From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NCC's Girton-Mitchell Addresses IMF/World Bank UnBirthday Party
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thu, 22 Apr 2004 12:10:54 -0700
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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
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
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
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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