The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship recently announced a two-year partnership with Micah Challenge USA, part of a global campaign to mobilize Christians against poverty.
Launched internationally in 2004, the Micah Challenge works to advance a set of goals established by the United Nations in 2000 that range from reducing extreme poverty by half to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, all by a target date of 2015.
Founders embraced the ambitious goals as reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets. The key verse behind the movement is Micah 6:8, “And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
The CBF Coordinating Council endorsed the Millennium Development Goals last year. Last year’s CBF General Assembly directed the council “to investigate the feasibility and means by which the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship might be involved in acting with other bodies to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”
The partnership with Micah Challenge USA, announced early in May, commits CBF to $10,000 a year in funding. “This partnership with Micah Challenge USA makes clear that CBF, its field personnel, and its congregations are determined to do all that we can to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2000,” said Rob Nash, the Fellowship’s coordinator of global missions.
Nash said CBF would work with Micah Challenge as advocates on behalf of those around the world who live on $1 a day or less and to ensure that political leaders, particularly in the United States, fulfill the commitments they made when the goals were framed.
The eight Millennium Development Goals are to, eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability and develop a Global Partnership for Development.
A UN report halfway to the 2015 deadline last summer found mixed results. Overall, the report found the proportion of people living on the equivalent of a dollar a day had dropped from 32 percent–1.25 billion people–in 1990 to 19 percent, or 980 million, in 2004. But not everyone around the globe had benefitted. In Western Asia the poverty rate more than doubled during the same period, and even with gains the poverty gap in sub-Saharan Africa remained the highest in the world.
The CBF, which has focused its mission work on the world’s poor and marginalized since its founding in 1991, is the most recent Baptist group to align with the Micah Challenge. Baptists from Australia and Great Britain helped spearhead the movement. The Baptist World Alliance general council passed a resolution endorsing the effort in 2004.
In 2006 the Baptist Center for Ethics collected signatures on a clergy letter supporting the Micah Challenge and pledging to preach and teach about it in churches and to encourage politicians to support the Millennium Development Goals.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.