Put People First: Church unites to join march

Joint Church press release: 19 March 2009

Church leaders will join campaigners in London at the front of a march for jobs, justice and climate – ahead of next month’s G20 economic summit

The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, Father Joe Komakoma of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia, and Joel Edwards of Micah Challenge International will also be taking part in an ecumenical service at Central Hall, Westminster on Saturday 28 March.

The Rt Revd Dr Richard Chartres said: “As global leaders gather in London, it is crucial that the world’s poorest communities are not forgotten.

“The Put People First service and rally is our opportunity to make the case for a global society that is committed to tackling poverty, injustice and climate change with the aim of creating a brighter future for the many and not just the few.”

The joint action service being promoted by Tearfund, CAFOD, Micah Challenge and The Salvation Army – among many other church-based groups – will add a message of hope through seeking justice in the outcomes at stake such as job security and a greener economy.

Some 2000 Christians from all denominations will put God at the centre of their focus as the day calls for world leaders to put people first when they work to re-build a better economy.

“We need a world economy to be fairer, safer and greener if all in society are to benefit,” says Paul Cook, Tearfund’s Advocacy Director.

“G20 leaders have a chance in London to build justice into tired and failed banking systems. They have a chance to lift the poorest towards better livelihoods with stronger economies in their countries.

“And leaders have the chance to build economic policy that sustains the environment to limit the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable communities. This is the change we need, because cope they can’t.”

The Revd Joel Edwards says every step to eradicate poverty is a step towards God’s heart for the poor. “We want to set people running towards a just and better world,” says Joel.

“Putting People First is not a protest – it’s something far more significant than that. It is a reminder that millions of people expect the richest nations in the world to deliver their promise to the poor.

“And it is a reminder that we will not go away until our political will and policies live up to those promises.”

Under the banner Put People First – March for Jobs, Justice and Climate, the coalition of development agencies, unions, faith and environmental groups – over 100 organisations – will demand jobs and public services for all, an end to global poverty and inequality, and a green economy.

Representing all sectors of society affected by the global crisis they will send a message to world leaders that only just, fair and sustainable policies can lead the world out of recession.

Salvation Army Commissioner, Elizabeth Matear, said: “The church service and the march through London are a perfect opportunity to ask members of the G20 to consider the well being of the world’s most vulnerable people.

“The Salvation Army is an international movement, part of the universal Christian Church, committed to meet human need and work for social justice without discrimination.

“It is a privilege to join with the voices of many others to call for action on poverty and climate change.”

Charles Badenoch, CEO at World Vision added, “With this coalition of Christian charities all working together to unite the UK public under one message, I think it is more important than ever for us as Christians to stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side and declare in one voice, at one time, one message to end global poverty.”

The march will assemble on the Embankment en route to Hyde Park for a rally to be addressed by speakers and celebrities from the UK and around the world.

Those joining the main march from the Central Hall service will meet it as it moves through Westminster at around 12.30 and march on to Hyde Park.

The service and the Put People First March for Jobs, Justice and Climate come five days before the G20 leaders meet for the Economic Summit at the ExCel Centre in London on 2 April.

Notes to Editors:

Spokespeople will be available for media interviews. Contact Pascale Palmer 020 7095 5457 or Jonathan Spencer 07767 473516

The ecumenical service is at Central Hall, Storey’s Gate, Westminster at 11am (arrive from 10.30 – we are expecting a large turn out). Westminster or St James’s Park stations.

Speakers will include The Bishop of London, The Rt Revd Dr Richard Chartres, Revd Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, Father Joe Komakoma and Executive Director of Progressio, Christine Allen. Music will come from worship leader Andy Flannagan and Peruvian band, Kausary – adding their rhythmic campaigning energy.

March 19th, 2009 CAFOD

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