A Faithful Presence
Welcome to our newsletters page! Click here for the latest newsletter, and look on the bar to the left for earlier editions. We have a new logo, so you will see our original logo on earlier newsletters.
Have you subscribed? It's free! Click here to sign up
As the T4CG project continues to unfold we're delighted to tell you about the publication of A Faithful Presence: working together for the common good by Hilary Russell. In an accessible and practical book, packed with case studies and real life examples, she explores how churches are working together to strengthen civil society through social action, service provision, community building, prayer and advocacy. A founder member of our steering group, she also traces some of the thinking underlying our work, not least the link between faith and action.
“This wonderful book is a distillation of deep theology and practical wisdom. In direct and simple form, Hilary Russell has given us a lifetime’s treasure of prayer, hard thinking, analysis and joyous struggle. It’s a handbook for all who want to make a bigger difference in their communities.” +Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool
What's going on
Last week representatives from across the 42 dioceses of the C of E received capacity building training to combat human trafficking. Part of a collaborative and co-ordinated approach across churches and NGOs they are able to draw on resources across a range of partnerships, they can help you organise a training session for your diocese, parish or network. A key partner is the Salvation Army, with over a 100 years' experience in this field.
Catholic social teaching and the common good were key themes at the ACTA laity network's 4th national conference in Leeds. Jon Cruddas MP focused on a notion of justice based on ethics and the common good, contrasting it with the limitations of welfarist distribution and libertarian approaches, while T4CG's Jenny Sinclair explored the role of the laity in strengthening civil society in Practising the Common Good: Building Community.
Watch video of a huge public debate with Paul Mason speaking about his book 'PostCapitalism' at St Paul's Institute. Attended by over 2,500 people, the discussion featured respondents Phillip Blond arguing for morality as the only truly liberating agenda, and Ann Pettifor criticising the new 'sharing economy' as a rentier form of usury that the church should do more to resist.
Listen to a recording of 'What would it be like if God was in charge instead of the banks?' A moving and entertaining interview with Steve Chalke where he talks about the 'radical narrative' and 'life before death'. Telling how Oasis runs schools, hostels, gardens, farms, churches, community banks, youth clubs, housing, libraries, community hubs, Chalke said 'it's sad the church is seen as a provider of religious services' when what Jesus wants is for people to devote themselves to each other, through 'inclusion and community.
' 'Collaboration Readiness: why it matters, how to build it, and where to start', is a new report from Collaborate looking at links between creative thinking, systemic culture change and front-end delivery. They say there is ‘a growing credibility gap across government and public services’ and that ‘big transformational agendas like devolution and NHS reform are premised on a step change in collaboration between commissioners, providers and the public’ and that there is more to do before we are ready for that step change.
Read this speech in which 'Take courage, let us work together' was the message of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, addressing the Muslim Council of Wales. He argues that society will overcome extremism by “socially transformative projects involving people from grassroots faith backgrounds working together for the common good.”
In order to properly understand the challenge of radicalisation, the Archbishop recommends the report Inside the Jihadi Mind: Understanding Ideology and Propaganda in which the Centre on Religion & Geopolitics analyses the common ideology communicated through the propaganda of three leading jihadi groups.
From food banks and debt advice, to night shelters and job clubs we all know examples of how churches are supporting communities, but what approaches are most effective? Download this new report: Fullness of Life Together, Reimagining Christian engagement in our communiites, Livability and Church Urban Fund question the dominance of 'service delivery' models and offer alternatives drawing on co-production and Asset-based Community Development - 'working with' rather than 'doing to'.
The national voice of Christian action on housing and homelessness, Housing Justice assists churches across the country who are interested in providing affordable housing using their land and buildings, with their Faith in Affordable Housing project. They do much more, including providing support for setting up night shelters with their Shelter in a Pack toolkit.
Listen here to a recording of 'The Common Good', a Roscoe Lecture given at Liverpool John Moores University, where the Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon explained the Church's social teachings in some detail. Since his appointment last year, he has emphasised the importance of different denominations and faiths working together for the common good, naming the ecumenical Sheppard Worlock partnership as an inspiration.
