The United Nations marks October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In a statement released to commemorate the day, Canadian ministry leaders in the Christian Reformed Church lamented “poverty and injustice as corporate moral wounds” and affirmed “the urgency of systemic and prophetic responses” to poverty.
Quoting from “For My Neighbor's Good” from the 1979 synod of the Christian Reformed Church, the annual general assembly of the denomination, the statement reminded church members, “If we avoid the issue of structural change, Christians would consign themselves to fighting the symptoms of poverty and hunger instead of getting at the disease itself. While the church is unable to provide relief to the hungry masses of the world, it can certainly advocate for systemic reforms that would significantly improve the lot of millions in poverty.”
The statement “celebrate[d] and affirm[ed] the faithful public witness” of two particular campaigns aimed at systemic reform: The Canadian Foodgrains Bank I Care campaign, for international food security, and the Dignity for All campaign by Citizens for Public Justice and Canada Without Poverty.
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a partnership of 15 church and church-based agencies including World Renew—the relief, rehabilitation, and development organization of the CRC.
“These campaigns are a significant opportunity for us to use our voice as active citizens to express our concern and request the Canadian government to keep its promise to designate at least 0.7 percent of our gross national income towards humanitarian and development assistance,” said Ida Mutoigo, Canadian director of World Renew. “At such a time as this, we advocate for and commit ourselves to justice and abundant sharing because that is what loving our global neighbours is all about.”
The statement also acknowledged that poverty and injustice “have disproportionate effects on people of colour, displaced people, people with disabilities, women, and children.”
“The Bible calls us to lament often,” said Darren Roorda, director of Canadian Ministries. “In the case of this statement, we are calling all people within the CRC to lament for the brokenness we see in the most vulnerable parts of our community. And we call all people within our denominational family to be aware—and for that awareness to be noticed by the wider components of our culture.”
In addition to being signed by Roorda and Mutiogo, the statement was signed by Ron Vanden Brink, director of Diaconal Ministries Canada, Andy DeRuyter, chair of CRCNA Canada Corporation, and Mike Hogeterp, director of the Centre for Public Dialogue.