Reconciliation across difference for the Common Good
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Now deep in Lent, we are continuing to think about reconciliation, about ways to resist the temptation to be separate and to polarise: in our faith traditions, in politics, in society. We want to calm the tone for the sake of the Common Good.
Every one of us is called to be a peacemaker and to be a credible witness to reconciliation in our own walk of life. (Ephesians 2:14-22). We need to find the means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society.
We can all be tribal at times, especially in our political beliefs, and when it comes to social action work by different Christian traditions it is surprising how unaware of, and sometimes indifferent to, we can be about what’s going on outside our own experience. It’s worth the effort to reach across difference and find common ground.
We are doing what we can, in a series of conversations in parliament and elsewhere on the Common Good, and by working with a group of leading thinkers and theologians to produce a book. Later in the year we will share the results of our research into collaborative working and we plan to hold a one day conference in London. We are working pro bono, but funding will be needed to support some aspects of our work, so if you can help please do get in touch.
Those of us who have been joint working for years know it is the most effective way of serving our communities for the Common Good: it ensures we put people and communities first, guards against churches' institutional self interest and sets a constructive tone of reconciliation. It usually leads to better outcomes too. We think you'll agree that these case studies are inspirational, and we'd also highly recommend Together Middlesborough.
The Vicar of Dibley agrees – she says ‘people do their best work in pairs' and is calling on Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby ‘to join up’ (like Ben and Jerry) in this brilliant 3 minute Thought for the Day.
Perhaps Dawn French and Richard Curtis haven’t heard about the global joint interfaith initiative of Archbishop Justin, Pope Francis and Dr Mahmoud Azab to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking, launched mid-March. We hear that more efforts like this are likely to follow and their leadership is truly inspirational. However, for this ‘practical mission-based ecumenism’ to really take hold, they need our help - we all need to work together from the grassroots up and at every level.
Like them, the new Catholic Archbishop-elect of Liverpool Malcolm McMahon is inspired by the ground-breaking partnership of Archbishop Derek Worlock and Bishop David Sheppard. Their collaboration with free church leaders, communities, business and civic leaders for the common good in Liverpool in the 1970s-1990s led the way. Who, we wonder will be Archbishop McMahon’s new Anglican counterpart? We hope the Church of England will make a wise choice for the great city that gave us Better Together - now more relevant than ever.
In his article for Public Spirit, Chris Baker says the trends show that people want ‘to cross over the rigid dividing lines … to engage with each other in the service of a more ethical, but also pragmatic politics, for the sake of the common good.’ You may be interested to know that Chris is organising a conference through the Centre for Faiths and Public Policy in June on Evangelicalism and the New Politics featuring Steve Chalke and Krish Kandiah.
Between 6-13 April (Passion Sunday-Palm Sunday), Archbishop Justin and Cardinal Vincent are jointly visiting church social action projects to encourage us to pray for local church members who serve those in need and strengthen communities – they want the focus in Lent to ‘support, encourage and inspire people who listen to God and hear the poor’. They have provided prayer resources here.
The importance of spirituality within justice and peace work is highlighted this week in the T4CG Blog by John Ellison, an SVP Society worker, who is linking short passages from Pope Francis' Exhortation, 'Evangelii Gaudium' with contemporary culture. Join the discussion…
Have you explored our Opinion Pieces? You will find articles by John Milbank and Adrian Pabst, Andy Crouch, Lord Glasman, Alison Gelder, Pat Jones, Angus Ritchie, Jim Wallis and many more. Our Resources pages are growing and we hope you find the material there useful. We know they need better cataloguing – in the meantime we hope you enjoy rooting around!
Take look at our Storify link – it’s a quick way to catch up with our Twitter account and if you're curious about Twitter but don't use it, it’s a great way to see how useful it can be. You can follow us by clicking here @T4CG.
We hope your own work is going well and that your personal Lent journey is enriching. We are always pleased to hear from you, so don't hesitate to get in touch - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.
Every best wish,
Together for the Common Good