Written by Daniel Hazard
A UCC minister started a six-week fast on Sept. 6 to draw greater attention to the need for debt cancellation for desperately poor nations.
The Rev. David Duncombe, a retired campus minister and social activist who lives in White Salmon, Wash., will be fasting, praying and lobbying in Washington, D.C., during all six weeks of the fast, in association with Jubilee USA.
Duncombe expects to continue his fast until Oct. 15. Others are invited to join in prayerfully supporting his efforts by visiting www.canceldebtfast.org.
It's the third time that Duncombe has engaged in fasts to increase public pressure for Congressional authorization of $435 million in forgiveness of debt owed by struggling, impoverished nations. In 1999 and 2000, Duncombe undertook separate 45-day fasts.
"If my fast goes like my previous two extended fasts for debt cancellation in Washington, its effectiveness will depend not so much on what I say on my office visits, but on what is said by the fast itself — the day-to-day silent witness of a body growing visibly weaker," Duncombe wrote in blog post for Sojourners.
On Sept. 6, the first day of his most-recent fast, Duncombe was joined in Washington, D.C., by the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president. Together, the two, along with others, visited the offices of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), and Rep. Jim Kirk (R-Ill.) to ask for greater support for the debt-forgiveness effort.
"David's courageous witness is helping to draw attention to a pressing issue that keeps getting bumped from the front pages of our newspapers, but remains paramount if the world's impoverished nations and people are ever to enjoy the promise of economic justice," Thomas told United Church News.
"This is an issue that enjoys broad support from the religious community — mainline Protestants, evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Jewish — and we told member of Congress, when we visited, that this was an opportunity to support something that's not divisive, but will do great good," Thomas said.
On Oct. 16, Duncombe and others break the fast with a prayer breakfast on Capitol Hill, led by religious and political leaders, followed by lobby training for grassroots debt cancellation advocates from across the United States, in preparation for Jubilee USA's national lobby day on Oct. 17.