And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Ezekiel 37.14
Welcome to the T4CG Newsletter. There is a lot of talk across the churches about mission in a post-Covid society. People are eager to make plans. But our response will only work if we comprehend what has gone wrong. The unravelling we see around us is not primarily caused by the Coronavirus. The pandemic is exposing and speeding up forces which have been corroding our civic life for over forty years. The symptoms we see are the inevitable consequences of a hyper-liberal philosophy, of both the left and the right. This individualism has wreaked catastrophic effects on our institutional and social relationships and our sense of belonging, resulting in extreme inequality, mutual suspicion, loneliness and nihilism.
By contrast, our faith centres around an act of reconciliation between God and humankind. It is fundamentally relational. The vocation of the church at this time - where 'church' is understood as groups of faithful people - is not only to be gathered inside, but also outside, living in loving friendship with others in the neighbourhood.
We must keep our eyes on the Kingdom and on faithful relationship. The common good properly understood is not a programme or campaign and it is not utopian. It is about living a shared life, at once both conservative and radical, an orientation that liberates the human heart. It is a relational insurgency against a corrosive philosophy that is literally killing humankind and wrecking the planet. Despite their vulnerability, churches are uniquely placed to be carriers of this antidote, to be the embodiment of love, as sojourners in a broken world.
We are at the beginning of a very big change. In political terms, the common good proposes a settled pluralism of identities and interests. Our posture therefore must be to bring people together to ensure that everyone is included, no one is left behind. Despite many failures in our changing politics, there is real hope in the Levelling Up agenda. But government cannot, and should not, do it all. The work of the local church, as a dynamic Eucharistic community, is to keep alive and strengthen the human space where people can encounter God's love, participate and talk freely, free from fear of derision, coercion or division.
The local is where change will happen. Our unique civic vocation is to assemble, to develop leaders, to build relationship where God has placed us. Not to be like other institututions, not to be subordinated to secular agendas. Rather than re-educating people, our mission is about loving our neighbour, recognising our common need for meaning and belonging. It calls for an unglamorous leadership concerned less with career, management or administration, rather a Christ-like ministry devoted to loving, listening, and staying. It calls for a leadership able to receive as well as give, whose covenantal promise means accompanying people and staying for the long term.
So in this edition, we are honoured to share the testimony of two exceptional people who bear living witness to this kind of commitment. Sally Mann, a Baptist minister in Newham, argues for the deep value of staying put, while Henry Corbett, an Anglican vicar in Liverpool,is a living example of covenantal, long term commitment, choosing to stay, to love and to serve. And reflecting on our unsettled and contested pluralism, our latest public conversation examined what the common good means for society, featuring David Goodhart, Trevor Phillips and Julia Unwin - don't miss the video below and news of our next event. Finally, as usual, you'll find our latest recommended books and articles.
Every blessing, as always Together for the Common Good
Staying put: mission is not always about moving
As a born and bred East Ender, Sally Mann fears the suburbs and loves the grit and grace of local, ‘no-facade’ people. Given the pace of change in the inner city, she argues that there is something heroic about engaging with place by staying put. A Baptist minister in Newham where her family come from, she makes a compelling case, drawing on her own deep experience as well as theologians including Brueggemann and Newbigin.
Long-term leadership: affirming the value of staying
“You’ll only be here 5 minutes and then you’ll **** off like all the others…”
Henry Corbett is Vicar of St Peter and St John Chrysostom, Everton, Warden of Shrewsbury House and Chaplain to Everton FC. He has lived and worked in Everton since the 1970s.Packed with practical advice, this is a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of long-term commitment to place and people. A leadership not in terms of career, management or administration, but a Christ-like ministry that is fundamentally covenantal. This is about accompaniment - loving people every step of the way.
"No government in the last forty years has seriously focused on our grotesque inequalities. Levelling up is the right thing to focus on. We'll see what the white paper says. But this is what politics should be focused on." David Goodhart
"People in metropolitan areas have benefited from globalisation, while those in less cosmopolitan areas have not, and they may have a different idea of what the 'good' life looks like. The common good means we have to negotiate between sincerely held beliefs." Trevor Phillips
"The primary point about the common good is belonging - and we do this through our associational life. We have a desperate, human need to belong. It is a fiction that civil society depends on the state. The common good depends on all of us taking responsibility." Julia Unwin
What does the Common Good mean-
for families, for society, and for government?
The series is organised in partnership between T4CG and Caritas Social Action Network, the Centre for Social Justice, and the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St. Mary’s University. It is supported by our longstanding partner, CCLA, one of the UK’s largest ethical fund managers, home of the new Catholic Investment Fund.
We are here to help you. Our resources are for congregations, churches, groups of faithful people, communities, organisations, schools and youth groups, local associations and more. Email us at: email@example.com
The Common Good is the shared life of a society in which everyone can flourish - as we act together in different ways that all contribute towards that goal, enabled by social conditions that mean every single person can participate.
We create these conditions and pursue that goal by working together across our differences, each of us taking responsibility, according to our calling and ability.
Together for the Common Good works with people across the churches and beyond.
We broker relationships, convene conversations and help people fulfil their vocation for the common good.
We are non partisan, independent, ecumenical and proud of our Christian traditions.
Team: Jenny Sinclair (Founder Director), Alison Gelder (Director of Operations, p/t)
Louise Lambert (Team Support Worker, p/t), Chris Knowles (Here: Now: Us People project leader, p/t)
Board of Trustees: Richard Holman (Chair), Holly Terry (Company Secretary), Sophie Stanes, Geoff Knott, Edward Hadas
Our sincere thanks
Our sincere thanks for help-in-kind and support from our partners and associates who contribute pro bono to different strands of our work. Download the latest T4CG annual report to find out more. We are most grateful to our regular donors for their faithful generosity and to CCLA for enabling us to build this smart new website.