Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Social Responsibility Matters

Social Responsibility-one of Dave Cameron’s latest buzz-phrases, one that can mean very different things to different people and groups. Another cynical attempt to invade liberal (and Liberal) space or a renewed commitment to transform society for good? It also sums up my ministry relating to social and community concerns in the Anglican Diocese of Norwich.

What follows is an extract from the first in a series of occasional articles originally written for the July issue of Across the See- the monthly publication of the Diocese, focusing on aspects of the mission of the Church in this Diocese and beyond in relation to social and community concerns. But I ask anyone reading this or exploring these issues to share with me how you see the definitions and scope of social responsibility in its widest and narrowest senses. Dialogue is vital as is the development of broadbased alliances and the emergence of a grass roots up narrative, identifying problems and suggesting sustainable solutions
I want to start by introducing myself as the (part-time) co-ordinator of the Diocese of Norwich’s newly established Forum for Social and Community Concerns. Having previously studied for a degree in politics at Portsmouth Polytechnic and worked in politics for several years, I trained for ordained ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham before serving in the Barnham Broom/Upper Yare group and at Hellesdon, before moving to Foulsham last autumn where my wife, Veronica is Rector of a multi-parish rural benefice. I have always felt God calling me towards this area of ministry and this was confirmed whilst studying for a post-graduate diploma in Pastoral Theology which equipped me to be a reflective practitioner. I am also Chaplain to Norfolk Constabulary and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.

The Diocesan Forum for Social and Community Concerns aims to facilitate a wide network of projects, groups, churches and individual activists and contemplators working on relevant issues of concern to world, church and community. The Forum should be seen to be a focus for prophetic oversight and contact, disseminating information and resources and receiving feedback from existing work, as well identifying need, exploring the bigger picture and seeking to make a difference through activity, dialogue, theological reflection, prayer, encouragement and resource allocation. There is lots of good work going on already-we have no intention of reinventing any wheels!

The Forum is chaired by the Bishop of Lynn, Rt Revd James Langstaff. We work ecumenically, regionally and in partnership with others, current areas of interest touch upon the following: criminal justice; emergency incident planning; environmental issues; family issues; healthcare issues; housing; migrant workers and trafficking; regional issues including Public and voluntary sector liaison; rural issues; trade justice and global development; urban issues; wholeness, healing and reconciliation; workplace ministry; World Church issues; poverty and deprivation; bioethical issues; and social inclusion. A database is currently under construction, a diary of events will be kept current and a website is being investigated.

The important thing is to encourage everyone to play their part. As an African proverb reminds us:
“If many little people, in many little places, do many little deeds, they can change the face of the earth.”

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