PREAMBLE—This position statement has been drafted as The Wesleyan Church’s response to the issue of global poverty. For the purpose of this document and statement, poverty is defined as lack of access. In view of the critical nature of the impact of poverty on all continents, it is vital that the International Conference of The Wesleyan Church agrees to a global response to this issue.
Following the establishment of a subgroup in the January 2006 meeting of the International Board, it was agreed that the position statement should:
1. Enable the entire Wesleyan church family – general conferences, districts, local churches, individual members and partners – to clearly understand and identify with a denominational response to global poverty.
2. Call governments and the United Nations to account, while challenging the Church to demonstrate its responsibility to the poor beyond the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals for 2015.
3. Challenge systemic evil and practices which continue to enslave people to/in poverty, thus challenging the thinking, perception, and definition of poverty, and ensuring that the potential of the poor is valued as the Church seeks to engage in recognized or new initiatives (i.e. Micah Challenge) in their locality and beyond.
4. Be a response born out of our Christian faith and not motivated by short-term goals or funding cycles which can often be time-limited or heavily restricted.
5. Include outcomes that can be evaluated in the local context through tangible or measurable community transformation (i.e. reduction in crime, improved education); qualitative and quantitative indicators should help answer the question: If this initiative/church/ministry closed or moved, would the community miss it?
6. Be aspirational for each region to grasp and implement the scriptural teachings on poverty as demonstrated in scriptures such as Psalm 82 and Micah 6:8.
7. Include a commitment to the care of creation and the environment as a practical demonstration of loving your neighbour as yourself.
8. Ensure that there is a clear willingness to engage and connect as a global community of believers, recognizing that when one suffers, we all suffer.
9. Ensure that this statement enables the Church to be a prophetic voice to governments on this issue, as Old Testament prophets like Nehemiah were.
10. Demonstrate a clear connection between the spiritual and prophetic role of the Church alongside the practical and pro-active response to the range of issues raised by poverty.
11. Include a sentence recognizing and respecting equality and diversity across the regions of the Church and a willingness to “think globally and act locally.”
12. Include a context statement from each region of the International Church.
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES—The following scriptural references have been chosen as the Biblical basis for the position statement on poverty for The Wesleyan Church worldwide. They have been selected as a starting point for the Church’s response to global poverty on the basis that they clearly demonstrate the heart of God towards the poor, and provide theological underpinning for the timeless mandate to the Church to meet the needs of the poor proactively. All references in this document are quoted from the New King James Version.
1. God’s call for justice, love, and humility.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
2. God cares for the poor.
He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap. Psalm 113:7
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate; for the LORD will plead their cause, and plunder the soul of those who plunder them. Proverbs 22:22-23
3. God hates discrimination against the poor.
You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. Leviticus 19:15
But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law of transgressors. James 2:9
4. God wants the poor to be cared for.
For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’ Deuteronomy 15:11
He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. Proverbs 14:21
5. Caring for the poor fulfills God’s law.
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
RESOLUTION—WHEREAS, The Wesleyan Church worldwide recognizes its Biblical responsibility to the poor,
BE IT RESOLVED that the following position statement on global poverty be adopted by the North American General Conference and be recommended for implementation across The Wesleyan Church, and that all leaders and members champion it as integral to the life and mission of the Church.
THE NORTH AMERICAN GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE WESLEYAN CHURCHSTATEMENT ON GLOBAL POVERTY
We, The Wesleyan Church worldwide, are committed to alleviating poverty in all its forms. We recognise and accept our Biblical responsibility to the poor, our duty of care for creation and the environment, and the need to value and celebrate the potential of those trapped by poverty.
We will demonstrate these locally, nationally and internationally by:
Placing people and their identified needs at the heart of our mission and activities;
Deliberately challenging systemic evil, policies and practices which enslave people and communities; and
Proactively engaging with other churches, agencies, governments and non-government organizations who share our vision for community transformation.
We promote good stewardship, accountability and justice in society, and hold our respective governments and the United Nations to account by advocating:
Economic trade that is fair;
Education and training that is relevant; and
Empowerment through sustained resources and debt relief.