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“Together We Can” message from Church Leaders

NZCCSS Media Release

27 February 2009

“Together We Can” message from Church Leaders

In a meeting held today at the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) in Wellington, Church Leaders of the Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army Churches expressed confidence that their combined social services and Church networks can be mobilised effectively to respond to the recession.

“We were very aware in our meeting of the challenges being set at the same time in Auckland at the Prime Minister’s Summit and, as a group, the message we decided we could best hold out to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand is that together we can look after each other,” said Donald Bell, Territorial Commander-elect of the Salvation Army.

“We began our collective response to the social impacts of a declining economy more than twelve months ago with a year-long campaign we called “Aroha tētahi ki tētahi - Let Us Look After Each Other”, and from our meeting today we have emerged with a message of hope that ‘Together We Can’,” said Catholic Archbishop John Dew. “Meeting with representatives of our Christian social services today has been about mobilising our ideas and our commitment to ensuring that in our approach we do not allow economic doom and gloom to overwhelm the strength that we know exists in our communities”.

“In some ways the growing recession is a rallying call for us to do even more to utilise our comprehensive Church networks across the country, in ways that link with existing community resources, such as schools, and other non-government organisations. Together we can be more responsible for taking stock of the good work that happens in our parishes and dioceses and promoting that even further,” said Anglican Archbishop David Moxon.

“Our meeting today has been anything but a talkfest,” said Jill van de Geer, President of the Methodist Church. “Our concerns today have not been about funding debates or policy wishlists, they have been about taking practical actions that fit with areas such as the Prime Minister’s call for creative ideas on more flexible laws, and that recognise that there are many areas of change that don’t require Government intervention”.

“By their nature and history our faith communities are ‘doers’,” said Pamela Tankersley, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church. “Every day their work is based in the realities of a society where there is already too much systemic hardship and poverty. As a society we cannot afford for things to get worse, when they could in fact be transformed for the better. As Churches we do not want to be known as the poverty sector, we want to be known as the Hope Sector”.

NZCCSS faciliator Ruby Duncan, of the Baptist Church, said actions raised at the meeting, such as coordination of access to so-called ‘waste food’ to feed underfed families, or greater coordination of publicity about the availability of services to meet growth in demand, will form a plan of action that will be known as ‘Together We Can’.

In addition to the meeting with Church Leaders, NZCCSS today launched a comprehensive research report on ‘what works, and what doesn’t’ at the frontline of social services. This report – titled Grassroots Voices – was based on interviews with 130 social service clients, 82 social workers and 33 social service agency CEOs, and both a summary and full copy are available at www.justiceandcompassion.org.nz

NZCCSS is now holding a further, related workshop over the weekend at Poupatate Marae, at Tokorangi near Halcombe.


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