On 12 February 2020, Church Council agreed to sign the following Open Letter drafted by the charity Church Action on Poverty .

 

It was read in public worship on Sunday 23rd February, 2020.

 

There is a pressing need to bring the deepening crisis of poverty, afflicting many of our families and communities, to the centre of our life together as a nation.

Brexit debates and the recent General Election have revealed and exacerbated painful divisions in society. Far too many feel left behind, ignored and marginalised.  As local churches, we bear witness to these realities in communities the length and breadth of the UK, and to the powerful currents that continue to sweep so many into debt and destitution.

The Church cannot remain silent for as long as this situation continues to exist. For us, this is a matter of faith:  It is about responding to the gospel priority to put the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable first.

As churches, we must redouble our efforts not just to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, but to call out the root causes, systems and structures which ensare so many in poverty today.

At local level, we commit to becoming genuinely part of a ‘church at the margins’ where those on the margins of society feel welcomed, where their God-given dignity is recognised, and where their talents, hopes and visions for the future are celebrated and affirmed.

At national level, we call on our church institutions to commit to the task of becoming a true church at the margins and to properly resource this, as a genuine expression of the gospel priority for the poorest and most vulnerable.

Above all, as Churches we are compelled to speak truth to power, with and alongside those whose voices are consistently ignored by those in power in corporate, media and public life. Poverty and gross inequality are not acts of God but structural defects that can be corrected. Speaking truth to power is a task for the whole Church, and one given greater urgency now, amid political debates that continue to expose the divisions within society.

As the Lord heard the cry of his people in exile in the Old Testament and intervened, let churches hear the cry of the poor in our neighbourhoods, and work with them to realise a vision of a society in which all can enjoy life in all its fullness