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Churches criticise Budget alcohol announcement

JPIT logoThe Baptist Union of Great Britain, Methodist Church and United Reformed Church have criticised government plans to scrap the alcohol duty escalator as announced in the Chancellor's Budget speech.

The churches said that George Osborne's announcement is 'irresponsible', signalling good news for the drinks industry, while the taxpayer is left to bear the social and financial costs of problem drinking.

The full statement follows:

“Once again, George Osborne has presented a budget with good news for the drinks industry, but little reassurance that the Government cares about the harm caused by alcohol misuse. In 2013, as well as abandoning its commitment to the medically-backed policy of minimum unit pricing for alcohol, the Government abolished the alcohol duty escalator on beer. The escalator required duty on alcoholic drinks to rise at 2 percent above inflation from 2008 to 2015. For decades, successive Governments have kept duty on alcohol at historically low levels, particularly for wine and spirits; it would be even lower without the escalator. 

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Publications update

great cloudWe’re highlighting three books this March: A Great Cloud of Witnesses: Parts One and Two and Pathway to the Cross.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses Part One (Birth) and Part Two (Life) are delightful, beautifully illustrated, collections of imaginary reflections by people caught up in the events surrounding the birth and ministry of Jesus. These two books provide a different perspective that sits alongside the narrations of the Gospel. Text by Barbara Bennett, and illustrated (part one) by Jenny Hawke and (part two) by Antonia Rolls.  In the words of the author: "Everyone who encounters God through Jesus, in whatever age, is transformed by that encounter. No one stays the same – and each becomes, in turn, a witness with a story to tell."

Both books are now on sale: Part One: Birth at just £7.00 (reduced from £10.00) and Part Two: Life at £10.00 (reduced from £15.00) – or buy both for the special price of £15. 

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A life changing visit to Colombia

Ian Rowe ColombiaIan Rowe is the joint Commitment for Life and Christian Aid Collective intern. He is responsible for travelling around the UK to teach other young people within the United Reformed Church about social justice issues and global development. Ian, along with his fellow interns,has recently returned from a visit to Colombia as part of an exposure visit to see the global work of Christian Aid. He offers the following reflection:

“It might be a cliché to say that trips abroad change your life – and that you will carry, what you have seen with you for the rest your life, but for me it is true. Late last year I travelled to Colombia with 16 other young people and four Christian Aid staff as part of my internship. We went for two weeks and met with Christian Aid partners, seeing at first hand the life changing work they are doing to help displaced communities.

"Colombia has been engulfed in an armed conflict since the 1960s and, as in all conflicts, it’s the poorest and most isolated who suffer the most. The conflict has been used as an excuse to commit massive human rights crimes. Communities are displaced by armed groups, who then sell the land to big business who mono crop the land (plant one crop on an industrial scale) with crops such as plantain and African palm for making oil. The local people are displaced and have to find shelter with other family members, or in the big cities.

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Mission Council meets next week

mission councilThe United Reformed Church’s Mission Council is meeting at the High Leigh Conference Centre next week: 10-12 March.

Mission Council is the executive body of the General Assembly, and meets twice a year. The key debates at this meeting of Mission Council include the provision of ministerial training on Safer Space training and the role of the synod moderators

Decisions will be reported on the URC website and  facebook page during the meeting and a full report will be included in the April issue of the denomination’s e-newsletter – News Update.