G20 Religious Leaders Summit

By UUA International Resources

Bread for the World issued a call for interfaith religious leaders to gather in Pittsburgh for a two-day Religious Leaders Summit on the eve of the G20 meetings. More than 25 prominent national religious leaders from Moslem, Jewish, Indian, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Sikh, and Zoroastrian traditions were in attendance, and it was an honor to be among them. (Media coverage: Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Christian Post, Bread For the World)
The main purpose of the gathering was to demonstrate the broadly shared agreement of the US faith community that global economic recovery can only be realized if the poorest and hungriest people of the world experience it. It is estimated that extreme poverty in developing countries has risen by 200 million people in the past two years, and that for the first time more than 1 billion people are suffering from hunger.
In response to this tragedy, we asked the leaders of the G20 to fulfill promises made at previous international conferences, and continue to move towards the alleviation of hunger and poverty, especially the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative. We thanked the Obama Administration for its efforts to double US financial support of agricultural development in developing country to $1 billion - and asked that this project be initiated quickly. We also expressed our shared understanding that Global Climate Change and severe Hunger and Poverty are linked, and that we hoped G20 decisions would reflect that fact.
The gathering included opportunities to share spiritual communion with each other through prayer and meditation. A Lutheran Bishop from Tanzania - Rev. Benson Boganza - also met with us to describe his experience with rural poverty/hunger in his country. On Wednesday morning we gathered for a press conference that featured presentations by: Rabbi Steve Gutaw (Jewish Council for Public Affairs), Dr. William Shaw (National Baptist Church), Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson (WCC), and Dr. Stephen Colecchi (US Conference of Catholic Bishops). Following the press conference we processed to another hotel for a meeting with Dr. Michael Froman, deputy US national security advisor, and "Sherpa" for the US delegation to the G20. The gathering ended with prayer and small-group discussions.

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