NEWS from the National Council of Churches, USA
Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2252  |  E-mail news@ncccusa.org   |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home


Leaders of National Council of Churches, Church World Service
Praise President Bush’s Commitment to Fight AIDS in Africa,
Offer Assistance of Faith-Based Organizations

Congress Urged to Allocate Funds Necessary to Make a ‘Decisive Difference’ for Africa

July 25, 2003, NEW YORK CITY – Citing “the staggering fact that some 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living with AIDS,” the CEOs of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS) hailed President Bush’s “visionary commitment to provide $15 billion to help the people of Africa fight boldly against the AIDS pandemic.” 

In a July 24 letter to the President, NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar and CWS Executive Director John L. McCullough also expressed the belief that “Republicans and Democrats in both houses of the Congress will unite around this great compassionate vision and affirm your initiative by offering immediate and unanimous support for the funds you have pledged.” 

Noting that the President has championed the role of faith-based organizations in delivering valuable social services in the United States, so, too, the assistance of faith-based humanitarian groups “could be the key to the success of your plan to conquer AIDS in Africa,” the letter continued. Such groups “are positioned to move immediately, effectively, with high levels of expertise and accountability – and are short only the financial resources to make the task possible,” Edgar and McCullough said.

The National Council of Churches is the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 36 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox member denominations include more than 50 million persons in 140,000 local congregations in communities across the nation. Church World Service is the global humanitarian agency of the member denominations of the NCC.

The full text of the letter follows. 

July 24, 2003

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500 

Dear Mr. President: 

On behalf of the ecumenical family of America’s Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches, we strongly commend you for your visionary commitment to provide $15 billion to help the people of Africa fight boldly against the AIDS pandemic that threatens the well being of an entire continent.  We urge the Congress to allocate these funds in order to implement your vision. 

Like you, members of America’s faith-based organizations have been deeply moved by the staggering fact that some 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are living with AIDS.  We are saddened by the additional fact that only a tiny fraction of those 30 million people have access to the kind of treatment that our citizens take for granted. 

We believe that Republicans and Democrats in both houses of the Congress will unite around this great compassionate vision and affirm your initiative by offering immediate and unanimous support for the funds you have pledged.  This will enable urgently needed programs of education, prevention and treatment to be implemented on the scale that you so wisely proposed – a scale that is necessary to make a decisive difference for the people of Africa.  We share your sense of urgency, for every day that the need is not met, 6,500 Africans die of AIDS-related causes. 

America’s faith-based mission agencies – backed by the full range of the nation’s churches, from Episcopal to Baptist, from Lutheran to Methodist, from suburban to inner-city – and their jointly supported humanitarian ministries, such as Church World Service, have long been partners with Africa’s faith communities and are already deeply committed to the AIDS/HIV challenge in Africa. We also lift up the work of other faith-based agencies, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, with whom we have discussed collaborative AIDS programming in Africa.  But, while almost every American denomination has a presence in Africa, and many have elaborate programs of ministry there, all of them, even the most prosperous, are woefully under-funded for the mammoth task that is at hand.   They are positioned to move immediately, effectively, with high levels of expertise and accountability – and are short only the financial resources to make the task possible. 

The $15 billion you have pledged to the people of Africa should be channeled through this trustworthy, proven network of faith-based ministries that are already at work across Africa.  These organizations, backed by the church-going people of America, have the experience and the personnel in place to speed your AIDS program into reality, with accountable financial management, humanitarian sensitivity, and long-developed relationships with the African people. 

Faith-based organizations deliver valuable social services in this country, as your Faith Based and Community Initiative has highlighted.  Even more, faith-based groups could be the key to the success of your plan to conquer AIDS in Africa.  It would be a partnership between the public and private sectors that would dramatically unite the American people, in solidarity with our African brothers and sisters, as nothing else could.

We look forward to the opportunity to support your decisive response to this humanitarian crisis. We join you in prayer for Africa and its people. 

Respectfully, 

Bob Edgar, General Secretary
National Council of Churches USA
John L. McCullough, Executive Director
Church World Service

                    
            

-end-


About the National Council of Churches
NCC Home Page