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An open letter to government ministers from Free Church leaders in Britain has challenged their indifference to food poverty and the growth of foodbanks, along with their refusal of funding to support the most vulnerable.
This is the full text of the letter:
It is with consternation that we have learnt of the government's decision to block EU funds for food banks and homeless shelters, based on the principle of subsidiarity.
As churches which are at the forefront of delivering food aid to growing numbers of people across the UK, we believe it is inconsistent for the government to point to our work as a prime example of the "big society" at work, while opposing EU funding to support this vital service. In our view, subsidiarity must always be balanced with the Gospel value of solidarity.
At this Christmas time, as we once more reflect on God's loving solidarity with suffering humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, we are reminded that as members of the one human family, we have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of peoples across communities and nations. Solidarity is the fundamental bond of unity with our fellow human beings and the resulting interdependence.
All are responsible for all; and in particular the rich have responsibilities towards the poor. National and international structures must reflect this!' We therefore call upon the government to rethink its decision to reject funding, to ensure that not only are people helped into sustainable work (which we agree is the best long-term solution for human flourishing), but that as a caring society we are able to continue providing food aid and other essential services to those who find themselves in extremity in the midst of abundance this Christmas and throughout the coming year.
Rev Michael Heaney Moderator, Free Churches Group and General Secretary, Congregational Federation, Rev Lynn Green General secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain, Rev Peter Thomas General Secretary, Baptist Union of Wales, Rev Trevor Howard General Secretary, Churches in Community International, Rev Christopher Whiteley General Secretary, Old Baptist Union, Rev Dr Geraint Tudur General Secretary, Union of Welsh Independents.
* Christmas on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/christmasTweet