Immigration rights, reparations for slavery, peace proposals for Palestine/Israel, world poverty and HIV/AIDS are among the top national and international issues on the agenda in Columbus, Ohio.
The Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice will make the Millennium Development Goals, first presented at General Convention in 2003, a focus again. Supported by all 191 U.N. member states, the MDGs are a series of initiatives geared to eliminating the most extreme forms of poverty and hunger in the world by the year 2015.
The commission’s resolutions ask that the church designate 0.7 percent or more of its budget for work that will help meet the goals. It also proposes that dioceses establish global reconciliation commissions dedicated to mobilizing Episcopalians for such work.
“The MDGs are about bringing the world together,” says the Rev. Michael Kinman, executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. “They are about meeting Christ in, and bringing Christ to, the hopeless and the dying. If we are not about this, then what are we about?”
Kinman, a commission member, insists that the Episcopal Church can make a real difference. “We have the wealth and the influence to make huge strides in this mission. But more than that, when we connect our efforts to God’s mission, there is nothing we can’t do.”
Peace and the Middle East
The commission will present five resolutions dealing with Palestine, Israel and human rights in that region. The first supports the “rightful existence” of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, with Jerusalem as their shared capital. Other resolutions advocate for an end to the isolation of East Jerusalem and Bethlehem from the West Bank; the removal of Israel’s security wall; assurance of human rights for Palestinians; the return of control of Gaza’s borders and coastline to the Palestinians; and assurance that no U.S. tax dollars finance the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Eliminating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDs and providing appropriate training about the pandemic is the subject of six resolutions from the Executive Council’s Standing Committee on HIV/AIDS. Training is central in the proposed legislation, which urges all congregations, dioceses, seminaries and boards to educate members about the pandemic.
“The virus remains a major health threat for ever-changing population groups here at home and is a devastating tragedy for many countries abroad,” says the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director of the church’s Office of Peace and Justice Ministries.
In one resolution, the standing committee asks that both lay and ordained leadership of the Episcopal Church take a basic HIV/AIDS training course. The course would be developed by Grieves’ office in conjunction with the Episcopal AIDS Coalition and the committee.
Five principles of “just and fair immigration policies” will be put forward by the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice. The principles appear in the commission’s report The Alien Among You. They call for allowing undocumented aliens reasonable opportunity to pursue permanent residency, for allowing legal workers to respond to labor-force needs, for letting family members be reunited with those lawfully in the country, for providing legal due process for all and for enforcing national borders and immigration policies in a manner that is “proportional and humane.”
Resolutions addressing slavery and the payment of reparations come from the Executive Council and at least two dioceses – New York and Newark. Executive Council asks that the Committee on Anti-Racism collect detailed information on “the complicity of the Episcopal Church in the institution of slavery … and in the subsequent history of segregation and discrimination” as well as the economic benefits the church derived from slavery. It asks the committee to report to the next General Convention about “how the church can, as a matter of justice, share those benefits with African-American Episcopalians.”
In a separate resolution, the council asks that the church express its “profound regret,” that it apologize for its complicity and that the presiding bishop “call for a ‘Day of Repentance and Reconciliation’ with a service at the National Cathedral.”
To learn more about the MDGS, visit: www.un.org/millenniumgoals/goals.html.