American evangelical social activist, theologian and pastor Jim Wallis has made a stirring plea for a ‘justice revival’ among the churches in the UK and beyond - saying that Christians and those of goodwill must help Gordon Brown keep his promises.
He made his call when he addressed delegates to the 'Jesus In The City' Congress at Kensington Baptist Church in Bristol last Thursday.
"If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not good news for poor people, it is not the Gospel", declared Wallis - founder of Sojourners magazine and the Call for Renewal bipartisan movment among progressive US Christians.
The message is in stark contrast to the message of the religious right, which identifies Christianity with the dominant interests of the American nation, and with Christians in Britain who are talking about the need for self-assertion rather than costly service.
Among the audience for Mr Wallis, who is married to an Anglican clergywoman originally from South London, Joy Carroll, were the 41 participants in the European Baptist Federation’s Urban Mission Congress, who joined the ecumenical gathering for the second part of their own programme - reports the Baptist Times newspaper.
"There are mountains to move. We don’t have the right education systems, or the right programmes; we don’t have enough without faith", declared Wallis.
He went on: "We aren’t going to get social justice without a revival of faith. Even if we were all fully funded for everything we wanted to do, we would not get there unless God did something to multiply our loaves and fishes."
Speaking at the opening of 'Jesus in the City' in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Bristol, he referred to the deaths of 30,000 children each day, and the fact that 800 million children throughout the world do not go to school.
Mr Wallis said: "What we’re facing is too big for all of our best ideas. Unless we catch fire, we won’t move mountains. Our slogging through urban ministry won’t move mountains, unless we understand that we need a revival of faith. Hope means believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change."
Wallis is known to be one of the voices listened to by incoming British PM Gordon Brown, the son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister. Another is Rabbi Jonathan Sachs.
"Gordon Brown has a moral compass on poverty that I haven’t seen in many heads of state", he declared. "But even the best ones can’t change the big things unless there’s a social movement."