Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Church Leaders to ask David Cameron to Pledge to Close the Gap

This article from the February 2011 edition of CTE News builds on a great deal of ecumenical work addressing poverty.  Some have been reported on this blog, see the links below.  There is also a report of this event on Praxis.

On 31 January, church leaders of all denominations gathered in Westminster and made a public Pledge: that their churches will spend the next three years working to tackle UK poverty and inequality.

At the start of Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, national leaders from all the UK’s largest denominations were at 10 Downing Street, accompanied by MPs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty, and representatives of the charity Church Action on Poverty.

They handed in a letter to David Cameron, expressing their commitment to Close the Gap between rich and poor, and asking about the Coalition Government’s plans to do the same. In the letter, they say:

As Christians in leadership positions within our respective denominations and organisations, we consider it is our duty to speak up on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable – especially at a time when they are suffering the consequences of the economic crisis and public spending cuts…

We understand the many pressures you are under, and that the Coalition is committed to reducing the public deficit over the current parliament. But tackling inequality is not something that can be put off for the ‘good times.’

We would therefore like to invite you – and your fellow ministers in the Coalition Government – to make a public Pledge to take action to close the gap between rich and poor in the UK.

The leaders who have signed the letter are:
  • Rt Revd David Walker, Bishop of Dudley, on behalf of the Church Urban Fund
  • Revd Sivakumar Rajagopalan, Regional Minister(Racial Justice) of London Baptist Association, on behalf of the Baptist Union
  • Paul Marriott, Chief Executive of Depaul UK, on behalf of Vincentians in Partnership
  • Frances Ballin National Executive member of the Roman Catholic National Justice and Peace Network
  • Revd Leo Osborn, President-Designate of Methodist Conference, on behalf of the Methodist Church
  • Christy-Anna Errington, Methodist Youth President, on behalf of the Methodist Church
  • Revd Frank Kantor, Secretary for Church and Society, United Reformed Church
  • Niall Cooper, National Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty
David Walker, Bishop of Dudley and trustee of the Church Urban Fund, commented: 'The God who meets us in Jesus, calls us to meet and serve each other, yet the gap between the well off and the poor has become so wide that few bridge it. Unless we work to ‘Close the Gap’, the vision of a Big Society will never get off the drawing board.'

The event marks the launch of a major three-year campaign for Church Action on Poverty: Pledge to Close the Gap. We are asking churches and Christians everywhere to follow the example of these church leaders, and make their own Pledges to Close the Gap. We’ll be offering a range of simple Pledges for people to make, in three areas: Give, Act and Pray. The campaign will go live during Poverty & Homelessness Action Week, with online Pledges at, a major publicity campaign in the church press, and Pledge actions at church events throughout the year.
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