Community Organising

My Buxton Journey So Far: Building Relationships in Marksgate

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Jonathan Akindutire is one of this year’s participants in the Buxton Leadership Programme – which combines a Westminster placement, a church- based community organising placement and training and development sessions. Having started in September 2021 he reflects on the journey so far…

I joined On the Rock International Ministries Church at the beginning of September as a Buxton Intern; thriving and eager for the opportunity to participate in the rebuilding of the community of Marksgate, post-Covid. I had recently graduated from university, eager to learn and work in communities – with young people, and to learn about how parliament works. This blog is a set of reflections on the five months I have spent in Marksgate so far.

Realities are greater than ideas: Organising & Catholicism in Manor Park

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Dunstan Rodrigues – one of this year’s Buxton interns – practises church based community organising in the Catholic Parish of St Stephen’s, Manor Park. Here he reflects on what he has learnt while working for affordable housing and developing young leaders.

At the beginning of the year, the CTC team reflected on Luke 6:6-11, a passage which has been both challenging and helpful for me in shedding light on the art of community organising.

Dignified work & vocational discernment

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The vocation project, started by a number of interns from this year’s summer internship, continues to grow. Alongside creating spaces for vocational discernment in various institutions, they have also been reflecting on a connected issue: the nature of work.

Having benefitted from it ourselves during this year’s Summer internship, our project emerged from a sense that enjoying a space for vocational discernment is very important. It allows us to reflect on what gives us life, wisely approach important decisions, and use our talents for the common good.

A summer of organising

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Richard Springer, the Director of our Urban Leadership School, blogs on our summer internship programme. Applications are now open: might it be right for you or for someone you know…?

For over a decade, CTC’s Summer Internship has given a remarkable opportunity to young people interested in developing their own capacity as Christian leaders and directly participating in church based community organising in London.

Green shoots of growth springing in an east London parish…

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Our Director, Angus Ritchie, blogs about our exciting partnership with a historic east London parish – and what it means for the future…

Last May, CTC embarked on a pioneering partnership with St George-in-the-East – the church in whose crypt we are now based.

The parish was between priests and, owing to its declining congregation, the Bishop of Stepney decided to review its pattern and provision of ministry. St George’s shared some of our passions – being a place of prayer; working with and for its neighbours, and growing numerically – but the challenge of maintenance (of a Grade I listed building with a Sunday congregation sometimes under twenty) made it hard to engage in much mission.

CTC Interns: Changing people to change the world

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profile-AndyCTC’s Communications Officer Andy Walton gives us some examples of an increasingly diverse group of young Christians being trained up to change the world…

“Internship” has become a bit of a dirty word in some circles. It implies a culture of free or cheap labour provided to big companies or even charities. They get away without paying young people properly, which in turn means they draw only from a pool of middle class, privileged young people who can afford to work for free.

Here at CTC, we think internships are a great thing – if done properly. We began offering month-long internships around 10 years ago and since then, well over 100 young people have passed through, spending a month learning the practices of community organising and building relationships in a local church.

Asking the big question at the start of 2015…

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Stephen Atkinson was one of our Jellicoe interns in the summer of 2014. Here, he blogs about one of the biggest questions of all…

Context: For the last few months, I have been investigating the social-economic-political issue of food waste. Many, many questions arise – why does food waste exist? what can we do about it? etc. etc. But one question stands out from the crowd…

I have been captivated by this one question recently. I have called it ‘the meta-question’, the question which encompasses most other questions. And it goes something like this: to what extent are we to hope for and expect a better world on its way, and to what extent are we to ‘grin and bear it’ and learn of God’s love within our suffering world? Put another way; to what extent is the gospel of Jesus a message of systemic societal change, and to what extent is it a message of perseverance and resilience in the face of suffering? And, of course, everyone knows the answer. It’s both. It’s both to the ‘social transformation’ camp, and it’s both to the ‘resilient heart’ camp. But both means quite different things in these two camps. It is really difficult not to endorse one answer over the other. And I am choosing, after a lot of thought, to endorse the latter, hard-nosed, ‘both’.

