Written by Gregg Brekke
On the eve of the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Penn., the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, will join more than 25 Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious leaders for an Faith Leaders Summit to press for actions—not just words—that will help hungry and poor people lift themselves out of poverty.
"The global economic crisis has affected all of us, but no one has suffered more than poor people. Long before Wall Street crashed and Mainstreet saw rising foreclosures and unemployment, poor people struggled to survive. Now the already poor are even poorer, the near poor have been pushed into poverty and millions more cling to the edge of economic sustainability," said Thomas who ends ten years of leadership as the UCC's General Minister and President Sept. 30.
Organized by Bread for the World, the Alliance to End Hunger and other organizations, the religious leaders will convene to press world leaders to fulfill their promises to help people who have suffered from the global economic recession.
"The most important indicator of economic recovery should be what happens to hungry and poor people – the many families who are struggling in our own country and the tens of millions who have been driven into hunger around the world," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice urging U.S. decision-makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
The worst global recession came on the heels of two years of soaring food prices. Together, these crises have led to dramatic increases in hunger and poverty around the world. For the first time in history, over a billion people are suffering from hunger.
"When the leaders of the world's industrialized nations meet in Pittsburgh the agenda must be more than rescuing the wealthy and comforting an anxious middle class. Jesus and the prophets put the poor at the top of the economic agenda for people of faith. The G-20 leaders must do the same," said Thomas.
During the week of the G-20 Summit, Sept. 24-25, U.S. administration officials are expected to provide details on a new initiative to reduce hunger and poverty around the world. Faith leaders gathered for the summit will voice their support for the initiative in a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 9:00 a.m.
Immediately following the press conference, religious leaders will process to the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh where they are slated to meet with and press their appeals to representatives of the U.S. delegation to the G-20.
The Group of 20 (G-20), established in 1999, brings together major industrialized and developing economies to discuss global economic issues. Together, these countries account for 90 percent of global gross national product, 80 percent of world trade and represent two-thirds of the world's population.