Synodality in action: new project in Forest Gate

The Centre for Theology & Community l

Over the last year, CTC has been leading an action-research project exploring how the “Three Rivers” of Synodality, community organising and Catholic Social Teaching can flow together. Our initial report is now online.

Today (19 June), we were delighted to receive a grant from the Charles Plater Trust which will draw these “rivers” together in a 2000-strong Catholic parish – supporting the church in both meeting the immediate needs of migrants and refugees, and also recognising and developing them as leaders in church and community. In her address at the awards ceremony, Ana França-Ferreira explained what the award means, both for the people of Forest Gate and for our wider work.

We are deeply grateful for the Plater Trust award, which will support our efforts at St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Forest Gate to assist migrants and refugees.

With this support, this 2000-strong parish will be able to offer them practical assistance and advice. This initiative will not only address immediate needs but recognise their agency and leadership – so they can organise to tackle structural injustices they face.

Let me give an example from another church with whom we are currently working.

Marla Largaespada is an asylum seeker who initially sought help from the church’s food bank. Through this same approach, she has moved from anonymity to agency, gaining both confidence and leadership skills. Today, Marla is lead volunteer at the food bank, striving to foster a culture of encounter for others in similar positions. She states,

“The Church is that place of hope for people. It provides a sense of certainty for the future, through the certainty of God that the state cannot provide.”

CTC grows out of churches’ engagement in community organising. Over the last year I have been working on an action-research project exploring the links between the “Three Rivers” of community organising, Synodality and Catholic Social Teaching. We are finding that when our organising is rooted in the “three p’s” of “prayer, people and patience” it can help build a truly Synodal church – in which church members like Marla grow as missionary disciples, equipped to go out in mercy and organise with their neighbours for justice.

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