I have been involved with the Estates Evangelism Task Group and Partner’s Conference at High Leigh. Ninety practitioners gathered together to look at the challenges facing us in the future serving our communities. There has been a lot of challenge for The Church to reform its institutional bias and refocus on those who live in poverty. That however is for a later post.Read more
For the last twenty years, I’ve talked a lot about my relationship with the church as a kid who grew up in a mining family. At the Estates Evangelism Task Group (EETG) one of the big questions we wanted to explore was how we can enable more working class people to be in leadership across the Church of England at all levels. Ministry Division commissioned a report looking into how clergy have experienced being working class within the church; “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters’”: Exploring the wellbeing of working-class clergy in the Church of England: a rally cry for change“. I was also one of the participants in the study.
I’m not going to do any in depth analysis here as I’ve linked to the full report above. The report contains a lot of stories from others that I very much relate to; telling our story as people who live, work and breath in a world that is alien to our own. Or as one colleague said to me on Wednesday – ‘it’s time for us to start masking’.
At the NECN conferences in the last fortnight, a short presentation of the findings has been made and the report has been picked up by the Church Times. One thing I would suggest is that some of the stories make for good soundbites but the statistics highlight a wider institutional problem:
“resist the neoliberal understanding of wellbeing as purely self-care, and so focus here on social structures and institutional cultures and processes beyond the control of the individual”.
I was asked to be a guest on The RE Podcast. We used Happy Valley as a springboard to all sorts of questions about the nature of humanity, good and evil and all that jazz. It was a lot of fun. Listen to the other episodes too! Lots of great discussions about the meaning of life.
It is also available on other platforms but I can’t link them here on my site.
If you have hung around for long enough, you will know that I have strong opinions about poverty and how it is created within our society. As the world re-emerges from the last 18 months of Covidtide, we are seeing a sharp snap back to a narrative of the undeserving poor. With universal credit being slashed in the coming week affecting 6 million people, we are once again seeing an ideological drive to level up the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
At the heart of it all is the narrative we tell ourselves about who we are as a community. This clip is well worth two and a half minutes of your time.
Our national narrative is once again being steered by those at the top towards one of the “undeserving poor”. This is a narrative we must stand against at all costs as a church. It doesn’t fit. It’s not Christian. We must shout loudly and proudly about the inherent worth of every single human being, created in the image of God and beloved. If we don’t rise to this challenge, we have failed to live up to our call as Jesus apprentices.
“Blessed are the poor.”Jesus