"As churches we are already engaging with our communities, but often we do not recognise or celebrate it. As ‘church scattered’ we are a network of Christian disciples making a difference to those around us. We are being ‘salt and light’. As ‘church gathered’ we undertake initiatives that help make our communities flourishing places to live and work. As both gathered and scattered we engage through caring for our neighbours, looking after our vulnerable family members, volunteering in schools and other local organisations like food banks and homeless shelters, going to work day by day, and by taking an active part in the cultural life of our cities, towns and villages."
That quote is taken from a publication called 'Community Engagement: A Simple Guide' by the Oxford Diocese of the Church of England. In many ways community engagement is embodied by the Serving the Community Awards that the Congregational Federation has been running for the past few years. We've celebrated some fantastic ways in which our churches are engaging the local community, and we want to provide resources here to help you in your own local setting.
Serving the Community Awards - Take a look at our Congregational Federation YouTube Channel which features the work of our Churches at Freystrop, Wivenhoe, Crediton, Bellshill, Zion Miners and South Cerney and their brilliant engagement with the local community.
The Mercers’ Company - The Mercers’ Company is almost 700 years old and is one of the most well established Livery Companies in the City of London. The company is sole corporate trustee of its associated charitable trusts – The Mercer Family of Charities. Through its rich history, the Mercers’ Company has adopted strong values and traditions which have formed a solid base from which to embrace and support a wide range of organisations.
This Charity want to support churches, as well as other faith and secular community based organisations, to enable adults and families to lead fulfilling lives. They want to fund proposals that will strengthen communities and families; building positive inclusive relationships between people, increasing a sense of belonging and reducing isolation.
Could this help you in your community engagement? Take a look at their website.
Church of Sanctuary / City of Sanctuary - 'Churches should be welcoming places of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.' Sanctuary is a long-standing prophetic theme of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and the idea of a Church of Sanctuary has evolved from the City of Sanctuary movement, building cultures of welcome, hospitality and safety. With over 100 cities/towns/boroughs/areas in Britain and Ireland working with the City of Sanctuary vision as of June 2017.
There are excellent initiatives being taken today by churches and church groups building welcome, hospitality and sanctuary. Take a look at these two excellent websites.
Livability Community resources - Does your church want training and support in reaching out to your local neighbourhood? Do you want to grow wellbeing and connections in your community? Do you want support in growing a church that is accessible and inclusive for disabled people? Are you passionate about seeing everyone sharing their gifts and strengths?
Livability provides a wide range of training and resources that help churches make it all add up in their community.