Archbishop joins Red Cross Red Crescent, UNHCR and global faith leaders in urgent call to end vaccine nationalism

Worldwide Christian and other faith leaders have joined with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the International Committee of the Red Cross President and humanitarian groups urging global leaders to ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world. 

On the opening day of the World Health Assembly, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have said that global leaders must choose between “vaccine nationalism or human solidarity”. 

In a joint Declaration co-signed on May 24 by international faith leaders and humanitarian groups, Archbishop Justin Welby and ICRC president Peter Maurer said that equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is a humanitarian imperative. 

The statement is signed by Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The faith leaders include senior representatives from all the major Christian denominations, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Azza Karam and Rabbi David Rosen of Religions for Peace. 

The Declaration, which calls for decisive leadership from countries and organizations across the world, states: “There is a choice. The world of the next 10 years can be one of greater justice, abundance and dignity. Or it can be one of conflict, insecurity and poverty. We are at a turning point.”

The catastrophic impacts of the pandemic, combined with existing issues of conflict, disaster and famine, mean that the world is facing the challenge of reversing “devastating dynamics”, the leaders say. 

“People not only need vaccinations – they need access to healthcare workers who are skilled and equipped to deliver adequate medical support. We need to build a world where each community, regardless of where they live, or who they are, has urgent access to vaccinations: not just for COVID-19, but also for the many other diseases that continue to harm and kill. As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world no one is safe until everyone is safe.”  

The Declaration calls on world leaders to: 

  • Ensure equitable vaccine access both within and between countries by providing vaccines and funding as well as sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Leave no one behind, including stigmatised and marginalised communities for whom access to healthcare is already a challenge.
  • Focus on the broader health picture for vulnerable populations – so that people aren’t protected from Covid only to die from Polio.

The full text of the Declaration and signatories can be found below. 

COVID 19 Treatment Centre in Aden, Yemen. (Picture: ICRC)

No-one is safe until everyone is safe – why we need a global response to COVID-19  

Equitable vaccine distribution is a humanitarian imperative 

There is a choice. The world of the next 10 years can be one of greater justice, abundance and dignity. Or it can be one of conflict, insecurity and poverty.  

We are at a turning point. COVID-19 has been a truly global crisis in which we all have shouldered a burden. In many cases this has caused us to reflect on those longer injustices that have perpetuated in parts of the world where the pandemic is yet another layer of misery, instability and unrest. These inequalities have been exposed and exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic, both between and within countries. The effects will be felt on a global scale for years to come.  

The impact of a catastrophe like the COVID-19 pandemic is measured in the tragedy of individual loss and death, as well as the national and global disruption to almost every part of life. No country in the world has been untouched.  

Variants of the virus, potentially more infectious and resistant to vaccines, will continue to threaten us if they are not controlled now.  

Those of us who have signed this declaration represent organizations with roots in communities across the world. We work closely with those affected by conflict, disaster and famine, and know the immense challenges they face – but also of their resilience even in the worst of situations.  

In 2021, the world economy is facing the worst downturn since 1945. For some countries this will sharply increase poverty and suffering. For others it means hunger and death. The fallout from the pandemic will be with us for a long time to come. There will be a continued economic impact, with all the human suffering that brings. A generation of children, especially girls, have left school and will not return. 

The world is facing the challenge of how to reverse these devastating dynamics with health being a key part of such a response.  We advocate here for ‘Health for All’, where each person’s life is valued, and every person’s right to healthcare is upheld. People not only need vaccinations – they need access to healthcare workers who are skilled and equipped to deliver adequate medical support.  

We need to build a world where each community, regardless of where they live, or who they are, has urgent access to vaccinations: not just for COVID-19, but also for the many other diseases that continue to harm and kill. As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world no one is safe until everyone is safe.  

We have a choice: vaccine nationalism or human solidarity.  

Thanks to effective international action, several vaccines have been produced. The World Health Organisation, GAVI and CEPI are leading the COVAX initiative, which is currently the best effort we have to ensure that vaccines reach people around the world. However, COVAX is only intended to cover 20% of the global population– the most vulnerable in lower-income countries – by the end of 2021 and it is not yet clear if it will meet this target. Meanwhile studies show that if we focus only on vaccinating our own populations, the world risks global GDP losses of up to $9.2 trillion (with half of that cost being incurred by high income countries) this year alone.  

But it is not just a matter of money. In order to achieve wider global vaccination, complex logistical, infrastructure and scaling issues must be addressed. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is focused on providing a means to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment products. The ACT recognizes and aims to address the requirement for information sharing – whether about technology, intellectual property or manufacturing.  

However, more needs to be done. The sharing of information, the transfer of technology and the strengthening of manufacturing processes, to name a few, require the active involvement of States and the private sector. 

