The Churches Together Justice and Peace Group was formed in 1998 and has been meeting regularly ever since to discuss issues and plan events that can inform our local community. Like everything else this ended with Lockdown in March. Then sadly the Chair of the group, Maureen Matthews died in August. This page is attempt to keep group informed about the issues we might have considered at meetings
SEASON OF CREATION SEPTEMBER 1 – OCTOBER 4
The starts on Wednesday September 1st with the WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION
A PRAYER FOR OUR EARTH for use throughout the season
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exist
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen
(Pope Francis Laudato Si’ page 179)
COP 26 The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. If you are not sure what it is this government publication is helpful.. COP26-Explained
MESS members have been expressing their hopes to the government on youtube. This has be sent to the Prime Minister, various government members and our MP. https://tinyurl.com/yhmx3yxh
The National Justice and Peace Network (NJPN) Conference 2021 on the theme: “2021: Moment of Truth – Action for Life on Earth” was held at the Hayes Centre Swanick on 23-25 July – 100 days before COP26
Green Christian Report:
The chant: “We come together for our common home”, ran through the liturgies at this year’s annual NJPN conference of the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales (NJPN). It attracted 200 participants, including many Green Christian members, to Swanwick Conference Centre in Derbyshire for the first face to face meeting – albeit through masks – of Justice and Peace activists from every diocese since the pandemic started. More pictures and report of speakers at the conference on https://greenchristian.org.uk/green-christian-at-njpn-conference-2021-we-come-together-for-our-common-home/
More videos of the weekend on NJPN Youtube Channel here
Contents: Nuclear Weapons Treaty
Environmental issues including MESS
Migrants and Refugees
Peace Issues – Palestine/Holy Land
TREATY ON PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS TREATY
On Friday 22 January 2021 the Treaty which was ratified in October 2020 came into force. Many churches have already voiced their support for the treaty. Stockport for Peace are encouraging indivdual faith leaders to sign a pledge of their support and send it to the Prime Minister . ICN Faith Pledge They suggested the following:
The pledge can be adapted – eg, removing reference to Stockport for Peace email if wished.
It might be most effective if sent directly to relevant MPs and local Councillors.
If this is done, could we (SfP) be kept informed so we can keep a record
Printing out and posting can be more effective than email attachments (esp to MPs)
A photo would be good, especially if we could be sent a copy, but also to use as wish (in parish magazines maybe).
The aim is to get more people aware of the TPNW and to win Councillors over to support it so that the Stockport Council will agree a resolution to that effect – and join other Councils in doing so.
For more information : email@example.com
CHURCHES SUPPORT THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS TREATY
Many Christian traditions and denominations in the UK have supported the idea of a Treaty to ban nuclear weapons for some time. The Baptist Church, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and Quakers have long-standing positions opposing nuclear weapons and have welcomed the Treaty. https://christiancnd.org.uk/ban/
Anglican Bishops sign historic letter on UN Nuclear Weapons Treaty.
More than 30 Church of England bishops, including the archbishops of Canterbury and York, have put their names to a public letter urging the UK government to sign the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons which was ratified recently and comes into force in January 2021.
The letter was published in The Observer on Friday, 13 November 2020. Read the full text follows:
A joint statement from the Catholic Bishops of England & Wales and Scotland has called on the UK Government to “forsake its nuclear arsenal” and to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,
The statement quotes from a message from Pope Francis’ to the UN calling the complete elimination of nuclear weapons a “moral and humanitarian imperative”. It also urges the UK to “strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.”
The full text of the statement is shown below:
Statement on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
On Friday 22 January 2021 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force. This is a historic milestone on the path to nuclear disarmament and an opportunity to refocus on genuine peacebuilding rooted in dialogue, justice, respect for human dignity, and care for our planet.
In setting out the “moral and humanitarian imperative” for complete elimination of nuclear weapons, Pope Francis reminded us that “international peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation.”
We urge support for the Treaty and repeat our call for the UK to forsake its nuclear arsenal. The resources spent on manufacturing, maintaining and upgrading these weapons of mass destruction, should be reinvested to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, for the Common Good of all peoples.
At the same time, we implore the government to strengthen its arms control regulations, tackling the manufacture and sale of other weaponry, which continues to destroy so many lives throughout the world.
Above all we pray: “Lord, Father of our human family, you created all human beings equal in dignity; pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit. Move us to create healthier societies and a more dignified world, a world without hunger, poverty, violence and war.”
