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April 2016 newsletter from Together for the Common Good
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Welcome to our newsletter. This is edition is slightly different because we have events to tell you about. See further down for our usual 'what's going on' round up.
 
Together for the Common Good has been invited to offer some events at St Michael's Cornhill, City of London in the days leading up to Pentecost, 6-13 May.
We hope you will visit us, see our prayer station and join us at two public discussions: 

11 May 7.30pmA Balance of Interests: the EU, Britain and the Common Good with speakers: Dr Jonathan Chaplin, The Rt Hon Frank Field MP and one other, tbc. Moderator: Dr Eliza Filby. Register via Eventbrite here

12 May 7pm: Is it Possible to Build a Common Good With Money? with speakers: 
Lord Maurice Glasman and Professor Philip Booth. Moderator: Eve Poole
Register via Eventbrite here

We hope to see you there! Join us for drinks afterwards - first drink is free on presentation of your ticket. Free entrance. Please tell your friends.
Registration is essential - click here for more details.

We are delighted to bring you these events in association with CCLA, CoViThe Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics and The Social Stock Exchange

If you're further afield, do follow the events via Twitter at @T4CG and watch video highlights later via our website.

 What's going on

A flavour of what's going on for the Common Good across the Christian traditions. Click on the pink links to access downloads, video, audio and articles

As Bishop Paul Bayes commented recently on Twitter: 'Do what you can.' 
We can all make a contribution according to our vocation, skills and contexts. Putting the Common Good into practice is limited only by our imagination.

We've heard many inspiring impact stories from our friends at ShareAction, CCLA and the Church Investors Group about shareholder engagement with companies. While sometimes divestment may be the right course of action, more often it is the use of shareholder power that will influence companies to improve behaviour. Last week, the Church Commissioners of England which has £5.8bn worth of shares in Exxon Mobil, co-filed a resolution asking the company to disclose how they are positioned for the risks and opportunities posed by climate change. With more than 30 institutional investors already indicating their support for the motion, the AGM on May 25th will be worth watching out for.

If you're not yet familiar with the Social Stock Exchange take a look at their helpful guides about impact investing on their website.  It's the world’s first regulated exchange which allows investors to trade exclusively in companies with social and environmental goals. Companies involved include those whose goods and services are explicitly for a social purpose, say in the healthcare or education field, to green technology businesses, fair trade enterprises and other ethical companies, ranging from Good Energy to Halosource to Oikocredit. All those involved are subject to a social audit. It is a fast unfolding sector and offers new ways to resource local social action initiatives too. Watch this space.

We were honoured to be involved in judging the recent Love Britain and Ireland Awards 2016 launched by Premier Radio, highlighting the range of Christian social action strengthening civil society across the country. We're full of admiration for the transformational work of the winners and of all 580 applicants. As this is the first year, we anticipate many more in 2017. Make sure to nominate outstanding organisations you know.

Church Urban Fund have produced an excellent report, Creating Conversations. Well worth reading, it is a synopsis of four events that took place across 2015. Contributions are from academics, clergy and practitioners sharing their diverse experience and expertise on loneliness, flourishing communities, financial inclusion and asset based community development.

Welcoming the Stranger is a new, free guide, to help you and your church respond to the Gospel injunction to ‘welcome the stranger’ and ‘care for our neighbour’ amidst the international refugee crisis. With a background to the crisis, myths debunked, useful terms and definitions, real stories and practical actions to take, this guide is a helpful resource to help us respond and act as Christians to the plight of asylum seekers and refugees. Produced by Together Liverpool along with Churches Together in the Merseyside Region, its focus is applicable for any area. Download it here.

June is Credit Union month when churches across London will be running pop-up stalls after Sunday services, offering churchgoers the chance to find out more about credit unions and to join them - find out how your church can get involved. This comes from ToYourCredit who are also producing a series of videos about what the bible says about money and how Christian tradition can help us think about money and debt. Watch Esther Reed (who has a chapter in the T4CG book of essays) speak about Money, Debt and Salvation in this video.

The National Justice and Peace conference is set to be as vibrant as ever, with over 300 delegates, 30 exhibitors and 15 practical workshops - this year including new contributors such as Near Neighbours and Love in Action, alongside established players such as Pax Christi and Housing Justice. We are pleased to be assisting the wider planning group and by giving a keynote: T4CG's Jenny Sinclair is speaking, along with Jon Cruddas MP, Takura Gwatinyanya from CAFOD Harare and others from Global Justice Now, Ekklesia and Christian Aid.

