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Jubilee Centre plans learning labs for ‘biblical’ business

11 March 2022

BUSINESS can be beautiful, a report published this week by the think tank the Jubilee Centre says.

The report, Beautiful Enterprise, sets out a “radical Christian agenda” for business. and will serve as a touchstone for the charity during a period of “renewal”.

Founded in 1983, the Jubilee Centre promotes a “biblical vision” for business and society. In 1985, it established the Keep Sunday Special Campaign to preserve Sunday-trading laws, which led to a rare defeat for a Thatcher government in the House of Commons.

The Centre’s new director, Tim Thorlby, said on Monday: “We want to encourage the millions of Christians in the private sector to recognise that their work matters, and to help them understand what a good business looks like.”

The Jubilee Centre is aiming to become a “think and do tank”, with a focus on practical action. It will be launching several “learning labs” this year, bringing together large and small enterprises, as well as theologians and churches, to discuss and pilot new ideas.

The learning labs, Mr Thorlby said, would put “flesh on the bone” of the seven “biblical principles for a purposeful economy” identified in the report. The principles include fair pay, dignified work, and environmental stewardship.

“We need to act in the interests of the many — not just the money”

Mr Thorlby said that he wanted to see a 21st-century reform of the private sector. The Church often looked to 19th-century reformers for inspiration, he said, but “there are also Christian pioneers today, living and breathing in the UK.”

Referring to the success of the Living Wage campaign, and the involvement of churches in the process, he said: “I think there’s a huge amount of change that can be delivered from the bottom up without the Government doing anything. . . I am in favour of government reform in all sorts of things, but I’m not going to wait for Government.”

Mr Thorlby conceded that capitalism “clearly has some deep-rooted problems: it’s built on materialism, and it’s giving us climate change. The question, though, is what we can do today.”

Enterprise, Mr Thorlby said, was a “gift from God: the use of creativity, and the ability to organise and serve other people with goods and services.

“Our call is to make business better. Let’s reduce our impact on the environment; let’s make society a fairer place. Let’s do what we can to promote the common good. Human beings are called to work.”

Read the report here

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