Faith perspectives on some of the most damaging aspects of global poverty are presented for Bible study group discussion in a new book launched at the Greenbelt Festival.
Compiled by Christian Aid, the book ‘Working Together’ looks at the theological implications of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight targets agreed by the United Nations as essential to the eradication of poverty.
Contributors include Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, Fran Beckett, Leader of Restore Church and the Rev Kathy Galloway, Head of Christian Aid in Scotland and former leader of the Iona Community.
Each MDG is analysed by a different author, with the contributors providing a biblical framework against which the MDG can be considered. The commentaries are each accompanied by a contemporary reflection, a series of discussion starters, a prayer and a suggestion for action.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, the book also includes a reflection by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the importance of the Bible in the vernacular to those in poverty.
Editor Canon Geoff Daintree of Christian Aid says the book is an opportunity for Bible discussion groups to focus on subjects of crucial importance that might otherwise appear tangential and remote.
"The UK is one of the most prosperous places on earth. That’s not to deny that poverty exists here, but infant mortality, maternal health, the provision of primary education and the battle against disease are not the challenges they remain in poorer countries," he commented.
Daintree continued: "The book reminds Christians that the continued, entrenched existence of such problems is not simply a matter of concern to those affected. Poverty is an outrage against all of us. It robs people of dignity, freedom, hope and power over their own lives."
He added: "Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty. The MDGs are part of the answer. How quickly it can be eradicated, however, is at heart a political question. There is enough in the world today to meet everyone’s needs, if greed and indifference don’t stand in the way.
"A global movement hungry for change is needed to create the political will essential for real progress. This book is part of the manifesto that we hope will help build such a movement.
"The studies it contains, written by people who are experienced, well-informed and who write from their faith experience, are intended to inspire, inform and challenge church members."
Christian Aid director Loretta Minghella launched ‘Working Together’ at Greenbelt in an event also featuring an interview with activist and progressive evangelical theologian Brian McLaren, as well songs from reggae musician Ben Okafor.
The ‘Working Together’ contributors in full are: Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury who reflects on the importance of the Bible in the vernacular. Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi who challenges readers regarding the eradication of poverty. The Rev Dr Ed Newell, Sub-Dean of Christchurch, Oxford, and the Reverend Dr Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, who examine the call for universal primary education.
Meanwhile, Fran Beckett, Leader of Restore Church, considers gender equality; Bishop Sebastiao Armando Gameleira Soares, from Recife, Brazil, looks at need to reduce child mortality; the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, the Dean of Leicester Cathedral, studies maternal health; and Bishop Alastair Redfern, of Derby reflects upon the fight against HIV, malaria and other diseases.
The Rev Kathy Galloway, Head of Christian Aid, Scotland, examines environmental challenges; the Rev Graham Sparkes, President of Luther King House, a federation of colleges, challenges readers with the need to develop global partnerships for development; and theologian and educator Janet Morley looks at how the teaching of Jesus has a very practical application for our lives.
The books is available free of charge from Christian Aid, either from firstname.lastname@example.org  stating the number required, or as a download from the Christian Aid website: www.christianaid.org.uk/working-together