We therefore call on world leaders to: 

  1. Ensure equitable access to vaccines between countries by providing vaccines, sharing knowledge and expertise, and fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is working to provide equitable access to and implementation of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.  
  2. Ensure equitable access to vaccines within countries by ensuring all sectors of the population are included in national distribution and vaccination programs, regardless of who they are or where they live, including stigmatized and marginalized communities for whom access to healthcare might not be straightforward. 
  3. Support countries financially, politically and technically to ensure that curbing COVID-19 is not a standalone goal, and instead is one important element of a broader health strategy, implemented alongside communities to bring longer-term improvements to people’s health and access to healthcare. We are committed, in our different institutions, to offering all the help we can to support actions by communities and authorities. 

It is time for decisive leadership. Countries and organizations across the world have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address global inequality and reverse some of the fallout from the past year. In doing so, they will bring hope not only for the poorest in the world, but for us all.   

Signatories: 

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury  

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross  

Bishop Ivan M Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council 

HE Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Ecumenical Patriarchate 

The Reverend Dr Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches 

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 

The Reverend Dr Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation 

Dr Azza Karam, Secretary-General, Religions for Peace  

Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 

Rabbi David Rosen, Co-President, Religions for Peace 

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, The Grand Imam of al-Azhar 

HE Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Rome

Methodists join other Christians in appealing for peace and an end to provocative actions in Jerusalem.

Statement from the World Methodist Council, Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and the Methodist Church in Britain, which are partners in the Jerusalem Methodist Liaison Office.

We stand together to support the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem who have
expressed their concern about continuing violence in Jerusalem and who have called on those in the international community to put an end to what they describe as ‘provocative actions’.

We have been horrified by the scenes of violence in east Jerusalem which threaten the
fragility of the Holy City, and call on the Israeli Government to permanently halt the threatened evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, where clashes have also taken place.

We urge calm on all sides and ask the politicians to enable an environment where justice
and healing can be experienced by all and we join with the Heads of Churches to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We continue to stand in solidarity with our Christian sisters and brothers who live and work in the Holy Land.

Photo credits: Photo 93643821 © Ruletkka | Dreamstime.com

General Secretary’s response to the call to a day of fasting, prayer, and acts of charity

The World Methodist Council together with many other faith communities around the world will respond to an appeal from Pope Francis and Judge Mohamed Abdel Salam, Secretary-General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity to observe Thursday, May 14 as a “special day of prayer, fasting, and charitable work to implore God to help humanity overcome the Coronavirus pandemic.”

COVID-19 offers us an opportunity to stand together and push the reset/recalibrate button to work for a transformed world in which we share resources, walk softly on the earth, and affirm the dignity of all humanity.

As we navigate the future through unchartered waters, we need to tap into the spiritual resources of all religions and persons of goodwill.

Let us also express solidarity with the Thursday in Black Campaign against gender-based violence. Many women and children have to spend this time of lockdown with their abusers. Let us build a caring and compassionate Human Family as we cry for Divine Justice, Healing, Restoration, and Wholeness. (Matthew 5:21: Luke 18:3,7; James 2:6; 1 Corinthians 6:7)

In our Wesleyan tradition, it is customary to fast on Thursday evening through to Friday mid-day. John Wesley observed this practice most of his life. 

www.worldmethodist.org/connect/join-our-prayer-and fasting-community/

May this be a time of spiritual reflection, engaging in acts of compassion and justice as we together support each other to overcome the pandemic.

Together we can and will overcome.

A different world is possible.

Ivan M Abrahams

A call to a day of fasting, prayer, and acts of charity

Let your steadfast love, O God, be upon us, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:22 (NRSV)

The Wesleyan and Methodist family have been invited respond to a call for a day of fasting, and of prayer. This call has been taken up by Pope Francis in his weekday prayer of 3 March 2020, to an invitation from the Human Committee of Human Fraternity, and furthered by the World Council of Churches; amongst others. The suggested day is 14 May, 2020.

John Wesley in suggesting fasting as a ‘means of grace’, fasting was not so much a question of whether Methodist’s did so, but ‘How do you fast?’. He commended a spirituality of fasting as much as a practice – to do so is to recognise the importance of loving God and of loving one’s neighbour.

 In words of Susanna Wesley:                                                                                                                                                                           Help me, Lord,                                                                                                                                                                                                     to remember that religion                                                                                                                                                                               is not to be confined to the church or closet,                                                                                                                                                 nor exercised only in prayer and meditation,                                                                                                                                               but that everywhere I am in your presence.                                                                                                                                                   So may my every word and action have a moral content.

(“Practising the presence of God” in Prayers and Meditations of Susanna Wesley by Michael McMullen. Methodist Publishing House, Peterborough: 2000.)

