The need for social justice is fundamental to our Common Vision to become a more Christ-like Church.
Our world is changing in new and unprecedented ways, we must think afresh about inequality, our communities, and what it means to be human. We need to be the best Church we can be in such a time as this: a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world.
From all that parishes have told us during the last two years, we have discerned seven areas to focus on in our common life together. These aren’t a description of everything the Church does, but they do represent the areas that we think God is currently calling us to pay particular attention to.
In this edition of Pathways, we take a look at the first of these focus areas. By God’s grace in 2019, this will see a carbon footprint reduction programme for our church buildings well underway and significant investment in community organising.
Making a bigger difference in the world
The needs of the planet and society can feel overwhelming; paralysing many from acting. Yet we live in a time of unprecedented opportunity: ours is a counter-cultural Gospel, we are called to care for the Earth, to live sustainably and to love our neighbour.
God is already at work through more than a thousand churches, chaplaincies and schools in this diocese and also through each of us as individual disciples. From food banks, to the Eco Church movement and our successful campaign for fossil fuel divestment, much is being done… did you know that over 520 churches in this diocese are already involved in social action?
“We are called to care for the Earth”
With over 400 of our parishes supporting food banks and as many as 1,700 community projects in this diocese, it’s clear that the church is doing some amazing things.
But where is God calling us to go next in our work together? We’ve been listening over the last 18 months, and three key issues have emerged from all that we’ve heard:
New ways of being church can challenge the unjust structures that keep people poor and threaten the planet. We are setting up a partnership with Citizens UK to support new forms of community engagement and social action through local initiatives led by churches. In Milton Keynes, an alliance of churches, mosques, schools, unions and community groups is already working together for a fairer society.
Releasing wealth for our common good
During 2019 we will be exploring if we can better use our land, buildings and other resources across the diocese for mission and social investment. It’s a complex area, and there’s much thinking to be done but expect to read more about this aspiration in future editions of Pathways.
Care for creation
The diocese is investing £400,000 in a carbon footprint reduction programme across our church buildings, to subsidise energy audits and help churches work on environmental sustainability. During 2019 we’ll also provide resources to help congregations pray, reflect and act on creation care.
Social justice is a vision of how life can and should be better. It’s central to our mission and part of our Christian witness.
By engaging with our communities, dealing with the things on our doorstep that we can do something about and challenging unjust structures, we can begin to address the inequalities arising from austerity and be at the heart of tackling the environmental crisis.
And there are plenty of small steps you can take right now, such as switching your bank and savings accounts to an ethical provider, trying some of the eco actions from issue 1 of Pathways or supporting your local high street when you’re shopping online (hive.co.uk is an excellent alternative to Amazon).
Take a brief moment to listen to this week's prayer for each of us in the diocese this morning.
The Revd Tina Molyneux is spearheading a scheme that is transforming people’s faith journeys across the Diocese of Oxford. Her prayer for us today was recorded at the end of the latest episode of My (extraordinary) family.
Head on over to the website to find out more or search for the series wherever you get your podcasts: