|Church congregations to observe Jubilee Sunday|
By United Methodist News Service
Jan. 11, 2007
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
United Methodist congregations will be among those praying for
international debt relief as part of an observance of Jubilee Sunday on
The Jubilee USA Network marks 2007 as a Sabbath year, “a time when
people in the U.S. and all over the globe will be focusing attention on
canceling unjust debts owed by impoverished nations in Africa, Latin
America and Asia to wealthy countries and institutions such as the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund.”
The United Methodist Board of Church and Society, United Methodist
Women, United Methodist New England Annual (regional) Conference, Church
World Service, and the National Council of Churches are council members
of the Jubilee USA Network.
A Sabbath year is a biblical mandate found in both the Hebrew
Scriptures and New Testament requiring debts to be forgiven and right
relations restored every seven years. A super jubilee occurs every 50
Local congregations will be reading from Luke 4:14-21, in which Jesus
declares a jubilee or “year of the Lord’s favor” by proclaiming God’s
liberation for all oppressed and impoverished people.
Parishioners will also write to their congressional representatives
and senators asking them to support new debt legislation in the Sabbath
A particular focus is being placed on debt cancellation for Liberia, now
under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a United
Methodist lay member. The Jubilee USA Network is asking church members
to send Valentines to the U.S. Treasury, urging officials to “Have a
Heart, and Cancel Liberia’s Debt.”
Jubilee USA is calling for debt cancellation for
Liberia, now under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, A
United Methodist. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
United Methodist congregations participating in Jubilee Sunday
include St. Paul's United Methodist Church, San Jose, Calif.; Nevada
City (Calif.) United Methodist Church; Bozeman (Mont.) United Methodist
Church; First United Methodist Church, Missoula, Mont.; and First United
Methodist Church, Houston.
The debt crisis arose during the 1970s as developing nations borrowed
money, often at high interest rates and sometimes to the benefit of
dictators rather than their people, according to the Jubilee USA
Network. Money then went to repay debt rather than providing for the
needs of the people.
For example, sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s most impoverished
region, carries $201 billion in debt, despite repaying more than 90
percent of the $294 billion received between 1970 and 2002. Today, those
countries still must pay $14 billion annually in debt service, the
Debt relief allows burdened countries to re-focus on critical needs.
Domestic spending in countries that have received debt relief has
increased by 75 percent, according to the Jubilee USA Network.
More information and downloadable worship resources can be found at www.jubileeusa.org, the network’s Web site.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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Jubilee USA Network
Religious Working Group
Board of Church and Society