The EU Referendum build up is already fraught with discussion about risk and fear. Our debate on 11 May will look at the arguments in the light of Christian social thought and examine the balance of interests between Britain's distinctive local and national interests, and the interests of Europe as a whole in a global context. Jonathan Chaplin, one of our speakers, has produced a special page on the EU arguments here. Also worth reading is Archbishop Justin Welby's typically measured contribution in this interview - he acknowledges legitimate fears while also focusing on the vision for Britain and our role in the world.

Our friends at CoVi are organising a series of events in the run-up to the EU Referendum with the overall title of Beyond business: What impact does the EU have on our public services? Hosted in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), they will examine the impact of the EU on health and wellbeing, skills and education, safety and security. More details of each event in our events listings. 

A six-minute video of a discussion at Winchester's Centre for Theology and Religion in Public Life (TRiPL), Reconnecting Politics with People is now online, produced by CoVi. TRiPL was founded by Andrew Bradstock who features in the video along with Danny Kruger, the legendary Arnie Graf and Isabel Hardman. Bradstock, a member of the T4CG steering group, is a contributor to the T4CG book of essays and is also researching the life of the late David Sheppard, as his official biographer.

Another contributor to our book of essays is Anna Rowlands, who was interviewed recently about her chapter (on Catholic Social Teaching, or CST) by Martin Robinson, Principal of ForMission College: this 14-minute video from the Spring 2016 Journal of Missional Practice is well worth watching. The theme - The New Commons - centres on ways in which existing congregations and new communities of Christians are engaging creatively with their neighbourhoods.  There is also a video interview with Lord Glasman (another contributor to our book of essays).

If you are considering exploring CST in some depth, we recommend the Virtual Plater project which contains modules for online study. In the meantime please feel free to explore our pages on CST here and Common Good Thinking here, full of links and downloads.

We came across a keynote on the Church's relationship with the poor by +Philip North, Bishop of Burnley. In an honest and courageous straight talking piece, pulling no punches, he says too many in the Church are 'hooked on an out-dated Temple model, thinking we are doing some good by shouting at government from on high rather than seeking locally based solutions.'  This is relevant for every Christian tradition - at laity, clergy and institutional levels. 

If you know clergy or church-based community workers living and working in estates, please check if they subscribe to Netlink, the newsletter from the National Estate Churches Network. It's an excellent resource linking together Christians of all denominations engaging with communities on housing estates in Britain. The website has news and ideas, including details of conferences.

The housing crisis is being tackled from many angles, not least community land trusts. If you want to learn more about how to go about setting one up in your area, there’s a fascinating and inspiring video of CLT history on the National Community Land Trust website. A recent initiative is their new housing scheme which offers new homes to local people for a third of the market value. The launch was featured on the BBC's Sunday Politics programme and you can click here to watch Methodist minister, Revd Paul Regan, talk about the initiative.

A new book on how to address urgent housing needs across Britain, Foxes Have Holes: Christian responses to Britain’s housing need, edited by Andrew Francis and Trisha Dale, has just been launched by Ekklesia in partnership with Housing Justice. With contributions by housing expert Paul Lusk, architect Helen Roe, landscape specialist Helen Woolley, Scottish rural housing adviser Raymond Young, lawyer Chris Horton, financial inclusion housing manager Sean Gardiner, and Housing Justice CEO (and T4CG Steering Group member) Alison Gelder, and +David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. 

During the Easter season there was a thoughtful post on private good vs common good, sin and sacrifice in the Sancrucensis blog from the Stift Heiligenkreutz Abbey in Austria: ‘Sin is the refusal to give oneself to the common good, and hence to receive it. Sin is to prefer the private good, that one can have of oneself, to the common good that requires transcendence of the self and communion with others.’ It is worth reading the whole thing.

Pope Francis often compares the church to a field hospital and Catholic scholar William T Cavanaugh has now adopted and developed the metaphor to show how the Church can help heal both the spiritual and the material wounds of the world, in Field Hospital: the Church's Response to a Wounded World'.

