Comments: Opinion - 2 June 2018

Philip North's opener is an idealistic gloss on Acts which is itself an idealistic presentation of origins.

Besides, if I am poor or unemployed or underemployed, I'm not sure the first thing I need to hear about is how I can be saved from the wrath of some ancient middle eastern divine despot in the sky. (North # 2). Marx had a point.

I don't know much about C of E diocesan finances; but more broadly the relationship of the institutional church to money and the economy is best viewed via a theoria and praxis model. At a practical level many people are denied meaningful participation in the economy with profound negative impacts on their communities as the result of others' policies.

Economic analysis is readily available. A theological analysis is also available to the church. There is the preferential option for the poor. When one unpacks biblical metaphors like the 'kingdom of God', one understands Christ as entering into history as community maker with Christians following Christ's lead in the modern economy.

Rather than using resources to hire people to do 'holy' jobs, the church could invest in local economic development, creating meaningful employment and elevating the dignity of persons. It is not like we are not already involved in the markets. But I'd leave out the bit about being struck dead like Ananias and Sapphira if you hedge your bets with the community covenant. ( :

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 3 June 2018 at 12:39pm BST

Thank you to Philip North and Andrew Lightbown for their timely and prophetic contributions. I have worked in both wealthy and very poor churches, and seen first-hand the difference that extra resources can make. It can be as basic as being able to afford baptism candles and books to give away; and gifts for children on anniversaries of baptism; all the way up to funding holiday clubs, children's corners, and socials for the elderly.

One parish was a socially deprived estate in Chester diocese. The modern building had been furnished a couple of decades previously with a collection of old pews and furnishings thrown out by other parishes. A grant of £800 from a diocesan mission fund enabled us to buy chairs and turn the church into a multi-function space. The building then became used for all sorts of activities - a badly needed facility on that estate. I was, and am, immensely grateful to a bishop who had the vision to see what a difference that investment could make.

We were overcoming great odds in surviving, let alone ministering to our very needy community. Yet we were frequently referred to as a 'failing parish' because, when our parish share was tripled, we were unable to pay it.

In Revelation's letters to the 7 churches, the two that receive unqualified approval are the two which are small and weak. 'Successful' churches need to keep in mind that the standards of God's kingdom are different from those of the world.

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 3 June 2018 at 6:19pm BST
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