Standing Up and Speaking Out

By Jonathan Mendez 10-18-2007

MLK said that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." New York Faith and Justice believes that poverty anywhere is a threat to God's shalom everywhere. Which is why when we were invited by the UN Millennium Campaign to host a local event in support of the Millennium Development Goals, we quickly accepted. The MDGs are some pretty decent things. When world leaders come together in a covenant-like promise to halve extreme global poverty based on 1990 measurements by 2015, it echoes the call of the biblical prophets that are often invoked on this blog. There has been much progress, but it's still no secret that some goals are way off target, especially the one about rich countries giving a higher proportion in development aid.

Last year, the UN Millennium Campaign organized a record-making event in which 23.5 million people around the world stood up in a single day in a symbolic proclamation asking world leaders who covenanted to halve extreme global poverty to stop breaking promises. This year, New York Faith and Justice became part of the global movement by hosting our own "Stand up and Speak Out" event in St. Mary's, a historic church in Harlem.

The ripple effects of our saying "yes" to the invitation to host this event are what truly humble us. There was an impromptu "Stand Up" that took place at a local ethnically diverse interdenominational church where 1800-plus regular attendees stood up in solidarity. Bishop Paul Mususu, representing the Micah Challenge and the director of the Evangelical fellowship of Zambia, asked their church leaders to do it and explained the importance of it. The movement is bubbling when megachurches stand up against poverty.

Jonathan Mendez is co-director of the Uniting the Church Action Team with New York Faith and Justice, and also a former Sojourners intern.

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