What a wonderful sight it must have been to see the Bishops of the Lambeth Conference, with their purple cassocks, and their spouses, walking through the streets of London recently! They were walking together, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in commitment to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals that many western governments have pledged to accomplish by 2015. What a colourful and significant event it must have been.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was possibly the greatest public demonstration of faith that London has ever seen.

Some 800 bishops and their spouses demonstrated to promote the UN’s Millennium Development Goals at Lambeth 2008 (ACNS photo/Jim Sweeny)

What are these eight Millennium Developmental Goals? They are: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. (Halve it by 2015); Achieve universal primary education;  Promote gender equality; Reduce child mortality; Improve maternal health; Combat HIV/AIDS & other diseases; Ensure environmental sustainability, and Develop global partnership for development. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

Helen Wangusa, the Anglican Observer at the United Nations has said that some progress has be achieved but that efforts must be greatly increased if these goals are to be met by 2015 .In 1970 the UN with strong support from then Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson establish the goal that developed nations commit 0.7% to Official Development Assistance. In 2000 our Canadian government promised to commit 0.7% of its Gross National Product towards development assistance and in the recent past both New Westminster Diocese and General Synod have voted to support work towards these goals. The government has not yet lived up to its commitment and maybe some congregations and dioceses are not clear on how to get involved. However, we Anglicans do have an organization that has been working for these principles for decades. The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, through its work with partners on the ground in Africa, Latin America, Asia/Pacific, and First Nations in Canada, has many of these goals as priorities. Examples are:

  • Poverty and Hunger and food security are being addressed through relief and agricultural projects in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Kenya, Mexico, and beyond
  • Gender equality is a primary aspect in all PWRDF work with micro-credit groups being one way to enable this goal to be achieved.
  • HIV/AIDS prevention & education, through the Partnership for Life is taking place in many places such as South Africa, El Salvador, and Canada
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability is a priority in all projects, such as training individuals in the planting of traditional and indigenous crops and the employment of agricultural techniques such as composting and mulching all which reduce the need for water & improve the quality of the yield, soil, and ground water
  • Global partnerships established through the World Council of Churches organizations such as Action of Churches Together for Development.

The Bishops of the Anglican Communion have reminded us that these goals are fundamental to our Christian mission. PWRDF hopes that every congregation will join in supporting its work that aims to achieve these basic goals of justice and compassion, and to encourage our Canadian government to meet its commitment to the goals. For more info: www.pwrdf.org