On Thursday 27th March a service in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral launched Together Canterbury, a joint venture between the Diocese of Canterbury and the Church Urban Fund. Together Canterbury is providing long-term sustainable support to Christians working to tackle poverty in some of the most deprived areas of east Kent.
Two Together Canterbury Development Workers, Keith Berry and Kon Apokis were formally commissioned by the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott during the service. Their role will be to identify areas of need, and to work on a one-to-one basis with church and community groups around the Diocese to help initiate projects, and support existing ones, tackling poverty and disadvantage.
Both Keith and Kon have extensive experience of working with churches and community engagement projects, particularly in deprived areas, and bring much personal enthusiasm and commitment for community transformation and knowledge of issues around poverty.
The Together Canterbury initiative is the latest in a growing network of joint ventures between the Church Urban Fund and Anglican dioceses across the country. The Church Urban Fund is the Church of England’s poverty charity, and the aim of partnerships like this is to improve community access to resources, make local work more effective, and create a framework for others to respond to the problem of poverty by offering time and money, action and prayer.
The Bishop of Dover said of the initiative:“Poverty and deprivation are a blight on our society. There is already much great work underway to try and support those most at need in our communities. However, I am delighted that with the presence of Together Canterbury and the two development officers, there is increased support for those among us who are dedicated to changing life for the better for those in need.
“Jesus often spoke about the poor; those who had no possessions, those who had no hope, or those who felt marginalised. The determination of those involved with Together Canterbury to bring out the capacity within all of us to care is therefore of huge importance, because when we care, we show an understanding that every person matters and with that understanding we can bring about great changes.”
Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, Director of the Diocese of Canterbury’s Communities and Partnerships Framework, explained her ambitions for the scheme:“Together Canterbury is an exciting partnership which will see the Church continue to reach out to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities who are facing the challenges brought about by financial and social hardship. “The initiative is timely because it will help build upon the already strong portfolio of work the Diocese is involved with regarding issues of poverty, such as Murston Community Bank, Thanet Food Link and the Ignite Project in Cliftonville.”
Paul Hackwood, Chair of Church Urban Fund said:"Poverty is so much more than simply a lack of money; it is a lack of the relationships that create human flourishing. We work through the church to provide a network of support for those who are excluded, that empower the poorest and most marginalised to take their proper place in society - I am delighted that we will be doing more of this work in Canterbury in order to multiply the great work that is already going on and transform many more lives."
On his appointment, Keith Berry said "I’m delighted to be part of such an important initiative and am looking forward to making our churches increasingly visible centres of our community. I’m in no doubt that there is a Christian community in every parish that can get engaged with this issue.”
Kon Apokis continued “I’ve always believed that if you don’t start with the people who are finding it tough, then you tend not to get round to them. Jesus always had priority for those people, and I’m enthused by the opportunity to get us better at prioritising the poor in this area.”
Please click here to see pictures from the launch of Together Canterbury last Thursday 20 March.
Author: Andrew Mathews
Date: 01 April 2014
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