Mission driven young people
Holly Terry of Bates Wells Braithwaite speaking at our event.
On a warm summer evening, some our young associates at Together for the Common Good (T4CG) brought together a diverse group of around thirty young professionals working in public life for conversation and networking to explore how Common Good Thinking can come into every day life and work.
There are many young Christians from different churches and traditions and from different parts of the country who come to London inspired to make a positive difference, working in politics, policy and social action, but they rarely get the chance to meet people outside their immediate circle and share experiences. Our aim was to provide a dynamic opportunity for such mission-driven young people to interact, and to see what would happen.
Kindly hosted by Cafod in their Pavilion at Romero House, with views over the London skyline, we had an evening full of great discussions, testimony from our three guest speakers and even some artistic visualisations of how we imagined the Common Good might look in action.
Ryan Day of ADF International spoke on global human rights and the Common Good.
We were privileged to hear from Holly Terry, T4CG Trustee and a solicitor at Bates Wells Braithwaite, who spoke about how she is using a Common Good approach to address the way recruitment is handled in her workplace. Holly reflected powerfully on the potential role Christians can play in society today across different sectors and jobs. Her testimony about taking responsibility helped us to understand better the principle of subsidiarity, and how it can underpin the way we interact and empower all in society.
Ryan Day spoke passionately about the Common Good as a global human rights issue and his work as Senior Policy Officer at ADF International. He argued that we as Christians need to step up and work together across our traditions to assert the principles of human dignity, respect for life and relationships, to counter the individualism and toxic ideologies that are dehumanising and permeating so many areas of our society.
Jenny Sinclair, founder of Together for the Common Good, spoke about the social fractures that have been exposed in our country. She argued that in politically unstable times, Christians should resist being tribal, be suspicious of dominant media messages and be alert to the way certain groups are sidelined from mainstream life. She affirmed that the Common Good is rooted in the gospel and that this powerful tradition has the potential to transcend the ideological positions of left and right. Jenny shared the T4CG vision that people across the churches are called to build relationships between estranged groups and strengthen civil society.
Jenny Sinclair, founder of Together for the Common Good, spoke on our shared life
Each of our speakers offered different but complementary perspectives on the Common Good and how they apply it in their lives and work. Helping our young professionals gain an understanding of what the Common Good is and how it connects with the Christian vision is only half the battle. Seeing and hearing how others actually connect with it in daily life provided tangible examples of what the Common Good looks like in practice.
Discussions in between and after the speakers proved fruitful for our group of young Christians as they connected across different traditions. Conversations ranged from how they apply the principles of the Common Good in their professional roles and workplaces already without realising it, to recognising how a Common Good approach could offer new and exciting ways to become more effective. There was very animated sharing of their own stories and examples from their personal lives that related to Holly, Ryan and Jenny’s experiences.
Alec James sharing his group's view on examples of the Common Good in practice
The event itself was an example of how the Common Good can be built, with people drawn from different perspectives and institutions and the focus being on strengthening civil society and vocational responsibility. Our gathering included young people from Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Evangelical and Free Church traditions, as well as from different political positions. They represented many different sectors in public life and a range of organisations: from Theos to the CARE internship, from the Civil Service to the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Institute of Strategic Development and local government, those working in Parliament, the public sector, leading charities and religious and civil foundations.
The benefit of this kind of cross fertilisation facilitated by T4CG was clear as people quickly absorbed insights from each other and forged new connections. Everyone was keen to learn with and from each other in fellowship how a Common Good approach could benefit their work and help them explore and build upon their faith - not just on Sundays, but in their 9-5, too.
Alec James, who works as a community activist and Parliamentary assistant as part of the Buxton Leadership Programme, said afterwards that he found the evening ‘tremendously helpful... I had been hoping for a while to attend an event where I could meet others working for the Common Good, so thank goodness somebody is doing it!'
Alec added: 'a big take home for me was hearing some really practical examples, such as ways to work constructively with very diverse groups by creating space to ask difficult questions. As somebody moving from a political job to a business-focused one in the near future, I was also encouraged to hear from Holly Terry, speaking about how she works for the Common Good in a law context. I will certainly be coming along to more of these events in the future!’