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Rowan Williams to reflect on the Christian response to the suffering of World War Two on Radio 4

3 March 2015 - On Sunday March 8, Christian Aid’s 70th anniversary will be marked on Radio 4’s Sunday Worship with a sermon given by the charity’s Chair, Dr Rowan Williams.

The service will come from Emmanuel Church, Didsbury, Greater Manchester, and focus on the response of the churches to the suffering caused by the Second Wold War, which led to the foundation of Christian Aid and a number of other relief agencies.

In his sermon Dr Williams will reflect on the manner in which Jews, as well as Roma, people with disabilities and those whose sexuality was deemed unacceptable, were relegated by the Nazis to the category of sub-human.

“They saw the results of generations of lazy prejudice and contempt transformed into mass murder,” Dr Williams will say.

He will add that the response from people in the UK to the suffering abroad was more than just charity. “They didn’t just see a lot of poor suffering victims who needed help from prosperous and generous people. They saw men, women and children who needed above all to have their dignity recognised when everything had been working against it.

“When we talk of men and women being made in God’s image, we don’t just mean that men and women have a few things in common with God. Perhaps it helps to think of the image we see when we look into a mirror. It’s there because we’re there, looking at it. And so when God makes human beings ‘in his image’, he looks at us and we look back, that’s when the secret becomes clear: he asks us to mirror him, to reflect the way he acts and the way he sees.”

It was the vision of helping the poor and forgotten to “take their proper place again as partners in the great work of humanising the world and guaranteeing the well-being of all,” Dr Williams will say, that inspired the setting up of agencies such as Christian Aid, Oxfam, the Ecumenical Refugee Commission and the Roman Catholic agency Sword of the Spirit.

Dr Williams will conclude with advice to: “Pause, to let go of the anxieties and obsessions and fears; look at the faces of God’s children, God’s images; listen to the voice calling you to set God’s children free. Then cross over to the new creation, the Kingdom of God that belongs to the poor.”

The service will be led by Rev Dr Kirsty Thorpe, Minister of Wilmslow United Reformed Church, and will feature a prayer written by Desmond Tutu and music from University of Manchester choir Ad Solem

The service will be broadcast on Radio 4, Sunday March 8 at 8.10am.


For more information contact Joe Ware at jware@christian-aid.org. The 24 hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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