Jubilee Debt Campaign Birmingham

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 Clipboard03Jubilee Room Houses of Parliament.

Some 80 or so MPs and campaigners were present. It was the fifteenth anniversary of Jubilee Debt Campaign (formerly Jubilee 2000)

Peter Price, Bishop of Bath and Wells, saw JDC as a movement of ordinary people. He recalled Bill Peters who had the original idea and was at time the chair of USPG while he Peter was the General Secretary. Bill had asked him for £1,000 to get the idea off the ground. Though they were sort of men, they agreed. Bill, together with Martin Dent, got the vision going. The change had come about through grass-roots action, from the bottom up. “When debts are remitted, lives are changed.” New life had been made possible thanks to the people, faith leaders and parliament.

Bhai Mohinder Singh from the Sikh Community recalled how the Sikh Scriptures spoke of there being one God and the human race being one large family; God abhors our exploiting other human beings – our own kith and kin. The different faiths could agree about the millennium goals and about the principles of compassion and love. His Sikh community held continuous days of prayer for peace and prosperity for all. A global infrastructure was required, and a just and fair financial system. There should be responsible lending and borrowing, with a proper debt work-out mechanism. He had been delighted to sign the faith leaders’ letter. There were enough resources in the world as long as people were not greedy. It was greed that led to financial crises.

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan from The Movement for Reform Judaism referred to the book of Leviticus chapter 25 verse 10 by which, in the year of Jubilee every 50 years, liberty was ensured for everyone in the land. People’s ancestral lands which might have been sold to others were then restored to them. Wealth then was seen not so much as a wealth but as a gift from God, with corresponding responsibilities to take care of the widows, the orphans and the strangers; neighbours who had become slaves were to have their liberty bought back. The same principle should be followed today through the development of some sort of international bankruptcy procedure by which indebted nations could have their situations resolved.

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference, said that organisations like JDC encouraged us to change our narrative so that politicians could change the world.

Trisha Rogers, a past Director of JDC and Vice Chair of the British Humanist Association felt honoured to be present. Humanist values, she said, included thinking for oneself with reason, empathy and compassion, respect for the individual, democracy and cooperation. Unfortunately international debt was not subject to the safeguards that applied to lending within the UK where judges could overrule repayment conditions that were unfair; international loans were often to the advantage of the lender and the conditions unreasonable

Nick Dearden, current Director of JDC, spoke of the success of JDC over the years in putting pressure on the G8 and holding governments to account. The most important change had not in fact been the $130 debt relief achieved but rather the change in values – the principle that debt should not always be repaid, irrespective of circumstances or consequences. That was still relevant for another generation since we now had a debt crisis on our own doorstep, with the worst features of the Latin American experience applied to Europe. It was not acceptable for the poorest to be paying the price of the errors of the rich. Justice required not just a one-off cancellation of debt but, in the pattern of the biblical Jubilee, a continuous process within the world economy. A spiritual renewal was needed, the equivalent today of the abolition of slavery, something once thought utopian but which actually happened. We needed to think the impossible and embark on a major fight against soaring inequality and deep levels of world poverty. He expressed his thanks for the past and looked forward to further cooperation in the future.

John Nightingale

International debt week.
October 8th – 15th is International Debt Week. A moment when campaigners around the world can reflect on the global poor country debt situation.
It is all to easy to perhaps think there is, nothing I can do about such a huge problem.This was certainly the view of some when we began the campaign here in the Midlands.
Dr Martin Dent at Keele University played a key role but the seminal moment was in 1998 when a “Human Chain” was formed around the G8 leaders at the Birmingham summit. 100,000 people coming together in such a peaceful and purpose way.That began the focus of a huge number of people from all faiths and none.
Now in this International Debt week JDC can tell everyone that $130 billions of debt has been cancelled for 34 countries. That means children in school, vaccines given and the fight against poverty begun across the world. We have done something at least. But we fully realise its not enough and have to involve more and more people in the campaign.
It is encouraging that the Jubilee Debt has now become a global movement particular strong in USA where they have special events in the coming Jubilee weekend.
Jewish Christians and Muslims all taking part in the actions.
Here in the UK we will be focussing on getting more Faith Leaders to sign the letter ( 253 so far)to PM. Across the country the Jubilee for Justice petition and the paper chains grow every day .

