The ACT Alliance, bringing together over 100 church-backed relief and development organizations worldwide, has been formally launched on 24 March with celebrations in Geneva and around the world.
The new ACT Alliance is one of the world’s largest humanitarian bodies working in 125 countries with a combined budget of 1.5 billion US dollars. It provides emergency food aid, shelter, water and sanitation facilities, and poverty reduction programmes in the world’s poorest countries.
The new body is a merger of the disaster relief network ACT International and its sister organization ACT Development.
Both ACT International, established in 1995, and ACT Development (2007) were created through the leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The two bodies coordinated the work of agencies related to the member churches of the WCC and the Lutheran World Federation in the areas of humanitarian emergencies and poverty reduction respectively.
Through ACT, the worldwide fellowship of churches has been at the forefront of life-saving work in Haiti since 12 January, the day a massive earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince. On that day nine ACT organizations were operating in Haiti and able to begin relief efforts immediately.
ACT’s global strength means it was also able to assist survivors of the Chile earthquake six weeks later.
Acts of justice, a form of worship
“The work for another and better world is an intrinsic part of the worship of the Church to God. When we are doing the acts of justice, the acts of peace, and the acts of feeding the hungry we are doing the acts that magnify God, because these acts magnify the dignity of each human being,” WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said in his sermon at the prayer service at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, on 24 March.
Tveit added that “the ACT Alliance is a genuine expression of the ecumenical movement, the call to be one so that the world can believe that God is a loving and caring God for all humankind.”
The service, which was attended by staff of ACT and WCC as well as other humanitarian and church-related organizations, celebrated the formation of the new alliance. The launch was also celebrated by the members of the new alliance with local events on every continent.
The alliance works for the world’s poorest people, fighting the causes of human suffering and injustice. ACT members are long-standing organizations already working in the communities. When disaster strikes, these organizations are ready to work and are at the forefront of the emergency response.
At the central event in Geneva, ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna said the creation of the alliance provides the opportunity “to better link emergency humanitarian assistance and sustainable development.”
“When the emergency is over, and the funds run out, churches continue to be present; they are the organization at the end of the street or village, which remains when all others have gone,” Nduna pointed out. “The ACT Alliance, with our faith to guide us and the continued support of all our partners and friends to sustain our work, can continue to bring relief to the needy, support to the oppressed and development to the impoverished.”