The “Building a politics of Hope” event, hosted by the William Temple Foundation in partnership with Church Urban Fund and the Joint Public Issues Team, was a day of discussing the role of faith-based leadership in creating flourishing, sustainable and inspiring communities.
A few points jumped out for me throughout the day. The first came from Rev Al Barrett’s case study of the community he leads in Hodge Hill, Birmingham. He talked of how we need to turn our cultural and political narratives upside-down, asking “what can we do with neighbourhood power” before asking “what do we need external agencies to do?” This was a deep challenge to faith-based initiatives, and how they are influenced by broader political narratives of poverty and need.
Mohammed Mamdani shared a thought-provoking case-study of his organisation, Sufra, in North West London. Focussing on his experience of food banks, he talked challengingly about the need for a holistic vision within faith-based initiatives, which looks at long-term change and hope.
When Chris Sunderland spoke about the Bristol Pound, I was most struck by his challenge for faith communities to be positive voices of hope and transformation. He called for initiatives which, rather than being cynical and negative, use their energy to offer a taste of exciting and well developed alternatives to our current failing systems.
The day ended with a call for a counter-cultural engagement with politics, which goes beyond individualism and invests in the common good.
It was a day which challenged and provoked, and inevitably left us with more questions than answers.
Development Officer at Church Urban Fund
Author: Bethany Eckley
Date: 22 April 2015
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