Archbishop of York calls all to be 'agents of moral, social and economic transformation'

September 26, 2008

Hundreds filled the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on September 25 where Church of England Archbishop of York John Sentamu said that "God is calling us to be part of transforming the world."


Sentamu preached the sermon at an "Interfaith Service of Recommitment and Witness of the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)." Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church officiated.

The day was held in accordance with the Lambeth Conference's call that September 25 be a day of prayer, fasting and witness.

It also coincided with the day-long high-level event at the United Nations headquarters that urged world leaders to renew commitments to achieving the MDGs by 2015 and establish concrete plans and practical steps for action.

In his sermon, Sentamu stated that "hope for the world" would come through transformation. He had those in attendance stand and recite to their neighbor, "be an agent of moral, social and economic transformation."

"I trust the ancient wisdom of the faith that I hold, to point the way to the future," he said. "Love wasn't put in our hearts to stay. It isn't love until you give it away."

He said that as "children of God" we should do our part because "it does make a difference."

Prior to the recommitment service a rally and "teach-in" was held on the steps of the Cathedral where attendees, holding MDG banners, listened to Sentamu; the Rt. Rev. James Curry, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Connecticut; Mike Kinman, executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation and others set the tone for the service by reiterating some jarring statistics on poverty, and child mortality.

Since the church's 2006 General Convention, when the MDGs were set as the church's top mission priority, Jefferts Schori, who fully endorsed them, continues to call on Episcopalians and the wider global community to work together for their implementation.

"The MDGs are incredibly important for the Episcopal Church because they challenge us and provide an image of what we should be doing," she said. "[In addition] the ecumenical presence at this gathering is important because it takes the whole world to live out the Gospel."

In his welcoming address, the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, spoke of how "pleased God must be" about the assemblage and said "we are praying that we will make it to the achievement of these goals."