Welcome to the Autumn edition of the T4CG Newsletter. As this strange period unfolds, we are all finding it hard to deal with isolation, uncertainty and loss. Weaknesses are exposed and society is fragmented. We sense that the dominant story of the last forty years is running out of steam and may not provide the answers to see us through.
But through our shared, diminished condition, there is grace to be found. Somewhere deep in our collective memory there is another story that can help us bring forth a better way. It points to a reweaving of our social life built on covenant rather than contract. It is called into being when we build durable relationships with our neighbours and fellow local institutions.
For the churches, the starting point is to acknowledge this shared vulnerability, to ask for help as well as to offer it. It means listening and joining in where God is already at work rather than pushing our great idea. The church fulfils its purpose not as a service-provider arm of the state, but through its sacred relationship with people and with place.
We are keen to share with you our letter Renewing the Covenant and the accompanying webinar, if you haven’t already seen it. In this letter we are calling churches and congregations to build local relationships. Having one-to-one conversations with your neighbours is a good place to start. It may sound too simple but this is how we begin to mount a resistance to the powers that dominate, dehumanise, atomise and fragment.
As we learn from the testimony of Pastor Jonathan Brooks,”there are no God-forsaken places, only church-forsaken places”. A church fulfilling its vocation as a humble neighbour can be transformational. Taking an ‘asset-based’ rather than a needs-based approach is the way to go, as we share here. The churches are also called to promote the dignity of work: as Tim Thorlby writes here, the health of our democracy depends upon restoring the status of all kinds of work and ensuring it is decently paid.
This pandemic and the associated fallout poses a risk not only to our health and to the economy. In terms of power and agency, the threat is also to the Common Good, our shared life. The combination of an increasingly centralised state plus the growing dominance of global corporations accelerates the injustice of pre-Covid trends. However, by building local relationships with our neighbours we can forge a relational power that can uphold a life of meaning and belonging.
Also in this edition, we have gathered a range of commentary for you on the new encyclical Fratelli Tutti and as ever, we have assembled a list of recommended books, along with our latest collection of articles to help you read the Signs of the Times.
The small T4CG team is working hard to respond to a growing number of enquiries and requests. Our resources for churches, groups, individuals and schools are all designed to help people fulfil their responsibility to build the Common Good. Most of our material is free and we’d like to keep it that way: so if the work helps you, please consider supporting us.
Together for the Common Good