This Sunday (20 March), the Church of England’s national online service comes from some of our partner churches in east London and the City. Our Director Fr Angus Ritchie is preaching and presiding, and Francelise Mamilonne from St George-in-the-East shares testimony on how her faith motivates community organising around the issue of housing repairs in Shadwell.
Each person who participated in the service has a story of faith and organising…
Edward Badu is the Director of Youth Organising and Apprenticeships at CTC. He has been involved in community organising with Citizens UK since he was a teenager in Tottenham, when he got involved through his Roman Catholic parish and school. He has recorded the Bible reading from the Chaplaincy at the London Design and Engineering UTC, a secondary school in Newham where Edward spends part of his working week.
Community organising has always been a way for me to see visible change in my community. Through my work and primarily my experiences this has made me value the importance of having mentors and coaches. It is this structure and relationship that I strongly believe should be available to all young people for them to fulfill their potential.
Over the last year we have led a Listening through Lent campaign managing to share in 1-2-1 conversations with 100 people in our church and community. These conversations have strengthened our relationships in the community and highlighted some common threads of challenge and injustice, leading us towards a common action. We are learning what it looks like to intentionally listen, organise and act together for the greater good. It is helping grow a culture rooted in deep curiosity and care for our neighbours, it’s creating a space for stories to be heard, it’s leading us into deeper relationship with our Creator God.
Prayers of Intercession
Ivonne Loján Maldonado is a Development Worker at the Guild Church of St Katharine Cree – where CTC is working with St George-in-the-East to renew this City of London church’s mission and ministry with a particular focus on cleaners, construction workers and security staff.
I am involved in community organising because I have seen how an organised community can achieve its objectives, and the Church gave me the opportunity to work for it.
I never imagined that I would work in a church, the Lord and people from the Church put me on the path… I know that I can do it with the help of the Lord and the whole team, here I am learning and improving, without the intervention of the Lord and without the conviction that I can do it, I would not be on the path, but here I am!
I got into community organising after a COVID19 test centre was built by the local council in response to the high infection rate in the area. The residents welcomed the test centre, but the location was not suitable. The location of the test centre was in the communal space of the resident of Sandford Court, where I live. The residents lost the play area for their children and their gardening space.
The injustice pushed me to go out and start campaigning for the test centre’s relocation. Through campaigning, I was able to see how our community came together – the local church, parents at local schools, residents of Sandford Court and the broader community all pulled together for the success of the relocation of the test centre. After the successful relocation of the test centre. I wanted to continue building on our community that came together and made a difference. We were united even though we were from different backgrounds, faith and age group.
My Organising work is supported by my faith, as having faith allows me to grow in the stillness of God. I believe that God will guide me to achieve unity within the community. In God, I trust.
Keisha is now working with St Andrew’s to develop a new all-age evening service, which has drawn in some of the local families who wanted to get involved in the church after the campaign.
The Wagstaff Course is a six-month programme run by CTC to train lay people to harness the potential of community organising, when it is rooted in prayer and theological reflection. It is part of CTC’s Urban Leadership School, which is directed by Fr Richard Springer. He is reciting the creed with participants in the course from The Open Table – a ministry of St George-in-the-East building community, praying and acting for justice with people who are or have previously been homeless and vulnerably housed.
Prayer of Spiritual Communion
Irene Allen Nakafu and her 4 children are members of St John’s Hoxton, one of the Hub Churches in our Organising for Growth project. She is part of the Hackney & Islington Citizens SEN Campaign Team as 3 of her 4 children are on the Autism Spectrum. As a parent she has faced many challenges fighting for the right support for her children and her story has inspired the campaign to ask for better support for SEN parents.
Organising helps me find purpose out of my difficult experiences and my faith tells me to love my neighbour – so both together means that my difficult experiences can help others and give them hope.