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Photo Credit:  Credit:Gabriel Bahnareanu
Photo Credit: Credit:Gabriel Bahnareanu
Photo Credit:  Credit:Gabriel Bahnareanu
Photo Credit: Credit:Gabriel Bahnareanu
UK News

'We must not just use words but actions': Bishop urges UK churches to advocate on poverty

by Tola Mbakwe

The Bishop of Kensington has called on churches throughout the UK to advocate on poverty. 

Rt Rev Graham Tomlin also commended the work many churches have been doing to help people who most need support, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bishop Graham said:  "We must not just use words but actions. We can do this through setting up food banks but also advocate for change in our wider society, so that the societies in which we live are societies that reflect as much as possible the kingdom that is one day coming."

The Bishop's comments came as a part of a discussion with the Trussell Trust CEO Emma Revie, which was recorded as a podcast for the Christian festival New Wine and released on Sunday.

Last week the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of food banks, released a report that forecasts a 61 per cent increase in food parcels needed across its UK network in October to December. Its' research also revealed that during the start of the pandemic around half of people who used a food bank had never needed one before.

The bishop added: "The heart of the gospel is a God who comes to serve us first, which is the opposite to what you think he should do. But you begin to look to serve other people, the Spirit turns us outwards towards God and our neighbour."

Revie talked about the need for churches to speak up for the injustices in society.

"Irrespective of how dignified we make the process for people to benefit from food bank services, we recognise that the ultimate dignity is having enough money to go to the supermarket and buy things for your family's basic needs," she said. "It is not right that anyone cannot afford the essentials."

She added: "We must not only focus on compassion but also justice. If we provide food to people in crisis time and again, without calling out the injustices that have led to some needing a food bank, it would mean we're simply accepting what is an intolerable situation."

The podcast also featured the pastor of St Paul's Ealing, Mark Melluish who sits on the leadership team of New Wine. 

He shared the story of one guest they had who had visited their local food bank: "One lovely lady who was coming in to use one of the food banks that we run said to us that four months ago she used to donate food and now she finds herself needing to come and collect food. That is the impact of this pandemic and it's going to remain with us - perhaps not at the same level - but it is going to remain with us and the greatest army of people who can answer this need is the Church because there's a there's a presence in every town, village, and city."

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