A Faithful Presence: working together for the common good

“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 Christian disciples who want to make a bigger difference in their communities.”
Bishop Paul Bayes, Diocese of Liverpool
A founder member of the Together for the Common Good (T4CG) project, 
Hilary Russell explores how faith-based collaboration works best for the common good. This practical and accessible book, written in non-technical language, will inspire and equip all who wish to make a tangible difference in today’s world and strengthen civil society. She also traces the thinking underlying the work of T4CG, not least the link between faith and action. The book contains case studies and real life examples of the ways in which churches are working together through social action, service provision, community building, prayer and advocacy. Hilary draws on her considerable experience as well as the findings of T4CG’s 12 month research process (see below for themes), which explored these issues through interviews, case study storiesopinion pieces and delegate input at T4CG’s inaugural conference.


REVIEW (see picture, left) by Ann Morisy in The Church Times, 29 April 2016.

REVIEW by Dr John Reader in the Journal of Belief & Values, (2016), highlighting that “Hilary Russell’s book is…practical examples of the common good, and, as such, it does a good job at providing case studies that support the wider argument…Russell’s book is valuable in its own right as a report upon current and past activities, and I would recommend it rather than the more theoretical text.” Read the full review here.

REVIEW (extract below and full review here in Reform magazine by Elizabeth Welch, minister of Clapton Park URC in Hackney, London. Extract:

"In her analysis of the common good, Russell shows what churches can offer and the possibilities of co-operation with many other groups. [It is a] helpful study guide for reflection and action for Christians in local communities and those who seek to work together regionally or nationally. This book offers a positive analysis of the possibilities of shared working, pointing beyond the ecumenical winter to an ecumenical spring."

To buy the book (for £10.99 per copy) or request bulk order discount prices from SCM Press click here




We are interested to hear your response to the book - write to us at info@togetherforthecommongood.co.uk

Download publicity flyer here

Link to blog by Hilary Russell here

Press enquiries to info@togetherforthecommongood.co.uk and Nicola Prince  •  Requests for review copies to Nicola Prince at SCM Press


You may also be interested in our major collection of 13 essays from leading thinkers on the common good across different political and belief traditions: Together for the Common Good: towards a national conversation 


The critical themes that governed the research process underpinning A Faithful Presence were:
  • Recognising the role of the Church as an advocate for the most vulnerable people and neighbourhoods
  • Acknowledging denominational differences but moving beyond to adopt a common focus on being “the servant Church in a hurt city”
  • Recognising that involvement and engagement with social and economic policies and institutions is a key step in tackling social justice
  • Then and now – identifying the differences and similarities between the current Church and the Church as it was in the context of the Sheppard and Worlock collaboration
  • Exploring how far collaboration between faiths, civic institutions and local business is effective in meeting social need and fostering greater social cohesion
  • Examining the current and future social context to explore the impact of austerity on family life, inequality, health and wellbeing
  • Identifying the key elements that help to build effective working relationships of trust between people of different faiths
  • Looking at changes in church life, asking how we can look outwards and focus on community action
  • Looking at the practical implications of collaboration, identifying transferrable elements and good practice lessons to inform fit-for-purpose wider church institutions that will bring about dynamic community engagement
Below are some of the questions that underpinned the process:
  • On which particular issues, given your experience, do you think faith groups would most effectively work together for the common good? 
  • What is your experience of collaboration on social issues between Christian churches or between Christians and people of other faiths, locally, nationally and internationally? Do you have an informed view on whether faith leaders should tread on political (though non-party political) territory, and if so, what would your experience teach you?
  • If you were acquainted with the Sheppard Worlock years, what was your experience of the bishops’ collaboration, what difference did the partnership make to you or the communities with whom you work and in what way?
  • Do you have informed views on what motivated Sheppard and Worlock in terms of their formation and traditions: in particular, the Anglican tradition of urban mission and Catholic Social Teaching respectively. Can you think of specific examples of how this worked in practice and how they overlapped?
  • Can you speak from experience about the role of the laity, either at executive level or at the grassroots, in the interface between church and society?
  • Do you have experience of good practice and/or views on the mechanisms by which faith groups and leaders should best address issues related to social justice?
  • From your experience of them, what steps did the bishops take to make their partnership work?
  • Do you have any evidence to show if the Sheppard Worlock partnership led to any change in attitude to the church and/or Christianity?
  • What is your experience of the contribution which people of faith make to our society and their motivation for doing so? How can we best support them?
  • Do you have informed views on significant current trends or looming social issues that may become important for the churches and faith groups to address in the years ahead?
  • How, in your view, can we use the deep resources of our faiths to improve communities? What form and tone should faith groups adopt to connect with the grassroots?
  • How do economic circumstances affect people’s view of the church?