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    Christian Voices Together is an initiative launched in January 2011 by the Christian churches in Mullingar. The aim of the initiative is to support an help people in the community who have been adversely affected by the current economic financial difficulties.

    The first meeting was held in the Park Hotel on Sunday 23rd January during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Over 100 people attended. Two further Christian gatherings have taken place since the first meeting - a Service of Hope in Mullingar Cathedral on Sunday 27th February and an Evening Prayer Service in All Saints' Parish Church on Sunday 26th June. Those who attended these events share the confidence that under God's guidance and care Christians in Mullingar would develop a shared vision of care for the community which offered support in practical ways to those in need.

    Christian Voices Together is firmly grounded in Christ's values and inspired by the revelation of God's love in the Bible. People are called by Christ to love God and our neighbour (Matthew 22, verses 36-40). Throughout Christ's ministry He helped people who came to Him in need. Loving and caring became an integral part of the life and witness of the early Christians. In the Acts of the Apostles, S Paul saw in a vision a man of Macedonia standing, beseeching him and saying "Come over into Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16, verse 9). The result was that Paul went over to Macedonia to help. This is a very good example of authentic Christianity, helping those who are in need. The story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand (Matthew 14, verses 13-22) further demonstrates that being close to Christ turns into the thought of service. Christians offer what little resources they have. Christ takes their ideas, loaves, fishes, money, time, energy, talents and love. He holds them before His father, God, with a prayer and blessing. When these resources are ready for use He gives them back to us to give and share with those in need. It is a part of genuine Christian service that we look on in amazement to see what God has done with what resources we offer Him.

    The Christian churches in Mullingar believe this focus on Christ is essential if we are to overcome the difficulties we face. The changes we have seen in Ireland in recent years throughout society have so often focused on different values and promoted lifestyle choices which encourage a focus on the self. The world was warned by former US President Gerald Ford of the difficulties that would be created in what he called the "Me Generation"culture. It is a pity we didn't listen to his prophetic words. Much of the popular commentary in the media shows that one of the outcomes of this focus on self has been personal greed and consumer excess which has exacerbated the current situation, at considerable cost to ordinary people. One example is highlighted in mortgages. Currently 960,000 people in Ireland have mortgages and over half of these are in negative equity.

    In contrast to the focus on the self, Christianity highlights the importance of "thinking of others". This creates a very different type of culture as was seen in the early church. The early Christian impulse was to live as family. As baptized Christians we are, of course, brothers and sisters in Christ. Our baptism, our shared faith, our fellowship at the bread breaking points us in this direction. We are bound together in a compassionate connectivity which has the benefit of "binding us together". "All of those who believed came together and held everything in common (Acts 2, verse 46). In contrast, modern life as we know it today in Ireland is characterized by a rampant individualism which results in people living not as a community but as groups of individuals, with little contact with each other. The tragic and sad consequence is all too often seen in the increasing rates of depression in our communities and the incidence of suicide. The building of Christian community and the combining of our resources under God's guidance can help address these problems and give people a real sense of worth and value. Christian Voices Together can create this traction for action.

    Effective in our support for those in need requires us to engage in a dialogue together about the type of community and society we need to create and establish in order to eradicate the many difficulties we are facing. In this regard, Christians have a lot to share and a lot to say. We need to remind people that God the creator, who made the world, made us in His own image. As Christians we know, God delighted in what He had made and the Bible has much to say about the wrong use of material things. Christians should be reminded that we live in God's world. As we respect the beauty and delight that God intended for His creation, we need to think about the way we behave and the way we think as a community to ensure our attitude and behaviour do not undermine the good purposes of God.

    Christian Voices Together provides an important opportunity for Christians in the Mullingar area to demonstrate the Good News of the Gospel and give the people in our community hope and confidence in the future based on the support and care of today.

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    Supported by the Christian Churches in the Mullingar Area