JustShare Christian Social and Political Thought Lecture:
'What right has the Church to interfere in politics and economics? The Gospel according to William Temple.'
'Wednesday 26th January 2011 at 6.05pm
The Revd Chris Brice, Vicar of Gospel Oak, Chair of Operation Noah and founder member of JustShare.
It was a great pleasure to welcome Chris Brice back to St Mary-le-Bow to give the first lecture in our 2011 series of JustShare Christian Social and Political Thought Lectures. As a founding and former member of JustShare, the idea for the series came from him back in 2008, and we were delighted to see so many old friends in the audience to hear him. Chris was introduced by Maria Elena Arana of CAFOD, another early member of JustShare. His lecture was a thought-provoking and enlightening exploration of William Temple's take on the Church's role in politics and economics and what we might learn from that today.
JustShare Clergy Seminar and Supper
3rd February 2011
We were delighted to welcome Professor Peter Sinclair, Professor of Economics at the University of Birmingham and formally of Brasenose and the Bank of England’s Centre for Central Banking Studies, for this seminar aimed particularly at clergy working in the City. Peter is the author of numerous books and articles and his research interests include inflation, unemployment and taxation. He has lectured far and wide, from China to Lesotho to Greece, Ireland, Russia and the US, and delivered a fascinating introduction to economics for us.
'Unconditional love: the driver for voluntary action?'
'Wednesday 23rd February 2011 at 6.05pm
Gavin Oldham, Founder and Director of the Share Centre and the Share Foundation, and Church Commissioner
Gavin Oldham delivered a fascinating lecture on unconditional love as the driver of social action. He began by explaining his theology of creation, arguing that God is Love and created the world from Love; before the creation there was nothing but God - Love - and Chaos in existence. Because God used only Love to create the world, evil and disaster have no part in God's creation. Evil and disaster instead belong to Chaos, and thus when they occur, they are a reminder of the forces of Chaos that still exist. Where God and Love create and construct, Chaos and evil destroy. Love is therefore a force of creation.
Moving on from this foundation, Gavin noted that voluntary action - giving time and money - was not a duty but an overflowing of love. If we seek to love our neighbour (people in need) unconditionally, we cannot help but give them what they need. This informed the Church's claim that it had always been involved in 'Big Society' work; community outreach motivated by unconditional love was part of the Christian calling. However, some suggested that the Church was often unstrategic in both what it did and how it promoted what it did. Gavin was working on some concrete Big Society Church projects and agreed that it was good for the Church to be able to 'go with the grain' sometimes as well as retaining counter-cultural influence.
This theology of social action motivated by unconditional love had plenty of practical pointers embedded in it, and many more comments and suggestions were made during the audience Q&A. It was noted that community projects are not eternal; they often have a lifecycle and should not be prolonged beyond that. Volunteers might have vocations to particular forms of action and should be enabled to serve in the roles that suited them. Volunteers could also, it was pointed out, have deeper needs than the people they sought to help. There was great danger inherent in social actionwhere assistance went hand in hand with evangelism ('conditional love' rather than 'unconditional love'). Discussions continued informally over wine.