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Tear Fund Sunday

tearfundThis Sunday is Tear Fund Sunday, a day when churches can focus on the work of Tearfund around the world and find out how they can get involved to help make a difference. To mark the occasion Ben Niblett, Head of Campaigns, Tearfund, has written a reflection on the reality of climate change and how we need to work together to help those most affected.

“A few mornings ago I woke up to the sight of an army lorry in my road distributing sandbags. I wasn’t expecting it.

“For the past eight years with Tearfund, I’ve been saying that climate change isn’t just a problem for our grandchildren, or for African farmers, or for polar bears – it’s a problem for us. Today, although the water’s not reached my house yet, and I’m hoping it won’t, climate change is a problem for me.

“We don’t know for sure that these particular floods are caused by climate change as we never know that about any single weather event. But we do know that climate change makes floods like this more likely. As the Met Office's chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo told BBC Radio: ‘A warmer world will lead to more intense daily and hourly rain events.’ This is what we’re seeing.

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A Poem for St David’s Day

On-Ynys-LlanddwynThe Revd Kevin Snyman, training and development officer for the United Reformed Church, South Wales Synod, offers a reflective poem for St David’s Day that calls upon the church to be Christ-centred and justice focused. The Revd Kevin Snyman immigrated to Wales five years ago from South Africa. Kevin writes:

“The Stafell Gynddylan (The Hall of Cynddylan), traditionally called Canu Heledd, (The Song of Heledd) is one of the oldest known poems in Europe to have been attributed to a woman author. It tells the story of Heledd, the sister of Cynddylan and laments the destruction of Cynddylan and his band at the hands of the English (that is, the Saxons).

“In honour of St David’s Day 2014, the poem below updates the age-old story of the lamentable yet preventable destruction of kith and kin as it applies to the church. It replaces Cynddylan with the Welsh term Caredigrwydd which means “kindness”, pronounced Karedigrooweeth, it points to what the church could be, and ought to be, and so becomes an ironic metaphor for the church. The poem, then, speaks prophetically to the church today as an institution facing ruin - not at the hands of the Saxons - but in the loss of its Christ-centred compass/ion. This destruction expresses itself variously through fear of decline, hoarding of wealth, its exclusion of people based on their sexual orientation, and opting to collude with Empire rather than pursue a “preferential option for the poor.”

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“Future News” – a new film from the Robin Hood Tax campaign

robin hood taxThe United Reformed Church has been a strong supporter of the Robin Hood Tax campaign which has now reached a crucial stage. There is a real chance of securing a strong financial transaction tax that can help European leaders deliver on frontline services and the fight against poverty and climate change.

Andrew Bradstock, URC, Secretary for Church and Society, said: “The URC has long supported this campaign because it proposes a just, creative and do-able way to ensure a better quality of life for those most affected by the recent financial crisis – a crisis for which they were not responsible. We ask our political leaders to seize this moment of opportunity to act for the common good and demonstrate their commitment to justice and compassion.”

The campaign has released a short film entitled Future News that is set in 2024, it stars some of Europe’s biggest actors, including Bill Nighy and Andrew Lincoln, and highlights how countries have reaped huge benefits by implementing the Robin Hood Tax, and how by refusing the UK has lost out. The film was directed by David Yates, director of Harry Potter.

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Government provides no credible plan to end child poverty, say Churches

Truth-and-Lies-images• 27% of Britain’s children already live in poverty

Three major British Churches have attacked the Government’s Child Poverty Strategy, saying that it fails to provide a credible plan to tackle child poverty.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, Methodist and United Reformed Church welcome the Government’s pledge to eradicate child poverty by 2020, but argue that the strategy fails to provide a credible plan to achieve this aim.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts that by 2020 UK child poverty will have increased from 3.5 million to 4.7 million, and that the major driver behind this increase will be the tax and welfare changes introduced since 2010.

“Child poverty is set to increase for the rest of the decade and beyond and this strategy will not stop this,” said Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser and author of The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty, a report dispelling six common myths about poverty. “Perversely the strategy trumpets measures that will actually increase child poverty. The Benefit Cap and the Bedroom Tax are mentioned as poverty reduction strategies yet we know that already both measures are driving families into poverty.

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