As world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations World Summit, religious leaders and faith-based community members will be praying and fasting to overcome global poverty, disease and despair.
Coinciding with the 60th anniversary U.N. summit dates, the three-day prayer vigil and fasting begins today and ends Friday at the Dg Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City. Organizers expect thousands to join the rallies, during which Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindi leaders will preach on the eight points of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
Americans of faith will also ask U.S. leaders to increase aid to fight global poverty by one percent of the U.S. federal budget and to fulfill the promises of the MDGs, which aim to halve poverty by 2015.
The highlight of the prayer vigil will be the Breaking the Fast rally, slated for 2-4 p.m. on Friday. The Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndugane and Jim Wallis will address the crowd on why the faith community must be involved in the effort to overcome poverty.
Ndugane, who also participated in an ecumenical consultation on reducing global poverty earlier this week, said all Christians and all faith groups must join hands to get something done.
In a world where there is unprecedented economic growth, we have one billion people living in less than one dollar a day, and that is immoral and evil in this information age, said Ndugane during a press conference on Tuesday. We have therefore committed ourselves to be in strategic partnerships with various groups in seeking to end hunger and seeking to work toward the Millennium Development Goals, whose overall objective is to halve poverty by 2015.
We believe we can actually end hunger in our time, he continued. Whats lacking is the political will, and our organizations as civil society will enable this kind of incentive.
Meanwhile, Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, which is taking part in the vigil through the Micah Challenge Network, said there is more to be done than political advocacy.
If our vast network of three million churches around the world embraced this urgent call, we can achieve a more just and peaceful world, said Tunnicliffe, in reference to the biblical mandate to help the poor, in a press statement.
Sponsors of the Summer of Prayer and Advocacy prayer and fasting event include: American Jewish World Service, Anglican Consultative Council, Bread for the World, Church World Service, Catholic Relief Services, Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation, Global Call to Action Against Poverty, Lutheran Office for World Community, Micah Challenge, National Association of Hindu Temples, Religions for Peace USA, Sojourners, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, UN Millennium Campaign, and VIVAT International.