Justice and Peace group

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 June.  This page is attempt to keep group informed about the issues we might have considered at meetings.

Contents:  Season of Creation 2020
                   Migrants and Refugees 
                  Fairtrade  including   Traidcraft September magazine
                Palestine/Issues including   Embrace September magazine 



You can find out more on  https://seasonofcreation.org/

A Prayer for Our Earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
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.

Double rainbow in Wrangell-St Elias National Park, Alaska, by Eric Rolph – Wiki Image


The presidents of CEC, the Conference of European Churches, (CEC) and the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences,(CCEE) have released a joint statement ahead of the Season of Creation 2020. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, CCEE President, and Rev. Christian Krieger, CEC President, are inviting the continent’s Christians to celebrate the Season of Creation this year under the heading of Jubilee for the Earth.
“From 1 September to 4 October, Christians all over the world celebrate the Season of Creation, as well as the Day of Creation on 1 September. Following the tradition from previous years, in CEC and CCEE, we have taken advantage of this occasion and have encouraged our Member Churches in Europe to acknowledge these days to celebrate the richness of our faith as an expression to protect our common home.
The values of Season of Creation go back to the roots of the Christian faith. Creation is a gift of God for mankind and for all living beings. It is therefore our responsibility to protect it as good and reliable stewards, and as faithful servants of God. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it,” (Psalm 24:1).
Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si’ underlined that “the urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development.” At the same time, he strongly appealed “for a new dialogue about how  we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
Similarly, one of the significant theologians of our era, Jurgen Moltmann, has made it clear that “today the theological adversary is the nihilism practiced in our dealings with nature” and called for “a discernment of the God, who is present in creation through his Holy Spirit,” a discernment that “can bring men and women to reconciliation and peace with nature.”

Celebrating the Day of Creation and the Season of Creation has a significant ecumenical dimension. While celebrating these days, we look back and give thanks for the proposal of the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I in 1989. Since that time, the idea of the Season of Creation and its ecumenical spirit has been further confirmed by the European Ecumenical Assemblies organised jointly by CEC and CCEE in Basel 1989, Graz 1997 and Sibiu 2007.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how deeply the globe is interconnected. We realised more than ever that we are not isolated from each other and that conditions related to human health and well-being are fragile. Impact of the pandemic forces us to take seriously the need for vigilance and the need for conditions of sustainable life throughout the earth. This is even more important when considering the environmental devastation and the threat of climate change.
We invite you to celebrate the Season of Creation this year under the heading of Jubilee for the Earth. The concept of Jubilee is rooted in the Bible and underlines that there must exist a just and sustainable balance between social, economic and ecological realities. The lesson from the biblical concept of jubilee points us towards the need to restore balance in the very systems of life, affirming the need for equality, justice and sustainability and confirming the need for a prophetic voice in defence of our common home.”

‘You will declare the fiftieth year holy and you will proclaim the liberation in the earth for all its inhabitants. It will be a jubilee for you’ (Lv 25,10)

Dear brothers and sisters,
Every year, particularly since the publication of the Encyclical Letter Laudato si ‘ ( LS , 24 May 2015), the first day of September marks the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation for the Christian family, with which the Time of Creation begins, which ends on 4 October, in memory of St Francis of Assisi. In this period, Christians throughout the world renew their faith in God the Creator and unite in a special way in prayer and action for the safeguard of the common home.
I am pleased that the theme chosen by the ecumenical family for the celebration of the Season  of Creation 2020 is “Jubilee for the Earth”, precisely in the year in which the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day occurs. Full text of the message can be read on: https://www.indcatholicnews.com/news/40357

This is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through repenting, repairing, and rejoicing together. During the Season of Creation  (sometimes called Creation Time)  we join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family throughout the world in prayer and action for our common home.  This year, amid crises that have shaken our world, we’re awakened to the urgent need to heal our relationships with creation and each other.  The Season of Creation unites the world’s 2.2 billion Christians around one shared purpose. With so much injustice all around us, now is the time for Christians everywhere to come together and show the world how to love each other and creation. This year’s theme is …..

                JUBILEE OF THE EARTH : New Rhythms, New Hope

Climate change is a result of greed, inequality and destruction of God’s Earth. The theme of Jubilee is chosen for this year’s Season of Creation as it reflects those three interlocking themes. Jubilee is a time to renounce overconsumption and economic systems based on constant economic growth at the cost of the Earth and those who are poor. Jubilee is a time when those who have consumed the most must make restitution to those who have suffered the most. Jubilee is a time of rest for the land from constant exploitation, to restore ecosystems and people.

