A crowd of nearly 500 flocked to hear Dr Tony Campolo in Stockton on Tees earlier this month (2 September), preach on the subject of "Seeking justice for the poor at home and abroad".
The talk was well received, with phrases such as "incredibly inspiring", "so uplifted and challenged", and "a veritable tour de force" among the reactions.
The event was a "Service of Christian Worship to which those of all faiths and none are invited", held in Stockton Baptist Tabernacle. It was organised by North East CALL TO ACTION (NE-CAP), the regional global poverty and climate change grouping, with the support of all the main denominations and many Christian agencies, as part of its support for the 'Enough food IF' campaign.
Dr Campolo argued that a responsiblity to be active in combating poverty is a major emphasis of the Bible. He said we need to be involved at various levels - at the micro level, involving individual action; at the intermediate level, through Christian agencies; and finally, through the macro level, seeking to reform unjust structures in society. He gave three examples of the latter: adding our voices in opposition to war, economic injustice, and environmental damage.
Guests included the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Susan Snowdon; the Deputy Mayor of Stockton on Tees, Cllr Barbara Inman; and Mrs Margaret Sentamu.
The congregation was welcomed to 'The Tab' by its pastor, the Revd Andrew Waugh; the service was led by Bishop Mark Bryant; Mrs Sentamu brought greetings from the Archbishop of York; and the Bible readings were delivered by Judith Sadler, Chair of NE-CAP, and Elliot Burrell, a young man who has recently been helped by the local 'Moses Project'.
A music group from Tees Valley Community Church led the singing most ably, and the evening was rounded off by Dr David Golding CBE, Development Coordinator of NE-CAP and a member of Whitley Bay Baptist Church, with an appeal for support for Christian advocacy within the region. Many agencies had stalls in a side hall and these were in great demand after the service.