Bishop of Clifton Chair, International Affairs Department, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Bishop of Galloway Commission for Justice and Peace, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
+William Kenney Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham
 Message to the UN conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination (23 March 2017) vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/pont-messages/2017/documents/papa-francesco_20170323_messaggio-onu.html
 Statement on nuclear weapons (4 August 2020) cbcew.org.uk/statement-on-nuclear-weapons/
 Fratelli Tutti vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20201003_enciclica-fratelli-tutti.html
BACKGROUND On Saturday October 24th 2020 the treaty making nuclear weapons illegal was finally ratified at the United Nations. The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) opened for signature three years ago. The treaty needed 50 countries to ratify it before it before it could come into force. On Saturday night that milestone was reached. The Treaty will now officially enter into force on January 22nd after 50 countries ratified the agreement, with a further 84 signing.
The terms of the TPNW only apply to the countries that have signed and ratified the agreement. Although the nine nuclear-armed states ( US, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) currently state they will not support it, the treaty is a significant pointer towards changing international attitudes to nuclear weapons. Previous treaties prohibiting chemical and biological weapons helped to stigmatise them in the minds of the public. This is now taking place with nuclear weapons. see https://www.icanw.org/the_treaty
UK STOCKPILE OF NUCLEAR WARHEADS TO INCREASE 196 to 260
Christian CND writes…The publication of the Integrated Review of Defence and Security Policy has confirmed that the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile will increase to 260 by the middle of the decade, ending over 30 years of gradually declining stockpile numbers.
Christian CND will be joining other faith groups and broader civil society in opposing these plans. They hope you will join them as they continue to work and pray for a nuclear weapons-free world. https://christiancnd.org.uk/
YOU ARE INVITED TO SIGN A PETITION TO THE PRIMEMINISTER https://cnd.eaction.org.uk/timetoscraptridentnow
MESS is now meeting monthly on zoom. Most activities are not possible at present. But members of the group are writing articles to keep us informed. For more details see http://marplemess.org.uk/
Latest May News MESS news May2021
TAKE CLIMATE CHANGE MORE SERIOUSLY
The Rt Hon Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer), chair of the UK’s committee on climate change, told an online gathering to the Catholic Union on March 23rd that Catholics must take climate change more seriously, following the inspirational lead of Pope Francis in ‘Laudato Si’ and in the context of November’s UN Climate talks in Glasgow. Report of his talk https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41845
Listen to talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKIR9MZrhKs
MARY COLWELL, producer and writer with a zeal for the natural world, shares her passion for one feature of creation in particular: the Eurasian Curlew. Below you’ll find her video (with a soundtrack from co-producer and Platinum-selling singer-song-writer David Gray).
You can find out more about Mary, her latest book and her love of the curlew http://www.curlewmedia.com/
FASHION REVOLUTION WEEK 19 -25 APRIL 202
This week happens every year in the week surrounding the 24th of April. This date is the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse.
Rana Plaza, a building in Bangladesh, housed a number of garment factories, employing around 5,000 people. The people in this building were manufacturing clothing for many of the biggest global fashion brands. More than 1,100 people died in the collapse and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. The victims were mostly young women. Click on https://www.fashionrevolution.org/
LIVE FAIR FOR LENT
a zoom evening organised by Marple URC on March 22nd.
Matt Oliver from Traidcraft shared 40 things about Fairtrade to know or to do. He passed on his power point presentation but it is too big to put on the website . If you would like a copy email firstname.lastname@example.org
Some things mentioned :
Fair Palm https://www.traidcraft.co.uk/fairpalm
Reducing plastic – all traidcraft sweets and chocolate wrapped in compostable packaging
Fairtrade: jams and spreads https://www.jts.co.uk/ www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/food/store-cupboard/jams-spreads
and now facemasks www.traidcraftshop.co.uk/search/?q=face%20covering
FAIRTRADE FORTNIGHT Feb 22 – March 7 Join our global community during Fairtrade Fortnight 2021 for a free festival of online events and activities to entertain, educate and inspire us all TO CHOOSE THE WORLD WE WANT TO SEE
Catch up on two events held in the week:
HOW IS THE CLIMATE CRISIS IMPACTING THE GLOBAL FOOD SUPPLY Monday 22 February https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDL5ouiHMP8
FAIRTRADE IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC AND CLIMATE CRISIS Tuesday 23rd February
Two interesting case studies were described –
Farmers Biting Back At The Climate Crisis With Fairtrade Cocoa link here
Better In A Bunch: Fairtrade Banana Farmers Weathering The Storm Together
FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION OPPOSES ‘SHORT-SIGHTED’ CUT TO UK AID BUDGET
Reacting to the announcement that UK aid will be cut to 0.5% of GNI in 2021, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, Mike Gidney, said: ‘We are strongly opposed to this deep cut to UK aid, which threatens any hopes for a truly ‘global Britain’. We have seen first-hand this year the devastating impact of this pandemic on some of the world’s poorest farmers and workers. At the same time, Hurricanes Eta and Iota have devastated parts of Central America this month, crippling food production on which we all depend and stripping away livelihoods from thousands of Fairtrade farmers at a stroke.
