URC launches resource to help renew community engagement as we emerge from the pandemic

resized image Promo 14A new URC resource has been launched to help people explore how they can respond to the current needs, opportunities and injustices in their local neighbourhoods.

It is hoped that New reality, same mission will act as a stimulus to renewed community engagement by individuals and local congregations as lockdown eases.

The resource is complementary to the acclaimed booklet produced last month by URC Synod Moderators, Ready for the new “normal”: a discussion paper for a pandemic recovery and resumption plan, and uses questions in that paper as its starting-point. It was developed by members of the URC’s Mission and Discipleship teams, working with several Church Related Community Workers and the Director of Church Action on Poverty.

The authors say: “Mission has been described as ‘finding out what God is doing and joining in’. The pandemic has highlighted existing injustices in society and brought many new challenges. It has also prompted communities to pull together, and shown the value of bold, collective action for our wellbeing. As the lockdown begins to ease, churches and communities will find themselves in a range of different situations. Many challenges and possibilities will present themselves.

“While the impulse to get stuck into ‘doing something’ may be hard to resist, it is important to begin by trying to understand the new reality and reflect on its implications. How have people been affected? What is going on in our communities already? Where is God at work? What have we to offer? And how, therefore, should we join in?”

The booklet offers a process for exploring these questions of community presence and engagement and social justice in the “new normal” and developing new priorities for mission and ministry. Reflection is also invited about the kind of society and economy that we want to rebuild after the pandemic.

It features examples of how churches around the country are already an active presence in their communities in many different ways, and points to resources and organisations that can provide advice and support.

Derek Estill, Moderator of the URC General Assembly, commented: “New reality, same mission is a great strap line to help us focus our attention on finding new ways to walk the way and live the life of Jesus in our post-lockdown society.

“This booklet is a wonderful accompaniment to the Ready for the new “normal” booklet, recently published. I have no hesitation in commending it as an affirmation of and encouragement to respond positively to new reality of community needs by putting our Christian faith into mission action alongside those in need, seeking equality and justice for everyone irrespective of colour, race, gender, faith or no faith.”

Download the booklet here.

A webinar and a series of short films from people reflecting on how society might be different after Covid-19 will support the booklet. Further details will be available here.

Contributors to the films include:

  • Chris Lawrence – working with InnerChange, East Harlem, New York city
  • Martin Johnstone – Church of Scotland minister and founder of the Poverty Truth Network
  • Anthony Reddie – black theologian, Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture
  • Raj Patta – Methodist/Lutheran minister and liberation theologian, Stockport
  • Urzula Glienecke – Latvian Church of Scotland minister in training, Edinburgh
  • Matt Sowerby – performance poet, from Cumbria

Image: Pam Menegakis/Unsplash
Published: 9 June 2020

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