number 4, december 8, 1998

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Attention! Debt to be chained up

The Great Hall of the University of Zimbabwe will be locked up tight this afternoon by a chain with a difference.

Young people at the assembly plan to organise a human chain and encircle the plenary hall to draw attention to the chains of debt which bind many of the world’s countries.

They issued an "urgent plea" to all assembly participants to unite in concern for indebted countries. "We, the youth, call on all at assembly to join us in a sign of our visible unity and stand together in solidarity and concern," said their statement.

"Join us to make a statement to the world, saying that the time of injustice and exploitation is over and that we will walk together towards a new system of world economy, trade and power."

Jenny Hale, a youth delegate from the United Reformed Church in Great Britain, wrote to the business committee on behalf of other young people at the Assembly, and asked for "approval and blessing" for the young people’s proposal.

She told the committee the Pre-Assembly Youth Event had discussed the topic of unpayable international debt "with great concern". "Since then we have been working together to raise awareness and action on something that we believe cannot be ignored".

The result, which the business committee has backed, will be a human chain formed just before the beginning of the plenary session on Africa.

"We see this as a first step," said Alison Wilkins, a British Methodist delegate who is a lay chaplain to international students in central London. The next step, she said, included recognition of responsibility for the indebtedness of many countries. "We need a more responsible system of lending."

In her letter to the business committee, Hale told the business committee the timing had been chosen to focus people’s minds on "the plight of not only Africans but millions of people around the world (and to) encourage them not only to talk but to take action".

"We must act now," she said. "As young people we cannot just sit down and do nothing and I believe many people in the assembly would support us.

"Jesus commands us to love one another so we must speak out and make a difference. What a great start of new hope and life this could mean for millions in a new millennium".

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Read other articles in this issue:

A day of hearings
Attention! Debt to be chained up
Padare' to showcase vitality of ecumenical movement
Harare liturgy marks growth of Orthodox Church in Africa
Invest in human rights education, church told
Assemblies: Nelson has seen them all
Church doing well in Africa?
Decade plenary reveals consensus and division
The topic was sin

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor