Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mark Your Calendars: U2 Agape Service on Saturday, September 22

If you were planning to attend our U2 Agape Service, we have moved it up a week to Saturday, Sept. 22. We did this in order to avoid a conflict with UNM homecoming, which falls on Sept. 29 (our original date).

For those of you who are not familiar with this concept, our U2 service is similar to a
U2Charist, which Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (E4GR) promotes around the country. This is a service using the music of the Irish rock band U2 to raise awareness about the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The difference is that we won't have Eucharist as part of the service, but we will have a sharing/blessing of the bread afterwards.

Some services have a live rock band playing U2 music along with their powerpoint, but we will use recorded songs.

If you want to know more about the U2Charist,
read the piece Rosie Chinea, campus minister at Aquinas Newman Center, wrote on this blog a year ago about one of these services held at Grace Episcopal Church in San Francisco.

Our service is sponsored by The ONE Campaign-Albuquerque, Bread for the World-New Mexico, Aquinas Newman Center Campus Ministry, Lutheran Campus Ministry, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church, St. Michael and All Angels Epispcopal Church and St. Chad's Episcopal Church.

Friday, August 24, 2007

St. Francis of Assisi and the ONE Vote 08 Campaign

(Originally published in Bread Blog, August 23, 2007)

By Elaine VanCleave and Carlos Navarro

"Preach the Gospel every day, and if necessary use words," Sen. Tom Daschle told participants packed into St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, at the launch of the ONE Vote 08 rally in the nation's capital on a pleasant afternoon in June.

In case you didn't recognize that statement, it came from one of the most quotable personalities in history, St. Francis of Assisi.

St_francis And it's true that politicians and other public figures are fond of quoting St. Francis. But Sen. Daschle's decision to bring the venerable saint into this event is much appreciated. Many of us often get caught in the "mechanics" of social justice and forget that our motivation is to do the work in the light of the Gospel.

There is another saying from St. Francis that applies in this case: "It is no use walking to preach unless our walking is our preaching."

Which brings us to the rally itself. It has been almost three months since ONE launched the ONE Vote 08 campaign with the purpose of ensuring that all the candidates (whether Democrat, Republican or independent) make global health and extreme poverty foreign policy priorities of their campaigns in the 2008 presidential election. And thanks to ONE activists around the country, almost everywhere a candidate has spoken during the past few weeks, he or she has had to discuss how to address the problem of global poverty (See ONE blog).

We intended to write this blog post several weeks ago but time got away from us.


Anyway, we think it is still very timely to share fond memories of the rally. After all, we played hooky from the Bread for the World National Gathering just so we could go to this event.

On that day, St. Mark's was bursting at the seams, not only with people but with a level of energy that we can only describe as "electric hope." And why not? Several key high-level operatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties were present, not only to endore the goals of ONE Vote 08 but to lead the effort in making global poverty and disease a key topic of discussion during the presidential campaigns.

There were other celebrities and very important people at the rally, including the actress Connie Britton, who once starred in the TV sitcom Spin City, and more recently as the mom in the drama Friday Night Lights.

Conniebritton Ms Britton reminded us, in this time of fierce partisan politics, that ending hunger and poverty are American values that unify us all. She described ONE Vote as "an opportunity to deepen the unifying process of our elections." She said, as Americans, "in whatever party, we can unite with each other and with people around the world in our dedication to a world without hunger, without poverty, without these treatable and preventable diseases, and without suffering. These are American values that can truly make us proud as voters."

Pastor Brian McLaren's remarks were especially moving, particularly his comments about the transforming experience of meeting face to face the people whom we help. He said, "Something happens when you actually encounter people and they stop being a statistic and start being a neighbor." Wow! How often do we quote grim statistics when speaking about ONE? The figures are staggering, can be quite overwhelming, and sometimes, even paralyzing.

Jointone1_2 But, in that very room, just moments before Pastor McLaren (pictured at left) spoke, the African Children's Choir had performed. This spirited group of children are all orphans from Central Africa, children who represent the statistics. When the pastor spoke, we thought of these children, who are indeed our neighbors, as the reason why we will follow his lead and ask our presidential candidates "again and again. What are you going to do for our neighbors?"

That’s what The ONE Campaign is all about: to move our society to take common responsibility for solving the problems of global poverty and disease. St. Francis said it so eloquently: Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

[Note: The picture of the statue of St. Francis was taken outside the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rancho de Taos, N.M.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ecological Footprints & the Seventh Millennium Development Goal

Those of us involved in social justice have to pause sometimes to ask ourselves the question: Do we practice what we preach? In the context of The ONE Campaign, it's useful to look at the eight Millennium Development Goals and examine how we can apply them to our personal lives. Achieve universal primary education? Sure. I can support my local school system. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger? I can support my local food bank. Reduce child mortality? The answer: Support the WIC program. So there you have it. All token efforts.

But there is ONE goal where our personal habits can make a huge difference: The Seventh Goal, which is to ensure environmental sustainability. Our consumption habits (or dare I say overconsumption habits) of natural resources and energy have contributed to the devastation of Mother Earth. There are many practical personal steps we can take to contribute to making our global human habitat more sustainable. Do I drive to work every day or can I take public transport or ride a bike? Have I installed energy-saving light bulbs at home? Do I buy only the produce that is grown locally? Or do I make it even more local by growing my own fruits and vegetables? Am I aware that buying water in plastic containers is very damaging to the environment?

What kind of ecological footprint are you leaving?
Take a quiz
After you've taken the quiz, perhaps you might want to take some actions. Dr. Bruce Milne, director of the Sustainability Program at the University of New Mexico, and his assistant Mariel Tribby have created a handy kit to help you move in the direction of greater sustainability.
Click here to access the kit (in .pdf format).

One of the most dedicated advocates of environmental sustainability and ecospirituality is Sister Paula Gonzalez.

Sister Paula (pictured above) is the founder of
EarthConnection, a center for learning and reflection about living lightly on Earth. The solar-heated and energy efficient office named La Casa del Sol is a revitalized chicken coop. The center has implemented a permaculture demonstration project and 16 raised garden beds that, with the help of volunteers provides fresh, organic vegetables for low-income residents in the area.

Sister Paula was wearing her ONE band when I caught up with her at the Center for Action and Contemplation's Great Chain of Being conference in August 2007. She proudly wears the white wrist band everywhere she goes, not only as a symbol of the Seventh Millenium Development Goal, but also to draw the connection that all eight goals are related. The truth is that if we take seriously the concept of sustainability, then we will consume less, which means that resources can be spread out more evenly, eventually making it easier to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty, fight AIDS and other diseases, and attain basic primary education for everyone.

Click here for a slightly different version of this piece