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Lent 2022  Click to view email in browser 
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Love and solidarity

Luke 6:20


Dear Friends

Welcome to the T4CG Newsletter. We are thinking about how to approach Lent this year as we move into a new era. What do we need to be open to? What are we being called to let go of? What is the nature of the time we are living through and how are we called to respond?

It is not hard to recognise that we are living through a deep spiritual and social malaise. We see symptoms that long pre-date Covid 19, but which have been exposed and accelerated by it. Indicators such as the breakdown of trust, social fragmentation and increasing personal distress are clear to see. There is a profound longing for meaning, a hunger for belonging and a crisis of purpose and identity. As we have written before, the culture of contract has been hostile to human beings, and now it’s unravelling.

A radical individualism has been at work on both the political right and the left over many decades, leading to the commodification of the human being and to technocratic tendencies, both of which are dehumanising and undermine our ability to build the common good together. The people of God are called to offer a resistance to this, to uphold the integrity of the human person, and to do so through local relationships of love and solidarity.

But this culture has affected the churches too. It led to a clergy class that became more managerial and less pastoral. It led to a consumerist, less relational, more middle class kind of church stuck in a service provider mindset. Some became confused by post modern secular philosophies. The Beatitudes tell us that the poor are to be at the heart of the church, but many churches have alienated the very people they should have treasured. As they attempted to "serve the marginalised", they became marginal themselves.

But God is purifying and reshaping the church for the sake of the world. We are being called to let go of "professionalised" approaches that distance us from our fellow human beings.

We are being called to shift our attention to what the Spirit is forming amongst us and our neighbours. To strengthen the sacred covenant between church and place, to get involved in the life of the local. Not just to serve, but to forge trusting relationships of mutual respect, loving friendship and reciprocity: the church needs the poor as much as the poor need the church. We need to learn to receive as well as give.

So in this edition, we are pleased to bring you

  • Alan Roxburgh on what kind of church leadership is needed in the new era
  • Nick Graves on his church's transformation after recognising where the kingdom is
  • Daniela Augustine on a Spirit-inspired political economy for the common good
  • Andrew Rumsey on modernity's mistake and the importance of relationship to place
  • Jenny Sinclair on synodality as God's way of renewing the church for the world
  • Signs of the times and recommended books and podcasts - our latest selection
  • An update on T4CG's common good training for lay people
  • T4CG update - some changes to our team


Wishing you a good Lent,
Together for the Common Good




What kind of church leader do we need in the new era?

There is increasing recognition that the prevailing culture across the West is in the process of unraveling. Church leaders want to know how to respond but many feel unprepared. Here, ALAN ROXBURGH suggests that the posture of church leadership needs to change. He asserts that the modern pathologies of isolation and disconnection won’t be solved with more church programmes, tactics or techniques.

Drawing on vast experience of missional leadership and from grassroots experience in many different settings, Alan suggests church leadership needs to let go of the managerial paradigm. To cultivate the soil of community, to deepen the roots of connection, he recommends that church leaders need to move on from the twentieth century's “professionalised” ideas of ministry and shift attention to what the Spirit is forming amongst us and our neighbours. This story includes links to resources.

Read on



Where the Kingdom is

Long before the pandemic there were symptoms of a deep social, political and spiritual malaise. Concern about the poorest communities has led to much talk among the churches of finding ways to ‘reach people on the margins’. But not only are churches estranged from poor people, they are themselves marginalised and facing a steep trajectory of decline. Many church leaders feel they have not been trained for this moment. However we are hearing from some leaders about approaches that are generating energy.

In a powerful story, Baptist minister NICK GRAVES recognises the barriers of middle class church as a reality. He relates how he sensed a call to do things differently and as a result saw a transformation in church life.

