MP Danny Kruger has recently launched a report called Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant. The report recognises the invaluable role of churches noting that, “Many of our public services – our modern health, education and probation systems in particular – have their origins in Christian institutions.”
It sets out a broad vision for a more local, more human, less bureaucratic society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhoods. The Evangelical Alliance contributed to the report and worked with others to ensure the views of our members were well represented.
David Smyth, head of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland commented:
“The Prime Minster has welcomed the report as do the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland. Throughout this pandemic the Church has remained active in local communities serving practically, loving compassionately and preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Churches have deep roots in local communities and are committed for the long-term. They often have buildings at the heart of the poorest communities and operate both nationally and locally. The relationships within a congregation are a source of huge resilience and there is a strong outward focus to help others in the local area.
However there can be challenges for faith groups in working with the public sector and both have good reason to be wary at times. The report helpfully recognises issues arising from “faith illiteracy” and even “faith phobia”. It states that, “there are no values-free zones anywhere. Secular public servants bring their philosophy to work, too. Like religious people they have a moral vision, strive for personal righteousness, and wish that everyone thought like they did.”
The Evangelical Alliance conducted the Changing Church survey(2) in June and found that 90% of our member churches were working to meet the needs of the local community and almost three quarters were working in partnership with either local authorities, other churches or local charities. We, as an alliance of evangelicals, will continue to do that work, but it is encouraging to see government recognise the role churches play and look for ways to enable more partnership, while allowing churches to remain true to their gospel calling.”
“Churches and faith groups here have good relationships with the Northern Ireland Executive and other statutory bodies and are often at the table alongside others in the voluntary and community sector trying to tackle systemic social injustices. We will be asking the Executive to consider commissioning a similar report and adopting this kind of strategic approach to working well alongside faith communities to bring practical support and hope in these new and challenging times.”
The Levelling up our local communities report can be found here ( p 34-37 relate to faith):
The Evangelical Alliance Changing Church survey can be found here: