January 22nd, 2014
Paul Hackwood, Executive Chair of the Church Urban Fund, gave a thought provoking overview of substantive changes that have taken place in the world economy over the last 20-30 years leading up to the recent banking crisis. His interest and purpose in articulating these dynamics was how they impact on the local people we live and work with in Tower Hamlets. For example, changes in population growth and the labour market leading to a disconnect between labour and capital that impacts on workers in high wage economies.
His words encouraged a gathering of local church and community leaders from different denominations up the road in Limehouse to see how we might contribute theologically and practically to the current reality of living “without” as is increasingly the case for many of our neighbours. Can we articulate and embody a different vision and create communities of hope? What abilities do we have to create common humanity with those at the margins and help those who are struggling find a new voice?
Those present then reflected together on what “transfiguration” might mean in the poor and struggling contexts we serve in. We asked ourselves what it might mean for the love of God to be reflected in the way we relate materially to one another and how our daily exchanges might further charity and participation in a good life. Our group talked about the reality of the Living Wage, just a dream someone dared to imagine several years ago in the very same room we were meeting in. And the possibilities now for genuinely affordable housing that would help to sustain families and neighbours in the longer-term.
Paul was speaking at St Katherine’s Foundation alongside Angus Ritchie, Director of the Contextual Theology Centre, at the launch of their new book for Lent 2014 “Just Love” which encourages us to look at the links between personal and social transformation, i.e. how our spiritual disciplines might help inform our community action. The study guide has a range of stories and resources to help us reflect and act.