From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Presiding Bishop Advocates for Global Poverty, AIDS Funds

Date Mon, 29 Mar 2004 09:32:38 -0600


March 29, 2004

ELCA Presiding Bishop Advocates for Global Poverty, AIDS Funds

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), was among
nine distinguished religious leaders who went to Washington,
D.C., March 25 to remind the Bush Administration and other
political leaders to keep financial promises to fund programs
aimed at combating global poverty and HIV/AIDS.
     The religious leaders met with U.S. Undersecretary of State
Alan Larson and Ambassador Randall Tobias -- U.S. State
Department leaders involved in administering a Bush
administration plan to fund Third World development known as the
"Millennium Challenge Account" and a global HIV/AIDS initiative.
The group also went to the White House to meet with Dr.
Condoleezza Rice, national security advisor to President Bush,
and to Capitol Hill to meet with U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin
     The religious leaders asked the government officials to keep
promises to spend $15 billion on global AIDS programs and $10
billion on Third World development.  They say the Bush
administration and the Congress must work harder to secure the
funding needed.  Congressional appropriations and Bush
administration proposals thus far are short of the funding needed
annually to meet the spending goals.
     The meetings were arranged through Bread for the World, a
Washington, D.C.-based organization, supported by the ELCA and
many other church bodies, dedicated to fighting hunger worldwide
through advocacy.
     "It was a good day," Hanson told the ELCA News Service in an
interview after the meeting.  "As we in the ELCA talk about being
a 'public church,' I think [it] was the kind of day on which the
vast majority of ELCA members want the presiding bishop to spend
time on their behalf."
     Together, the religious leaders represented some 80 million
Christians in the United States and U.S. territories, Hanson
     The meetings had two purposes, Hanson said.  The first was
to express gratitude to the Bush Administration and other
political leaders who created the Millennium Challenge Account
and to those who support HIV/AIDS prevention by expanding funding
globally, he said.  A second reason was to remind the elected
leaders how important it is to keep promises for funding those
initiatives, Hanson said.
     "Every day we delay the appropriation of funds, countless
people in the world die of AIDS," Hanson said.	Bread for the
World estimates nearly 800 million people in the world are
undernourished and 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
     "There was a lot of conversation during the day about faith
and how we have an obligation as the wealthiest nation on Earth
to respond out of that wealth to people living with AIDS and
poverty," he said.
     Each of the church leaders will be asked to communicate with
members of their churches about the importance of holding the
political leaders accountable to live up to the promises they
made on HIV/AIDS and poverty funding, Hanson added.
     "In these grim times church leaders working together can
address the real opportunity we have to dramatically increase and
improve development and health assistance to poor people around
the world," said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for
the World and an ELCA pastor. "September 11, 2001, convinced many
Americans and our political leaders that it is in our national
security interest to reduce misery in far-off places. What's
needed from church leaders now is mainly insistence that our
nation live up to its promises to the world's poorest people."
     Chad Kolton, spokesman for the White House Office of
Management and Budget, said the poverty and HIV/AIDS programs are
getting "double- and triple-digit increases" and are on track to
meet the commitments President Bush made, according to the
Religion News Service, Washington, D.C.
     Leaders attending the March 25 meetings were the Rev. Susan
Andrews, moderator of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.); the Rt. Rev. Frederick Borsch, retired Episcopal Church
bishop of Los Angeles; the Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary,
National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.; Hanson; the
Rev. Major L. Jemison, president, Progressive National Baptist
Convention; the Rev. Glenn Palmberg, president, Evangelical
Covenant Church; the Rev. Lawrence L. Reddick, presiding bishop,
5th Episcopal District (Alabama and Florida), Christian Methodist
Episcopal Church; the Most Rev. John H. Ricard, SSJ, Chair,
International Policy Committee, U. S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops; and the Rev. Peter D. Weaver, president-elect, United
Methodist Council of Bishops.

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