Read Nick's story



The Spirit and the Common Good
(a Spirit-inspired political economy for the common good)

 
As we navigate our way into the beginnings of this new era, we sense that an approach that combines attentiveness to the Holy Spirit and the practice of the common good will help us to resist the destructive forces of secular individualism.  
But until now we have not found a theology that expresses this holistic vision. So we were delighted to find DANIELA AUGUSTINE, a theologian developing a Spirit-inspired political economy for the common good. Daniela draws on her experience of the interrelationship between the Pentecostal and Orthodox traditions in Eastern Europe. Her vision is a theology where the Holy Spirit acts as an antidote to the deformities of the free market's secular liturgies that distort our vision of the world. Daniela shows how the Spirit is the one who initiates and sustains the conditions that make this radical economic justice possible, and, as was proven by the Eastern-European Marxist experiment, the secularisation of this vision is destined to failure.
She has kindly given us permission to share a full chapter from her book, The Spirit and the Common Good.

Read the chapter



Learning from Modernity's Mistake

Is human flourishing possible without a relationship with place? While the mobile and virtual lifestyle is sold to us as a form of freedom, it generates a profound dislocation. In this short meditation on place and identity, ANDREW RUMSEY discovers one of modernity's mistaken assumptions. Drawing on the wisdom of Wendell Berry, he discovers that for a human ecology to thrive, a community needs to cherish its memories and build on its relationship with place.

In this extract from his latest book, English Grounds, he challenges us to think about the place of the Christian ethic in our consciousness and how this shapes our relationship with our country. Andrew is Bishop of Ramsbury in the Diocese of Salisbury, a writer and musician, and the joint lead bishop for church and cathedral buildings in the Church of England.

Read more



Common Good Journey update

Churches around the country are now running our Here: Now: Us People common good course. In this year’s roll out, the programme is operating in over twenty locations from Grimsby to London, from Essex to Merseyside, from Kent to Derby and beyond. Recently, parishes in three Anglican dioceses across Greater London got to part two of the journey, while Catholic parishes are finding it supports their synodal process.

Find out more

Article: A Synod for the World

The Catholic Church's process of "synodality" is underway, but factionalism, lack of vision and apathy risk undermining its vast potential for renewal. In an article for The Tablet, Jenny Sinclair suggests  these barriers can be overcome if it is placed within a wider political and cultural context. The purpose of the Synodal Process is not to renew the Church for its own sake, but for the sake of the world.

Read the article
 

Resource: Walking Together

Based on the article A Synod for the World, T4CG has produced a resource to help Catholic diocesan teams prepare for their pre-synod meeting.

Download the resource
 

T4CG team update

T4CG is an organic organisation that has gone through at least three distinct phases since its launch in 2011. One of the key people in T4CG's story is Alison Gelder, who retires at the end of March. Alison has been involved since 2013 and has been our Director of Operations since 2017. As many of you know, she has brought exceptional expertise, wise judgement and a steady hand to the T4CG journey, covering all the responsibilities of the role in two days a week, one on a pro bono basis.

Alison, thank you! We owe you a huge debt of gratitude. The whole T4CG family wishes you and Ian well - for a very happy, well deserved, carefree retirement and plenty of unhurried time to do what you love. We hope you stay involved.

Also moving on is Chris Knowles whose funded fixed term contract expires at the end of March. Chris has led our Here: Now: Us People lay leadership programme since September 2020, producing resources and coordinating multiple diocesan and parish partners, while ably navigating the challenges of Covid during that time. We wish Chris and Megan all the very best in their exciting next steps and look forward to staying in touch. Thank you Chris!

So in 2022 T4CG enters a new phase. In March, Sean Ryan joins us in a four day a week role, becoming our new Director of Operations and Development, which combines Alison's and Chris's roles. Sean, we look forward to working with you in this exciting new phase. Welcome Sean!

Sean joins Jenny Sinclair, our founder director who works full time, Louise Lambert, our team support worker who works part time, and Annette McBride who gives voluntary PA support part time. To complete the line up, we will be making a further announcement in April when our new part time Common Good Schools project leader completes the team. By that time, we will have a paid staff team of 2.3 FTE.

