January 24 - 30, 2005




Poverty is a moral issue 


The British press took note when 600 women pastors from across the United Kingdom marched to Tony Blair’s official residence to urge the prime minister to support the Make Poverty History campaign.


But the march was just one way that followers of Christ have pushed Make Poverty History into the British media and raised poverty and economics as top moral issues for Christians. (Read reports from the British press in this week’s Gleanings.) It’s the kind of effort and focus that American Christians can learn from.


Make Poverty History draws on the unique position Britain finds itself this year: Blair is the new chairman of the G8 nations, and the UK will host a G8 Summit later this year. The campaign’s goals are simple: To raise awareness and popular opinion to push Blair and other G8 leaders to fulfill the commitment they made in 2001 to halve world poverty by 2015.


What can G8 nations do about it? Make Poverty History (click here for their website) summarizes three solutions in just nine words: “Trade justice. Drop the debt. More and better aid.” Framed thus, poverty becomes a global stewardship issue for Christians.


“To gather as Christians for a campaign such as ‘Make Poverty History’ is to affirm that God is somehow present even in the long-term poverty that goes unreported in the media," Lucy Winkett, Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral, told Christian Today.


Referencing the recent disaster in the Indian Ocean, the statement of support by bishops of the Church of England put the issue into perspective:


With poverty claiming a child's life every three seconds, a man-made and preventable disaster on the scale of Tsunami happens every single week. World poverty is sustained not by chance or nature, but by our human failing.


 As the Brits would say, "Hear hear!"


--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster



New this week:



 Souper bowl resources

Last year churches and other groups raised more than $4 million to feed the poor on Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday. In just a few short years this remarkable grassroots ministry has grown to a yearly staple of fundraising and consciousness raising on behalf of the needy. At the site above, you'll find resources to make Souper Bowl a success at your church. From ELCA World Hunger.



 Going on offense
"Congregations who are only on [financial] defense, who are just trying to 'get by' will have pre-determined their future. They will eventually fail. For if you aren’t growing, you are declining and the future is inevitable. This is exactly where many of our congregations in trouble are today." Inspiration and advice from Tuck Aacker, columnist for the ELCA Stewardship Resources.  


Alban Institute: Focus on lay ministry
Many stewards know their church's most under-utilized resource is the membership -- folks who fill the pews but need training and inspiration to get more deeply involved. Whether your church's lay ministry development program is mostly a dream or a dream come true, here's a free, comprehensive web resource you can use. Insightful articles and helpful links. From the Congregational Resource Guide, a project of Alban Institute and Indianapolis Center for Congregations.


 Stewardship and vocation
This essay explores the connections between these two concepts. "I have managed to say in one breath two words that you usually only hear in church. What’s more, they are words you usually don’t want to hear at all! Stewardship and vocation have the bad reputation of simply being ‘spiritual’ ways of talking about your money and your job." Good reading from The Rev. Dr. Mark Vitalis Hoffman, professor at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary.  This week's recycling bin feature