'Count your blessings' C of E tells 'hopeless' in financial meltdown

By Jonathan Bartley
April 20, 2009
Dave Walker's take on the press release

I am sure that it is really well intentioned, but the headline above is how I fear that many will interpret a well intentioned press release from the Church of England today.

It publicises a website for those suffering "from the agony of hopelessness in the current financial situation" or the "hopeless". The release says that visitors to the site are being told: "to look beyond the here and now, to count their blessings".

The Church does some great work, advising, comforting and helping people in financial difficulties (and it mentions some of it in the same press release) which makes this all the more tragic. I just wonder if they appreciate how this angle on it will be received - particularly by those losing houses, jobs and facing poverty. Sadly, it stands more chance of hampering the good work that the Church does, than helping it.

Anyway, make up your own mind. The full press release...

Online Bible verses give hope to hopeless in current financial situation

Words of hope and specially selected Bible verses have been added to the Church of England’s Matter of Life and Debt online initiative to help those suffering from the agony of hopelessness in the current financial situation. Finding hope when struggling with debt complements practical advice and resources for escaping problem debt with simple ways to develop a sense of hope for the future.

Uploaded two days before the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget, the new pages at http://www.cofe.anglican.org/debt/findinghope advise website visitors to look beyond the here and now, to count their blessings, and to remember that they are valuable to God, even if they lose the ‘status’ that comes with jobs and money.

“There is more to life than the current financial downturn,” the pages say. “If we can view the bigger picture, there is more to look forward to, and feel positive about.”

They quote verses from the New Testament, including Matthew’s Gospel: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

There is also an encouragement to pray to God about financial worries. Psalms 42 and 130 are offered as words of prayer, Psalm 130 crying out: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Rt Revd John Packer, Chairman of the Church of England’s Stewardship Committee, said the new pages emphasise how the Church is there for people at all times - especially in times of crisis.

He said: “These verses are just a small part of the Church's response to the needs of those who are struggling with debt. For many, debt can be an enormous worry and, in many cases, churches are offering help, support, advice, or counselling to help people put things into perspective. With many affected by the credit crunch, there is an increasing need to support those facing redundancy and changed circumstances.”

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