The first idea for Together for the Common Good came to Jenny in 2011, when she experienced a movement of the Holy Spirit in her late forties. Until then she had lived a quiet life raising a family, and working in graphic design and charity development. Raised an Anglican, she had rebelled in her teens and become estranged from the Church. In her mid-twenties, she underwent a conversion experience and entered the Catholic Church.
That movement of the Spirit prompted her to explore the ground-breaking partnership between church leaders in Liverpool a generation ago, in which her father, Bishop David Sheppard, had been a leading figure. His partnership Catholic Bishop Derek Worlock played a critical role in the renewal of a place that was suffering decline and division. Jenny sensed that there was something to be learned from their experience that would be relevant for a new generation.
Jenny brought people together to discern and explore what was possible. Together for the Common Good (T4CG) was born. This initial group identified two key features about the role of the church in building common good, which is at the heart of civic and spiritual renewal:
- an “outward-facing" posture, listening to God and neighbour, engaging in the life of the neighbourhood, and
- the theological tradition of Catholic Social Thought, which is centred around the dignity of the human person and solidarity with the poor.
Since then, T4CG has developed and engaged thousands of people in a range of creative ways. Each strand has been designed to lift up the importance, practice and meaning of the common good, across church, school, social and political domains.
Jenny says "we are doing a lot with very little. It's like loaves and fishes. It's amazing what God is doing through this work. It's such a privilege to be working with people vastly more talented and experienced than me, and from whom I learn so much."
From our first conference, to our book of essays, to our bible study booklet, to our online essays, resources and stories, to our public debates, webinars and lectures, our training programmes for schools and churches, Jenny has steered the work relationally and convened many partnerships across the Christian traditions, creating a generous space, fostering confidence in a vocational discipleship journey for the common good.
Under Jenny's leadership, T4CG has evolved into a single, organic project consisting of several integrated strands, each resourcing the other.
As T4CG's founder and director, Jenny gives talks and keynotes as well as bespoke sessions. She is regularly asked to provide input, and advises a range of organisations across the Christian traditions and beyond.
Across all her work, drawing on the tradition of Catholic Social Thought and from listening and learning across the traditions, she empowers people across the churches to make sense of this time of seismic change through an authentic Christian lens and discern their unique vocation for the common good.
Explore Jenny's talks and sessions here