POVERTY - Transforming Poverty Course

The silver screen has inspired a Wolverhampton curate to create a new national church resource to engage with issues of poverty in our communities.

Transforming Poverty sees the Revd Gayle Greenway place the Bible in relationship with the Ken Loach and Paul Laverty film I, Daniel Blake.

The six-session course, published by national charity Church Action on Poverty, was written by Gayle while studying at St John’s College, Nottingham, before starting curacy at St Matthew's, Wolverhampton.

It aims to help church groups and congregations talk and pray about local poverty and its impact on their own and other’s lives, and in the process be moved to make personal and collective steps towards bringing about change in Jesus’ name for those in their community.

“My prayer is that each group that goes on the Transforming Poverty journey will find their hearts motivated to notice anyone in need and practically draw alongside them,” said Gayle. “Also, that participants will have the courage to seek God’s leading in working for change wherever it needs to happen: that through loving service more will see the realness of Jesus’ radical love.”

Martin Beavon, who participated in Transforming Poverty at St Matthew’s, says it helped him to “reflect on how Jesus encourages us to show love and compassion to those in need. We discussed what practical ways we can support and encourage those who feel they have nowhere to turn. I realise that I wanted to turn my anger about injustice into positive action and following much prayer felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to volunteer for Wolverhampton’s church shelter.”

Another course participant, Lynne Lawrence, added: “Through our viewing of the film and subsequent debates on how Christians respond, I realised it was a wake-up call to be more aware of marginalised people.”

The course prompted the group at St Matthew’s to join the national Places of Welcome network, providing them with another way that they can offer a warm welcome to people in the community.

The Revd Kate Watson, Curate at St Matthew with St Martin and St Paul, Tipton, has also run Transforming Poverty. “My small group is loving this resource, which speaks pertinently – and sometimes painfully - into our lives and experiences,” she said. “The film, the questions, and the biblical reflections are leading to stimulating discussions on issues of poverty in the UK and in our local context, which are enriching our own responses and understanding as Christians.”

Canon Dr Christina Baxter, Gayle’s supervisor at St John’s College, said: “We know that in most parishes there are people whose low income makes choices between heat, light, food and health a daily challenge. This course will help people to talk together about these things, and hopefully to move beyond talk to prayer, and to action and loving sharing.”

Transforming Poverty can be downloaded free from www.church-poverty.org.uk/transform/