Churches to reclaim millennium spirit

Andrew Brown
Monday 29 April 1996 23:02

Churches in England will try to reclaim the millennium celebrations for Christianity and use them to agitate against Third World debt. "It's our party," said the Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Rev Gavin Reid, yesterday. "Without Jesus there would be no millennium to celebrate."

He added: "The millennium is, as the chief rabbi himself said, a specifically Christian festival. People of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faiths have said to us that it is thoroughly understandable that Christian values should predominate then."

The bishop led a steering party for Churches Together in England, an umbrella body for almost all the Christian bodies in the country. It has made eight recommendations which it hopes will come early enough to co- ordinate responses among English churches.

The main Christian churches have long campaigned against Third World debt, which they regard as the exploitation of the poor by the rich. "We recognise that this a very complex problem with no easy solutions," Bishop Reid said yesterday. "However, the fact remains that there are crippling inequalities in our global village and it is hard to see an end to the sufferings of many people unless those who possess are prepared to give to those who are dispossessed a chance to start again."

The churches also believe that the run-up to the millennium will lead to a mood of national reflection in Britain.

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