Below is a special post from Jubilee Oregon recollecting on their Jubilee Sunday this year. A special thanks to Roberta Badger-Cain and Bob Brown.
First Presbyterian’s Jubilee Sunday speakers, Reginald “Reggie” Lizieu of Haiti and Jubilee Oregon’s Chair, Bob Brown, in a Minute for Mission from the pulpit, invited members of the congregation to “just give me one minute of your time” and “come hear about all the exciting things Jubilee USA Network and Jubilee Oregon are doing,” respectively. Following a powerfully relevant sermon delivered by Rev. Charles Svendsen on wealth and poverty entitled “Last to First” referencing Job 38:1-7 and Mark 10:17-31, 30 participants did just that in an after-worship Jubilee Sunday event, beginning with a sit-down catered gourmet luncheon.
Reggie Lizieu, a Portland Community College and medical program student and member of Westminster Presbyterian, began by telling about his upbringing in Haiti and what it is like to live in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. People were thankful, he said, to get just one meal a day. Listeners were noticeably moved. Reggie then reviewed Haiti’s debt history, beginning with debt imposed by France in exchange for freedom from slavery. He talked about political instability and corruption, more debt, and the devastating earthquake. He thanked Jubilee USA Network for working successfully for cancellation of Haiti’s international and U.S. debt. He talked about fighting the lingering cholera epidemic, addressing the refugee problem, and the need to cancel Haiti’s new debt obligations so that rebuilding can occur. He praised USAID for helping to train youth in anti-corruption strategies. Reggie ended on a note of hope: hope because the Haitian people are resilient; abiding hope because people here can join together by praying and caring about Haiti, by writing letters and advocating for Haiti.
Bob Brown, member of Havurah Shalom, began his talk by referring to worsening global economic challenges, wealth disparity, and international debt in the Global South and now in the Global North. He noted the debt owed by the U.S. and the Global North to countries in the Global South for contributing to global warming. Bob reviewed the work of Jubilee USA Network and illustrated many ways in which it was making a difference in advocacy and public policy, working in a bipartisan fashion. Bob, who has distinguished himself leading Jubilee Oregon by partnering with many local economic justice groups and causes, talked about Jubilee Oregon’s partners -- from Jubilee Zambia and a group advocating for fair international trade agreements, to those working on mortgage debt and student debt (a class at Portland State University), to work with local fair trade organizations. Bob invited those present to get more involved to help carry on this important work.
Members of the congregation asked several questions answered by Reggie and Bob. A final question was on what difference it has made since Jim Yong Kim, physician, anthropologist and recent President of Dartmouth College, became head of the World Bank. Although it was deemed too soon to know, the question is ripe for observing and answering as time passes. The audience applauded for the third time in appreciation, and took with them a number of Jubilee informational handouts for future reference.