This is an exercise in creative imagination with thanks to the author, Chris Butler
Wesley Mem Weekly has previously drawn attention to ‘Reset the Debt’ (https://resetthedebt.uk/), a campaign led by a coalition of churches and charities, including the Methodist Church, that calls for a ‘Jubilee’ solution for those trapped by debt as a result of the pandemic.
Last week a group met via ‘Zoom’ to explore the issue through bible study (Nehemiah, Chapter 5) and discussion. Here, Chris Butler reimagines an uncomfortable encounter with a modern-day Nehemiah.
We thought we knew what to expect when our Chairman, Nehemiah summoned us to a ‘Zoom’ board meeting with those awfully nice (but oh so naïve) folk from the ‘Reset the Debt’ campaign. I mean, Nehemiah heads a property and financial services group. He knows the economic facts of life. If tenants and borrowers get the idea they might not have to repay, who is going to lend or lease?
So, we assumed there’d be platitudes about the terrible toll that personal debt takes on mental health and relationships, followed by a reminder of recent measures to defer evictions and improve access to debt advice. We were wrong.
The campaigners explained how government measures to control the Covid-19 pandemic had cut the incomes of people who had barely enough to cover basic essentials. With no room to reduce spending, it was small wonder 6 million people had fallen behind on rent, council tax and other bills.
When they had finished, Nehemiah turned on the rest of us. I’m told the name means “God comforts”. Well, his parents had a sense of humour but he had lost his.
“Our Government has borrowed £246bn in six months, largely to cushion us from the consequences of its attempts to control this virus,” he began. “The Bank of England created that money so that we didn’t have to find it. This in turn has pushed up the price of bonds, shares and houses, making some of us wealthier than we were before this crisis broke!”
It was turning into quite a rant.
“And what about these loan guarantees the Government has provided to businesses like ours? Nehemiah shared a screen of a report by the National Audit Office. “They reckon more than £15bn of ‘Bounce Back Loans’ may have to be written off due to fraud or default.”
The hypocrisy of it all had clearly got his goat.
“You’re quite happy to take all this state aid - and to leave your children to pick up the tab - but you won’t countenance forgiving £5bn owed by our poorest compatriots?”
Then came the practicalities.
“Pursuing a debt that cannot be repaid just causes pointless suffering and adds to strain on public services - never mind what could happen if we lift that burden and allow people to make their contribution to society.”
By this stage, we had turned off the video to avoid eye contact. But we all heard his promise to work with the campaign and to take his share of the pain from writing off Covid-related debts. It’s one thing to talk about challenging orthodoxy. Now he wanted us to follow his example, starting with a letter to our MP.
Many thanks for getting in touch about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Our Bishops made a statement in August, on the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, reiterating their support for nuclear disarmament and repeating their call for the UK government to forsake its own nuclear weapons.
They also used this as an opportunity to remind people that: “The cost of nuclear weapons should be measured not only in the lives destroyed through their use, but also the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable people, who could have benefited were such vast sums of public money invested in the Common Good of society instead.”
You can read the full statement here: cbcew.org.uk/statement-on-nuclear-weapons/
There are likely to be further interventions from the Bishops in the new year and these will be published on our news site.
Thanks again for contacting us about this important issue.
All the very best, Liam
Head of Public Affairs
Catholic Bishops’ Conference
39 Eccleston Square, London, SW1V 1BX
Ecology talks during Lent: Bishop John Arnold
Thursdays from 18 February to 25 March, 7:30-8:30pm
The Bishop of Salford and lead bishop on the environment, John Arnold, is to take part in a series of evening talks and reflections on ecology during Lent. The series, organised by UK participants in the Global Catholic Climate Movement, will inform and challenge participants to respond to Pope Francis’ call to care for “our common home”. To register for these free events, contact: email@example.com
Resources for the National Justice and Peace Network...
by Anne O'Connor
This year Lent has taken on a new meaning for Anne following the death from natural causes of her elder daughter Annie in June 2020. Annie was a scripture scholar, teacher and evangelist. For Lent this year Anne shares some of her daughter's material for journeying through Lent towards Easter. Each day of Lent contains a scripture reference and a sentence of reflection. Anne feels we can use this time wisely to consider changes to our lifestyle that will help conserve resources, to live more simply and to work for the good of all. This is an opportunity to focus on what really matters and to journey in faith and hope
NEW BEGINNINGS - A JOURNEY FROM LENT TO EASTER
Stations of the Cross in a Time of Fear and Uncertainty
Ash Wednesday Witness 2021 with Christian CND and Pax Christi
On Wednesday 17 February Christian CND and Pax Christi are holding the annual Ash Wednesday Witness for peace. Usually this event would take place outside the Ministry of Defence in London but this year it will be on Zoom. There will be readings, worship and prayers, reflecting on those who have died in war but also the hope of Easter and Christ's resurrection.
