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            August 2, 2001, NEW YORK CITY – Hammer in hand -- and promising his family he’ll try not to hurt himself -- National Council of Churches General Secretary Bob Edgar sets off today (Aug. 2) for Korea, where he’ll spend Aug. 5-11 with Habitat for Humanity helping build 120 houses.

            The Rev. Dr. Edgar will work alongside former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and South Korea’s President Kim Dae Jung in Asan, one of six building sites in South Korea.  As many as 9,000 volunteers from around the world will help 120 Korean families build simple, decent houses, 72 of them in Asan.

            The “Jimmy Carter Work Project 2001” in Korea is the lead event in this summer’s first Habitat for Humanity World Leaders Build, in which 28 heads of state from 26 nations are joining builds and supporting construction in 43 countries.   The worldwide effort will draw attention to the worldwide problems of poverty housing and result in 1,175 houses for people in need of shelter.

            “I’m not known for my ability with a hammer, and I’m not likely to be allowed near any electric saws,” said Dr. Edgar, a United Methodist minister, former seminary president and six-term U.S. Representative who has served as NCC general secretary since January 2000.  “Nevertheless, Habitat for Humanity assures me there will be plenty of ways I can help.”Edgar, Fuller sign NCC-Habitat agreement

            Most significantly, he said, “My participation in the Korea build helps cement the new relationship between the National Council of Churches and Habitat for Humanity.”  Dr. Edgar and Habitat for Humanity President Millard Fuller (pictured, right) in March signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" on behalf of their two organizations that lays the groundwork for a growing list of joint endeavors aimed at eliminating poverty housing.

Toward Habitat for Humanity’s goal of building 100,000 homes in the next five years, members of the NCC’s General Assembly will help build homes in Oakland, Calif., in November.  The NCC’s Justice for Women Working Group and Church World Service are exploring other collaborations.

            Dr. Edgar and the NCC’s President for 2000-2001, Ambassador Andrew Young, are scheduled to join Habitat for Humanity’s summer 2002 “Build” in South Africa.  “We hope to take an airplane full of NCC volunteers with us,” Dr. Edgar said.  Dr. Edgar will participate in Habitat for Humanity’s 25th anniversary celebrations in September in Indianapolis, and is considering taking the NCC Executive Board’s spring 2002 meeting to Americus, Ga., where Habitat for Humanity has its headquarters.

The partnership is one in an emerging network of collaborative work to end poverty in the United States. Through its Poverty Mobilization, launched in November 2000, the NCC is focused on making a measurable difference against poverty over the coming decade in such areas as housing, child poverty, health care, public education, environment and public policy, including welfare and budget priorities.

While in Korea, Dr. Edgar also will meet with officials of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and participate, at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, in the “South and North Korea 2001 Common Prayer Sunday Worship for Peaceful Reunification” (Ah-Hyun Methodist Church in Seoul).


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