The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Joy Cousans, Vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since June 2017
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Vicar's Letter

May 2023

Reverend Joy Cousans, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

Christian Aid has been raising money for some of the world's most disadvantaged communities for 70 years. It began in the 1940s in the aftermath of the Second World War as British and Irish church leaders were determined to help European refugees who had lost everything. Their purpose was not to evangelise, but to help ease the suffering of ordinary people no matter what their faith.

As the organisation grew it was named Christian Aid. The focus was to combat poverty not just in Europe but across the world. During the 1950s and 1960s it became apparent that treating the symptoms of poverty was not enough. More needed to be done to tackle the root causes. Severe famines in Pakistan, Sudan and Ethiopia in the 1970s prompted a huge rise in public support for aid. Alongside emergency relief, there was growing investment in long term projects to help poor communities become more sustainable. Through global events like Live Aid in the 1980s and through high profile endorsement more people were giving to aid agencies. Christian Aid's annual income increased from £5.5 million in 1979 to £28 million in 1989.

'Christian Aid week' became an annual event. Door to door collections raised much of the money, but there were numerous other events too. I still have my certificate from completing a 25 mile sponsored walk when I was a teenager. With my two sisters and many others, we walked along the country lanes near where we lived in Leicestershire, stopping at various checkpoints to receive drinks, first aid for weary feet and lots of encouragement. Events like these raised both the profile and the income and left participants with a great sense of achievement.

In the 1990s, Christian Aid was at the forefront of the campaign to cancel third world debt. When countries were paying huge interest on loans, sometimes almost as much as their annual GDP, how could they hope to break the cycle of poverty? As the campaign to cancel the debt gathered momentum, it became part of the Jubilee 2000 coalition. Many of Jubilee 2000's pledges were adopted by the G8 summit and had a huge impact. Mozambique had its debt repayments reduced from £127 million to £52 million allowing more to be spent on housing and hospitals. In Uganda, £715 million of debt relief was used to double primary school enrolment. (Source: Larry Elliott, 'The Guardian' 27/11/2000)

Despite such encouraging progress, almost half the world's population still live on less than US$2 a day. There remains much to be done. Christian Aid works with more than 650 overseas partners in 50 countries. They continue to help alleviate poverty and tackle some of its root causes to deliver real, practical change. More recently, the effects of the Covid pandemic has led to the end of Christian Aid week's house to house collections in our villages. There will, however, be events run by the village churches during Christian Aid week between May 14th and 20th to raise money to support their vital work. Or you can donate online at Just as important is Christian Aid's focus on climate change and its impact on the poorest communities in the world. By prayer, giving and campaigning Christian Aid aims to provide humanitarian relief and long-term development support for poor communities worldwide, while highlighting suffering, tackling injustice, and championing people's rights. I hope you will feel able to support this work.

With every blessing,

Joy, Vicar of Eaton Bray with Edlesborough

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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.