The Bishop of London Calls for Ordinary Heroes (@Tearfund) #OrdinaryHeroes

Politics needs big ideas and less short-term thinking, says the Bishop of London, who today (16th April) launches Tearfund’s  new report and campaign, calling for a restorative economy.

This is a campaign I can get behind. Watch the video, and see the rest of the press release below.

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres said:

We live in a century of mingled promise and peril. The decisions we take now and the way we live now will have an impact on our children and on generations to come – for good or ill. The scars visible on the earth are the accumulating signs of a world in crisis – conflict, corruption, climate change. Yet with these crises, we have made the mistake of concentrating only on short term issues.

The Bishop of London has written a foreword to Christian relief and development agency Tearfund’s ‘Restorative Economy’ discussion paper which suggests that the development success of the past fifty years will be jeopardised by increasing levels of consumption.

Paul Cook, Tearfund’s Advocacy Director, said:

We’ve come a long way. Globally, levels of poverty have halved in the last 25 years alone. Life expectancy, health and education indicators are better than ever before, and technology has helped save millions of lives and improve productivity, especially for smallholder farmers in poor countries.

But if we don’t fundamentally change the ways we produce wealth and create prosperity, we will undo all this progress and push millions of people back into poverty.

The report argues that high levels of consumption and carbon emissions have stretched the earth’s systems to breaking point, and that the impact – already being felt among some of the world’s poorest communities – is most likely to affect people in the UK who are currently children, as well as generations to come.

There is a scientific consensus that an increase in the earth’s temperature by more than 2 degrees will cause irreversible damage to our food and water systems, inequality and poverty levels. The latest data confirms that we are experiencing a mass extinction and that the world’s vertebrate species population has declined by 52 per cent  in the last 40 years.

Calling on Christians, among others, the Bishop of London will launch the Ordinary Heroes campaign to encourage people to make small but significant changes in their lifestyles.  As well as calling for policy change, the campaign seeks to encourage a grassroots movement of people to take responsibility for bringing about change.

Ordinary heroes are people who do simple but bold things to change their own economy, says Paul Cook.

Some people will fly less or consume only fairly traded products, others choose to use renewable energy in their homes or invest their savings in ways that avoid exploiting others.

Using our power as voters, campaigners and consumers is extremely important, and part of our calling to pray and work for the Kingdom of God on earth – a world of peace, justice and hope.

The campaign draws on the Biblical concept of Jubilee, which promotes a rhythm of productivity, rest and community to counter debt and exploitation.

Read more information about the Ordinary Heroes campaign.

#40acts challenge leads to over 2.9million acts of kindness over Lent

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Stewardship’s Lent challenge, 40acts, which launched on Ash Wednesday, has led to a wave of over 2.9million acts of generosity over 40 days.

The challenge, which comes to an end this Saturday, asks people to do one simple generous act each day over Lent.

This year it had 75,000 people taking part, making this year’s challenge the biggest in its five year history.

Over the last 40 days participants have cleaned graffiti off local buildings, left free chocolates in gym lockers, wrote letters of encouragement to those in prison, surprised strangers with flowers or bought coffee for them in cafes, and invited the neighbours around for ‘pudding parties’ in an attempt to ‘give out’ rather than just give something up for Lent.

One of the most popular challenges of this year’s 40acts was #chocolatetuesday, where thousands of people slipped chocolate bars into people’s handbags, gave out free chocolates on trains and buses, or bought in sweet treats for their class at school.

The challenge encourages people to make living generously a daily habit and gives participants the opportunity to be generous not just with their money, but also with their time, their words, their skills and their hugs!

40acts concluded on Holy Saturday, where those taking part were challenged to do one last anonymous blow-out act of generosity that stretched them beyond their comfort zones.

The award-winning 40acts challenge run by charity Stewardship provided tailored materials to ensure schools, churches, groups, students, families and individuals could take part.

Ruth Bartholomew, who took part in 40acts this year with her husband and three daughters said: “We chose to do 40acts as a family so that we would have activities that we could do together and to show kindness within our family and also to our community members.

“It has had a positive impact on us all. Through all the acts we have taken part and in particular by delivering flowers, cakes, and treats to our neighbours, we have positively influenced our community and opened doors to more meaningful relationships with those we share life with.”

40acts also has a huge following on social media where those taking part share their actions for each day and encourage each other. This year the 40acts Facebook group more than doubled in size from 12,000 to 25,000 and its Instagram community tripled from 900 to 2,700 sharing their photos online. 2000 new Twitter followers joined the conversation, creating a community that supported and encouraged each other.

Alexandra Khan, part of the 40acts team at Stewardship, said: “It’s been a phenomenal year. The 40acts community is an incredible mix of people from all over the world. We’ve loved hearing their stories, seeing new friendships forged, and watching a ripple of generosity happen throughout Lent. For the last 40 days, the motto was ‘do Lent generously’. But now? Now it’s time to ‘do Life generously’.”

