A report examining what makes a "good society", and the part that faith communities can play in creating it, has been released by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Church Action on Poverty.
The keynote speaker was cardinal Vincent Nichols who said, "‘The Good Society always starts with listening at the periphery – it is in the peripheries that you will meet the person of Christ most clearly’.
The ‘Big Society’ was one of the flagship ideas of the UK’s Coalition Government.
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) and Church Action on Poverty instead wanted to learn about the UK’s Good Society - the thousands of people who are motivated by faith to ensure that those on the margins of society are included, cared for and supported.
What challenges do they face? Why do they do what they do? What are the values they feel are really important for a good society? How can the voices of those who feel marginalised be heard more effectively?
And – as the spiritual landscape of Britain continues to shift - what does the growing Good Society mean for the future of the Churches?
Researchers visited seven very different UK destinations to investigate how churches are tackling a huge range of social issues; homelessness, worklessness, conflict, mental health problems, religious and ethnic tensions, poverty, lack of access to services, old age or merely loneliness.
“What has emerged from our research provides a challenge to the accepted role of faith and the Church in seeking the common good,”
explains Bob Fyffe, General Secretary of CTBI.
“Faith leaders are becoming mediators and community leaders. They are being seen as voices of truth, values and integrity, rather than holders of power. They are leading by creating possibilities, and seeing buildings as places of sanctuary and community.”
“The Good Society is increasingly stepping in to fill the gaps created by austerity,”
said Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty.
“But as our research has shown, the Churches are much more than a place of last resort. Their work is central to the lives of some of the UK's most vulnerable communities.”
Communities and churches across the UK are now being encouraged to have their own debate about the Good Society.
CTBI will be gathering these views, and using them as the basis for what the Churches say on a range of issues in the run-up to the 2015 General Election.
To download the free toolkit and for more information, go to www.agoodsociety.org
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
CTBI link page
CAP link page