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Churches can 'fill gaps' in a good Society

30 May 2014

by a staff reporter

helen clifton

Launching the Good Society: two panel members, the Labour peer Lord Glasman, and a CAP volunteer and campaigner, Margaret Reynolds

Launching the Good Society: two panel members, the Labour peer Lord Glasman, and a CAP volunteer and campaigner, Margaret Reynolds

A REPORT examining what makes a "good society", and the part that faith communities play in creating it, has been released by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI).

With the support of the charity Church Action on Poverty (CAP), they sent researchers into seven areas of Britain to look at the impact that churches are having on social issues, including homelessness, mental health, poverty, and old age.

They also asked those taking part which values were important in a good society.

The general secretary of CTBI, Bob Fyffe, said that the report demonstratd that faith leaders were becoming much more integrated in their communities.

"Faith groups and leaders are asked to challenge the status quo by becoming mediators and community leaders rather than just faith leaders; standing for values rather than fundamentals; being seen as voices of truth, values, and integrity rather than holders of power; leading by creating possibilities; and seeing buildings as an opportunity for new thinking on the meaning of sanctuary and community.

"A good society offers hope, integrates different generations and faiths, and models healthy ways of living and being. It rebuilds communities by solving conflicts creatively, and provides practical resources."

The co-ordinator of CAP, Niall Cooper, said that the "good society" was stepping in to fill the gaps created by austerity.

"But, as our research has shown, the churches are much more than a place of last resort. Their work is central to the lives of some of the UK's most vulnerable communities," Mr Cooper said.

The Good Society project was launched last week by the RC Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols. He described the project as "a window on the transcendent", demonstrating values that were neglected by mainstream society.

A toolkit to help churches hold their own conversations about what makes a good society is available at www.agoodsociety.org.

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