The concept of Jubilee is rooted in the holy wisdom that there must exist a just and sustainable balance between social, economic and ecological realities. When one variable is exploited to maximize growth of another, the whole system will eventually suffer. When one part of the Earth community is stressed, every part is affected.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated this reality on a global scale. While the experience of living with the COVID-19 outbreak points back to this need to maintain justice, the lessons that we learn may point us towards the need for a Jubilee and motivate us to restore balance to the very systems that sustain life. View the weekly videos produced for the season here   columbans+jubilee+for+the+earth+youtube+videos&safe

The latest in WWF’s flagship research series, the Living Planet Report, shows that our planet’s wildlife populations have now plummeted by 68% since 1970 – and there are no signs that this downward trend is slowing.
Visit https://livingplanet.panda.org/en-gb/ for a summary of the report,
If you missed the BBC 1 programme: EXTINCTION – THE FACTS on Sunday evening I do recommend it.



Moria refugee camp, Lesbos, Greece, Sept 2020 after the fire

A dozen global and regional religious organisations, including the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) released an advocacy statement on the situation of migrants and refugees in Europe that defines their calling as Christians to “welcome the stranger,” and urges the creation of a world in which “we become human together.”

“Solidarity should be the guiding principle governing migration and particularly refugee reception,” the statement says. “We expect the EU to reject the discourse and politics of fear and deterrence, and to adopt a principled stance and compassionate practice based on the fundamental values on which the EU is founded.”

The consortium presented the statement before the EU Commission on 23 September as the commission presented the new Migration Pact.

“Our organisations represent churches throughout Europe and globally, as well as church-based agencies particularly concerned with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers,” the statement reads. “As Christian organisations we are deeply committed to the inviolable dignity of the human person created in the image of God, as well as to the concepts of the common good, of global solidarity and of the promotion of a society that welcomes strangers, cares for those fleeing danger, and protects the vulnerable.”

The statement refers to the recent fire at the Moria camp, which left 13,000 migrants without a home  and to the exacerbrated conditions caused by CORVID-19.    Read the full statement: www.ceceurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20-9-_joint-Advocacy-statement-on-situation-of-migrants-and-refugees-in-Europe_Final.pdf

JUNE 15 -21 
The theme for Refugee Week this year is IMAGINE. With the current Covid-19 pandemic it is relevant more than ever to explore our imaginations. When we are stuck and don’t know where to turn, using our imagination to picture something new to take a step forward is sometimes the best response
Manchester Libraries have an amazing lineup of great events for Refugee Week 2020:    https://manclibraries.blog/2020/06/11/refugee-week-15-20th-june-2020/     

On Tuesday    Manya Alkhmri  shows us how we can use basic craft tools and some things you might find around the house to make your own hand printed cards using styrofoam sheets. Manya works mainly in sculpture but runs workshops across the city in everything from making self portraits in clay to lithography and mosaics.

Thursday 18 June   Kate Milner children’s author is doing a special reading of  her award winning book My Name Is Not Refugee. This powerful story details the journey of a little boy with his mother to seek refuge in another country. Kate offers us an insight into her story and illustrations and explains the journey of refugees very well to young readers.


 10 short films from the library archives  to help us understand life as a refugee ( 1 -5  new up today) 

  1. Hanadi, 17, tells us about her life in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. https://youtu.be/uZMXv7WU8ME

  2. 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

  3. 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      

  4. 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

  5.   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.

This beautiful poem, ‘Trees of Home’ – by refugees at the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants in collaboration with Sita Brahmachari and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – speaks to the heartbreak of being separated from loved ones. Even after lockdown many refugee families will still be apart due to unfair UK rules. The Home Office must bring #familiestogether again. #refugeeweek2020


With 2020 set to be the hottest year on record here in the UK, it’s those who contribute least to climate change, who are suffering the most dangerous effects of it.

Extreme flooding left a third of Bangladesh underwater this year. In this edition you’ll hear direct from our team in Bangladesh about the impact of the ongoing climate crisis on vulnerable communities.

We hope you’ll be inspired by all you read here. Most importantly, we hope you’ll be proud of the real and tangible impact your support is having on the world’s most vulnerable people – helping them to get the support they need to earn a fair wage for their hard work.

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


On September 19th  Sabeel-Kairos held their virtual conference .  You can catch up here:http://www.sabeel-kairos.org.uk/category/news-and-events/sabeel-kairos-conference-2020/

Sabeel-Kairos is a small and energetic Christian UK charity committed to supporting peace and justice in the Holy Land.  We are a network of individuals, organisations and communities of all backgrounds across the UK who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people by promoting and advocating on the messages of Kairos Palestine and Sabeel Jerusalem. Our group joined several years ago.

Palestinian families are being forced out of their homes, watch their houses and villages being destroyed and become refugees.

Ilham and two of her children, Talin (8) and Raghad (5) stand outside the twisted remains of their former house in al-Walajeh. The home was demolished by the Israeli authorities in September 2018.



Mr Netanyahu and Mr Gantz signed  at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, as Israel remained in near-total lockdown.

