Christians to live as asylum seekers during Lent
Christians around the country will begin Lent today by living on the minimum wage or living as asylum seekers to identify and draw attention to some of Britain's most vulnerable people.
The idea, which has previously involved people such as the Guardian's Polly Toynbee, has been promoted by Church Action on Poverty.
The church group initially asked people to try to live on the national minimum wage during the season of Lent.
It then extended the scheme as part of its 'Living Ghosts' campaign, asking Christians and others to identify with the experience of UK poverty through the eyes of someone fleeing from persecution, violence or the threat of death.
Participants in the asylum scheme are asked to live on just £5 a week and a food parcel.
Although they haven't taken up the asylum challenge, Bishops in the Lichfield diocese are amongst those who this year will live on the minimum wage, donating the difference in their incomes to the Bishop of Lichfield's Lent Appeal.
The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill launched his In the Margins Appeal on Tuesday to raise funds for four overseas projects.
It will also back three West Midlands' schemes helping young people who have become alienated from their community.
The Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Dr Gordon Mursell, and the Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Michael Bourke are urging Christians in the Midlands to back the appeal.
They each earn a £27,990 annual stipend as well as having housing costs paid.
That means the appeal should receive several thousand pounds between the three of them.
In a joint statement the three bishops say: "Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that we really do have plenty; and urges us to use this to be generous to those who have little.
"The Bishop of Lichfield's Lent Appeal in 2006 is supporting a whole range of projects which will help us to do just that.
"We encourage all of you to respond to this appeal as generously and as creatively as you can."
The money will go to a drug awareness peer-mentoring scheme in Wolverhampton, a men's shelter for the homeless in Shrewsbury and a homeless mentoring scheme in Stoke-on-Trent.