Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Churches bringing financal help to credit crunched communities

Religious groups are increasingly being used to dispense financial and legal advice as the credit crunch increasingly bites into British communities.

Churches, synagogues and mosques are starting to run their own programmes to help those affected by debt problems.

Last month, Anglican clergy met Christian debt counselling charities, including Christians Against Poverty, to take part in a workshop on supporting those who are in debt.

Jack Maple, community ministry adviser for the Diocese of London, speaking to the Financial Times, said, “We were alarmed by the number of referrals … Apparently Christians Against Poverty have 3,500 new referrals every day.”

The charities are running training programmes to help parishes provide advice and practical support to those struggling with debt in the midst of the financial crisis.

At St Paul’s Church in Shadwell, London, a non-profit advisory service called the Money Advice Centre has been set up and is run by eight volunteers trained to give financial advice.

Churches are optimistic that the economic crisis is leading more people to God as people search for answers to the troubles in their life.

Last year, the annual “Back to Church Sunday”, in which congregants invite lapsed Christians to church services, saw 37,000 new people come to church services, nearly double the number of newcomers in 2007.


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