Thinking about the Common Good

Our conference on the big society or common good is designed to help shape our thinking ahead of the general election.

With our presence in every community the Church of England has a unique perspective to talk about the vital issues that society faces. In the run up to the next election the House of Bishops published a comprehensive pastoral letter which called for a “fresh moral vision” setting out a range of issues to be considered by those looking to cast their vote carefully and prayerfully.

Bishop Paul has asked our diocese to think through these issues and sharing reflections with him so he can see how the platform of his office can help inform the public debate. March 7th will see a combination of theological reflection and sharing of experience as we build a picture of the issues that need to be raised.

In our diocese we support the poor and vulnerable directly and effectively, through food banks, credit unions, debt advice and similar projects of practical compassion.  But we are also called, as Christians, to respond to the political context and structures within which we live and to speak out on behalf of the vulnerable and marginalised. That’s what this conference is all about.

The first half will see Revds Sue Lucas and Pete Winn, both urban parish clergy in our diocese, joined by Steve Atherton, Justice and Peace Fieldworker from the Archdiocese in offering reflections.

They will look at
  • Why neo-liberal economics are bad for us all
  • The biblical witness as a subversive narrative
  • Catholic social teaching as a positive way to think of the common good.
The second half will give people the opportunity to share their experiences of how austerity has directly affected the communities in which they work.

Bishop Paul said "The House of Bishops’ pastoral letter speaks of the need for a “fresh moral vision” to shape this country’s political agenda. That vision is shaped from the lived experience of our people in the parishes. So I am looking forward to receiving the reflections from this conference and hope that as many as possible will attend and contribute.
 
In our diocese we want a bigger church so that we can make a bigger difference. This takes us into the political realm and we are comfortable there, because it is one aspect of being human. As Archbishop Justin said, "“It is impossible to love Jesus Christ and not to care about the welfare of people in every respect. Proclaiming the good news of Jesus and transforming society were indistinguishable: they are literally the two sides of the same coin. You do one, you do the other.” Our diocese has a strong and proud tradition of advocating truth and justice for all. This conference is an important part of our shaping the moral vision the House of Bishops called for. I look forward  to hearing its conclusions."