The encyclical on the family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) by Pope Francis, has attracted many predictable comments but it is worth reading and making your own response. Here is someone who knows how the common good is built, written in his own words with tenderness and wisdom. He says: "Fraternal communion is enriched by respect and appreciation for differences within an overall perspective that advances the common good. We need to free ourselves from feeling that we all have to be alike." To download the full text, click here.

Our friend Fr Steven Saxby, Parish Priest in Walthamstow and Executive Officer for London Churches Social Action, has created this ironic and heartfelt set of 10 Commandments about the relationship between faith communities and public bodies. We wonder how many of them you will recognise?

Ever wondered what Church Urban Fund does? Try exploring the expanding Together Network and start by reading Together Middlesborough’s latest newsletter where you will see their partnerships range from slow cooker courses to creating dementia-friendly churches. And if you're curious about what Blueprint for Better Business is about, then take a look at these videos and reports from their recent 2016 conference, attended by over 200 business people. 

Theos have just launched a report on Catholic Social Thought and Catholic Charities. Written by Ben Ryan, this new research focusing on six Catholic charities analyses how far they embody the principles of CST in their practices and assesses what 'being Catholic' means for charities today. Also at Theos, Paul Bickley has been thinking about the common good as a meaningful political objective and how the concept is used and misapplied in the politicial sphere. 

Near Neighbours' outstanding work has been recognised again this year with another round of funding. They have an excellent track record and provide workshops that bring people together to transform their communities - click here for details of what they do. 

Finally, get ready for The Idiots, a feature length documentary about Jean Vanier and people with extreme learning difficulties. It was funded through private equity for cinema release, and made by award winning director Randall Wright ("Hockney") and Richard Wilson, who set up R2W Films to make a film that will challenge the way we relate to some of the most vulnerable people in society. 

A postscript: if you only click on one link here, make it this one and watch this moving video from L'Arche, telling the story of Raffaella and her relationship with her father. It is four minutes long and part of L'Arche's #AsIAM series. 

We do our best to bring you a wide range of updates - this is just a flavour.
Do let us know if there is something we could include next time.

Events Listings - click on the calendar for listings of related events held by our friends and partners:
CoVi, St Paul's Institute, Church Urban Fund, Livability, Good Works, The Ecumenical World Development Conference, Economy for the Common Good, Fulcrum, the Centre for Theology and Community, the Hurtado Jesuit Centre, Student Christian Movement, Quakers and Business, Focolare, National Justice and Peace Network, and many more. Click for details...
Thank you

We hope you find this newsletter helpful. Please think of us as we try to grow our resources to meet the momentum around our work, and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have an idea to discuss - after all, we're working Together for the Common Good.

Every good wish,
Together for the Common Good

Do visit the T4CG website for Events listings • Common Good Thinking • Catholic Social Teaching • Further Study Materials and more...
T4CG has produced two books - if you want to buy a copy, please get in touch with us (info@togetherforthecommongood.co.uk) as we can sell them much more cheaply than you would get online or in bookshops. For reviews and more details including our free study guide, click here
Together for the Common Good: towards a national conversation Contributors: Maurice Glasman, Clifford Longley, Jonathan Chaplin, Brian Griffiths, Jon Wilson, Tehmina Kazi, Andrew Bradstock, Anna Rowlands, Esther Reed, Patrick Riordan, Phillip Booth, Sam Burgess and Malcolm Brown. (Eds Nicholas Sagovsky & Peter McGrail). For free Study Guide and further information click here.
A Faithful Presence: working together for the common good by Hilary Russell. A practical and accessible book, to inspire and equip everyone working to strengthen civil society. Tracing the thinking underlying T4CG it also contains case studies and examples of how churches are working together through social action, service provision, community building, prayer and advocacy. 
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Together for the Common Good is guided by an independent, ecumenical Steering Group: 
Hilary Russell, Andree Blake, Andrew Bradstock, Alison Gelder, Jenny Sinclair, 
Tim Livesey, Richard Holman, Ali Lyon, Kanyin Sanusi.
We consult with a circle of advisors.
Enquiries to: info@togetherforthecommongood.co.uk

T4CG gratefully acknowledges help-in-kind from our many friends and partners, too many to list here.
A big thank you to the Sisters of the Assumption for giving us a lovely office.
We are grateful for financial support from CCLA,
the URC Vision Mission Fund, the Passionists Grants group, and others. 
   
© T4CG 2016
Copyright © 2016 Together for the Common Good (Registered charity No. 1172113), All rights reserved.