Church leaders from across the UK have been telling Cinnamon about their vision for civic engagement. Anthony McKernan reports:
“Virtually all the leaders I’ve talked with have a heart for their local community. The most memorable conversations, however, have been with those who have a vision beyond their immediate church locality – a vision for their whole village, town or city”.
These leaders have been building relationships across their region, and especially with civic authorities.
“Meetings with the leader of the council and connections with the police are the most commonly mentioned. But I hear other sectors mentioned, such as health and business.”
The Cinnamon Faith Action Audits clearly helped in this. Presentation of the findings in each locality was often done in a town hall or civic venue with an audience of invited civic leaders. Those relationships are now bearing fruit.
In Lincoln, on the back of the audit, the local authority challenged the churches to be more coordinated, and so they have set up the Lincoln Active Faith Network. Sian Wade, who leads Bridge Church in Lincoln with her husband Dave, told Anthony: “There’s a time when you have your head down and sleeves rolled up to graft in your own patch, but there comes a time when you need to start figuring out how your church fits into the bigger picture within the town or city that you are based in”. Lincoln are planning to host a Civic Prayer Event next year.
Kevin McKenna has organised a number of the Manchester Prayer Breakfasts, and says: “I am passionate about greater unity within the Church. Civic Prayer Events bring people together from different traditions, and backgrounds. We bridge social, economic and political differences”.
It’s not just a unity movement. As Anthony McKernan says, “Church leaders have been telling me that civic authorities are in a time of unprecedented change right now. Austerity measures continue and the strain on services is driving civic leaders to much greater engagement with local communities.”
Bringing leaders from across the town together to pray for them and stand alongside is clearly a powerful witness. “These Civic Prayer Events are establishing a new basis of relationship and operation between civic leaders and churches,” says Anthony.
Free Support Package
Anthony concludes, “More than one Civic Prayer organiser has quoted this passage from Jeremiah 29 to me ‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you….Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’. Who wouldn’t want that?”
Have you planned your Civic Prayer Event yet?Tags: anthony mckernan, austerity, city, civic prayer, civil society, council, hosting, local church, partnership, support, town, unity, village