From the Executive Director's Desk...
A vision of true security
Rev. John L. McCullough
By Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service
Church World Service is pleased to be a sponsor of the annual national conference Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD). This year CWS again provided full scholarship awards to ten CROP Hunger Walk leaders to attend the EAD conference, held March 7-10, and also sponsored several international CWS partners to come to EAD as speakers. Our purpose in doing this is to provide a forum for some of our exemplary CWS volunteer leaders to meet and engage in collective ecumenical witness with CWS global partners, advocates from member denominations, and other participants from different regions of the world.
If you were not able to come to Washington for the 2008 conference, you can still be part of this inspiring gathering of Christians in spirit. I invite you at home or in your congregation to reflect, pray, and act on the 2008 conference theme, “Claiming a Vision of True Security.”
Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
This selection from Psalm 20 informed the 2008 Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) conference theme. It challenges us to examine what we need to be truly secure and to explore how to translate our faith convictions about security into national priorities.
We are a long way from chariots and horses, but we all know what the modern day equivalents might be Star Wars defense systems, sophisticated fighter jets, missiles, armored tanks. Is having military might both the war technology and an over-reliance on using it what it really takes to be secure? Is it being home to corporations that can dominate global markets that makes the U.S. strong? Do fenced borders make us safe?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently spoke of peace and security as not simply the absence of tension but also the presence of justice. How are we striving to live out a Christian vision of security in our own homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, our world? How are we improving the U.S. capacity to help ensure that all people can live lives of dignity and sufficiency? How is our nation working towards the global common good?
As Christians we know in our hearts that our ultimate source of security is bound up in the welfare of all our brothers and sisters and the planet. We know that we can rely on the unfailing love of God, living out of the freedom, joy and compassion that love offers us. Surely it is time to reflect this understanding in our nation’s vision of true human and environmental security for all God’s children everywhere.
A new vision
Ecumenical Advocacy Days participants spent Monday, March 10, visiting their members of Congress. Their message was “We ask Congress tochange spending priorities! Reverse the over-emphasis on military spending, which has created a more dangerous world. Budget for true security by enabling the United States to employ alternatives to military force that emphasize diplomacy, sustainable human development, and conflict resolution. Shift funding to support policies and programs that strengthen the bonds of our common humanity and uplift vulnerable people and communities in the U.S. and around the world.”
Here are a few of the specific funding priorities in the area of international policy that faith-based advocates are calling on Congress to enact:
Fund the Diplomatic and Consular Program Account at the President’s budget request of $4.2 billion for “ongoing operations,” as the first-line of defense against violent conflict, so that U.S. diplomats will be able to work with governments to remove the sources of danger, and the Civilian Stabilization Initiative at $249 million, which includes funding for the Office of the Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction (S/ CRS) and the Civilian Response Corps.
- Fund the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operating and expenses budget at least at the President’s requested level of $767 million, including funding for an additional 300 full-time employees.
- Support legislation requiring an inclusive, region-wide diplomatic offensive in the Middle East that includes Iran and Syria and addresses the war in Iraq, bilateral issues, and all fronts of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Fund adaptation measures that will financially and materially assist vulnerable populations in the United States and around the world, particularly those living in poverty and those living on small island nations, to adapt to the impacts of global climate change.
- Oppose the growing militarization of aid to Africa as illustrated by the launch of the Africa Command (AFRICOM). Instead of this funding, work to bring peace, development, and security to the African continent by supporting just security initiatives, including $50 billion for the Global HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization in 2008.
Whether or not you were able to participate in this year’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference, you can advocate at home for a new vision of global human and environmental security and a new direction in U.S. policy. People of faith committed to a more just and peaceful world have seen their witness make a tremendous difference at key moments in history. We now have a new opportunity to help bring transformation to our country and world.
As the 2008 Ecumenical Advocacy Days vision reminded us, Jesus calls out to the human family to embrace “the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42). We have the opportunity and privilege to respond to his call and join him in this important work.
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