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This September seems to be laden with impossible problems, in our own country and around the world. But whatever seemingly intractable issues we face, all people of faith and goodwill are called to take courage, ask the right questions, to resolutely put human dignity at the heart of every negotiation, every encounter.
Jean Vanier says: “…we say there is an impossible gap between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, between the walls created between groups of people. And because we say it is impossible, we close up and say our world is doomed to warfare. But we are not doomed to warfare. What is important is that each one of us finds a place of hope - that spark hidden in our person, sometimes hidden behind the walls.”
Each of us needs to be a beacon to the rest of the world (the title of our summer newsletter - it’s still current and is packed with good material to help you, so do take a look if you missed it).
News about our work
We are busy preparing to pilot our new Common Good Conversation model, designed to generate a ‘language of hope’. The pilot event will take place next month and focus on the very human subject of 'Home'. We hope to develop a model that can be applied to any topic, to enable people of different circumstances to discern the Common Good together through dialogue.
We are bringing together leading thinkers and theologians across the faith traditions to produce a collection of essays on the Common Good, and all being well the book will be published before the General Election next year.
We are creating opportunities for Parliamentarians to come together bridging party divides and across the Christian traditions for cross-party talks on the common good. Following the success of our first event in June, we are now planning a seminar in November for MPs and Peers to discuss how Common Good thinking and the principles of Catholic social thought can be a helpful tool to discern policy.
Our approach is always relational, we learn from our conversations with others and collaborate with other Common Good initiatives. We operate entirely on a pro bono basis, but with increasing momentum around our work and further plans in view, we need to establish basic core resources. Whilst we aim to remain small, we are setting up as a charity and are now in fundraising mode. We would be delighted to hear from you if you are in a position to help and would like to be involved. So far this year we are pleased that our activities are supported by Westminster Abbey One People Fund, CCLA, MB Reckitt Trust, and the Church Urban Fund, and by help-in-kind from Housing Justice and Archdiocese of Liverpool, among many others.
A flavour of what’s going on
- One of the key influences on Archbishop Derek Worlock and Bishop David Sheppard was Fr Austin Smith, a Liverpool Passionist priest. Now you can hear him and many other leading figures speak and be inspired by their wisdom and experience. The new Unitape online catalogue is a unique and free online resource with over 800 recordings of lectures given at Upholland Northern Institute during the key period between 1975 and 1988. Other speakers include Raymond E. Brown, Vincent Nichols and Paul Crowe. Subject areas range widely from The Early Church to Social Justice. A fantastic resource worth exploring: www.unitape.org
- If you’re not already familiar with it, we recommend a read of the Citizens UK manifesto 2015. Over the past year, Citizens UK member communities have engaged in a year-long discussion about the most important issues facing their families and have produced ‘a radical yet realistic agenda for the common good’.
- Check out our newest case study – Together Middlesborough. An inspiring story of collaboration across churches of all denominations on a large scale and with remarkable results over a very short time.
- Earlier this summer Archbishop Bernard Longley spoke about the issues faced by faith based organisations in the delivery of public services and he announced a pioneering ‘social action covenant’ to be launched in Birmingham this autumn. Click here to download his speech. The covenant is intended to encourage councils to work together more effectively with faith groups, to remove mistrust and promote collaboration across a range of projects. Read about it here. The covenant was devised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society and the Cathedrals Innovation Centre. The APPG and FaithAction are asking faith based service providers to get in touch: they would like to hear from you and are asking what your organisation is doing to affect community change and provide solutions to unmet needs and what barriers are you encountering? Click here to contribute.
- Published in July, the latest edition of Crucible: The Christian Journal of Social Ethics, is guest edited by Hilary Russell, a member of T4CG Steering Group. This edition is titled ‘Together for the Common Good’, and includes commissioned articles by Angus Ritchie, Niall Cooper, Simon Duffy and Maria Power.
- This month in the T4CG blog, John Ellison considers the reductive 'culture of the biographical' as Pope Francis encourages us to look for ‘something much deeper, which escapes all measurement'...
- A new report “Good Neighbours: How Churches Help Communities Flourish” by Church Urban Fund and Theos will be launched this week. Worth reading - click here to download.
- Over the summer, Jon Cruddas gave the 2014 Ebor Lecture in York, entitled ''The Common Good in an Age of Austerity'. Click here to download the text.
- Looking for ways local people and churches can act together for change? Click here to see the good ideas and practical steps suggested by the Contextual Theology Centre.
- Looking for stats for your local area? You can use this map produced by the Children's Society to reveal the extent of problem debt in your local area. And if you're looking for more local facts and figures, they have produced an interactive webmap - most people use it to find their nearest church, but it's actually a fantastic tool for local mission.
Events and dates
- Scottish Independence Referendum: 18 September
- Destitute Refugees and Migrants - What can I do? An Open Space Conference, 20 September, London.
- The London Encounter 20 September, London. Organised by Communion and Liberation, this whole day event includes talks on ‘Business for the Common Good’.
- ‘Reclaiming the Public Space: Archbishop William Temple 70th Anniversary Conference’ 10 November, Manchester.
- Party conferences fringe events: T4CG is not involved in the party conferences but some of our friends are! You may find these links to fringe events helpful:
- Party conference dates: Green Party - 5 to 8 Sept, in Birmingham; Trades Union Congress - 7 to 10 Sept, in Liverpool; Labour - 21 to 24 Sept, in Manchester; Conservatives - 28 Sept to 1 Oct, in Birmingham; Liberal Democrats - 4 to 8 Oct, in Glasgow; Plaid Cymru - 24 to 25 Oct, in Aberystwyth; UKIP - 26 to 27 Sept, in Doncaster; Scottish National Party - 13 to 15 Nov, in Perth.
Finally, can you help? We are looking for volunteers to help with: detailed minute taking at our monthly meetings (need to be based in London); writing grant applications (successful track record essential); cataloguing our Resources and Further Reading pages (may suit a PhD student or similar with knowledge of the material). Please get in touch! Thank you.
We hope you find this newsletter and the Resources on our website helpful. We are always open to suggestions so don't hesitate to get in touch - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.
Every good wish,
Together for the Common Good