Having been travelling for a few weeks, I'm back in the UK to find that our seasons have (finally) changed.
I also seem to have walked back into an intense and complicated political atmosphere, about which it seems one MUST have an opinion. Despite having missed the initial rolling news of Margaret Thatcher's death, the conversation about her legacy is inescapable – and often over-simplified. At times it feels as if you must be for her or against her – and, indeed this was something she encouraged as Prime Minister. And yet, no one is wholly good or wholly bad (or wholly irredeemable), and ideas and actions have both positive and negative consequences.
So, I have a certain amount of respect for Margaret Thatcher as a leader who led from the front, whose decisions were based on ideas and not on public polling and popularity, and who understood that Britain's post-war consensus was failing the country and sought to change the terms of the conversation. In that she was wildly successful – current political debate continues the conversation she started. But I disagree with many of her answers to solving the problems she faced and dislike the legacy of her government. The last few years have shown that the individualism, greed and consumerism that grew in the 80s have been toxic for our relationships and corroded our society.
Spring may have sprung in the weather, but five years after the current financial crisis started, it hasn't yet appeared in our economy - with unemployment sitting at around 2.5 million for the past four years. We need to change the terms of our political conversation as much now as we did in 1979, to acknowledge our human need not just for society but for a just society – and to think about how to move forward, rather than how to go back to where we were a decade ago.
Looking around me, I see lots of people really keen to make this happen, and I'm privileged to work with many Christians, churches, entrepreneurs and organisations who are starting to demand this and build it in their own communities. Watching the number of churches keen to be involved gives me hope that we will get there.
David Westlake is the Director of Serve and Tearfund's Integral Mission Director.
Funding Tearfund's IMPACT UK Team are inviting applications for new partners on their 'Activate' Early Accompaniment Programme.
The programme provides grant funding of up to £30,000 over three years to church-based community projects working in areas of high deprivation in the UK. To receive further information and the initial application form please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications for this initial stage is 10th May 2013.
HOPE, the national mission movement, has been described by church leaders as 'a gift to the church'. And the latest part of that gift is a great new resource book that gives churches all the inspiration, ideas and resources needed to spread hope in villages, towns and cities in 2014 as churches work together in mission in words and action.
HOPE – the Heartbeat of Mission is 224 pages packed full of tried-and-tested mission ideas, resources and practical inspiration for food banks and village fairs; passion plays, parenting courses and more. There's even funding of up to £2,000 to pump-prime each new church-based community project.
More than 19,000 copies of the book have been distributed as denominations, dioceses and groups of churches order copies in bulk to give to church leaders. Order copies of HOPE – the Heartbeat of Mission from the HOPE shop www.hopetogether.org.uk/shop or contact the HOPE office email@example.com for bulk orders.
Serve is supporting Livability's new campaign on developing dementia friendly churches that include and welcome people with dementia and their family carers. Dementia impairs people's ability to remember, think and make choices. It currently affects 750,000 people in the UK, and that number is expected to double in the next 30 years. Dementia is very much a current and pressing need with the Prime Minister's Dementia Challenge, the development of dementia friendly communities and the campaign to recruit and train one million 'Dementia Friends' to support people with dementia. Dementia friendly churches seek to build on this work.
There are currently over five million older people in the UK who consider television to be their main form of company. More than one million of these people 'always or often feel a sense of loneliness or isolation'. Find out how the Link Visiting scheme has been helping people feel more connected.
Don't miss this very special opportunity to be energised for church mobilisation.
Date: 21 May 2013, 10am - 4pm Venue: Conference Room, Christian Medical Fellowship, 6 Marshalsea Road, London, SE1 1HL Cost: £15 to people from GC member agencies and churches. Cost for non GC members is £45. Refreshments and a buffet lunch are included in the price.
Often bypassed or neglected as an agent of community outreach, the local church is now seen as God's strategic focus for transforming the community around it. By using the wealth of gifts and abilities given to its members, the local church can burst out of its walls to bring the Kingdom of God where Jesus planned it to be: in the streets, the houses, the neighbourhoods, the villages, the alleys of the world, incarnating the love of God in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Come and learn from leading practitioners and thinkers as they share their understanding of how this process has and does work, at the Relief and Development Forum event on 21 May 2013. They will address the subject from their wide personal experience, as well as facilitate workshop discussions and present case studies. Take the opportunity to share your experiences with friends and colleagues working in and through local churches.
Raising Our Game - Communicate your Christian Distinctive
Date: Saturday 25 May 2013 Venue: Colchester, Essex Time: 9.30am – 1pm followed by lunch Cost: £5 (to cover the cost of lunch)
Tearfund's IMPACT UK Team partners with church projects and Christian organisations to address issues of poverty and disadvantage in some of the poorest areas of the UK. Raising Our Game seminar will address the following themes on the day:
KEY NOTE ADDRESS: Communicate Your Christian Distinctive SEMINAR 1: Church and Community SEMINAR 2: Nurture Your Team THERE WILL BE DEDICATED TIME TO SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER IN PRAYER
The day will be led by experienced community practitioners. Please contact Enoch on firstname.lastname@example.org / 07969 210 284 for more details. You can also find out more here.
Street Angels - CNI Network National Conference
Date: Friday 30 August - Sunday 1st September Venue: Staverton Park Hotel, Daventry. Cost: £150 including room, all meals and conference
A weekend for all those involved in night-time projects (or wanting to find out more) with networking, inspiration, practical workshops and opportunity to enjoy the food and leisure of Staverton Park Hotel.
Inspiration speakers (including Gerald Coates, Roy Crowne and Debra Green OBE) and workshops designed to equip your work in the community (insight into counter terrorism, sexual healing, churches working together, working with police and local authorities, trafficking and street grooming).
Housing Justice National Conference 2013: Mobilising the Church
Date: Wednesday 12 June, 9.30am - 4.00pm Venue: The Light Church Bradford Cost: £30 (early bird rate)
Housing Justice is the national voice of Christian action on homelessness and housing need. Our vision is of a society where everyone has a home suitable to their needs. Churches are already responding to homelessness in their communities, from running night shelters to using their assets to develop affordable housing. But the needs are growing. The current "perfect storm" of cuts to benefits and local services and the high cost of housing mean growing exclusion for many.
This conference is an opportunity to take stock of where the church has been and where it is to be found today. Housing Minister Mark Prisk will join us to give a presentation and take questions. There are timely and relevant workshops as well as plenty of opportunities to compare notes and network. The day will provide much needed encouragement and help to the local church to respond more effectively to the housing needs in their community.
Ignition: A course provided by Tearfund's partner Pecan
Have you thought of running a job-seeking course for your church? But don't know where to start? Then read on…
Pecan, with over 20 years of experience of delivering employment preparation programmes, has boiled down its knowledge into a seven session course, to be delivered by volunteers in church and community settings. This is now freely available for churches to take up. The course covers how to write a CV and covering letter, application forms, interview skills and covers the concept of 'head, hands and heart' which helps people to focus on the employment they should be seeking. It is an ideal and simple way to help your church engage with people seeking employment in your community. What's on offer from Pecan is training, materials and ongoing support. To find out more information, please visit the web page http://www.pecan.org.uk/our-projects/ignition or email project co-ordinator Peter Aleksin email@example.com