of the CCC has but one clear and simple goal: that every Member of the Canadian Parliament would receive five visits from people representing the spectrum of faith traditions in their riding – ordinary voting Canadians who would encourage their government to live up to its pledges. (See the 2010 Interfaith Statement at www.faithchallengeG8.com for a public discussion tool.) At the heart of every major world religion, says Hamilton, is a version of the Golden Rule. ‘Doing unto others as you have them do unto you’ is the key uniting and motivating value shared among virtually all faith traditions.

Dan Dyck, volunteer Chair of the 2010 Interfaith Leaders’ Summit Communications Team and Director of Communications for Mennonite Church Canada, is leading a Peace in the Public Square campaign in his denomination. The four-year campaign encourages congregations to “act for peace” and log stories about their actions with the denominational office. An Act of Peace can range from an individual extending an unexpected act of hospitality to someone or the collective effort of launching a public advertising campaign for peace, as is being done in Mennonite Church Alberta (a related web site at www.liveforpeace.org will be launched in mid-Nov.).

“Mennonite Church Canada is attempting to log 1,000 Acts of Peace in our denomination. We will collect these stories and publish them as a source of creative inspiration for peacebuilders of the future. We hope to demonstrate that when ordinary people choose to pursue peace, they can transform individuals and situations into sacred vessels and experiences,” said Dyck.

Dyck encourages individuals and congregations to visit their MPs and advocate for Canada to keep its MDG pledges – and then record their actions and experiences with Mennonite Church Canada via email to office@mennonitechurch.ca.

Sidebar: Acting for Peace in the Public Square

  • Visit your MP and ask him/her to speak up for Canada’s pledge to the Millennium Development Goals
  • Support the Canadian Department of Peace initiative. See www.departmentofpeace.ca for more information.
  • Become a conscientious objector to military taxation. Work for peace, stop paying for war, at www.consciencecanada.ca/
  • Visit www.liveforpeace.org for more ways to commit acts of peace.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper that advocates for any of the above.
  • Commit an unexpected, extreme act of hospitality.
  • Befriend a member of the military or a war veteran.
  • Log your Act of Peace story via email to office@mennonitechurch.ca

Sidebar: MDGs – Enhancing conditions for peace

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for development