By Jessica Connor
A resolution designed to help release the million-plus South Carolinians locked in generational poverty will go before Annual Conference this month.
Eradicating Poverty in South Carolina was submitted by the Advocacy Ministry Area of the S.C. Conference Connectional Ministries and calls for the conference to work on seven major goals to achieve improvements and healing for the poor in this state. These goals are as follows:
¢ Increase by 2 percent service to the poor in the conference through the Advance Minister mission institutions;
¢ Train an advocate for the poor in the conference;
¢ Work with international partners to reduce by 66 percent malaria-related deaths of children under the age of 5;
¢ Develop opportunities for more in the annual conferences to become involved with advocacy for health issues such as access to health care, disease and infant mortality;
¢ Find people on the edge of society not currently being addressed in UMCs;
¢ Provide short-term mission experiences for young people to explore and reflect on professional Christian service; and
¢ Build a network of prophetic pastors and lay members around the conference and provide them with opportunities to work for advocacy and social justice.
Disparities have created an impoverished South Carolina, along the I-95 Corridor and the Mill Crescent in the center of the state, with towns where poverty rules, illiteracy passes to children like an inherited disease and diabetes strikes 9-year-olds because of bad diets and obesity, the resolution maintains. The shift of political power from rural to urban areas, the decline of agricultural and textile-mill employment and a lack of tax base to support schools and build infrastructure to attract business has ¦ moved our state to rank at the bottom of nearly every list you want it to be at the top in the areas of income, education and health.
The resolution points to the Social Principles of the UMC, which calls for ways to be found that share the resources of this world more equitably, and a recent General Conference resolution, Call for a Rebirth of Compassion, which asks the denomination to feed the hungry, house the homeless and work for policies to end both of these problems.
The conference needs to set a precedence for South Carolina to understand that not only are peopl
e poor, but they are suffering, and that suffering is a real concern of God and followers of Jesus, said the Rev. Amiri Hooker, chair of the Advocacy Ministry Area. We also need to be clear to follow the lead of the General Church and its legislative agenda to directly impact the plight of the hidden citizens of this country.
The S.C. UMC will vote on the Eradicating Poverty in South Carolina resolution during the June 9-12 Annual Conference gathering. Look for coverage in the next edition of the Advocate.