You can view Stewardship’s video to conclude the challenge here

Taken from a Press Release

[SPEAKER] #SH2015 Day 2: Chew More: Closer

Having been introduced to the theme of ‘Higher’ in last night’s sermon at Spring Harvest 2015, based upon the theme of ‘Immeasurably More’ by @RabbiRogers, today’s material focuses upon ‘Closer’. This morning Krish Kandiah and I will speak upon the theme. Here are my slides:

#Digidisciple for #Gain15

So, the other week I heard about #GAIN15, and after contacting @KosterLundqvist via Twitter, agreed to join them for a 5 minute Skype session this morning, before I head to Karate. Here’s what it looked like from their end:
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And here’s what it looked like from my end (pre-session!): skype

and just as we kick off:

skype

and here’s the notes I was working from:

The Challenge of Discipleship in a Digital Age: GAIN

  • So, have we had a ‘digital revolution’? New forms of technology have shifted what is possible – what does it make possible, and what does it limit? Sheer numbers online (with younger in particular not seeing this as separate from so-called ‘real’ life). How does it impact our discipleship practices?
  • Churchgoing not the ‘cultural norm’ for many in the UK, too much competition for other activities on a Saturday/Sunday – those who are even ‘looking’ more likely to come via a website, or, even more likely, via their friends.
  • Anecdotally, around 2012, questions from those working within churches changed from “we don’t need this” to “how do we do this”? Emphasising the importance of understanding digital culture in order to engage with it (effectively).
  • God is a communicating God, and the digital age offers opportunities for more voices to be heard (although we need to challenge pre-existing power structures – the digital doesn’t provide a free for all), and if we concentrate on ‘social’ not media, then the digital with its emphasis on relationships is a powerful space – and we are entrusted by God to be good stewards of our interactions in that space.
  • Church not about ‘bums on seats’, but about developing that discipleship journey: we’re not trying to ‘sell’ something to the world, but to ‘be’ something that is distinctively different, inviting connection from the rest of the world, and an opportunity to be part of a global community.
  • There’s an importance for us as technology users to, yes, be competent users of technology, but not if we are incompetent in what we might be sharing with others, so part of our own discipleship journey is to challenge ourselves as to our practices, including personal spirituality, community, and mission.
  • “Disciples keen to engage modern culture need to understand how to exist in, listen, read, and speak into the digital age: being immersed in the culture, but also acting as a change agent within that culture.” So, so glad that this conversation is on the agenda!
  • On our site: “#Digidisciple(s) have written on a huge range of topics, including tweeting in church, legal and ethical questions, reviews of the latest scholarship, demonstrating graceful communication, thinking before tweeting, the importance of listening, undertaken a digital pilgrimage, relationship development online, authenticity, drawing upon best practice in the secular world, the use of language, attitude, and wellbeing – including taking digital time out. Overall, the group explores how digital practices and values (e.g. social, always-on, immediate, responsive, iterative, accountable, avatar use) contribute to contemporary discipleship and how discipleship values (e.g. authenticity, integrity, discernment) shape the digital environments that are engaged with.”
  • Core to my belief to this is that we are engaged in lives that encompass both the digital and the physical, and we should be looking for consistency in our presence. The digital offers new opportunities to engage with others in our community – share experiences, practices, discuss theology, but also for (some of) those conversations to be in the public sphere, opening it up to our other friends, using the new opportunities to share the spiritual activities that we are engaged in for sharing not for proclamation = authenticity!

Some thoughts extracted from: https://www.academia.edu/8724570/The_Digital_Age_A_Challenge_for_Christian_Discipleship

 and now it is time to run to Karate!

Lent is Coming

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Image Credit: RGB Stock

So, it’s time for Lent. For once, I haven’t been on top of exactly when it’s coming, as after four years of doing #bigread, we’ve taken a break this year (it’s a huge amount of work, you know) – materials remain available online. Anyway, Lent starts Wednesday, with Easter Day 5th April (I’ll be at Spring Harvest, come join!)

So, what will I be engaging with for Lent?

I’m already engaged in a discussion group on Facebook, reading We Make the Road by Walking, which will last all year.

As I have done for the last few Lent/Advent sessions, I am going to receive Brian Draper‘s daily ‘in the moment’ emails, which always give something to chew over for the day.

I always like to keep an eye on what Street Angels are doing with ‘Love Your Streets‘.

A few years ago, I gave up supermarket shopping for Lent. I think this year, I will again do a food-focused challenge, in which I will focus on the foods in my cupboards, and seek to make meals from those, preferably topping up from small ‘fill-in’ shops, rather than a ‘big shop’ (in either sense of the word), and remove some of that consumerist mindset!

Finally, I love what @40Acts does, and look forward to engaging with the ‘gentle’ acts suggested within the ‘green’ section of 5 minutes or less (as this year acts will be split into 3 levels, according to the energy that you have that day):