Saturday, April 22, 2006

All it Takes is ONE Teacher

Emily Thorn is just ONE Teacher at Menaul School, a small private institution in Albuquerque. The school was once directly affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, but is now an independent entity even though it shares the campus with the Presbytery of Santa Fe. Yet, the school has not forgotten its Christian roots and has kept a tradition from its early days: starting the day with brief prayers and reconnecting with its Christian values. This morning exercise is known as Chapel.

This is where Emily comes in. Inspired by The ONE Campaign, Emily volunteered to prepare ONE worship session for Chapel. She began the session with prayer, asking the students to remain quiet and open to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Using a powerpoint presentation, she then talked briefly about U.N. Millenium Development Goals. This was followed by a viewing of the videotape for Bread for the World's Offering of Letters, One Spirit , One Will, Zero Poverty.

Emily created sample letters to go with her presentation. These letters were to be written in various classrooms and presented as an offering at Chapel the next week. In talking about the letters, Emily urged students to write the message from the heart and in their own words. She also reassured students that each of their letters could make a difference in changing the lives of people across the globe.

Students at Menaul School wrote a few dozen letters to representatives from New Mexico in the U.S. Congress. The simple process of writing the letters helped students get in touch with the issue of global poverty. But it took ONE teacher to get the process started. I suspect this is the case for many of us who move our congregations, classrooms and civic groups to organize letter-writing campaigns. It takes ONE of us to organize the event. And if the impetus comes from a committee, then it's an effort of ONE plus ONE plus ONE.

Emily's efforts follow those of Karina Doyle, who taught a class on social justice as part of the religion curriculum at St. Michael's High School in Santa Fe. In 2005, Karina got students to write more than 100 letters to Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman and Rep. Tom Udall asking them to support the Hunger-Free Communities Act. This initiative followed closely in the spirit of the Millenium Development Goals because it called on the U.S. to cut food insecurity in half in our country by 2010 and and end hunger by 2015. Karina, unfortunately, left St. Michael's for other opportunities after the 2005 school year. Otherwise, I'm sure we would have had an Offering of Letters at St. Michael's in 2006.

As it turns out, Rep. Udall and Sens. Domenici and Bingaman (plus Rep. Heather Wilson of Albuquerque) all cosponsored legislation endorsing the Hunger-Free Communities Act. I'm sure the letters from St. Michael's, along with others from congregations throughout New Mexico helped convince our representatives to support the initiative.

Emily and Karina are an inspiration to me, and I hope they inspire you too.

Photo: Emily (right) and her friend Dena Smith demonstrate finger puppets from Ecuador at The ONE Campaign table set up inside the New Mexico roundhouse (capitol) in February. The finger puppets are available at Peacecraft in Albuquerque.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Way of the Cross and the Millenium Development Goals

The Center for Action and Contemplation's 2006 Way of the Cross procession placed a special emphasis on The ONE Campaign and the Millenium Development Goals.

"We are called this Good Friday to journey with Jesus to the cross and beyond. The "beyond" is the walking the walk and talking the talk--where we live out his teachings day by day," said the program that was handed out to participants in the 18th annual procession. "Each action will prayerfully focus on one of the Millenium Development Goals, calling us as a part of the global community to work towards eradicating poverty, illiteracy, the disenfranchisement of women and children, and AIDS, while increasing sustainability and fair trade in our lifetime. We are called to remember. We are called to participate. How will we respond?"

Top photo: Women Can International lifted up the need to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Participating in this station are Ann Githinji, Chao Sio, Giovanna Brennan, Agnes Paijebo, Philomena Paijebo, Mary Tieh, Babylove Tieh

1. Ella Wood and Kyra Ellis-Moore spoke about universal primary education. Their reflection included a poem and dance 2. Debby Guardino came down from Virginia to help with the walk. She proudly wore her ONE Campaign t-shirt. Here she poses with Carlos Navarro of Bread for the World, who gave the opening introduction. 3. Sister Marlene Perrotte, RSM, led a station on environmental sustainability. 4. Louisa Streng, a RESULTS partner from Albuquerque, spoke about Developing a Global Partnership for Development. She highlighted the life of Muhammad Yanus and his efforts to create an effective system of microcredit through the Grameen Bank.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Carol Welch brings the Millenium Campaign to New Mexico

Carol Welch, US Coordinator of the
Millenium Campaign, visited New Mexico on April 6-7. Almost 300 people heard the message about the importance of the U.N. Millenium Development Goals during three talks: one at at the annual meeting of the New Mexico Public Health Association, another at the University of New Mexico, and a third at St. John's United Methodist Church in Santa Fe.

Photos 1. Carol & Rev. Richard Murphy of St. Bede's Episcopal Church-Santa Fe 2. With UNM student Susie Kinyanjui of Women Can International 3. Brazilian design for Millenium Development Goals 4. With Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt, BFW coordinator in New Mexico Congressional District #3.