unity and diversity
Churches Together in South London: Statement on Covid-19 Vaccine
In a statement that marks the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, church leaders who make up the ecumenical partnership of Churches Together in South London issued the following joint statement:
We know that some people have concerns and fears about the Covid-19 vaccination, and we do not underestimate these. Current reliable scientific advice is that the vaccine offers the best way to control the pandemic and help to save lives. Each of our Christian traditions allows for the vaccine to be received for these purposes. It is believed that the vaccine will reduce the impact of Covid-19 and lessen the pressure on the NHS. This is our prayer as we trust in God and commend the vaccine.
For information about the vaccine and when you may be offered it, please click here.
The media release, including images of the 16 leaders who have jointly signed this, is available here.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity falls every year from 18-25 January.
In 2021, senior church leaders in South London met over Zoom instead of in person, and shared ecumenical priorities for joint activity as well as a reflection inspired by the resources produced by CTBI, available here.
Following this gathering, the church leaders issued the joint statement above encouraging uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine as the best way to control the pandemic and save lives.
The CTSL Council on 17 May 2017 was entitled "South London mission in unity - Together towards life", taking its name from the World Council of Churches' statement on mission and evangelism. We explored its themes as they relate to our London context and especially in the run-up to the General Election.
The WCC affirmation represents an ecumenical understanding of mission which has reached a more convergent place of competing views than at any time in history. Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes is a holistic way of doing mission and sees evangelism as springing out of authentic discipleship. This involves justice and peace issues and care for creation - things that local churches in South London are passionately involved in and working on together.
Rev Dr Janet Corlett, Minister in Bermondsey and Vice-moderator of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, introduced and explained how the ecumenical movement was all about enabling mission. Janet created a resource for our discussion which is available here. We tackled four key themes in four groups, facilitated by South London's senior church leaders. Attendees chose whether to get stuck into the Spirit of Mission (spirituality and the flourishing of creation), the Spirit of Liberation (mission from the margins), the Spirit of Community (church unity, migration) or the Spirit of Pentecost (Good News for all, interfaith). It was good to welcome four of South London's senior church leaders who led these break-out groups: Bishop Moses Owusu-Sekyere (Apostolic Pastoral Congress); Lieut-Colonel Suzanne Fincham (Salvation Army); Bishop Karowei Dorgu (Anglican Bishop of Woolwich) and Roger & Faith Forster (Ichthus Christian Fellowship).
You can watch an introductory video to the WCC statement on mission here.
You can download the specially created small-group resource for CTSL here.
You can read "Together towards life" here.
In November 2016, CTSL gathered local ecumenical networks together following on from the meeting in May around the refugee response. Pete Brierley, Lead Organiser for South
London Citizens, and Bekele Woyecha of Citizens UK facilitated a discussion by
borough. We looked at how to support each one of our 10 South London boroughs
to welcome 50 refugees into our community and share good stories of work
already in action thanks to churches working together and their partners. For
the first time, CTSL enabled discussion by borough to help us all move forward
on this issue in our local communities, together.
Having heard about each borough's work to date and their plans, it is clear that all boroughs are keen to step up their council's welcome of refugees. To this end, churches together groups want to:
(i) identify new properties that private landlords can let out for a rental income at council rates in order to house newly arrived families
(ii) encourage offering spare rooms for hosting individuals
(iii) promote fostering.
Here are some resources to support each of these initiatives:
(ii) Tommy Cloherty of Housing Justice is coordinating the London Hosting Scheme, you can contact him if you would like to offer a spare room and/or invite him to speak at your church or ecumenical network meeting: mandb at housingjustice.org.uk
(iii) contact HomeforGood on jo at homeforgood.org.uk
For info on joining Refugees Welcome groups in South London boroughs, please email me and I can put you in touch with your area rep. There are lots of resources here.
Are you moved by the refugee crisis? Would you like to know how you could respond, or how your church or your network of churches could join in the response? Are you already involved? If your answer is YES then you were in good company at the CTSL gathering in May 2016. Here is all you need from the fantastic contributors, and how to contact them:
Aid to the Church in Need
Aid to the Church in Need provides practical and spiritual support for persecuted and suffering Christians around the world. Our current priority is the Church in Syria and Iraq.
Thanks to our generous benefactors, parishes, schools and groups, we are providing essential aid for 120,000 destitute and traumatised Christians in Iraq – driven from their homes by Daesh (ISIS). In Syria, amidst the bombing and devastation of civil war, our aid – food, shelter, clothes and medicine can be the difference between life and death.
You can help us make a difference by:
• Distributing our reports in your church so that more people are aware of the situations our brothers and sisters are facing.
• Raising awareness of the charity and its work by distributing our Persecuted Christians Need You leaflet
• Praying for our suffering brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
• Making a donation to support our work in the region.