Buxton is back!

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Our Faith in Public Life officer, David Barclay, blogs about the second year of our pioneering leadership programme for young Christians…

The Buxton Leadership Programme is ready for its second year! The programme gives talented young Christian leaders a unique combination of experience in Parliament alongside a chance to practice church-based community organising. The aim is to help develop a new generation of Christian leaders in public life who can bring the experiences of inner-city communities into dialogue with Westminster.  Alongside the practical placements the programme provides opportunities for reflection and personal development, including input from some of the leading Christians in public life in the UK. The Programme is named after Thomas Fowell Buxton, the heroic abolitionist who was an MP in the East End.

Citizens Hong Kong: Community Organising across the world

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profile-AngusCTC Director Angus Ritchie is spending August in Hong Kong – where he is helping to train local leaders in community organising. In this blog, he reflects on the opportunities and challenges of organising in new countries and contexts…

Broad-based community organising (as practiced by Citizens UK and CTC) has its roots in the Chicago of the 1930s.  As times have changed, and as it has been taken up in different contexts, it has had to adapt.  But the core principles remain the same: building a more relational culture; being positive about power (so that people in the poorest communities build relational power – ‘power with’ – as a counterweight to the dominant power – ‘power over’ – exercised by a privileged minority); developing grassroots leaders through action, and through all of this, strengthening the institutions of civil society.

Inspired by the experience of the diaspora communities in London, there is now interest in broad-based organising in a number of African countries.

Jellicoe Internship 2014 – we had a ball!

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The Director of our Urban Leadership School, Revd Tim Clapton, blogs here about the Jellicoe Internship 2014. (This summer we had people from a wide variety of backgrounds, who were placed with churches across east London and used Community Organising skills to help improve the area…)

We have been preparing for Jellicoe 2014 for the past seven or eight months with a good deal of recruiting and the organising of accommodation and placements. July suddenly arrived with a cloud of excitement and activity and now it is August and Jellicoe 2014 is all over, done, finished, even the evaluation report is almost written.

13 Christians aged between 19 and 41 joined us for the month of July. Seven were from Oxbridge and London universities, one from the Assemblies of God Bible college and five from congregations in east London. This is the first time Jellicoe has recruited interns from the east London Christian communities and it was excellent having such rich ethnic diversity. We gave participants a solid grounding in Community Organising, but we also spent a good deal of time in the first week getting to know each other and attending spiritual reflection sessions led by our chaplain, Sister Josephine.

Bringing two worlds together

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profile-CaitlinThe Buxton Leadership Programme was launched by CTC to bring the world of Westminister closer to that of daily life some of the UK’s poorest neighbourhoods – and to equip a new generation of Christian leaders to engage in public life in these very different contexts.

Caitlin Burbridge, Sarah Santhosham and Selina Stone are on the inaugural programme – and Caitlin blogs here about the experience…

‘Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity’ (Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate).

Pope Benedict’s assertion well encapsulates for me the purpose of the Buxton Leadership Programme; that by growing to understand God’s desire for the development of all peoples, and learning more about the obstacles to this reality, we might help the evolution of a new authentic, just and loving politics in which Christians can bear witness to ‘truth’. The experience has raised for me a number of important questions: about investing in young people around issues that capture their imaginations,and the need for the church to contribute to a more full bodied politics which does understand the potential ‘authentic development of every person and of all humanity’.   

Introducing our new leadership school

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profile-Tim-CBuilding on three years of work as our Near Neighbours Co-ordinator – and decades of experience in inner-city ministry and mission – Tim Clapton is now the Director of the Contextual Theology Centre’s new Urban Leadership School.

In this blog he introduces its exciting range of training programmes, and explains how you can get involved!

In the last eight years, the Contextual Theology Centre has welcomed almost 100 Jellicoe Interns to East London.  These students (most of them undergraduates) spend four weeks in a local congregation involved in community organising. Some of these interns have gone on to year-round placements with our partner churches, or to become full-time members of staff.


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