Sunday, 23 January 2011

Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) Conference

The Joint Public Issues team (JPIT) is one of the best examples of ecumenical working I have encountered, it is a combination of Methodist Church, Baptist Church and United Reformed Church working together in a team to provide resources, support and encouragement to engage in the world around us.

Click here for the recent JPIT Newsletter

On Saturday 22nd January 2011 in Birmingham they organised a free conference entitled "Poverty of Ambition? Churches and a politics of hope".

Will Hutton provided a deeply challenging and insightful address on, 'The case for a Fairer Britain.' Amongst many other insights he argued a case for fairness rather than equality reflecting that fairness is hard-wired into the human condition.

Some quotes from Will Hutton...........

We need a fairness doctrine for our media and a media standards commission.
There is a need for inter-generational fairness, but also fairness in our media and our politics
Our children confront an 'Everest' of house prices. it's outrageous that there should be a million 18-24 years old out of work.
Inheritance tax isn't a death tax - it's a 'we share in your good luck' tax
Individuals have to take responsibility for their actions - this is a core building-block of Christian faith.
How do we live well? what moral compass can steer us?

Andrew Stunnell MP also spoke about 'Big Society' and the churches contribution commenting towards the end of his speech 'Don't wait for the guidebook, rules and regulations - stop waiting to be told, burst some barriers & start changing your communities.'

I have been involved in many debates around the Big Society from those who believe the rhetoric to be patronising towards faith communities who are already engaging with there communities in many and various ways and those who seek to participate in a new
initiative. In a recent conversation someone made the observation that there were so many descriptions of 'Big Society' that it was like holding onto jelly to which a colleague responded, 'Well then it presents an opportunity for the church to be the jelly mould.'

I believe
passionately that to be transformed by the gospel means that as disciples of Jesus we must engage our faith with the world around us. In my experience it is often in the act of engaging that I meet God and am transformed by the encounter.

The day left me pondering several questions..............

What is our response as a Methodist Church to the 'Big Society?'

How will we respond to the impact of the spending cuts on our communities?

Do we have the courage to reflect on how we as Churches/Circuits and Districts distribute our wealth?

1 comment:

John Cooper said...

"What is our response as a Methodist Church to the 'Big Society?"

I hope 'something' is the answer. Last years conference didn't include one memorial about the political situation, nor a notice of motion - and I found that sad and rather upsetting.

Methodism was founded on a princple of social holiness and the time is ripe to redeliver, via practical theology on the richness of our heritage.

On the upside - JPIT have been pushing the issue this last year and it's good to see Dr Morrison's paper going to council this week - - however my frustration stems not from actions of staff but apparent lack of push earlier last year from members/conference.

I'd like to think the JPIT conference has helped re-awaken the social centre of methodist mission and enable prayers and actions not to be for an abstract other - but for the very communities that our chrurches gather, worship and pray in....