Liverpool Archdiocese / CAFOD - Combined Creation Time and Lent Resource
Hard copies at: www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/formation-shop
Lent Prayers from CAFOD
Includes an Interactive Lent calendar and a Fast Day Prayer for Lent.
Weekly Gospel reflections can be sent via email.
DVD - Stations of the Forests from Columban JPIC
An audio-visual lamenting devastation of rainforests and tribal people. A Resource Booklet provides agendas and reflections for meetings.
£7 inclusive of p&p from firstname.lastname@example.org
Or download from: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ancWU2YInHE%20stations
Women in the Shadows - a Lent study course on exploitation of girls and women
from The Clewer Initiative
A new course for Lent created to help shine a light on the suffering of marginalised women. Biblical reflection is included. The course focuses on the different ways women and girls are exploited in the UK today.
Young Caritas 'Let Us Dream' Lenten Retreat
With Caritas Westminster
'Let Us Dream' Lenten Retreat, is an opportunity to break open the themes discussed in the recent book by Pope Francis. There are three online sessions and retreatants will be provided with a pack, containing a copy of 'Let Us Dream' and notebook to record reflections. Sessions will have spiritual input from the Jesuit Young Adult Ministry, Diocese of Westminster Youth Ministry and Young Caritas. In the second session, in the middle of Lent, participants will be joined by Bishop Paul McAleenan, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Chair of the Advisory Board to Caritas and Austen Ivereigh, the Holy Father's biographer and collaborator on 'Let Us Dream'.
On 18 February, Bishop John Arnold of Salford, lead bishop for the environment in England and Wales, will launch an online series of speakers, prayers and discussions based on the film-based resource, 'Global Healing'. The talks will take place each week throughout Lent, with Salford's Head of Environment Dr Emma Gardner sharing her own knowledge and experiences with us on 4 March. The films will take place over six Thursdays, from 18th February - 25th March 2021, between 7.30pm - 8.30pm and are hosted by the Global Catholic Climate Movement Laudato Si' Animators in the UK.
If you'd like to register to join email email@example.com
Lenten talks: What would Pope Francis do? - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41476
Sycamore Lent Course -www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41488
John Bradburne's Lenten Devotion: Way of the Cross - www.johnbradburne.com/product/a-way-of-the-cross/
This booklet has been based on last year's Vatican sponsored 'Way of the Cross'. Pope Francis asked a group of young people to write the meditations on the fourteen stations of the Way of the Cross.
The accompanying photographs of fifteen sculptures, made with skill and dedication by Arthur da Silva Azevedo, were taken on a dawn walk up Mount Chigona in Zimbabwe by a pilgrim.
We all know that Christmas will be a little different for everyone this year. But one thing that won’t be different is the magic that is created by Medaille Staff in our Safe Houses. That magical moment when our clients receive gifts and festivities, when their faces lights up with excitement and wonder. Creating those happy memories, we will all treasure for years to come.
As we all make these memories, and we buy those gifts for our loved ones this Christmas; the Fundraising and Engagement Team are asking for your support to help us raise funds, and most of our ideas won’t cost you a penny.
We would like to thank you all for your support over the past 12 months, and we are very much looking forward to working with you in 2021.
Leanne, Marc and Treena
Renewing the Covenant: Churches and the Building of Local Relationships
Thank you for attending our webinar last month. As promised, here is the video and supporting materials:
- watch video
- download the accompanying letter: Renewing the Covenant: Churches and the Building of Local Relationships
- read the chat record from the zoom participation
- download our short guide to one-to-one conversations
In the webinar our challenge was to invite congregations to begin to have one-to-one conversations to get to know people in the neighbourhood. If you feel you can take this step in your own setting, please write and tell us what happens.
Feel free to share this material: it's all in one place on this page of our website..
Keep in touch: we would love to hear your reflections - what you say will shape our next steps. Please write c/o: our volunteer Annette McBride, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect: if on reading the chat, there is someone you would like to connect with, please send a message via Annette who will be pleased to act as a go-between.
We will be continuing this conversation and keep you in the loop.
Together for the Common Good
Registered Charity No.1172113.
Our next newsletter is due out in a week or two. To subscribe, click here.
Live streaming of Mass
Make an Act of Spiritual Communion – This can be done whilst you watch a live stream of Mass being offered. You can make an act of Spiritual Communion by saying the following prayer:
“My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.”
Coronavirus Situation/ResourcesHere is a link to the Catholic Bishops Conference website.
You may have heard that Traidcraft will finish trading at the end of the year and that may have frightened you to death. How can we continue to run our Traidcraft Stall or get supplies?