Fasting can be an experience of practising and being attentive to the presence of God. It can represent a struggle to feel God being present, and it reveal an acute awareness of God’s presence like never before. We can discover a realisation or a reaffirmation that God is in all of ‘this’, in all the diverse experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic – life, death, sickness, healing, isolation, physical distancing, struggle, despair, loneliness, solitude, looking out for your neighbour, personal sacrifices, economic sacrifices, awareness of others whether they are too close or too far away. We attune ourselves to both our own experiences, the experiences of our family friends and colleagues, and the experiences of a world of people. This involves the whole self because God wants your whole self to participate in his mission in the world.

Therefore, fasting is a time for extending prayer, for yourself and others. As Wesley concludes in his seventh sermon in his series on the Sermon on the Mount (which is focused on fasting), the only thing to remain to be said is that of adding good deeds to our fast – giving alms and helping those in need.

Fasting and prayer, whether structured, literal, spiritual, or however we feel we can mark the time, is most of all an attentiveness to others – being alert and making ourselves aware of the obvious, the surprising, the unexpected, the longed for presence and moving of God, in a world and in peoples so terribly impacted by the pandemic of Covid-19. This is a calling for all people of faith and goodwill.

A reflection by (Rev) Tony Franklin-Ross, Chairperson – Ecumenical Relationships, World Methodist Council

 Look kindly on our world, our God,                                                                                                                                                             as we suffer and struggle with one another.                                                                                                                                       Look kindly on your Church, driven by the same necessity;                                                                                                               and may the light we have seen in Jesus                                                                                                                                       illuminate and brighten all the world.   Amen.

 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;                                                                                                                                                for his steadfast love endures for ever.                                                                                                                                                          Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,                                                                                                                                                     those he redeemed from trouble                                                                                                                                                               and gathered in from the lands,                                                                                                                                                              from the east and from the west,                                                                                                                                                            from the north and from the south.                                                                                                                                                               Psalm 107:1-3 (NRSV)

Risen and revealing God, you walked with us for a long time before we knew who you truly were. We talked about this world as if we were the ones who saw it clearly. Now that we more fully recognise your continued presence with us, give us eyes to see the beauty that surrounds us, as well as the problems we have too long ignored. And may our hearts then burn with your illuminating and catalysing fire that we might see the world that you envision.  Amen.                                    (© Community of Corrymeela – Ireland)

 Some wandered in desert wastes,                                                                                                                                                         finding no way to an inhabited town;                                                                                                                                                 hungry and thirsty,                                                                                                                                                                                   their soul fainted within them.                                                                                                                                                               Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,                                                                                                                                               and he delivered them from their distress;                                                                                                                                                     he led them by a straight way,                                                                                                                                                                 until they reached an inhabited town.                                                                                                                                                       Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,                                                                                                                                      for his wonderful works to humankind.                                                                                                                                                       For he satisfies the thirsty,                                                                                                                                                                        and the hungry he fills with good things.                                                                                                                                           Psalm 107:4-9 (NRSV)

God of tumult, God of peace: more will change in the weeks and months to come. Further landscapes of our normal will be shaken to the ground. Gradual movements will accelerate, market trends will shift, and they will sweep away much of what we know. And so we pray for what we need: the reassurance of your strength in the midst of our community; and the life that returns in fuller resurrection after what we love is laid to rest.   Amen.                                                                    (© Community of Corrymeela – Ireland)

 When they are diminished and brought low                                                                                                                                   through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,                                                                                                                                                 he pours contempt on princes                                                                                                                                                                   and makes them wander in trackless wastes;                                                                                                                                         but he raises up the needy out of distress,                                                                                                                                               and makes their families like flocks.                                                                                                                                                        The upright see it and are glad;                                                                                                                                                               and all wickedness stops its mouth.                                                                                                                                                          Let those who are wise give heed to these things,                                                                                                                                and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.                                                                                                                                     Psalm 107:39-43 (NRSV)

God of the protective fold, God of the abundant life: you did not form us to live in fear of others or in want of simple joys. In your keep may we find the abundance you came to provide: a constant supply of the love we need and an ever-opening expanse of a life that is ours to explore.   Amen.                                                                                                                    (© Community of Corrymeela – Ireland)

 In the commissioning words of Jesus:                                                                                                                                                   And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.                                                                                                             Matthew 28:20b (NRSV)

 God of opportunity and change,                                                                                                                                                                     praise to you for giving us life at this critical time.                                                                                                                                   As our horizons extend, keep us loyal to our past;                                                                                                                                 as our dangers increase, help us to prepare the future;                                                                                                                           keep us trusting and hopeful, ready to recognise your kingdom as it comes;                                                                                     through the love of Jesus Christ our Lord, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.   Amen. 

Click on the buttons below to read letters from Cardinal Kurt Koch from the Vaticana, and from Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam from the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity

In Memoriam of Geoffrey Wainwright

The Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Wainwright, 80, who was a current resident of Chapel Hill is mourned by his many friends and colleagues of the World Methodist Council.  Well loved for his leadership and work in many areas, Wainwright served as chair of the Council’s Ecumenical Relationships Committee.

