Welcome to the summer newsletter from Together for the Common Good.
Whatever the next few months bring in political terms, people across the churches must play a constructive role and refuse the temptation to be tribal, not looking to our own interests but being attentive to the interests of others, acting as a force for good in our communities and playing our part in building a common life.
It would be wonderful if post-referendum Britain was having a lively national debate about what it would take to fix the underlying causes that led to Brexit. The churches could make a serious contribution to such a discussion. It's worth taking a look at the latest Social Mobility Commission report on the left behind and left out. But the morbid symptoms affecting our political class will continue to play out until the settlement our country needs is reached.
In the meantime, churches at neighbourhood level are well-placed to do things government can't do. We can help to bring about a renewed culture of mutual obligation. We can generate a sense of meaning and belonging by reasserting what it means to be human. We can bring people from different opinions and backgrounds together in shared purpose.
This summer's bumper edition includes five great blogs for you - Luke Bretherton on Christ and the Common Life, Tim Thorlby on a cleaning business which treats its cleaners with respect, Catherine Brady on a parish finding its community purpose, Alison Gelder on young people taking responsibility, and Jenny Sinclair on the story of a church bringing fellow civic partners together to tackle homelessness, the Common Good way.
You will find lots of great stuff below to explore at your leisure:suggested books and podcasts,events listings, reflections on the political moment, T4CG news in brief, and our latest helicopter snapshot of Common Good activity across the churches.
Every blessing for a peaceful summer Together for the Common Good
Beyond respectability, denunciation and escape
The Theology and Politics of a Common Life
Originally from West London, Luke Bretherton is professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School in the United States. He writes here about the thinking behind his book, Christ and the Common Life, which makes the case for Christians to take up democratic politics as a way of pursuing a common life and in doing so, to fulfil their call to love God and neighbour. Read More...
New on the T4CG blog
The political moment
Even when many are losing their heads, there are people taking this moment seriously, and it's good to take time to reflect. A selection of links to provoke you:
There is John Gray on 'liberalism as the God that failed'; Matt Goodwin's research for JRF on how low income voters have been abandoned by the political class; Luigino Bruni on the crisis in Italian society and the role of the Church; John Milbank on why it is up to religious people to reject both individualism and collectivism, and insist instead on the priority of relationship and reciprocity over either a controlling state or an anarchic market; Sr Simone Campbell on our civil rights and obligations; Justin Webb on how the deplorables have been robbed of respect; Zach Goldberg on how the "woke" revolution is leading people to become increasingly detached from reality; David Isaac on how identity politics is diminishing empathy; William Clouston, leader of the SDP on the election of Boris Johnson; Lord Glasman on the abandonment of real socialism and the rise of anti-semitism on the Left; Rabbi Sacks on meaning; David Goodhart on the diagnosis of Brexit as a correction to the liberal hegemony of the past quarter century; Jonathan Chaplin on how the C of E should respond to Brexit; Justin Welby on weathering the storm and ‘traditioned innovation’; John Denham on Englishness; Sam Wells on Love, as a slow task of finding ways to live with those whom we cannot bring ourselves to like.
Consider - what is it about the dominance of hyper-liberalism that is so damaging? Is it the focus on individualism, its over-emphasis on rights, and its insufficient attention to relationality and just distribution? The antidote is the Common Good - to build a shared life and a renewed sense of our mutual obligations to each other.
For experienced facilitators - a train the trainer day on 14 October to equip you to deliver our Common Good Training Workshop for groups of lay people in your own networks.
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.
Join our helicopter view to see our latest snapshot
People across the churches are building the Common Good...
...by building a common life with people who are poor, vulnerable or excluded
The Welcome Directory connects prisons and those who work to help people resettle after a time in prison with faith communities who want to be welcome and supportive to people leaving prison, helping them find acceptance. Find out how your church can get involved and register. There are opportunities for community volunteers and prison volunteers around the country.
Watch this uplifting film from the Christians Against Poverty debt counselling centre in Aberdeen where John describes his debt journey.
The Joint Public Issues Team that serves Baptists Together, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church, has long been concerned that the design of Universal Credit is flawed and is leading to greater debt, poverty and exclusion. Download their briefing here. Fr Ryan Cook has returned to his native Canada with his family to take a leap of faith. Read about their plan to commit to living among the margins of society in Downtown Eastside of Vancouver through prayer, hospitality and teaching.