People are surprised at how small our team is, given how much T4CG achieves.
We work very hard and do a lot with very little, but T4CG is unusual in terms of the numbers of people and organisations working pro bono across different strands of our work. We want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone involved - to our key partners especially and to every single person who has contributed or who is involved in one of our working groups. There are too many people to name here but you know who you are! T4CG is what it is because of you.

We need your support - will you join us by becoming a regular donor?
A gift of £5 or £10 a month will help us plan ahead. You can donate here.
You can download last year's annual report here.
For more information, email Louise at louise@togetherforthecommongood.co.uk


Signs of the times

Our latest selection of articles on the context in which we are living

Levelling up
UK Government Levelling Up White Paper
Martin Sandbu UK makes a start, but only a start, at Levelling Up
Hattie Williams church leaders and agencies: Levelling Up budget is not enough
Labour Together Labour's covenant
John Mills Enhancing Britain's manufacturing base is essential for Levelling Up
Michael Buchanan Levelling up is about inspiring people too
Matt Dathan give one offender a chance, employers urged

Covid
Norman Doidge major lecture on vaccine hesitancy, governments and big pharma
Paul Kingsnorth The Vaccine Moment, Part 3
Mary Harrington is Boris our sin-eater?
 
Culture
Yuval Levin Pathologies of unruliness are being displaced by pathologies of passivity
Andrew Sullivan the truckers protest and what it says about masculinity
Trevor Phillips Stonewall's disgraceful attacks on the EHRC
Pope Francis speaks against cancel culture
Louise Perry Trans activists ask us to redefine what most consider to be truth
Frank Furedi Grandfather is now a "problematic word"
Brendan O'Neill Whoopi Goldberg’s historically illiterate Holocaust revisionism
Blake Smith stories of overcoming oppression allow entry to elite credentialing system
 
Abroad
Mary Dejevsky The west is goading Russia into a war it doesn’t want
Anna Mahjar-Barducci how Russia views Western liberalism
Malcolm Kyeyune Canadian truckers convoy despised by those who should support it
Tribune India Sikh truckers protesting Canada's vaccine mandate
Josie Appleton Ottowa freedom convoy comes to France
Jessica Batke China's new indoctrination centres to teach "spirituality"
Dave Landrum Chinese Christians under increasing scrutiny and persecution

Changing church
Engage UK missional training and church planting training
Save the parish The Parish Pack for C of E parishes facing an uncertain future
The Missional Network the Leadership Project
Madeleine Davies Fewer dioceses, specialist bishops
Cinnamon Network churches well-placed to support people with addictions
Archbishop John Wilson homily for racial justice Sunday
Church Revitalisation Trust revitalising churches in cities and areas of deprivation
Philip Booth new policy role at England & Wales Catholic Bishops Conference
David Brooks The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism From Itself
Giles Fraser C of E Bishops have been captured by management
Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice FoundationCovid & Catholic social teaching
Kaya Burgess overseas churches to have more say in choosing C of E Archbishops
C of E church run food clubs in Wigan help over 200 households
Neil Shenvi Social Justice, Critical Theory, and Christianity: Are They Compatible?
Chris Arnade my atheism was most challenged by drug addicts and prostitutes
 


What is the Common Good?

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.

Click here to learn more and explore our free resources



 
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About us
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.

Our People
Team: Jenny Sinclair (Founder Director), Sean Ryan [from 1/3/22 (Director of Operations and Development, p/t)]
Louise Lambert (Team Support Worker, p/t)
Alison Gelder (Director of Operations, p/t; retiring 25/3/22) Chris Knowles (Here: Now: Us People project leader, p/t; contract ends 25/3/22)
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.

     


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Together for the Common Good is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 1172113).
© T4CG 2022






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