'ONE Sabbath' Campaign Taps Religion to Fight Poverty

The ONE Sabbath campaign launched Wednesday to mobilize people of faith in the United States to speak out and take action on the issues of extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

Churches, temples, synagogues and mosques are called to raise awareness and advocate for the plight of the world's poor in their faith traditions. Participants of ONE Sabbath will fight poverty through small group discussions, sermons, charitable donations, community-wide events, phone calls to Congress, youth group activities, and prayer guides.

"We know that people motivated by their faith can do extraordinary good," said J. Mark Brinkmoeller, ONE's director of U.S. NGO Partnerships & Faith Relations. "ONE Sabbath will help channel the energy and compassion of local congregations to act on behalf of people living through some of the harshest challenges any person can face-extreme poverty, hunger, dirty water, preventable disease and lack of educational opportunity."

ONE Sabbath is an effort by ONE, a global advocacy organization concerned with fighting extreme poverty and preventable diseases. ONE boasts the support of over 2 million people worldwide.

While Jewish and Christian congregations participate in ONE Sabbath, the campaign is also promoting ONE Sadaqa in the Muslim community and ONE Seva in the Hindu community.

Participants of ONE Sabbath are offered resources to help them organize events, including materials developed by, Christian hymns, and a DVD curriculum called "Start-Becoming a Good Samaritan" hosted by Pastor John Ortberg. The curriculum features leaders and teachers speaking about the fight against global poverty and disease. Some of the people featured in the DVD include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Kay Warren, Jim Wallis, and Rich Stearns.

ONE's launch of ONE Sabbath occurred on the same day that the United Nation's World Food Program appealed for $3 billion in donations. It said food aid is at a 20-year low, while the number of people who are going hungry is the highest in history.

WFP said it has received only $2.7 billion of the $6.7 billion needed to feed its goal of 108 million people this year.

The world economic crisis combined with higher food prices resulted in "a devastating blow," the agency said in a news release.

"The many faiths practiced in our country share a common commitment to caring for the poor," said the Rev. Adam Phillips, ONE's Faith Relations Manager. "ONE Sabbath gives congregations tools to become champions in advocacy and awareness for the poorest people on our planet and for the efforts that are working to help them get basic needs to improve their own lives."

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