The new report, 'For our welfare and not for our harm' written by written by Refugee Hosts’ Co-Investigator Dr Anna Rowlands in collaboration with the Jesuit Refugee Service, highlights how the current asylum system is experienced by people seeking asylum ‘as a fundamental distortion of human dignity’.
Jeremy Sharpe of Linking Lives sets out ideas on how churches can respond to loneliness in the UK: with the increased use of social prescribing due to take place across the UK, churches have an opportunity to play a key role in improving the health and wellbeing of local people.
Tackling homelessness, the Common Good way
The Church has great potential to act as a force for good in the community. Here Jenny Sinclair looks at the experience of Ian Terry, a city centre rector who is using our Common Good Builder process in Bournemouth to bring local partners together to tackle homelessness in their town. Read more...
New on the T4CG blog
...by strengthening families, young people and older people
Learn how churches can support families through adoption and fostering in a series of videos on the Capital Massadoption resources page. Including Krish Kandiah from Home for Good, speaking about a theology of home and how it takes a parish to raise a child.
Read about the best of estate ministry and engagement with young people in A gospel big enough for Byker. An information-packed piece by Madeleine Davies about a church strengthening community in a housing estate in Newcastle.
Knives seized by police from the streets of Newham were melted down to make new garden tools and sculpture for display in a community garden in a knife-melting event organised by Red Letter Christians. Attended by over 800 people, it was led by Dr Sally Mann and Shane Claiborne, and announced Newham’s first knife surrender bin, a collaboration with Salvation Army and Word4Weapons. Million Minutes makes small grants for projects that enable young people to take positive action inspired by Catholic social teaching. Find out how to apply here. Standing Together is a briefing paper by Richard Reddie, Director of Justice and Inclusion at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, outlining figures behind the rise in serious youth violence, church responses and approaches to help resolve it.
Rosemarie Mallett has argued that with the growing risk of knife crime, churches should provide safe havens for young people to avoid violence on the street. She has called for churches to open their doors between 3pm and 6pm "to have a space where young people can come".
Taking responsibility, finding purpose
Alison Gelder reflects on ways to seek a better distribution of power in our country, and considers how our Common Good Schools programme resources young people to take responsibility, helping them find their unique purpose as well as benefiting their local community. Read more...
New on the T4CG blog
...by building community and bridging divides
Near Neighbours have had their core funding for the year ahead confirmed by DCLG and are launching a Small Grants scheme: applications are now open for seed funding for local groups and organisations working to develop relationships across different faiths and ethnicities and to encourage social action at a local level.
People in local churches, estates and other organisations with direct experience and expertise of tackling housing issues are invited to contribute to the Archbishop's Housing Commission. A report, Building Community, with seven case studies, is feeding into the Commission.
Germinate Enterprise is a resource that local churches can use to help their community flourish through job creation and tackling rural poverty. Watch this video of a Yorkshire pilot project in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.
The National Estate Churches Network supports estate churches through local groups - you can find updated details of their local groups here.
More than Food
Read how a group of parishioners set out to feed hungry children in the school holidays and in doing so, found their voice and built bridges across the community. Catherine Brady tells the social action story of GrubClub. Read more...
New on the T4CG Blog
...by being good stewards and caring for creation
Watch this video by social impact experts Resonance whose latest step involves setting up a Social Impact Tax Relief fund in the North West. Learn how this is helping Emerge Recycling in Manchester and other social enterprises to get funded and serve the local community. Social impact investment is new to many people but is really taking off in the UK as an alternative funding model for many charities.
Catherine Howarth makes the case that from 2020, we enter what has to be a decade of delivery on the Paris goals. This will require that every fiduciary investor, including every pension fund, sees themselves as an impact investor. Read her article in the FT, Pension funds join impact investing campaign for a better world and learn what you can do to become an ‘AGM activist’ at the ShareActionwebsite.
Dr Malcolm Guite gave the latest Newman Assocation annual lecture on ‘Laudato Si and Samuel Taylor Coleridge - a voyage with Coleridge and Pope Francis’.Stratford-Upon-Avon Methodist Church has become the first Methodist church in the country to receive a Gold Eco Church award. The award recognises the top level of achievement as part of environmental charity A Rocha’sEco Church scheme.Jubilee Centre has curated a research homepage with a variety of resources including reflections on food ethics, ‘love thy neighbour, love thy planet’, thinking biblically about the environment and much more: Thoughtful Eating includes many blogs, videos and other resources.
