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Community Organising: London learns lessons from New York

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photo(10)Selina Stone from CTC and Emmanuel Gotora from Citizens UK were present at a historic event in New York, as East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) welcomed twenty new institutions into membership. EBC is part of the Industrial Areas Foundation, which developed broad based community organizing and is linked to Citizens UK and CTC. Selina explains what happened and why it was so important for community organising in the UK…

EBC is one alliance made up of 40 civil society institutions from four different neighbourhoods in east Brooklyn – a diverse area, just like east London. On the evening of Thursday 2nd June 2016, 1,500 citizens from EBC packed into Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Bed Stuy. Vans arrived delivering dozens of senior citizens and church groups. Families arrived with young children and many passersby paused to see what was taking place.

Ramadan – building relationships and breaking bread

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IMG_20160523_113700[1]Our Near Neighbours Co-ordinator Sotez Chowdhury blogs on his first month at CTC, and how Christians can use Ramadan to build relationships and act with Muslims on issues of common concern:

It’s four weeks since I’ve joined the team here as the Near Neighbours Co-ordinator and it’s already been quite a time. Being managed by priests, based in a crypt, getting to grips with what an archdeacon actually is … Many have asked what is like to work in such a context. I answer that what has been remarkable is the way I have been welcomed so warmly. I see the love of my Christian colleagues for Jesus and God, and I see compassion for others in their way of life – now even more so as we have just entered into the Holy month of Ramadan.

A weekend of hearts

Prayer, The Centre for Theology & Community l

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.09.48This weekend, Roman Catholics have been celebrating two important feasts of the heart. Our Director Angus Ritchie blogs on their meaning, and what they can teach all Christians…

For Roman Catholics, and indeed for some Anglicans, this is a weekend of hearts. On Friday, they celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and on Saturday the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Growing up in a Highland Manse, neither feast loomed large in my childhood. I only began to ponder them when I was a Curate in East London. My parish was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Catholic church across the road was dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What, I wondered, were these feasts about? What did they have to teach me?

Church at the heart of community fightback against Ripper Museum

The Centre for Theology & Community l

CTC logo markWhen a promised museum about women’s history in east London was turned into a celebration of serial killer Jack The Ripper instead, many local people were unhappy. Here we look at how community organising helped turn the anger into action – with the church at the heart of the response…

The outrage which met the opening of the Jack The Ripper museum was understandable. Having been promised a vibrant celebration of women’s contribution to east London, it was a bitter blow to be told that a man who murdered several women would be celebrated instead. Almost immediately, protest sprung up.

But with museum owners showing no sign of remorse, the energy needed to be turned into action. A series of one to one meetings between campaigners raised the need to take action, rather than just protest. Soon, the idea of a pop up exhibition of women’s history was born.

Strengthening our Institutions: CTC welcomes the world to London

Community Organising, Events l and tagged , , l

 

 

photo(10)The Centre for Theology & Community and Citizens UK were delighted to host an international symposium bringing together community organisers and leaders from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany and across the UK. Selina Stone blogs about a wonderful time of learning and action!…

The symposium ‘Strengthening our Institutions: through action for the Common Good’ took place in London from Tuesday 26th – Friday 29th April 2016. Following an initial conference hosted two years ago by the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in Chicago, leaders and community organisers gathered in London, the city which gave birth to Citizens UK. The purpose of the event was to both deepen relationships across national borders, and to engage with the theory and practice of developing institutions through public action. Attendees also witnessed the largest-ever Citizens UK action, when 6,000 Londoners gathered at the Copper Box on the Olympic Park for the 2016 Mayoral Assembly.

Meet our new team member – building for the common good in east London

Community Organising, The Centre for Theology & Community l and tagged , , l

0e4cfc7The newest member of the our team is Sotez Chowdhury, who has just been appointed Co-ordinator of Near Neighbours (Eastern London). In this next phase of Near Neighbours in our area, there will be a particular focus on “micro-organising” – that is, building sustainable long-term local alliances. Sotez is well qualified for this work. He’s an experienced community organiser and has worked with churches, mosques and other faith institutions as well as teaching at Queen Mary University. Here he tells us about his experiences and his hopes for his new role at CTC…

“I’ve spent the last six year working for Citizens UK – aiming to unify communities by building relationships with people from all walks of life, training community leaders and building civil society alliances to campaign for the common good. Times are tough here in east London and elsewhere – there are plenty of challenges that face us. However, I have been inspired by the potential of individuals and groups to make an impact – and that’s where Near Neighbours comes in, allowing people to fulfil their potential, innovate and make change.

Join the Church to rehumanise the world!

The Centre for Theology & Community l

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Our Director, Angus Ritchie, preached at St Paul’s Cathedral this morning on the calling of the Church to help us “learn together how to be more fully human, and how to make a more human world.” Here is the full text of his sermon…

Ascension Day, which we celebrated last Thursday, is one of the great feasts of the Christian year. But it isn’t the easiest festival to understand. When we think about the other great feasts, it’s fairly obvious what they teach us.

Credit Union Month: London churches unite for fairer finance

Community Organising, Events, Just Money, The Centre for Theology & Community l and tagged l

Tom Newbold photo cropWhat are credit unions? How can churches support them? Why are they important for churches? Tom Newbold explains all…

The Church Credit Champions Network, which we have been running here at CTC since 2014, has been helping churches answer these questions through a mixture of theological reflection, practical resources, and expert training events. The Network was set-up in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s famous ‘War on Wonga’ comments, and has so far engaged with over 200 churches in London alone, helping sign-up 2,000 new credit union members in the process!

Exodus: From the power of markets to a culture of neighbourliness

Community Organising, The Centre for Theology & Community l

 

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In this blog, our Development Director, Tim Thorlby reflects on how deep some changes need to be if we are to build momentum towards the common good…

I was asked a lot of questions this week about the Living Wage – the independently calculated wage which people can actually afford to live on (currently £9.40 per hour in London). Why should an employer pay it? How will they afford it? Won’t higher wages mean that more businesses want to move abroad?

These are not bad questions. Debating these kinds of changes is important. But I really wanted to ask a different question.

Well, why not pay a Living Wage?

Community Organising: How to make Corporate Social Responsibility work…

Community Organising l and tagged , , l

profile-DavidOur Faith in Public Life Officer David Barclay addressed a conference on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Ridley Hall, Cambridge this week. In this blog, adapted from his remarks, he examines community organising, CSR and the common good…

Over the last few years, I’ve used community organising methodology to influence behaviour in businesses in the financial sector from the outside. What I want to do today is explore what it might look like to reshape a business by using community organising from the inside.

The first element of the community organising is the most important – listening. We always start by listening for two reasons – to identity issues and to find potential leaders who are willing to take action. What’s really going on is a bit deeper – it is the exploration of what we call ‘self-interest’. We define self-interest as ‘that which motivates action’. Self-interest is not the same as selfishness, but neither is it selflessness. It is a complex mixture of beliefs, values, traditions and material concerns.

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