‘Now is not the time to be withdrawing our support which is meeting urgent needs and helping provide opportunity and a way out of poverty, as well as shoring up the supply of goods on which we rely in the UK.’
IS FAIRTRADE FINISHED?
KitKat has severed its ties with Fairtrade, despite the organisation behind the scheme warning that thousands of farmers would be hit by the move. The boss of Fairtrade said Nestle’s decision to cut its 10-year association with the non-profit organisation was “profoundly disappointing”. The Swiss owned food giant said it would now source its cocoa for KitKat bars from farms on the Rainforest Alliance terms instead of working with those Fairtrade accreditation. See https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/ under NEWS
This is the latest of several companies to leave the Fairtrade scheme and set up their own alternatives. In 2017 Sainsburys announced it was moving away from Fairtrade labelling for its own brand tea and would use its own scheme to guarantee a good price for suppliers.
To read the back ground to this, Samanth Subranmanian wrote a very helpful article last July for the Guardian
Thanks to Pauline Howell for drawing my attention to this
CUTS TO AID BUDGET CONDEMMNED
The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury have joined forces to condemn cuts to the UK’s Aid budget that will do “real damage” to Yemen, Syria and South Sudan and other countries in crisis.
The government has said it would not meet the 0.7% target in the coming financial year and spending will be cut to 0.5% of national income – a move that would save about £4bn a year.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Justin Welby told the Evening Standard that “balancing the books during a pandemic on the backs of the world’s poorest is not acceptable.” They stress that “we must not walk by on the other side.”
Read the full text and government comments here https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41932
THE PANDEMIC IS EXPOSING CRUELTY OF GOVERNMENT SOCIAL SECURITY POLICIES. 1,300,000 UK children live in poverty Bernadette Meaden Independent Catholic News Dec 15th, 2020
The government recently increased the UK’s defence budget substantially, citing the duty of a government to protect its people. In a winter of rising unemployment, the real and imminent threats we face are poverty, hunger, homelessness and the mental and physical anguish they bring – but far from strengthening our defences against those threats, the party of government has spent ten years dismantling them.
The economic crisis we now face is exposing the cruelty of a decade of Conservative welfare policies. These policies were always wrong, they were always causing suffering, but as more and more people feel their impact they are becoming more widely understood and deplored.
Read the full article on https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/41123
Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement.
MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
REFUGEE WEEK JUNE 14 – 20
The theme this year is ‘We cannot walk alone’
There is a moment in Martin Luther King’s historic ‘I have a dream’ speech when he turns his attention to the White people who, realising their destiny and that of their Black fellow citizens was intertwined, joined the movement for equal rights. “They have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom,” he said. “We cannot walk alone.” Martin Luther King may have been speaking during the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, but his words resonate across space and time. Here in the UK and across the world today, we know that it is only by coming together that we will move forward. That when we choose to walk side by side, to share networks and resources, or make space for others to lead, we create deeper and longer-lasting change than is possible alone.
SIMPLE ACTS The theme of Refugee Week 2021, ‘We Cannot Walk Alone’, is an invitation to extend your hand to someone new. Someone who is outside your current circle, has had an experience you haven’t, or is fighting for a cause you aren’t yet involved in. You could do one or more of the 8 SIMPLE ACTS: sing a song, watch a film, have a chat, read a bok, say it loud, play a game, walk together, join a movement see with suggestions for each act. https://refugeeweek.org.uk/simple-acts/
Jesuit Refugees Service new report: BEING HUMAN IN THE ASYLUM SYSTEM calls for a re-orientation of our whole approach to people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Being Human sets out four key principles for a just and person-centred asylum system:
1. a focus on protection and transparency at the heart of the determination process;
2. borders open to those in need of protection;
3. a context where asylum claimants and refugees can live in dignity and fully participate in social, economic, and political life;
4. a society that welcomes, protects, promotes and integrates those seeking sanctuary as neighbours.
