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NCC study guide focuses on poverty goals

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A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose

Anita Jose Nhanjale harvests cassava root, in Nhachengue, Mozambique. Cassava is a dietary staple in her rural area.
Feb. 8, 2006

NEW YORK (UMNS) — To help churches take action on poverty, the National Council of Churches has released a new guide, Eradicating Poverty: A Christian Study Guide on the Millennium Development Goals.

The Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight goals to end extreme poverty, hunger and disease by 2015, agreed to by world leaders in 2000. The 2004 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body, supported those goals.

The purpose of the study guide is to motivate people to make the goals a reality, according to Lallie B. Lloyd, one of its editors.

“Since the Millennium Development Goals were announced in 2000,” Lloyd writes, “a global movement has emerged. Around the world and across the United States, Christians are joining other people of faith ... in a unified effort to eradicate extreme poverty.”

The 64-page study guide has six sessions for use in congregational church school classes and other settings “to foster an understanding of the pertinent issues and promote this worldwide effort on behalf of the poor,” said Antonios Kireopoulos, an NCC executive and the guide’s editor.

Each session examines one or more of the Millennium Development Goals. An appendix to the guide examines the special economic and political challenges facing the African continent.

The first goal is to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty or suffering from hunger by 2015. Other goals touch upon such issues as education, gender equality, child mortality and maternal health, and environmental sustainability.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose

For many children at the Surviving Child Orphan Trust in Murewa, Zimbabwe, this lunch will be their only meal of the day.
One of the resources used in the new study was the book, Ending Hunger Now: A Challenge to Persons of Faith, written by the Rev. Don Messer and former Sens. Robert Dole and George McGovern.

“In a world of plenty, Christians dare not accept the moral scandal of allowing one person to die in this world every three seconds because of the misery-go-round of extreme poverty, hunger and disease,” said Messer, a United Methodist pastor and former president of Iliff School of Theology in Denver. “Now is the time to make hunger history and to work toward an AIDS-free world.”

As noted in the chapter on HIV/AIDS, “the extent of human suffering brought about by the global HIV/AIDS pandemic has rarely been seen before in the history of the world.”

“If we are truly one, we are the church with HIV/AIDS,” said Denise Ackerman, a South African theologian. “People living with HIV/AIDS are found in every ? religious denomination. We are all related; what affects one member of the Body of Christ affects us all.”

Following the example of Jesus with the leper, the church must practice the values of inclusion, engagement, connectedness and continuity to deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis, according to Ackerman.

The idea for the study guide grew out of a meeting hosted by the NCC that included a presentation by economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Millennium Project, a U.N.-commissioned advisory body that proposes solutions to meeting the goals by 2015.

The NCC governing board has endorsed the U.N. Millennium Development goals. The study guide was made possible in part by a grant from industrialist Chang K. Park, a Christian layman from New York.

Eradicating Global Poverty: A Christian Study Guide on the Millennium Development Goals is published by Friendship Press, 7830 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH 45237. The cost is $7.95. To order, call toll-free (800) 889-5733, or send a fax to (513) 761-3722. Order also can be sent by e-mail to

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