The Council joins many around the world in mourning the death and celebrating the incredible life and witness. A significant contributor to theology and ecumenism, he taught at Duke Divinity School, contributed greatly to the drafting of the “Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry” (BEM) convergence text as he served as a member of the World Council of Churches Faith & Order Commission, and co-chaired the International Commission between the World Methodist Conference and the Roman Catholic Church. A preeminent scholar, he authored and edited multiple volumes, including Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life.

Dr. Wainwright died on March 17, 2020 and his arrangements: Cremation Society of the Carolinas of Raleigh. For more details click on the link: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsobserver/obituary.aspx?pid=195758063

Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.  

The Lord is near to those who mourn; he lifts up those whose spirit is crushed.  Ps 34:18

Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Centre in Rome

We are seeking an ordained person from a Methodist, Wesleyan United or Uniting Church to serve the World Methodist Council as Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Centre in Rome (MEOR).

The person appointed will develop and build on the work of MEOR on behalf of its partners, the World Methodist Council, European Methodist Council, the Methodist Church in Britain (MCB),the Methodist Churches in Italy (OPCEMI) and others, as a resource for the global Methodist family in order to help facilitate Methodist relationships with the wider ecumenical community, in particular with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Catholic Church (PCPCU).

The Director of MEOR will be someone who:

  • is fluent in English and is able to speak or willing to learn Italian,
  • holds a post-graduate qualification in theology,
  • has good knowledge and sensitivity about the world-wide family of Methodist and Wesleyan churches,
  • has a proven track record in ecumenical relations,
  • is able to work as part of a team and is also self-motivated,
  • has good verbal and written communication skills,
  • is IT literate.

For further information and application pack please visit: www.methodist.org.uk/jobs

The closing date for applications is 29th November 2019.

Interviews will take place in London on January 27 and 28, 2020.

Applications should be sent to recruitment@methodistchurch.org.uk

Further information about MEOR can be found at: www.methodistecumenicalofficerome.com and
www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/building-relationships/relationships-with-other-denominations/ecumenical-office-rome

Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Centre in Rome

Could this be you?

 

We are seeking an ordained person from a Methodist, Wesleyan United or Uniting Church to serve the World Methodist Council as Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Centre in Rome (MEOR).

The person appointed will develop and build on the work of MEOR on behalf of its partners, the World Methodist Council, European Methodist Council, the Methodist Church in Britain (MCB),the Methodist Churches in Italy (OPCEMI) and others, as a resource for the global Methodist family in order to help facilitate Methodist relationships with the wider ecumenical community, in particular with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Catholic Church (PCPCU).

 

The Director of MEOR will be someone who:

  • is fluent in English and is able to speak or willing to learn Italian,
  • holds a post-graduate qualification in theology,
  • has good knowledge and sensitivity about the world-wide family of Methodist and Wesleyan churches,
  • has a proven track record in ecumenical relations,
  • is able to work as part of a team and is also self-motivated,
  • has good verbal and written communication skills,
  • is IT literate.

 

For further information and application pack please visit: www.methodist.org.uk/jobs

 

The closing date for applications is 29th November 2019.

Interviews will take place in London on January 27 and 28, 2020.

Applications should be sent to recruitment@methodistchurch.org.uk

 

Further information about MEOR can be found at: www.methodistecumenicalofficerome.com and
www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/building-relationships/relationships-with-other-denominations/ecumenical-office-rome

Global Day of Prayer to End Famine

Hands in prayer
Photo credit: Albin Hillert/WCC

The Global Day of Prayer to End Famine hopes to unite ecumenical partners and faith communities all over the world as a prayerful and spiritual movement to:

  • Encourage prayer, reflection and action with information and suggestions.
  • Bring awareness regarding famine’s impact on the most vulnerable children and families and to help address its root causes.
  • Connect with church-related and other humanitarian organizations that are currently working to bring immediate relief and positive long-term change so children and families can live out God’s aspiration for a dignified, peaceful and violence-free future
  • Help communities and congregations to uphold each other in prayer and support, by sharing experiences, challenge and solutions.

A second global day of prayer, the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine will be observed on 10 June 2018.

As a contribution by the faith community to a global effort to prevent famine, the 2017 Global Day of Prayer to End Famine played a critical role in raising awareness in faith communities and among global leaders of this under-reported and unfolding tragedy. This united effort was a strong contribution to mobilizing greater action across the world which led to famine being averted in the short-term, while the risk continues into 2018.

May our prayers join the millions of our sisters and brothers as they cry to the Lord to be delivered from their distress. May we, together, make a straight way, to sustained peace, wellbeing and abundance!

This story was originally posted at www.oikoumene.org.