It builds on over three years of JRS UK research conducted with refugees, and comes out of collaboration with Dr Anna Rowlands. A key piece of work on which it draws is For our welfare and not for our harm, authored by Dr Rowlands. Refugees’ desire for a system that is for their welfare, and not their harm, was a foundational theme in Dr Rowlands’ research, and important to Being Human. It includes a critique of the current asylum system, excoriating the hostile environment, culture of disbelief, and use of detention within it. It relays refugees’ accounts of being profoundly traumatised within the asylum system and echoes their call for justice.
They also include numerous measures that would make it harder for sanctuary seekers to gain recognition as refugees. They follow widespread condemnation of the hostile environment and culture of disbelief after it was revealed to have destroyed the lives of numerous ‘Windrush’ citizens.
Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK said, “We need an asylum system rooted in a sense of shared humanity,
“It is possible to make the asylum system work. But we have to be prepared to really listen to people who are asking for sanctuary. That begins with dropping our sense of suspicion and letting go of the false assumption that everyone in need is trying to steal something that is ‘ours’.
“An asylum system that enshrines protection and transparency at its heart and enables those seeking asylum to flourish would foster such values for everyone. We need to stop treating this as a zero-sum game and recognise that everyone benefits from a culture that values human dignity and promotes welcome with genuine openness.” Read the full report https://www.jrsuk.net/being-human
We encourage everyone to engage with the forthcoming Immigration Bill as it passes through parliament.
Write to your MP, ask them to support a protection focused asylum system that values human dignity, and express your concerns about the government’s ‘New Plan for Immigration’. Refugee charity Asylum Welcome have published a handy guide on writing to your MP about this issue which you can download here https://www.asylum-welcome.org/
Find out more about the new plan for immigration in summary published by Freedom From Torture here
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 27th WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
10 short films from the library archives to help us understand life as a refugee
Hanadi, 17, tells us about her life in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. https://youtu.be/uZMXv7WU8ME
When you don’t exist is Amnesty International’s campaign for the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in Europe and at its borders. https://youtu.be/_OUpsWCvE38
Hiba Al Nabolsi, age 10, a refugee from Syria, at a center in Macedonia where UNICEF helps tells her story https://youtu.be/7QVmXX62_H0
Little Hamze was uprooted from his home in Mosul, Iraq when ISIS swept through the area in 2014. Now, he and his father have made it to Idomeni, Greece where they await safe passage to Germany and hope to be able to send for Hamze’s mother and sister. https://youtu.be/tkkVnQEB1mE
Short Animation -Help refugees and asylum seekers
6 .Filmmaker Lior Sperandeo captures the raw emotion of life as a refugee. According to the UN, 865,000 refugees and migrants reached Greece by sea in 2015. See a harrowing landing in this striking short film that captures the poignant story of Syrian people seeking safety and those that come to their aid.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiujzFNgHcE
7. The refugee crisis isn’t just a story on the news – it’s happening here and it’s happening now https://youtu.be/nKDgFCojiT8
8. This film project documents an extraordinary project in which five people from the Netherlands and Belgium were brought into a state of hypnosis, so they could gain deeper insight into the journey of a Syrian refugee. Under the guidance of a professional hypnotherapist, the participants experienced the journey of 29-year-old Marwa, from Syria, as she made her way to safety to the Netherlands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8pJKs4u_Q8
9. Twenty years ago, psychologist Arthur Aron discovered that four minutes of looking into each other’s eyes can bring people closer. Using this discovery, Amnesty International Poland decided to carry out a simple experiment where refugees and Europeans sat opposite each other and looked into each other’s eyes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By_BHbskg_E
10.Hanadi, 17, tells us about her life in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
Thank you to Pauline Howell for drawing my attention to this information.
ACADEMICS COLLABORATE ON PALESTINIAN ART EXHIBITION
The plight of Palestinian children living in the West Bank has been laid bare in a new exhibition depicting the young people’s heart-rending artwork.
