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ACNS3530 The Presiding Bishop's Forum on Global Reconciliation
"Anglican Communion News Service" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fri, 1 Aug 2003 07:21:45 +0100
ACNS 3530 | USA | 31 JULY 2003
The Presiding Bishop's Forum on Global Reconciliation
by Matthew Davies
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) held a forum on
Global Reconciliation on Thursday 31 July at St Mark's Episcopal
Cathedral in Minneapolis as part of the 74th General Convention of
ECUSA. The turnout was staggering with nearly 1,000 people in
The speakers at the forum were: the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, the
Archbishop of Cape Town; Professor Jeffrey D Sachs, Director of the
Earth Institute and a Professor at Columbia University; Abagail Nelson,
Director of Latin American Programs at Episcopal Relief and Development
(ERD); Ranjit Mathews, an Intern at the Office of the Anglican Observer
at the United Nations; and the Revd Dr Sabina Alkire, a priest in the
Church of England and Former Researcher for the Commission on Human
Security at the United Nations.
Bishop Griswold, speaking about God's Mission in a Global perspective,
explained how the House of Bishops in ECUSA were scheduled to come
together a week after the events of September 11 to discuss global
citizenship and what it meant to be a part of the worldwide Anglican
Communion. "9/11 occurred and the first thought was should the meeting
be cancelled," he said. "My feeling, however, was that [the meeting] was
all the more important because at this point, fear, anxiety and anger
were disconnecting us, and any further point of this would be cutting us
off from the sense of being a global community." He added that there was
a strong desire to encourage a strengthening across the cultural lines.
"As one of 38 primates, I have not only had the privilege of visiting
many of the provinces, but also to visit fellow Anglican Christians and
realise our incredible resources and the limited vision of people in
this country as being a global community," he said. "We need to take
much more seriously our international role. Reconciliation has to do
with the world and so our speakers this evening will broaden our horizon
and give us a perspective of Christ's reconciling love in a way that is
articulate and real."
Bishop Griswold introduced the first speaker at the forum, Archbishop
Njongonkulu Ndungane, as one of the major forces in the 1998 Lambeth
Conference on global debt and HIV/AIDS.
Archbishop Ndungane opened his speech by explaining that the people of
South Africa are accustomed to the theme of reconciliation between black
and white people but must also deal with the wider issue between the
poor and rich. "This is continuing to widen," he said. "There are 4.5
million people who are unemployed. Sixty per cent live a life of
poverty. The gap between the rich and poor has risen substantially
between 1995 and 2001." The Archbishop of Cape Town also informed the
audience about the staggering number of people who die from HIV/AIDS
each year in Southern Africa; and the decline in public health, public
transport and education.
"People lose the sense of value and community," he said. "If children
are not lovingly cared for, and men and women are deprived of the
opportunity to work, they will fall prey to drugs, to crime and other
means to ease the pain." He added, "They lose the vision that God has
set before us. We need to affirm the deep and urgent longing that people
feel for the poor to hear the good news at last."
At the end of his speech, the Archbishop called upon everyone to account
to each other for the way that we use our stewardship. "Nothing is more
important than human life," he said. "And the poor have the same dignity
as the rich and the same means for survival."
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who has spent over twenty years at Harvard
University and most recently as Director for the Center for
International Development, delivered a very dynamic and moving speech
entitled "We Can Make a Difference".
"What can we say about the day that's just passed in Africa ," he said.
"We know that 7,000 African children died today of malaria, we also know
that 7,000 died of AIDS. When we talk about the wealth we have in this
country, and the poverty that there is in the world, and the 15,000
people that died today meaninglessly we talk about the coexistence of
wealth that is unimaginable and kills many people each year."
Professor Sachs, who is also a special advisor to United Nations
Secretary General, Kofi Annan, revealed that there are one billion
people throughout the world whose daily struggle means that their
expectancy of life may be 40 years, and the shocking reality of how 200
out of every 1000 children will not see their fifth birthday. "A million
children each year die of measles in these poor countries because they
don't have the nutrition to give them the strength of the immune system
that they need," he said.
The largest pandemic in modern society is AIDS, with 13 million Africans
currently dying from the disease, and yet the vast majority don't have
access to the drugs that they need. "These people are trapped because
the world has looked the other way," said Professor Sachs. "There are
very practical solutions. If they can be empowered with first the relief
and then the base of development then their struggle would become less
The third speaker, Abagail Nelson, has for the past four years helped
the Episcopal Church to design and implement programs that respond to
natural and manmade disasters, and reduce communities' exposure to
future risk. "In globalisation and reconciliation none of us exists
alone," she said. "No part of this body can say of any other part, 'I
have no need of you.'"
She explained how her belief is that God calls each of us to stretch
ourselves to really identify other people's reality. "Walk in someone
else's shoes sometimes and see what it feels like to live in their
perspective," she said. "It's about investing our own gifts and talents
so that there are no more victims. It's about building the kingdom of
The next person to address the audience was Ranjit Mathews, a second
generation Indian-American who has served as an assistant to the
HIV/AIDS Office of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa. "When
I went to South Africa as a missionary I felt I was the one being
evangelised," he said. "The Church must be a witness and raise its
prophetic mantel. Once we are fed spiritually then we are better
prepared to service the needs of others. Life must be an instrument of
love wherever we go."
The final speaker of the evening, the Revd Sabina Alkire, has worked
around the world helping to alleviate global suffering. One of her
concerns was that out of the twenty poorest countries in the world,
sixteen are in conflict or war. "If four days of military expenditure
every year was dedicated to education we would be able to meet our
millennium goal by 2015," she said. "And if Christians lived out their
faith fully there would not be so much poverty today."
All of the evening's speeches were extremely moving and revealing, and
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold's hope and prayer for the forum was that
"we will go forth from this gathering, and from this General Convention,
filled with the Holy Spirit and a deepened commitment to engaging in
God's project of restoring all people to unity with God and each other
"Let this be the beginning of a new and united effort of our church to
serve and advance God's mission of reconciliation globally."
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