New Vice-President urges Methodists to fight poverty

By agency reporter
July 6, 2013

The newly inaugurated Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Dr Daleep Mukraji, called on the Methodist people to "speak out, take sides," and "stand up for justice" in his inaugural address to the Methodist Conference this afternoon (6 July)

Urging Methodists to become "agents of change", Dr Mukarji told the packed Methodist Central Hall in London that the UK had not seen higher levels of poverty and inequality since World War Two. One out of five people in the UK live in relative poverty (13.5 million people), including around 3.5 million children who are more likely to live in a low income household than the population as a whole.

"Working with others, people of faith or no faith, we need to work for justice, inclusion and development that benefits the poor and marginalised here in the UK and across the world," he said. "This requires that we be prepared for the education, organisation and equipping of our members so that we build the necessary energy and commitment to see changes in our society."

Dr Daleep Mukarji, who trained as a doctor in India, explained that he first saw the horrors of poverty when he was living and working in rural India. "I was angry and wanted to do something about the injustice and the systems that kept our Dalits (outcaste community), women and landless poor in abject poverty," he said. "It was shocking for me to see children in India die prematurely and from preventable diseases; things we could do something about."

Dr Mukarji reminded people that the Methodist Church is known for its commitment to social justice and willingness to transform society. The work of the Rev Thomas Stephenson, who founded the National Children's Home in 1869, is still relevant 140 years later as Action for Children continues to help the most vulnerable and neglected children in the UK.

Drawing on a recent report from four Churches: "The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty", Dr Mukarji said that the Government seemed to be making things worse for the poor by stigmatising them.

"We cannot give up," Dr Mukarji said. "We are people of hope and we know that God is still in charge. God loves this world and wants all people to have abundant life, life in all its fullness. In the context of so much despair, inequality, injustice, death and shocking treatment of our fellow human beings we must never give up."


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