Joint Public Issues Team

In 2006 the Methodist Church decided to express its work on social responsibility where possible ecumenically rather than as a single denomination. The Joint Public Issues Team was formed by the coming together of the public issues/social responsibility staff of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church under the strapline 'Churches working together to live out the Gospel of Christ in church and society'. Members of the team remained employed by their own denominations, but operated as a single team, led first by Alison Jackson and then Rachel Lampard. Priorities for work were agreed across the Churches. Most pieces of social, political, environmental and economic engagement by the Methodist Church after this period were carried out ecumenically, unless agreement across the three Churches was not possible. Increasingly other denominations, such as the Church in Wales, Church of Scotland, Quakers and Scottish Episcopal Church, endorsed and joined with various JPIT-led campaigns and publications. In addition JPIT's ecumenical co-operation with a wider range of Christian denominations in the field of social justice and public policy continued, primarily through the 'Radar group' meeting monthly to consider parliamentary issues. In March 2015 the Church of Scotland joined JPIT for a trial year.

JPIT has been responsible for a number of major reports and campaigns supported and promoted across all the member Churches.. 'Hope in God's Future: Christian Discipleship in the Context of Climate Change' (2009) was a joint report of a Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church working party, and was adopted as a Conference Statement. The Conference report 'Drones: Ethical Dilemmas in the Application of Military Force' (2012) formed the basis of later public policy engagement by the Church on targeted killing. The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty (2013) tackled popular myths about poverty and received significant media coverage especially on Easter Sunday 2013. 'Faith in Foodbanks' (2014) affirmed the ministry of the many churches supporting foodbanks, and offered biblical and theological reflections, together with a challenge to ask why people were going hungry. Time to Rethink Sanctions (2015) used original research to highlight the impact of benefit sanctions and led to a high profile campaign. In 2015 'Enough: Our responsibility to meet families' needs was published to promote a debate about the purpose of the welfare state in the context of current legislation. All of these publications were integrated with media and social media campaigns, resources for study and reflection, and active engagement by people in local churches. In addition the JPIT team has worked on a wide range of issues including debates around David Cameron's proposals for the 'Big Society', the regulation of the gambling industry, alcohol misuse and minimum unit pricing, a three-Church working group on early human life which resulted in the Conference report, 'Created in God's Image' in 2008, briefings and reflections in advance of elections, evolving legislation and thinking on equalities and human rights, ethical investment, the Living Wage, and asylum and immigration.

Entry written by: RL
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