• Following our work and campaigns on Facebook.
One priest in Homs, Syria told Aid to the Church in Need: “Our tears are not only tears of sadness, they are tears of joy that someone has heard our cries and come to help us.” Please remember our suffering brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq.
And you can contact ACN on 02086428668 or email@example.com
Please get in touch to hear more about:
• National Events
- Just One World (the Us annual conference) - with speakers leading sessions looking at both the refugee situation in Europe and how churches can and are responding here in the UK to welcome refugees (6-8 June)
- Greenbelt Festival (August bank-holiday)
• Resources for churches
- Order copies of our bible study guide on migration or book a speaker for your church/events. We also have photos and resources like a prayer meditation film.
• Receiving weekly or monthly updates on the wider situation and the churches response (you can also look at www.weareUs.org.uk/europe)
• Taking Action - Get in touch for information on our joint campaigns with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland around Refugee Week (20-26 June) & ahead of the UN refugee summit being organised by President Barack Obama (19 September)
Contact Emma Kevan on 02079212224 or firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a variety of ways churches can help refugees in need; if your church could host rough sleepers one night a week in the winter months as part of a night shelter circuit, please email: email@example.com; or perhaps you know someone who has a spare room and could host a destitute migrant while their immigration status is resolved. If so, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org (you can also donate to the hosting scheme's hardship fund which ensures guests on the hosting scheme are able to buy personal items and travel to and from their host households).
London Hosting aims to have a local hosting scheme in most London boroughs within three years, and we are working on the resources to assist with that. We would be delighted to hear from any churches or organisations who may be able to consider this; recruiting and training local hosts and working with local refugee referring organisations to have a reliable source of suitable guest referrals. This will require someone (or perhaps more than one person) to co-ordinate the programme, oversee relationships etc. with Housing Justice’s support.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Housing Justice on 02035448094 or email Tommy Cloherty at email@example.com
Would you like to help address the urgent issue of climate change? Following the CTSL network gathering in November 2015, contributors have provided some ways here for churches in South London to get stuck in and change the world. Look no further:
Springs Dance Company
Springs is a South-London based dance and theatre company which aims to express and explore Christian themes and stories. The Green Project is a ten-minute dance theatre presentation that can be accompanied by tailor-made workshops and discussions, and is bookable with or without a Tearfund speaker too. The piece looks at the way our lives are connected with people across the world, and puts a human face, that of our neighbour, into the heart of this global issue. The Green Project is ideal for church services, festivals, advocacy events and schools. For more details visit http://www.
A Rocha UK
Eco Church is A Rocha UK's award scheme for churches that want to demonstrate that the gospel is good news for God's earth. It is an ecumenical scheme running in partnership with Tearfund, Christian Aid, the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Britain, and is supported by many other denominations and organisations. Eco Church is all about changing the culture of the church so that it becomes as natural to engage in caring for God's earth as it already is to engage in evangelism and social action. The scheme is built around an online survey for your church to complete, which takes you through the five key areas of your worship and teaching; the management of your buildings (if applicable); the management of your land (if applicable); your community and global engagement; and the personal lifestyles of your members. As part of completing the survey, your church will undertake specific actions in the five key areas and, as tasks are completed, points will be awarded so that you can see your progress as you work through the scheme. Accompanying the survey is a wide range of supporting resources to help your church with its practical actions. When the qualifying number of points are reach for a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, you can apply for your award and for one of our beautiful award plaques, made from recycled church pews by an organisation that works with disadvantaged people in Edinburgh.
Eco Church is launching in January 2016, but don't wait til then, have a look at ecochurch.arocha.org.uk to find out more and register your interest.
And it's never too late to look up the people and projects that stirred us up in May 2015 too. Resources so that you can follow-up, help, replicate or support, are all here:
Night Shelter at the Joel Community Trust Kingston
Do you want to organise a sleep-out at your church for Joel? Do you want to find out how to get a permanent Night Shelter going in your area? Do you want to volunteer at Joel and help change the lives of homeless people? Do you want to become a Gideon for Joel and give £15 a month? For more information please contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org
A video to share about first hand experience of Joel:
Read Becky's presentation to the CTSL Forum on 21 May 2015 at Trinity House here .
Church Credit Champions in South London
Are you concerned about the state of our economy? Do you want to enable your church to put faith in justice into action? Find out what the Church Credit Champions Network is about here and see how it can help you support your local credit union. Get in touch at email@example.com
A video to share about the tyranny of living in debt:
Clapham High Street's Night Time Hub
Do you want to support this weekend haven? Are you keen to provide a caring answer to anti-social behaviour in Clapham or in your own area? Find out how and get in touch with the Hub at Clapham Methodist Church at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read Reverend Norman Grigg's presentation to the CTSL Forum on 21 May 2015 at Trinity House here