Ahead of December's UN climate change summit in Paris we are noting 3 significant faith-based contributions: the International Islamic Climate Change Declaration, Pope Francis's encyclical Laudato Si' (Praise be to you: on the care of our common home) and the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change signed by over 30 faith leaders. Christian Aid is running a major Climate Change Campaign with downloadable resources. We have also found a helpful guide to Laudato Si, produced by Chris Knowles for Progressio.
To get to grips with the complex issues about Europe, you might find it helpful to read Europe's Common Good by Dr Patrick Riordan SJ. And if you would like to help displaced people and refugees in Calais, click here - Caritas Social Action Network are working with their French partner, Secours Catholique, and will ensure donations are well directed. CSAN charities working with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers include Seeking Sanctuary, Cardinal Hume Centre, Brushstrokes and the Jesuit Refugee Service UK.
Lord David Alton in a recent debate on Article 18 said the resources allocated by the Foreign Office to human rights are 'pitifully inadequate' given that 'human rights violations are inextricably linked to the catastrophic movement of populations'. Understanding religious and cultural nuances is increasingly important for an credible foreign policy, especially with respect to freedom of religion or belief and human rights. A new report Towards Religion-Attentive International Policy (click to download) reveals an alarmingly low level of religious literacy in the diplomatic field and presents key insights as ‘policy messages’ for diplomats and policy makers. This interview with Canon Andrew White is worth reading too.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings has been training people to be Church Credit Champions, starting with the Anglican dioceses of Liverpool, London and Southwark, to strengthen the response of the church to financial need in their communities. Partnering with credit unions and other community finance organisations the Champions are able to respond with debt advice and support with money management. The Task Group has also started LifeSavers savings clubs and a financial education programme for primary schools. Click the links to see how your church can get involved.
'What is the purpose of business?' was the focus of delegates at the Quakers and Business Group conference, highlighting proven models that enable business to be a force for good, including various Quaker models, B Corps, Buurtzorg and others. Blueprint for Better Business and NEF also presented. Click here for a summary and download the presentation slides here.
To better understand the thinking behind David Cameron's welfare reform agenda, it's worth noting that Christian Guy has been appointed as an advisor to No.10. From 2007 until this year he directed the Centre for Social Justice. The CSJ's new Chief Executive is Baroness Philippa Stroud, who was the centre's first director in 2004 as well as one of its three co-founders - the others being Tim Montgomerie and Iain Duncan Smith. Click here to look back to the reason it was founded.
Ekklesia are conducting research including a survey to develop an alternative to the Work Capability Assessment which has been sharply criticised. They are involving people with personal experience of the WCA process. Click here if you know of people who would like to take part.
Livability and Mind and Soul have teamed up to provide the Mental Health Access Pack (click to find out more), a free online resource to help and equip busy church leaders understand mental health issues better and support people who are struggling in their communities.
The latest report The Problem with Proselytism (click to download) by Paul Bickley at think tank Theos argues there is little evidence that religious charities proselytise as part of their community action, and makes recommendations on their relationships with statutory providers.
The Kirby Laing Institute of Christian Ethics recommend Theology and Economics: A Christian Vision of the Common Good in which Jeremy Kidwell and Sean Doherty bring together prominent theologians and economists to transform, through understanding, respect and communication, the often antagonistic and estranged forces of economics and theology into constructive tools with which to cultivate more just and moral economies.
Finally, a short article, How Liberalism is Undoing Itself, by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us - the project continues. This newsletter is just one strand and your views will help us learn, so please tell us what is useful for you. Do get in touch if you would like to help or if you have an idea you would like to discuss - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.
If you're interested to go deeper into the traditions of the common good and how they might play out in policy terms, take a look at our book, Together for the Common Good: towards a national conversation -13 essays by leading thinkers from different religious and political perspectives: Lord Maurice Glasman, Clifford Longley, Lord Brian Griffiths, Dr Jon Wilson, Tehmina Kazi, Dr Jonathan Chaplin, Professor Andrew Bradstock, Dr Anna Rowlands, Professor Esther Reed, Dr Patrick Riordan SJ, Phillip Booth, Sam Burgess and Revd Dr Malcolm Brown.
Nick Spencer, Research Director at Theos, said the book left him "better informed about the philosophical and theological grounding of the concept of the common good," adding that the common good is "a way of thinking about how we might live together" and that "we should not underestimate the need for such a 'common' vision right now." More...