From the Worldwide Faith News archives

NCC's Girton-Mitchell Addresses IMF/World Bank UnBirthday Party

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Thu, 22 Apr 2004 12:10:54 -0700


On the Occasion of Your 60th Birthday:
A Message to the IMF and the World Bank
By the Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Associate General Secretary of Public 
National Council of Churches USA

Editor's Note: Girton-Mitchell's remarks were delivered at today's "UnHappy 
Birthday Party" event sponsored by Jubilee USA and held in Morrow Park, 
across the street from the World Bank's offices in Washington, 
D.C.  Participants argued that the IMF/World Bank's 60th anniversary is no 
time for a party, but rather it's time to drop the debt that is crippling 
development in many impoverished nations.

Jubilee USA collected more than 10,000 UnBirthday Cards from people around 
the world, including the President of Kenya.  Jubilee USA delivered the 
cards today to Catherine Marshall, Director of the World Bank's Faith 
Dialogue Group.

April 21, 2004, Washington, D.C. - People love birthdays.  Birthdays 
symbolize times of joy, new beginnings, and new life.  We love birthdays, 
especially those of others, because birthdays are times to celebrate 
another year of life.  We love the extra opportunity to say thank you to 
family and friends with cards, cakes, candles, and special gifts.

Birthdays are also times for personal reflection.  We pause to look back 
over our lives to remember the goals we set for ourselves.  We look ahead, 
dreaming new dreams, making plans, and accepting new challenges for the 
year ahead.

Today, we as people of faith, are gathered here in recognition of the 60th 
Birthday of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.  We wish 
it could be a joyous celebration, but it is not - because the birth of this 
organization symbolized HOPE for developing countries, and instead has 
created a sense of HOPELESSNESS for generations of children born into 
inescapable poverty.

Although IMF and the World Bank were created to avoid disastrous economic 
policies that led to the Great Depression and to help build economic 
cooperation worldwide, they have instead been the perpetrators of a new 
global apartheid that has crippled many African nations, which are unable 
to provide basic services like health care and education for its citizens.

Debt cancellation is an issue of justice and morality. The reality is that 
impoverished nations spend more in debt service than they receive in aid, 
new loans or investments. This is morally incomprehensible.  This is 
totally unacceptable.  And, as people of faith we will continue to protest 
this injustice until the debt is cancelled.

As people of faith, we work through various organizations to provide 
humanitarian aid to countries where there is a need. We advocate for 
policies and funding that will help the poorest among us.  The cancellation 
of the debt for many of these countries would have an immediate and 
positive impact for:

- The millions that live on less than a dollar a day.

- For the child that does not know for certain if she will eat today.

- For the person dying in the streets from AIDS because there is no 
hospital bed for him.

For these people it is urgent and imperative that the debt is cancelled now.

So we have a birthday message for IMF and the World Bank.  Our faith 
demands that we continue to advocate for justice.  This is a moral issue.

Our message is: CANCEL THE DEBT!

People in African nations are literally faced with life and death decisions 
about how to use their resources; people are dying in the streets.  Debt 
cancellation will give birth to a wide range of choices for countries that 
are currently bound by the billions of dollars they owe. Just like the 
widow in the Gospel of Luke, who went over and over again to the judge, 
until her request was granted, we will continue to lift our voices in 
protest and our hearts in prayer as we beg you to cancel the debt.

Today we say to the IMF and the World Bank - do not joyfully celebrate your 
60-year existence, but rather take time to reflect on your mission and 
accept the challenge to fulfill your purpose. Our prayer is that you will 
become a beacon of light for those living in the darkness caused by 
poverty, hunger, sickness, and lack of education.

Our prayer is that you will help these nations experience the year of

Help them by allowing them to use the resources they have to build their 
countries' economic structures and help their citizens.

Help them by allowing them to feed hungry children.

Help them by freeing up their resources so that they can provide health 
care for those who are sick.

Help them by canceling their debt so that they are able to educate their 
children and lay a solid foundation for a healthy economy and productive 

As long as this extraordinary burden is held over the heads of so many, we 
will come before you with our petitions for justice.  Our faith inspires us 
to believe that our vision and our prayers for a new world, a more just 
world, and a world where there are right relationships can be realized.

We will not be silenced until justice is done.

But we will make a promise to you, after the debt is cancelled for these 
nations, we will throw you the biggest bash you've ever seen - complete 
with cake, candles, special gifts, and HAPPY birthday cards.

But for now, there is no time to party - it's time to CANCEL THE DEBT.


Media Contact: 202-544-2350 x 11

Brenda Girton-Mitchell is a member of Metropolitan Baptist Church in 
Washington, D.C., a congregation dually affiliated with the American 
Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. and the Progressive National Baptist

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