1. The Guardian reports on a Christian family who've been inspired to set up a woodland commune in Somerset. Lots of really challenging stuff in Tobias Jones' account, for example:
it feels to me as if old-fashioned charity is at the far periphery of our
life. We have a few standing orders to worthy causes and put a small cheque in
the post, or do a soup run, once in a while. But that sort of charity seems
increasingly to me like carbon offsetting: a way to cleanse our conscience, to
make us feel better about the fact that actually we could keep living just the
way we want. It's a sop, nothing more. I want charity, in the old cliche, to
begin at home, to be an integral part of our lives – not just something we do
with loose change once in a while.
....The hope is that our children, too, will learn about vulnerability when they're still living in a warm, loving home; that they will, over the years, begin to learn about addiction, displacement, bereavement, poverty, prison and so on. That, to us, seems much more important than A-level results or a good degree.
...most of all we're taking our leap in the dark because we've belatedly realised that the sermon on the mount might actually be a manifesto for life, rather than a few nice ideals to take out for a spin on a Sunday morning. We've come to believe in the survival of the weakest, not just the fittest. William Vanstone once came out with the great line that the Church is like a swimming pool: all the noise is at the shallow end. We felt called to the deep end, to the place where it's more quiet, more dangerous maybe, more radical.
Wow. I'm full of admiration for the guy and his family. They want the shelter to be a place where people can come for sanctuary and community, and have already started thinking about what kind of community rule of life they'll need. Suprisingly for a Guardian piece written by a Christian, the comments are almost 100% positive. Perhaps that's because this is faith lived, rather than faith preached, and faith lived is much more convincing. Jonny Baker has more reflections.
2. The first 'Pioneer Minister to the Business Community' was commissioned earlier this week in Yorkshire. Here's a bit of the press release from Ripon & Leeds diocese:
As ‘chaplain’ to the business community, Revd Rob Hinton’s will be based at
‘Club LS1’ in Leeds, a central hub for business people meeting in Leeds and also
the home to such institutions as Common Purpose and the Institute of Directors.
He said he was looking forward to the challenge of the new role: “While so much
of the church is denouncing the banking community, it is an important time to
come and be the new Chaplain to the second largest financial district outside of
London and to become part of a Diocese that is wanting to love those who are
both taking the flack and at the same time trying to put things right for the
industry and the rest of us.” He added, “This is a ministry not just to the
financial sector but all areas of the city’s business world.”
It's a diocese which seems to have more of a grip on mission issues than most, good to see that the mission section of their website has been revamped since my survey of diocesan sites earlier in the year. Some interesting links: highersports is a Christian run sports coaching programme, doing ministry through sports (just like the old days), and they have some vid clips of local fresh expressions, though oddly these aren't actually linked to from the mission section!
*I'm truly very sorry, but couldn't resist**
**I hope this doesn't need explaining.....