Churches give fresh impetus to social justice challenge

The work of Baptists, Methodists and members of the United Reformed Church in the field of social justice has been given fresh impetus, with new work priorities and the appointment of a new leader for the Joint Public Issues Team.

Rachel Lampard, previously responsible for political and parliamentary liaison in the Methodist Church, is to take over as team leader, when she returns from maternity leave. She said: "Our three church traditions share a passionate concern for issues of poverty and injustice. By working together we have been able to make a much stronger impact. Our challenge is to help the churches to promote justice, equality and peace by influencing those in power. We also want to help resource and energise local congregations in their effort to live out the gospel of Christ".

The Joint Public Issues Team was set up two years ago as a ground-breaking initiative between the churches which is now being adopted in other spheres of work. Staff retain a denominational identity but pool their expertise and produce resources jointly for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.

Team members are currently working on poverty in the UK, theology and climate change, human rights and corporate responsibility, business ethics, and human embryology and early human life. They have responded to government consultations on alcohol strategy, gambling, and climate change, and have produced a series of studies for home groups called "The Art of the Possible" which explore why Christians should be interested in public issues ( www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/artofthepossible/index.htm)

A new Methodist member of the Team, Dr Paul Morrison, brings added expertise in the field of science, technology and bioethics. Other team members bring experience in international affairs, conflict, UK politics, theology, education and business.

The Joint Public Issues Team is managed by a group consisting of Janet Morley, head of the Christian Communication, Evangelism and Advocacy Cluster within the Methodist Church Connexional Team, Simon Loveitt, spokesperson on public issues for the United Reformed Church, and the Revd Graham Sparkes, head of Faith and Unity for the Baptist Union of Great Britain.

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