Sue Whitlock, a Church Action on Poverty supporter from County Durham, is preparing to preach on 26 February, Church Action on Poverty Sunday. She shared with us these reflections that had occurred to her on the church’s prophetic role.
I found myself thinking about the late, great, David Jenkins, former Bishop of Durham, whose funeral I went to in Durham Cathedral back in November. I know he did a number of good and useful things, but up here in mining country, the way he stood up to Thatcher during the miners’ strike was what was uppermost in all our hearts.
The address at the funeral was given by the Bishop of Ripon, who had known him well, and he reminded us of how fearlessly David had done this. (I was very impressed by the clever way the Bishop phrased his address. He never once used the word ‘strike’, nor did he refer to Thatcher by name – or even ‘Prime Minister’ – and yet we all knew exactly what he was saying.) A very moving service, with the Miners’ Hymn having most of us close to tears.
What we need now is another Bishop to have David Jenkins’ courage and convictions (unlike most of our current Bishops when it comes to LGBT issues) and challenge May on her insistence on continuing Cameron’s response to our economic woes by making sure that the brunt of the cuts is borne by those least able to survive them. I know the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t agree with what she’s doing but he is hardly in a position to say so directly, so we need someone slightly lower down the pecking order to do it.
As the hymn, ‘I The Lord of Sea and Sky’ puts the question facing God, ‘Who shall I send?’