Here’s to the Joes!

Here’s to the Joes!

A guest blog from our associates, the URC


Let’s celebrate the unseen, the unremarkable and the ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things in the pursuit of social justice, says the United Reformed Church’s Secretary for Church and Society, Grace Pengelly

Reading the papers you might be tempted to conclude that the campaign for global justice is borne on the shoulders of Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney. It’s not. (Sorry Leo. Sorry George).

The Church has its well-known social justice campaigners too – many of them will be at Greenbelt this year. These individuals capture attention, highlight important issues, inspire. But they don’t carry the movement for justice on their own.

For every Christian well known enough to have a Wikipedia page, there’s a huge body of ordinary people seeking to live justly day-to-day.

Go to any United Reformed church in the UK and you are likely to find someone who donates to Commitment for Life, the URC’s world development programme run in partnership with Christian Aid and Global Justice Now. Way back in the 1970s, the URC launched its 1% appeal, encouraging members to contribute 1% of their disposable income, for life – and many did!

Because of this remarkable commitment, made by thousands of ordinary Christians in response to the needs of the World’s poorest, Commitment for Life has been able to make a transformative difference to the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, in Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Central America, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

This work didn’t happen because of appeals made by politicians, or celebrity endorsements – it happened because prayerful and faithful Christians made a commitment to act with compassion and generosity.

There’s something incredibly powerful about the Church when it speaks out with one voice on matters of injustice. That’s why if you look back on some of the most successful social justice movements of the past ten years – like Fairtrade, Jubilee 2000 or the campaign against Nestlé baby milk formula – we, the church, have been there, boycotting our favourite chocolate bars or loitering by the Traidcraft stall after a service.

For thousands of Christians, attending Greenbelt every August bank holiday forms the backbone of this lifestyle. For that one weekend a year Greenbelt provides an opportunity for us to come together and be alive to the creative, outspoken, beautiful movement that we are all part of, and – more importantly – be challenged to carry on living justly for the next 12 months.

So, here’s to the regular Joes! The silent stars! Join the URC at Boughton House this summer and discover a new cause, which needs someone just like you to take an interest.