Methodist Ministers join the Vicar of Dibley to back Make Poverty History

A number of women Methodist Ministers will join other femaleclergy as the real-life Vicars of Dibley promote Make PovertyHistory. The group, lead by Dawn French, will march from TrafalgarSquare to Downing Street on Thursday 13 January. The event isorganised by Christian Aid as part of the year-long Make PovertyHistory campaign, which aims to press for structural change to aid,debt relief and trade policies while the UK holds the presidency ofthe G8 and EU.

One of those marching will be the Rev Anne Brown, Chair of theLondon North-West District. "This event is more than just a march,"she says. "The whole Make Poverty History campaign is a uniqueopportunity to put fair development issues at the heart of theeconomic strategies of the world's leading economies. Tony Blairand Gordon Brown have already given their support to the campaign,and we hope that this event will make it clear to the whole countryjust how important this is."

The Rev Alison Tomlin, Chair of the Oxford and LeicesterDistrict, adds "this has been an issue for me since before the Dropthe Debt campaign. People are dying every day because we are nottreating developing nations fairly. The British Government has agolden opportunity to do something about this. We are pleased thatGordon Brown has already mentioned debt relief in relation to thedevastating Asian tsunami, and we hope that this profound concernwill extend to the rest of the world's poor during the whole ofthis year."

The march is open to all female clergy, the only requirementbeing that they wear their dog collars. This will represent thewhite band that is the sign of Make Poverty History. The group willfirst fix a white band around Nelson's Column before marching downWhitehall to Downing Street, where a representative group willdeliver a white band card to Tony Blair.

The Rev Louise Grosberg from the Nottingham (East) circuit isplanning to attend. She says, "I've always had good intentions, tomake a public stand against the injustice of world poverty, but fortomorrow rather than today. Then I saw thousands of lives wiped outinstantly by the tsunami. It has changed my priorities. I pray thatthis march may help to mean that tomorrow is not too late forothers."

From the London (Enfield) circuit, the Rev Bonni-Belle Pickardsays 'when I lived in India, I learned that poverty has more to dowith your nationality than how hard you work. The Tsunami is a hugewake-up call that the world's well-being depends on insuringeconomic justice for all. Why wait for a disaster to declare debtrelief? God has given us the power and resources now to put ourworld- wide economic house in order."

The Rev Debbie Godefroy will travel from the Bristol (West)circuit to take part in the march. She says "As a minister Iproclaim life after death. As a Christian I seek life before death.As a woman I long for the children of the world to have life in allits fullness which is my gender's calling to give."

Richard Curtis, producer and writer of the Vicar of Dibley and aco-founder of Comic Relief, said "Geraldine would have been 20 atthe time of Live Aid - and so it seemed a very apt idea for anepisode of Vicar of Dibley to centre around her trying to mark theanniversary of a day which changed her world. I believe she'd stillbe totally up in arms about the horrific statistics 20 years on -one child dying every three seconds, unnecessarily, of the resultsof extreme poverty. Make Poverty History is a real life campaignthat is asking the UK public to send a white band message to thegovernment urging them to make changes around debt, trade and aidthat keep poor countries poor."