Businesswoman to Church: Financial Crisis Golden Opportunity for Economic Justice

The global financial crisis is a golden opportunity for an economic justice movement, said a South African businesswoman at a Reformed Church conference in Johannesburg.

What the crisis shows is a "spectacular failure" of the current global economic system and the need for a radical reconstruction of it, asserted Mohau Pheko, coordinator of the African Gender and Trade Network.

Pheko, who serves as an advisor to governments and trade organizations, presented her ideas to participants of an event focused on what churches can do to address inequalities in the global economic system.

The event, organized by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, convened theologians, advocates, economists and senior church officials from 23 countries, and focused on economic justice and concern for the earth's ecology.

On the second day of the Sept. 3-7 gathering, Pheko told attendees that a new economic model is urgent, especially when looking at Africa, where people do not have money saved up to weather the effects of the crisis. In South Africa, protests are already taking place regarding problems with service delivery and food.

"The streets already know the issues; we have to listen to the streets," Pheko said.

"We have to smash the current paradigm so that it does not have roots and legs to rise again," she added.

In addition to presentations, the recently concluded conference also discussed the Accra Confession – a statement issued in 2004 by WARC that declares the current policy of unlimited growth among industrialized countries and their drive for profit have plundered the earth and severely damaged the environment.

With the Accra Confession in mind, attendees debated how churches can interpret and respond to the impact of the current global economic model.

Information shared among delegates at the WARC hosted event will be gathered and reported at the upcoming world assembly of the Reformed church movement in June 2010 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches represents 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, among other traditions.