Now we need to reflect on new ways to take the message to new generation of campaigners seeking Jubilee for Justice in 2012. there are lots of ways to help during the week a prayer  a donation  your ideas and encouragement too.

Jubilee for Justice petition continues to grow. more and more people are signing up  on our paper chain links and even celebrate the completion of each chain by taking photos and wearing them at each event.

The Methodist Birmingham District Synod saw Rev Bill Anderson wearing some of the paper chains beside the Faith in Action banner which had been made by the women attending a multi faith workshop earlier in the year. The hand sewn  red chains were another novel way of raising awareness  through art.

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Dozens of Methodist clergy have now signed the Faith leaders letter to the PM. The total number from across many different faith groups stands at approximately 250 persons.

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The  Zimbabwean Fellowship meeting at Selly Oak Birmingham also signed up in large numbers. Inspired by reading the report on Debt in Zimbabwe.

Do please get in touch if we can have space at one of your meetings to collect more signatures and make this a meaningful Jubilee year for all.

The target is 15,000 chain links with lots more photos.

Jubilee Debt Campaigners braved really tough condition over the Bank holiday weekend at Greenbelt.
On the Saturday afternoon they  had half a dozen or so deluges of monsoon-like rain interspersed with bright sunlight. This led to   periodically streams of water appearing in the tent and the volunteers standing   ankle deep in mud.

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John Nightingale Ruth Tetlow, Roger Chisnall of JDC  and  Rebecca Pannels of Methodist  Relief  and Development Fund all worked very hard to collect well over 130 signatures to our petition .

Faith Leaders  Mike King and Bill Anderson signed the Faith Leaders letter which will be  delivered to the Prime Minister later in the year.
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Dozens of other clergy also signed on the day. The total at the moment stands at 224 and includes leaders from all the main faith groups across the UK.
Please do encourage all your contacts to take part in our call for a meaningful celebration of the Jubilee year.

New figures released today from a Jubilee Debt Campaign researcher  show that $125 billion have been cancelled for 33 poor countries.

Afghanistan, Benin,  Bolivia, Burkina Faso,  Burundi, Cameroon,  Central African Republic Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guyana,  Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome Principe, Senegal, SierraLeone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.

All good news for the countries concerned.

Also today BBC News had an interesting article about German debt.

At every turn it seems we are all concerned about the issue of debt. More and more reasons every day for you to take part in the JUBILEE FOR JUSTICE action.Please  get every faith leader you know to sign the special letter to the PM.

The list of signatures grows daily just look to see who you know.

I was very encouraged when so many of the clergy I knew  and emailed asking for support did sign up. It is something that every faith group can take part in.

Another simple way we can show our concern for those who are enduring poverty that comes from the debt burden.

Faith leaders are being invited to sign a very special letter that will be delivered to the Prime Minister calling for action in this Jubilee year.
Hundreds of members of very diverse communities are also signing a petition that is then being linked to form a very distinctive white chain. Both are pictured above.

If you would like to take part do get in touch www.jdcmultifaith.org

By coincidence it is 14 years since the “Human Chain” was formed around the G8 leaders in Birmingham. That action first drew world attention to the evil of debt and its links to global poverty. Now we have Europe too involved in the harsh reality of debt repayment. Jubilee can have a serious side by calling for debt cancellation.

Amongst all the bunting, jelly and cakes please take time to sign our petition or the letter if you are a faith leader.

Many thanks

Audrey Miller


The Jubilee Debt Campaign Logo
This is the blog of the local group of the UK campaign calling for cancellation of international Debt.

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July 2017
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