Speaking ahead of the G8 Summit to be held in Germany on Wednsday 6 June 2007, the heads of Britain's major Free churches have appealed to the UK government and world leaders to make global poverty their top priority.
The Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain today issued a statement that links poverty, AIDS, development and climate change as the major challenge facing the world - and particularly the very poorest.
The wealthy nations now have an opportunity to make a decisive policy shift and to turn rhetoric into action, the Free churches suggest.
The statement reads: “As the G8 meets in Germany, our churches urge its leaders to place the needs of the poor at the top of the agenda. Our partner churches in the developing world continue to highlight the urgent need to address issues of social justice, poverty and good governance. We call on the G8 leaders to make further progress to increase aid and remove crippling debt, and to take concrete steps to reform unjust trade and economic structures. Only in this way will the promises contained in the Millennium Development Goals to halve poverty be met."
It adds: “The AIDS epidemic has a dreadful impact on the lives of so many. We urge leaders to make concrete aid commitments in order that anti-retroviral treatment can be made available to all."
The church leaders also say: “Climate change is a major priority for many in our churches. It is now widely accepted that we must agree stringent limits on the global output of carbon dioxide. We call on all G8 Governments to agree binding and deep emission reduction targets. As developed nations who have long enjoyed the benefit of readily available fossil fuels we have a responsibility to take a lead.”
The main Free Churches in the UK have made a number of joint statements about public issues in recent months. With official ecumenical bodies losing funding and influence, and Church of England and Catholic leaders often preferring to speak alone, it appears that the voices of other churches in the UK are seeking fresh ways of communicating.