The information we have received from Traidcraft is that, although details are not yet available, we WILL be able to continue to get supplies, although the set-up will be different. However, the new arrangements in 2019 will take time to put in place, so we think it would be wise to stock up before the end of the year.
If you want any further information, you can phone their Customer Services on 0191 491 0855.
"Our Common Home: Caring for God's Creation" an example of a Study Course for Lent that you may find interesting.
Environment: As Christians we are inspired to be good stewards of the earth, to conserve and protect God’s creation and the earth’s resources. By our actions, we can mitigate the effects of climate change stop the destruction of habitats and reverse the decline of species worldwide. The way we treat the earth today is already affecting the poorest and most vulnerable in the world and, in time, will affect us all.
Brushstrokes Community Project
Strengthening and supporting refugees and migrants across Sandwell,
West Birmingham and beyond
News Letter January 2021
News Letter - December 2020
News Letter - November 2020
Phone: 0121 565 2234
Brushstrokes Community Project is part of Father Hudson’s Care
Father Hudson’s Care is a working name of Father Hudson’s Society
Registered in England & Wales, no. 1653388
Registered charity no. 512992
Reaching out to provide Social Care in the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham
Restore's vision is for a society into which all refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed, valued and integrated.
Please follow link to:
Happy Christmas from Restore
Restore News June 2020
Jeremy, Rachel, Andy and Geraldine
Restore Staff Team
Recruiting a part-time Administrative Assistant: Would you like to join a small busy staff team committed to working towards Restore’s vision of a society into which all refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed, valued and integrated? Do you have excellent organisational, software and communication technology skills, and the ability to accomplish tasks with thoroughness, accuracy and reliability?
Restore, a project of Birmingham Churches Together, (charity number 243931) is seeking a part-time Administrative Assistant for 15 hours a week to provide excellent administrative skills including a wide range of software and communication technology skills that will support Restore staff and maintain and develop systems.
Salary: Based on NJC spinal point 6: full time £19,698 per annum. (For 15 hours £8,442 per annum)
The office base is in Balsall Heath but all staff are currently working from home.
For Job Description, Person Specification and Application Form please see Restore website https://www.restore-uk.org/news/recruiting-for-part-time-administrative-assistant/
Closing date for applications: Friday 15 January at 12 noon
Interview dates are likely to be in late January and may be via Zoom (depending on Covid restrictions). If interviews are by Zoom then the interviewers are also likely to meet some candidates face-to-face before a final decision is made.
Befriending Co-ordinator: We are working on the paperwork for this post and will circulate it when ready in the New Year. In the meantime, please bear with us as some things will unfortunately be delayed for a while, particularly plans for the next training course and new befriending matches for women.
Thank you for your help.
with best wishes for peace and joy at Christmas and hopefully a return to a more normal way of life and face-to-face interaction at some point in the new year
Link to Operation Noah November Newsletter
Faith and Justice Commission
I hope you will be able to take the time to read and share the newsletter.
The newsletter can be downloaded at
Reports and newsletters mentioned in this issue are available at http://www.lancasterfaithandjustice.co.uk/newsletter/
Peace & best wishes
Administrator Lancaster Diocesan Faith& Justice Commission
St Bernadette’s Parish House, Bowerham Road Lancaster LA1 4HT
E: email@example.com Office T: 07885809935 M:07864012385
Please note that the F&J Office number has changed
Clingfilmed coconuts? Shrink-wrapped turnips? Cauliflower 'steaks' in plastic bags?
Many of us have experienced the frustration of unpacking our weekly shop and finding we're filling our fridges, rubbish bins and recycling with pointless plastic - and it's no surprise when supermarkets are producing 800,000 tonnes of plastic a year!
Enough is enough. Will you help expose supermarkets' ridiculous packaging practices?
1. Next time you spot some excessive plastic packaging, take a photo.
2. If you use Twitter, tweet the photo using #PointlessPlastic (don't forget to tag the supermarket too!)
3. If you don't use Twitter, you can either post it on another social media channel (like Facebook or Instagram) or alternatively email your picture to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post it for you!
Some people are concerned that plastic is necessary to reduce food waste - but a new study has shown that in some cases it might actually be making the problem worse.
When plastic packaging requires food to be a specific size or shape, edible food is rejected because it doesn't look the right way.
And whilst some people need pre-prepared fruit and vegetables because of mobility issues, no one needs them to be provided in plastic.
If hundreds of us share these pictures of pointless plastic packaging online, together we can show supermarkets that their use of plastic is out of control, and that their customers have had enough.
'Unwrapped: How throwaway plastic is failing to solve Europe's food waste problem (and what we need to do instead)'
Link to Green Peace video clip on reusable energy
Statements by the Columban Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation team added to our [Position Statements] page
The Birmingham Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission is funded by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and is a member of the Caritas - Archdiocese of Birmingham Network