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In many parts of the world, the climate crisis, conflict and power imbalances bring with them the scourge of poverty. In the UK, many live in poverty too. In Harlow alone, which is in the diocese I serve, more than one million people have been fed by charities in the last year. Loving our neighbours means living out our faith on a local and global scale. This course offers valuable resources to help us make a difference by speaking out and engaging decision makers.

- Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani (The Bishop of Chelmsford).
Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani (The Bishop of Chelmsford)

The Act on Poverty Course explores six themes:

Image credits and information i
Stef Benstead is a Christian, an activist, a Poverty Truth Commissioner in Manchester and an independent researcher in disability and social policy.
Stef holds up a sign which reads 'Poverty Truth, Manchester'

1. Prophetic

This pack looks at what it means for churches to speak prophetically. The Bible shows us that being a prophet is far from easy. Many prophets have felt powerless, despite being called by God to speak out. How, with God’s help, can your church develop its prophetic voice when speaking about poverty?

2. Broken

We are increasingly aware of the divisiveness of politics in the UK today. But this is not the only place where there is division. Our churches, our world, our selves are all in need of redemption and repair. This pack helps you discuss division and brokenness in our different contexts. The resource opens up space to think together about where repentance is needed, and how we can be part of God’s healing and redeeming work.

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Revd Dr Neil Johnson, pioneer minister of the Church at the Margins project in the Birmingham city center known as Street Banquet.
Neil is a street banquet pioneer

3. Generous

Many people in the UK are having to tighten their belts due to the cost-of-living crisis. In this pack we take a close look at the lived experience of poverty, both near to home and around the world. We explore poverty as a justice issue that demands action. Churches can explore what it might mean to be ‘generous’ or ‘cheerful givers’ (2 Corinthians 9.7) when we feel like we have nothing to spare. What gifts do we have that we can share?

4. Located

Beginning with reflections on where Jesus chose to place himself during his ministry, this pack equips your church to look afresh at where you are located. This includes your physical environment, community resources, local concerns and priorities. Groups can explore questions about how we discern what God is already doing in our community, about life on the margins, and who has power in your locality.

5. Hopeful

This pack helps churches outline their hopes for the future and turn these hopes into a manifesto for action. There are practical ideas about facilitating events and community discussion in the lead up to the General Election. And there’s an exploration of how nurturing hope can be part of our calling to love our neighbour. What will your church do to grow hope in 2024?

6. Together 

Our final pack looks at what we can do together to tackle poverty, local and global. This resource focuses on practical action in community, suggesting a range of ways to come together, perhaps hosting a shared meal or event to which you can invite your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and MP’s. Sharing time, ideas and food as we plan to Act on Poverty together. This can act as a standalone session or mark the culmination of your course over the last five weeks.

I am delighted to commend this important and timely resource as a positive contribution to bringing about real change in a world where too many experience the injustice of poverty. The course will equip, inform and galvanise churches and church groups who want to make a difference locally and globally.

- Rt Revd Matthew Parker (The Bishop of Stafford).