Since 2015, CTC has been engaged in a partnership with St George-in-the-East to renew the parish’s life, and to help it renew others, through community organising rooted in prayer and theological reflection. Last week, in a lecture at Ridley Hall in Cambridge, Fr Richard Springer (Rector of St George-in-the-East, and Director of CTC’s Urban Leadership School) and the Revd Alanna Harris (Curate at St George-in-the-East) reflected on the relationship between spirituality and action in the parish’s life.
This week, members of churches and mosques in Shadwell were involved in a unique co-design event. It was the latest stage in an exciting journey of community organising for affordable homes in the area.
Angus Ritchie explains more about the work in a new report by UK Onward and Create Streets on Creating Communities: Places beyond the Pandemic. The full report – which includes a keynote address by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP – is online here. Below, we reproduce Angus’ essay – with a short video telling the story of the co-design process so far…
Why we’re co-creating local homes by a Grade I listed church
Over the last four years, the people of the church (and the wider parish) of St George-in-the-East has been learning the power of community organising to bring people together across difference to improve their neighbourhoods. We are learning how to listen more deeply to one another, and to take action on the issues that concern us.
In this local listening process, decent and affordable housing has come out as one of the most urgent issues. Members of St George’s have worked with neighbours in other churches and mosques, schools and tenants’ associations in Citizens UK – on a range of issues, from winning new lampposts in an unlit park to securing forty affordable homes on a piece of land on Cable Street.
Now we are exploring something even more ambitious.
When Nicholas Hawksmoor built our church, it was set in the midst of housing destroyed during the Blitz. There are members of our congregation who remember playing in the ruins of those homes. As part of Create Streets and Citizens UK’s community co-design process, we hope to develop beautiful and affordable homes on that same site today, and to secure temporary accommodation for homeless people on undeveloped land immediately opposite.
Listening, discerning and acting form a virtuous circle; each time we go round that “circle,” we emerge with stronger relationships and more confident local leaders. We’re delighted to be working with Create Streets and Citizens UK, not only to develop exciting plans, but to organise together to turn them into realities.
In our sixth Just Church podcast Paul Amuzie, Sara and Graham Hunter and Angus Ritchie discuss how organising helps churches to develop grassroots leaders and to deepen discipleship – and Angus hears from Erin Clark about how her church is beginning a listening campaign with those involved in a new Foodbank.
In this blog, originally written for the Diocese of London, Richard Springer and Angus Ritchie reflect on the demographics of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the way in which community organising can help the Church’s response to be faithful to the Gospel.
Tim Thorlby is CTC’s Development Director, and the Managing Director of Clean for Good – an ethical cleaning company with deep roots in the Church and in community organising. He blogs here on its new report on “Outsourcing and Ethical Sourcing”
2020 was the future once.
It has not turned out so well. The UK has been rocked by a global pandemic and almost every aspect of our national life has been put under real strain.
Miriam Brittenden and Angus Ritchie blog on our new ecumenical course on faith and housing…
Housing is a spiritual matter. It is about what Pope Francis calls our “human ecology” – the way our physical environment – whether urban, suburban, or rural – reflects and shapes our relationships with each other, and ultimately with God.
In our fifth Just Church podcast, Shermara Fletcher, Charnelle Barclay and Angus Ritchie discuss the potential – and the reality – of community organising in Pentecostal churches, and the role of organising in the struggle for racial justice. Also, Josh Harris interviews Graham and Sara Hunter about how organising has strengthened St John’s Hoxton.
Even if we would love our church to engage in community organising, it may feel like yet one more thing in an already over-full plate! In our fourth Just Church podcast, Vanessa Conant, Graham Hunter and Angus Ritchie discuss how patient, prayerful organising can add to – rather than deplete – a congregation’s capacity. Also, Angus interviews Shermara Fletcher on patient organising work with and for homeless people.
Our third Just Church podcast is now online. This week, we speak to Vanessa Conant and Graham Hunter about how their churches are responding to the gradual move out of lockdown – and to Richard Springer about the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic citizens, and the relevance of community organising to addressing these inequalities.