Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Economy, the Earth and HIV/AIDS Dominate Day for Justice at Assembly

The Plenary this morning at the World Council of Churches' 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, focused primarily on three aspects of justice: the world economy, the environment and HIV/AIDS as issues for justice.
The program was introduced by a children's choir from Korea, followed by a call to seek justice by the moderator, the Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith of the United States of America, a Baptist pastor and Executive Director/Minister of the Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis. She asked the questions, "What kind of world are we living in?" and "What kind of world will our children have in 15 to 20 years?"
She then told the gathered participants that the program would be in the form of a Madang, Korean for   "gathering space," and be something like a talk show.
Her guests were Mr. Martin Khor of Malaysia, Executive Director of the South Centre, who had expertise on the world economy, Dr. Julia Duchrow of Germany, head of the Human Rights and Peace Desk of Bread for the World in Germany, Bishop Iosif of Patara, General Vicar of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and South America for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Rev. Phumzile Mabizela of South Africa and the Presbyterian Church of South Africa, Executive Director of INERELA+, Interfaith Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS.
Mr. Khor highlighted the injustices caused by the world economic crises that started in 2008, especially in the realms of government subsidies for larger countries, trade agreements, financial regulation, medical expenses and a lack of will to tackle the environmental issues.
Dr. Duchrow brought up the whole dimension of human an rights imperiled by governments and institutions. 
Bishop Iosif expressed a theological defense for justice as expressed in  God's love for humanity and humanity's reflection of this in love for one another.
The Rev. Mabizela shared her personal struggles with being HIV positive and reminded the audience unequivocally that "we need to distress those who live in comfort and comfort those who live in distress."
The panel was joined by three persons pulled from the audience: The Rev. Tafue Lusama of Tuvalu, Dr. Lukas Andrianos of Greece and Ms. Shyreen Mvula of Malawi, to challenge the WCC and those attending to work for justice.
Rev. Lusama spoke with great anxiety about the future of his island nation in light of global warming and the rising of sea levels. He challenged all to focus on the needs of the earth and the environment as an act of justice for his people and all people.
Dr. Andrianos spoke movingly of the economic disaster in Greece; of homelessness, hunger and suicide. He challenged the WCC to do more to confront governments over the regulation of the economy.
Ms. Mvula is living with HIV and aside from seeking medical care as an act of justice, she reminded the audience that, "AIDS is not a punishment from God. It is a disease." She received sustained applause.
There was much to contemplate throughout the day after the foundation was laid by this plenary. May the word go out from Busan that God hears the cry of the poor.

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