Technology and the Church community in the midst of the pandemic

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Josh Harris is managing a new CTC project, harnessing the potential of community organising for congregational development – and he is also a Curate at St George-in-the-East. Here he poses some questions – and highlights some resources – for churches in the midst of the current crisis.

As Angus Ritchie wrote last week,  this crisis is fast-changing and bewildering. In barely a week our churches have gone from suggesting we shouldn’t shake hands in the peace to the first suspension of public worship since 1208 and the closure of all churches in London.

Organising to end homelessness

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Shermara Fletcher heads the William Seymour Programme at CTC, engaging Pentecostals in community organising. She is also the community organiser in The Open Table at St George-in-the-East. Last night, at a gathering of leaders from a wide range of congregations across London, she reflected on the role of community organising in the struggle to end homelessness.

Good Evening, it is great to be here amongst you. For the next five minutes I’ll sharing with you why community organising is a powerful tool in addressing homelessness.

Cleaning for Good

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Earlier this month, our Development Director Tim Thorlby spoke at the launch of London Living Wage Week, at an event with Mayor Sadiq Khan. CTC is a founding partner in the enterprise, and Tim is currently on secondment as its Managing Director. In his talk, he explained the roots of the company in community organising…

A new kind of politics

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After the first six weeks of this year’s Buxton Leadership Programme, its new Co-ordinator Miriam Brittenden reflects on the way in which it offers “a new kind of politics”…

Rarely has the UK felt so bitterly divided, and rarely has ‘politics’ as it is conventionally understood, felt so broken. Three years of in-fighting, intractable disagreements, and a profound inability to compromise over the dreaded ‘B-word’ have worn down the morale of the nation. We stand at a pivotal moment in our history, and yet many would be forgiven for wanting to turn away from politics altogether.

Catholic Social Teaching and Consensus

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Our Co-ordinating Fellow, Fr Simon Cuff, has just had Love in Action – his guide to Catholic Social Teaching (CST) – published by SCM Press. The formal book launch is on 18 March in central London. Here he reflects on the importance of CST in our fractured society…

As a society, we are in desperate need of consensus. We disagree about how to tackle rising inequality, about how to solve the disparity of income across regions, about how to relate to the European Union. We even disagree about how best to disagree. We are in desperate need of consensus, of common ground.

People of power

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In our latest report, we explain how Community Organising recalls the Church to the vision of the Gospel. In this blog, based on the introduction to the report, its author Angus Ritchie summarises its argument… 

In the Bible and in the history of the Church, God raises up leaders from and not just for those who are oppressed. From Moses and Miriam to Rosa Parks and Desmond Tutu, God chooses the people who experience injustice to bring it to an end.

Two new reports

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Yesterday, two new reports were launched, the fruit of a growing collaboration between CTC and the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN).

Realities are Greater than Ideas is a new CTC report on Evangelisation, Catholicism and Community Organising. Written by Dunstan Rodrigues, with essays by Prof Anna Rowlands and CTC Director Angus Ritchie, it combines stories from churches and chaplaincies with reflection on Catholic social teaching.

The report was funded by CSAN and the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood. CSAN Chief Executive Phil McCarthy welcomed the report as “a timely contribution to national debates on what it means to be a ‘Church of the poor’, and how Catholics can best address powerful systems that can increase or reduce division in our society.” He said that CSAN “have been pleased to support CTC in reflecting on how a process of community organising, in this case with Citizens UK, can shape Christians who, as Pope Francis yearns, are on the streets and not clinging to their own security.”

Steve Webb, Development Director in the Diocese of Brentwood said: “The Church sets before the world the ideal of a civilisation of love and this report will help many to turn the ideal into a local reality. Working together as a Catholic community in the wider community will achieve more than acting alone. As we seek to discover new ways to evangelise our diocese, we express our gratitude to the authors for providing materials that will foster (one to one) conversation and lead to action for the common good.”

Abide in Me is a report by CSAN, commended by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, which brings Catholic Social Thought to bear on Housing Challenges in England and Wales. It begins with an essay on “A Catholic vision of housing” by CTC Director Angus Ritchie. The essay argues that the Church’s contribution to debates on housing policy need to be “firmly grounded in its theology and worship,” – and that this necessarily involves seeing the poorest as agents in the shaping of housing policy, not its passive recipients. The exclusion of the poorest from this process “explains some of the serious defects in housing policy pursued by left and right-wing politicians in recent decades.”

Launching the report, Bishop Terry Drainey (Chair of Trustees of CSAN) said: “For Christians, a crisis is an opportunity. It nudges us to renew our mission in our own time and place, to be confident in entering on what might be a long haul, and to learn to love with fewer conditions. In that light, we are compelled to ask ourselves: ‘What more can Catholic social thought and action contribute on housing?’ With the bishops’ support, CSAN’s national team and the ecumenical Centre for Theology and Community have been addressing that question together in some depth. Today I am delighted to launch the first fruit of that collaboration.”

The Catholic Bishops Conference will be writing to their charities asking them to prioritise work on this issue in the next 10-12 years, and CSAN and CTC will be working together to help Catholic charities, parishes and schools to respond to this invitation.


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