Church leaders Pledge to Close the Gap

On the morning of 31 January 2011church leaders of all denominations gathered in Westminster and made a public Pledge: that their churches will support our new three-year campaign to tackle UK poverty and inequality.

At the start of Poverty & Homelessness Action Week, national leaders from all the UK’s largest denominations met at 10 Downing Street, accompanied by Kate Green MP and representatives of 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 signed and delivered the letter are:

  • Rt Revd David Walker, Bishop of Dudley, on behalf of the Church Urban Fund
  • Rt Revd Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood, on behalf of the Catholic diocese of Brentwood
  • 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.

Paul Marriott, the Chief Executive of DePaul UK, said:

Vincentian organisations are working with some of the most disadvantaged groups and communities in the UK. We know that narrowing the gap is not just a matter of fairness but also necessary if we are to promote the common good. This is not just a matter of making life better for those who have less. It’s about making our society a better place for all.

It's time to Close the Gap between rich and poorThe 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’re offering a range of simple Pledges for people to make, in three areas: Give, Act and Pray.

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