Bishops march for MDGs

Today the bishops at the Lambeth Conference travel to London to march through London calling upon world leaders to take action on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Led by the Archbishop of Canterbury they hope to witness to the urgent needs of the world. The ABC will present a letter (see below) to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Over 1500 religious leaders, politicians, and charity leaders will join the Archbishop in the witness.

According to the Kent News:

Dr Rowan Williams will lead hundreds of bishops and archbishops from around the world on the march from Parliament to Lambeth Palace today.

He will warn that the UN’s Millennium Development Goals decided in 2000, which include halving world poverty by 2015 and stopping the spread of HIV/Aids, will not be met unless efforts are stepped up.

At the rally after the procession, which will be held at Dr William’s home Lambeth Palace, he will say that if governments fail it will lead to further starvation, disease and death.

Up to 1,500 religious leaders, charity bosses and politicians will attend the event on Thursday, which comes ahead of a meeting of the UN on September 25 to discuss progress towards meeting the eight goals.

Archbishop of York, John Sentamu writes in The Times:

The shouts of outrage at the desperate situation of the world’s poorest appear to have quietened to a whisper. Calls to “make poverty history” seem to have faded as quickly as the credit crunch has arrived. But while we tighten our belts at home, the chilling facts of international poverty remain brutal. Once again voices must be raised into a pressing chorus for people living in poverty in our global village.

In 2000, world leaders declared that they would spare no effort to achieve eight “millennium development goals”, including halving global poverty, getting all the world’s children into school, reducing infant and maternal mortality and providing clean water and sanitation. It was a huge task, but the goals provided a yardstick against which to measure our success and a clear idea of where we would be in 2015. Or so we thought.


It is a scandal that we allow the ball to be dropped in this way – and we in the Church share the blame, for not shouting louder about our capacity to achieve lasting development solutions. The real disgrace is that, for the first time in history, our generation has a genuine opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty, yet we seem so slow to get on with it. We have the technology, resources and expertise. The success of the Jubilee 2000 campaign shows our politicians that they have the mandate, and can act accordingly.

Today, I will walk through the centre of London with people from all corners of the globe, and of all faiths and none, as a visible sign to the leaders of our nations that we are watching them – they will not be allowed to break the promises they have made to the poorest among us. The walk is a public pledge to redouble the Church’s efforts to work towards total eradication of poverty. With today’s walk we hope to recapture some of the atmosphere of hope and optimism that managed to move world leaders sufficiently to make the historic announcements that they did just a few years ago.

Read his article here


Chris Clement photo for Episcopal Life Online 2008

Many churches in the Episcopal Church (TEC) are marching in solidarity this week. Read about it here.

Episcopal Life carries the story of the March here.

Anglican Communion News Service reports here.

The Lambeth Daily has several reports here. Helen Wangusa, Anglican UN Observer, talks about Millenuim Development Goals and the ‘Walk of Witness’ here.

Ekklesia reports here

The Times reports here.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, told the bishops at a rally in the courtyard of Lambeth Palace:

“This is one of the greatest public demonstrations of faith that this country has ever seen.”

“You have sent a symbol, a very clear message with rising force that poverty can be eradicated, poverty must be eradicated and if we all work together for change poverty will be eradicated.”


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will this morning share the following letter (see below) with the UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, following the walk of witness through central London where Anglican bishops, their spouses and other faith leaders will take to the streets to highlight the urgent need for more action on tackling extreme poverty and hunger.

Dear Prime Minister,

At the conclusion of this historic walk of witness in which the bishops of the Anglican Communion have been joined by other faith leaders from across the world, we are united in our determination to support the leaders of the world to keep their promise to halve extreme poverty through the Millennium Development Goals framework by 2015. In 2005 in Ireland, and again in 2007 in South Africa, the Anglican Communion collectively committed itself to be ready partners in meeting the goals, with their clear and time bound targets to halve extreme poverty. Regrettably, despite some important progress in some regions and nations, these goals will not be met for millions of people for whom we have pastoral care.

In our human family the continuing consequence of failure is the death of millions of women and children from child-birth and preventable childhood diseases. Millions more have hopes for sustainable life diminished because of poverty-fuelled conflict, lack of education and gender inequality, all of which undermine a new generation’s liberation from HIV. We add to this now our growing understanding of the poverty and vulnerability created by climate change and the structural injustice in global trade and economics.

The commitment and progress of the international community to the MDGs thus far is to be commended. The consistent global leadership of the UK government towards meeting these targets is particularly welcome. But Christian pastors and other faith leaders cannot stand by while promises are not kept, when nations are tempted by the easier path of preserving their own wealth at the cost of other people’s poverty.

God’s message of reconciliation calls us to action. Indeed our faith calls us to go beyond the conservative targets set by the Millennium Development Goals merely to halve extreme poverty. We know that the aspirations of the poor and marginalised are inseparable from our own personal or national fulfilment. The goal of our faith is that all may have life and have it in its fullness.

For many years the Anglican Communion, alongside other faith communities, has been active in fighting against poverty and injustice. Our struggle is seen not only through prayer and advocacy, but also by directly serving many of the most marginalised people in our world through the daily provision of education, health care, emergency relief and counselling. In this we are among those who build and bear hope for life when hope might otherwise be lost in cycles of violence, drought and disaster. We pay tribute to the inspiring lives lived by countless people as they seek to know and love God amidst the cruelties of poverty and the burdens that women bear disproportionately.

Because our faith challenges us to eradicate poverty, and not merely to reduce it, we should be all the more alarmed that with the half way mark to 2015 passed, it is clear that most of these achievable targets will not be met. The cause is not a lack of resources, but a lack of global political will.

When they meet in New York at the United Nations on 25th September, world leaders must find greater political commitment to addressing poverty and inequality. A timetable for achieving the MDGs by 2015 needs to be created. Our leaders need to invest in and strengthen their partnership with the Church worldwide, so that its extensive delivery network for education and health care, alongside other faiths, is fully utilised in the eradication of extreme poverty.

Even if delivered, the Millennium Development Goals risk being undermined: climate change is already hitting the poorest hardest, and so we urge leaders to commit to ambitious cuts in carbon emissions, appropriate to the size of their economy and historic responsibility.

We call on leaders to meet their targets for spending on development and implementation of national action plans. We believe that failing to do so amounts to bearing false witness not only to our neighbours, but to ourselves and to our God. May his kingdom of justice come, and his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

By joining us at the end of this walk of witness you will have heard our plea. In receiving these calls from us we hope you also receive the encouragement of the millions of people whom we represent from over 75 countries. We pray that you will continue to drive ahead the concerns we share for the justice and peace in our world which alone is the basis for all human flourishing and commonwealth.

+Rowan Cantuar


For further information, contact Ben Wilson at the Lambeth Conference Communications Office, telephone 07989 984271.

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