The collection, Hope and Resistance: Through Palestinian Children’s Eyes, has been curated by academics at Liverpool Hope University
More details of the project, and the artwork, are available here
Art gallery pictures here: https://hopeforpalestine.co.uk/childrens-art/
18th-25th September WORLD WEEK FOR PEACE IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL 2021 Theme: ‘Forced Displacement of Palestinians’ “The World Council of Churches (WCC) annual World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel offers an opportunity for all of us who share the hope of justice and peace in the Holy Land to unite around the globe in solidarity and peaceful action, and to create a common international public witness,” reflects WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca.
September 20th 2- 3 pm WCC webinar With families in East Jerusalem facing growing threats of forced evictions and displacement this webinar will shed light on the key issues at stake, currently and historically. https://www.oikoumene.org/news/wcc-to-host-webinar-on-forced-displacement-of-palestinians-from-east-jerusalem
What we can do this week:
1. Pray for those who have been forcibly displaced, for those working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel Use the Pax Christi Prayer Card which depicts photos of demolitions in the West Bank and has a prayer from Jan Sutch Pickard Download the prayer card here WWPPI
2. Read and sign up to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) eye-witness blogs at https://www.eyewitnessblogs.com/
3. Watch a short film, ‘Eyewitness’ about EAPPI showing accompaniment in action https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/eappi
4.Share and take action in solidarity with Palestinians facing eviction, displacement and violence https://www.eyewitnessblogs.com/take-action/
5.Campaign to ensure Dioceses and Council Pension Funds are not investing in the occupation of Palestine and that they invest ethically. Details here
CONNECTING BIBLE NARRATIVE WITH CURRENT REALITIES IN THE HOLY LAND
This Easter initiative by the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) sets out to connect the Biblical narrative with current realities in Palestine and Israel, to spotlight the injustices of life under occupation.
Taking stock of a series of geographical sites as described in the Bible as part of Jesus’ life, the initiative will provide opportunities for reflection on what life in those same geographical sites looks like today, both as holy sites treasured by local communities, and in view of the injustices caused by military occupation.
Through biblical reflection, prayer, advocacy engagement, and feature material highlighting present-day experiences in these sites, churches and partners around the world are invited to engage with the different narratives around Easter, also together with their local communities.
The objective is to raise awareness of the current situation in the places referred to in the Easter narrative among a wide constituency of Christians globally, and to promote stronger engagement in the search for a just peace among Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land. In 2021, materials highlight four emblematic sites for the Easter narrative: The road from Jericho to Jerusalem; Bethany; the Mount of Olives; and the Holy Sepulchre.
‘WEAPONISATION OF TECHNOLOGY’ is driving explosion of religious hatred
Persecution of faith groups has drastically increased in more than 95 percent of the world’s worst-offending countries – according to a report out on 20th April highlighting how new tech is being used to crush religious freedom.
The Religious Freedom in the World Report 2021 (RFR) produced by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), found that, over the past two years, oppression against vulnerable faith communities has increased in all but one of the 26 countries listed in the survey’s worst (‘red’) category. The report, which covers all 196 countries worldwide, traced the rise of transnational Islamist networks, including an online “cyber-caliphate”, which is “expanding globally and is now a tool of online recruitment and radicalisation”.
The full Religious Freedom in the World Report can be accessed online at: www.acninternational.org/religiousfreedomreport
LIFE WITHOUT A SAFETY NET: What it means to be a refugee
Egypt hosts more than 256,000 registered asylum-seekers and refugees from 56 different countries mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt are largely concentrated in Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Damietta, and several towns on the North Coast. In recent years, Egypt’s challenging economic conditions have considerably increased the vulnerability of both refugees and host community members. Our Partner organization Refuge Egypt, a ministry of the Anglican Church in Egypt, provides immediate support in the form of food parcels and clothing for newly arrived refugees, as well as offering employment training and job placements to help them find their place in Egyptian society, as well medical care and treatment for those with chronic conditions or complicated pregnancies. Read the full report https://embraceme.org/blog/life-as-a-refugee
EMBRACE MIDDLE EAST latest magazine here 39621+Embrace+Magazine+March+2021+STG6
Their Annual Lecture this year was given online by John McCarthy – you can watch it here https://embraceme.org/find-out-more
A GARDEN TOUR of the Bethlehem Palestine Museum of Natural History. It features the gardens, animals, sustainable growing practices and much more. The film is narrated by Mazin Qumsiyeh the founder of the museum.