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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Church of the Poor? Franciscans at the Church Action on Poverty Conference

Br Robert writes:

On the 19th of November, Church Action on Poverty (CAP) gathered its supporters for its annual conference at the Unitarian Cross Street Chapel in Manchester. Among them were two First Order Brothers and two Tertiaries one of whom, Helen Hood TSSF, serves  as one of the Trustees. It was also a nice surprise to bump into Brother Fabian nCR. As it turns out, we are not the only Anglican religious community supporting CAP!

img_0021CAP felt inspired by Pope Francis, who recently said: ‘How I wish, that there was a church of the poor.’ We started by listening to poetry, which was created in a local Creative Writing Project, where people could articulate the joys and frustrations of their lives. Then various different groups and people were given a chance, to give presentations: contributions ranged from a congregation who had opened their door to the homeless, a Baptist Minister who founded an alternative church in an area of deprivation and an Evangelical Pastor who presented his research on the ‘Myth of the undeserving Poor.’ Following this we broke into round table groups discussing how we could transform our churches into places of and for the poor.

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Lunch was a good opportunity to meet and catch up with people. In the afternoon, we saw a panel discussion deepening our conversation, followed by more round table discussions and a final plenum. At that point, it was time for the AGM and about half of the audience discretely sneaked away. It felt like an enriching day, at which the Franciscan presence was well appreciated. We are looking forward to a growing partnership between SSF and CAP.

Footprints

Neil Baird included a paragraph written by Br Hugh SSF in his photoessay on Carbon Footprints which may be found on the Maptia website (click here)

Photograph © Neil Baird 2015 and used with his permission

Photograph © Neil Baird 2015 and used with his permission

Brother Hugh lives in a Franciscan community in the Dorset Countryside.

“What everyone knows about St. Francis is the ‘Brother Sun, Sister Moon’ stuff. The idea is that we do not have dominion over things, but that we are all equal creatures with the things God has given us. Climate change is by far the biggest issue. It’s not the end of the world — we’ve had six mass extinctions, and we’re now going through the seventh — the biggest extinction since the end of the dinosaurs.

Maybe for the Earth that’s good, there are some greens who might say that human beings are a scourge, and that we should go and that the Earth would be better off without us and start all over again. As a Christian I think human beings are rather important, and I think while we are fellow creatures we have a responsibility. We are the first creatures who have knowingly almost destroyed themselves. Climate science can overwhelm us, or make us cynical, but there’s Christian hope.

We have to be offering, not condemning people for what they’re doing but actually showing people that there is a different way, empowering people to live a different way. If you present everything in purely scientific ways people turn off with the figures, people know what we have to do, but actually there needs to be poetry, sport, music, worship. It needs to be culture that changes people’s lifestyles.

Science is never going to do that. We know the science and we’re not doing anything. Unless living more simply makes us happy we’re never going to do it.”