Poverty is something we have to tackle through joint endeavour as churches and communities, Church Urban Fund CEO Tim Bissett has told a large conference in Leeds today (18 April 2012).
Mr Bissett was speaking at the beginning of the CUF ‘Tackling Poverty Together’ gathering, which brought together several hundred community pioneers, project enablers, clergy and others at St George’s Church.
Addressing the continuing scandal of poverty in England is the responsibility of every church in every community, he stressed – emphasising that it should not be seen as the ‘specialist’ concern of just a few.
He emphasised the biblical mandate from Christ’s injunctions in St Matthew’s Gospel, encouraging shared and personal responsibility for those in need in areas like housing, work, hunger, and many others.
The economic and other issues involved in the poverty debate are complex, acknowledged Bissett. But a locally-drive, innovative and wholistic approach to change shows that change is possible.
A film was shown of the pioneering work supported by the Church Urban Fund, which emerged from the ‘Faith in the City’ report back in 1985.
The gathering is due to hear from Anglican Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, and will participate in workshops ranging from tackling unemployment and youth issues, through to asylum support, legal aid and ‘incarnational living’.
Ekklesia is currently working with Church Urban Fund on a project to document and reflect on innovative, ground-up, needs-driven and accountable approaches to community transformation.
In Scotland, Ekklesia also supports the pioneering work of the Poverty Truth Commission (PTC) – which seeks, in practical ways, to ensure that those living at the sharp end are central to policy and change-making.
* Church Urban Fund – http://www.cuf.org.uk/ 
* Poverty Truth Commission – http://www.povertytruthcommission.org/