...by upholding the dignity of the human being
and the dignity of work
The spiritual attitudes and aspirations of people with learning disabilities is explored in a report called Looking Together: Meeting the spiritual aspirations of adults with learning disabilities, by Lemos & Crane in partnership with Caritas Westminster, St Joseph’s Pastoral Centre and other organisations (including Community Integrated Care, Alabare, L'Arche, Livability, Camphill, the Judith Trust etc).
“Perhaps some of them have lost their memory, but they are the symbol of the memory of a people; they are the roots of our humanity, and the young must go there to take the sap from the roots, to carry civilization onwards.” Read the story of the dementia Rainbow Choir who sang for Pope Francis.A new paper, Healing, enhancement and the human future, by Denis R Alexander has been published by the Jubilee Centre. Contrasting Transhumanism and Christianity he explores how these two worldviews come to strikingly different conclusions concerning the path that leads to true human enhancement.
PACT (the Prison Advice and Care Trust) welcomed a new report on prison safety and reform from the Centre for Social Justice describing it as an important and insightful contribution to the debate. "We recognise the analysis of a prison system which is in a ‘terrible state’ and which is in need of serious and strategic political attention and government investment."
The Spear Programme is a highly successful scheme to help 16 to 24-year-olds into meaningful work. It’s for young people who are not in education, employment or training and runs Monday to Friday, 2pm – 5pm for six weeks. The programme helps them with confidence building, cv writing, interview training and practice, and 12 months career support. Operates in London and Brighton. Find out more here.
Do you know who emptied your bins today?
Cleaners are often the 'hidden' people, often underpaid and ignored. But every cleaner is a person with a story who deserves respect and decent pay. Tim Thorlby tells the story of Clean for Good, an ethical cleaning company founded in a church. They directly employ, train and manage their cleaners professionally, they don't scrape the bottom of the barrel to enrich shareholders, or compromise on high environmental standards. So how do they do it?Read more...
New on the T4CG blog
T4CG in brief
Together for the Common Good is a charity working to strengthen the bonds of social trust. Our work calls people to fulfil their vocational responsibility by putting Common Good principles into practice and by working with others of different opinions and backgrounds in shared purpose. We partner with people across the churches and offer resources, training and events. A summary of what we've been up to:
We are working on our infrastructure - building our first proper database and a new website, coming soon!
Remarkably all this and much more is coordinated by Alison and Jenny, our staff team of 1.2 (full time equivalent), supported by our wonderful associates who help on a pro bono basis. This is only possible through prayer and hard graft. However we cannot run on fresh air. We are very overstretched and our finances are fragile. T4CG needs your help: will you lend your support by making a monthly donation?Our board is seeking new trustees, in particular individuals able to help build T4CG’s sustainability. To find out more, please email our Company Secretary, Holly Terry.
On our website we share information about our own events and a general listing page for announcements by our friends and partners. The latest listings include events by Jubilee Centre, National Justice and Peace Network, Church Action on Poverty, Zermatt Summit, Sarum College, St Paul's Institute, Life on the Breadline, Jubilee +, The Catholic Union of Great Britain. Read more...
Please tell us if you know of an event you want to see listed
We need your help
Don't be deceived by our smart appearance - we are not as well-resourced as we look!
Please lend your support if you want the work to continue.
Together for the Common Good is a charity working to strengthen the bonds of social trust to ensure the flourishing of all. Our work calls people to fulfil their vocational responsibility by putting Common Good principles into practice and by working with others of different opinions and backgrounds in shared purpose.
T4CG partners with people across the churches and offers resources, training and events.
We are non partisan, independent, ecumenical in character and proud of our different Christian traditions.
Team: Jenny Sinclair (Founder Director) and Alison Gelder (Director of Operations, p/t)
Board of Trustees: Richard Holman (Treasurer and Acting Chair)
Andrew Bradstock, Geoff Knott, Holly Terry (Company Secretary).
T4CG punches above its weight thanks to help-in-kind and our wonderful Associates, Volunteers and Working Groups who contribute on a pro bono basis to different strands of our work, too many to name here. We'd like to thank in particular Fiona Foreman, Vincent Neate, Catherine Brady, Nicholas Townsend, Annette McBride, Miriam Brittenden and Tom Ketteringham.
Our sincere thanks
We are most grateful to our regular donors for their faithful generosity.
We are particularly indebted to the Sisters of Mercy for so generously providing free office space,
and to CCLA for sponsoring our new, forthcoming, website.