As we wait, whether with excitement or dread, for Christmas Day, Val Morrison, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, unpacks some of our hopes, fears and fantasies around Christmas Eve and the almost-over-waiting it represents.
“At last, it’s Christmas Eve – and the waiting is nearly over! The presents are under the tree, the turkey is ready to go in the oven, the sprouts are prepared and the family are all gathered. Now, I know that some, or all, of those things may not be the way it is for you but, whatever your preparations they are now more or less complete – for tomorrow is Christmas Day. Whether we have waited for Christmas Day with impatience and excitement, or with dread, it’s now only hours away.
As the government’s Energy Bill has its second reading in The Commons today, the United Reformed Church, along with other Churches, is calling on the government to make amendments to protect the fuel poor and work towards the decarbonisation of the UK's energy network.
The Bill aims to reduce the UK’s climate impact; and the briefing stresses that it is important that demand reduction measures, particularly those of most relevance to people on low incomes, are central to both the Energy Bill and the government’s overall energy strategy.
The joint briefing for MPs, Decarbonising our power sector by 2030: Delivering a just Energy Bill, from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of England, Methodist, and United Reformed Churches, and the Quakers in Britain, argues that to achieve this there needs to be two main amendments:
The Christian Aid Collective – young people (16-25 years) from all corners of the UK and Ireland who are keen to make a difference on the big issues surrounding global poverty – have made a short film highlighting some of the issues (worldwide 1.4 billion still live in extreme poverty, and one- in-eight people will go to bed hungry tonight) and encouraging young people to get involved in the fight against poverty.
The film, More than Food, starts with the idea that that together we can make a difference. Taking the simple premise that, over a meal, relationships can be both built and deepened, and community ties strengthened, the short film aims to persuade that , when people live in community, other people’s needs become their own and, by acting together anything is possible – even the end of global poverty and hunger.
Interestingly, several members of the team behind More than Food have strong links/are members of the United Reformed Church: the narrator (Thom Flint) and the director (Jonny Flint) are sons of URC minister Peter Flint; one of the writers (Chris Mead) is the son of the URC’s Commitment for Life coordinator Linda Mead, and Miriam Webb (the joint Christian Aid/FURY intern) was also involved.
Linda Mead has a message for URC members of all ages; she says: “As your Christmas planning reaches its peak, and the final food shop grows ever closer, take a moment to watch this film, think through some of the reasons behind global poverty, and maybe resolve to make 2013 the year you get involved. Because, together, change is possible.”
The United Reformed Church, together with the Methodist Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain, three of Britain's largest Churches, urge chancellor George Osborne to show respect for the poorest in his Autumn Statement tomorrow.
The Churches have expressed growing concern over the negative portrayal of the poorest by the Government. The Chancellor inflated benefit fraud figures in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, and the Churches are concerned about the use of language which increasingly appears to blame the poor for poverty.
“We need to guard against justifying welfare cuts by portraying those on benefits as being undeserving or worse," said Paul Morrison, policy adviser for the Methodist Church. "In the run up to this statement Mr Osborne has spoken of families 'with their curtains closed sleeping off a life on benefits,' implying welfare cuts primarily target an undeserving poor. This is a far cry from reality."