“I promised the State of Israel a national emergency government that will act to save the lives and livelihoods of Israeli citizens,” Mr Netanyahu tweeted afterwards.
Mr Gantz wrote: “We have prevented a fourth election. We will protect democracy. We will fight coronavirus and care for all Israel’s citizens.”
HIDDEN WITHIN THE DEAL – THE ANNEXATION OF WEST BANK.  This Unity deal also allows PM Netanyahu to begin advancing West Bank annexation from July 1. The move must be carried out in full cooperation with US, which has all but given its blessing already; can be advanced through cabinet or Knesset, where right enjoys clear majority.
According to clause 29 of the deal, Netanyahu “will be able to bring the agreement reached with the US on the application of sovereignty [in the West Bank]… for the approval of the cabinet and/or the Knesset starting July 1, 2020.”

DURING MAY many different groups registered their protests to this

MAY 1ST  LETTER FROM 127 BRITISH POLITICIANS  from all parties written to the British Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary urging them to make clear publicly to Israel that any annexation of occupied Palestinian territory “will have severe consequences including sanctions”. 



Full report  from Iona Community Common Concern Networks  17th May, 2020:

e-Coracle May 2020




Picture : The Aida Refugee Camp – Bethlehem

A report from Ann Farr who is a Pax Christi Executive Member and a Member of the Pax Christi International Israel/Palestine Working Group.

15 May 2020 – Palestinians all over the world, commemorate The Nakba, The Catastrophe. It is the day when in 1948  the Israeli State was established, without any declared borders and Palestinians were dispossessed.  The human cost of this plan was, and still is, very high. More than 200,000 Palestinians were dispossessed of their properties between 1947 and 1948 and in 1948 a further 55,000-600,000. Over 400 Palestinian villages were completely depopulated or destroyed and 800,000 Palestinians became refugees.

When we visit refugee camps in the West Bank we meet fourth generation refugees, young people, who will tell us which villages their families are from. In their homes many have a tin in which they keep a large, precious key, the one that opened the door of the house that was left in 1948. They are not allowed to visit those homes or their land. They have no right of return and have never received any compensation for all that they have lost.

Our visits show us that the Nakba is on-going, the loss of land, house demolitions, the detentions without trial, the imprisonment and torture of children, the daily Israeli military and settler attacks on villages and family homes has increased drastically, even in the last few months. Israel’s Separation Barriers imprison communities in large sections of the West Bank and hundreds of checkpoints deny them access to hospitals, schools and universities, to worship and to visit their families. These are all experiences which we will recognise from the last six weeks. For Palestinians, this has been their experience for 72 years!

The call from Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers is for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza. Nora Carmi from Jerusalem, a Pax Christi International Board Member, says: “Will the international world continue to keep silent or will it take action to end our on-going Nakba?”  Zoughbi Zoughbi, Director of Wi’am Conflict Transformation Centre in Bethlehem says: “Our message to the world is, enough is enough. As much as we believe in life after death, we want to live our life before death, echoing what Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.’ We want to celebrate life with you all. Please don’t let us down.

SCARCITY OF WATER   – FRIENDS OF THE HOLY LAND (FGHL) REPORT:  Lack of water is one of the major daily problems faced by our Brothers and Sisters in the West Bank. Families in Bethlehem get access to fresh water just once every 25 days. The public water supply system is in very poor shape. Existing back up water tanks on many roofs are also old and rusted, particularly in older towns such as Bethlehem. Water carried in tanker lorries is often contaminated. As a result, more than 40% of children suffer from chronic diarrhoea and other diseases related to lack of water and hygiene.
    Now with the Coronavirus, when handwashing and hygiene are more important than ever, access to clean water is even more important. FHL is working in partnership with Pro Terra Sancta and, with the help of local tradespeople, has already installed 20 water tanks and solar panels for Christian families in the Bethlehem area.

     FHL operates an office in Bethlehem to support vulnerable Christians. In addition to meeting their direct emergency needs, when families fall into financial difficulty, FHL’s team in Bethlehem also work with other partner agencies to support vulnerable Christians with medical costs and school fees. Both of which can be very expensive often accounting for as much as a quarter of a normal households yearly income.
    Friends of the Holy Land have two major projects in Bethlehem, School of Joy providing education and therapy to disabled children and St Martha’s House which is a day centre for elderly women, mainly widows or those whose family have emigrated. FHL also provide long term support to St Luke’s Hospital in Nablus, by supporting a medical exemption fund for the local Christian population.
For more information see: www.friendsoftheholyland.org.uk/home

The catastrophic explosion in Beirut has come as a massive and totally unexpected body blow to a people, and an economy, struggling for survival.

Embrace happens to be one of very few UK based Christian charities working with partners in Lebanon; something we have been doing for over a hundred years. That’s why this issue of the Embrace magazine is focused on Lebanon.    https://www.embraceme.org/magazine