This edition of New Directions goes to press as we prepare to mark the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower disaster, an event which will continue to be etched on the minds and hearts of people around our country. Remembrance in particularly Christian terms is not just about commemorating something in the past: it is about seeking to do something to help build a better world. Each November, for example, we remember the fallen in war, not to promote war but rather to work for peace. Thus, in remembering the innocent victims of the Grenfell fire we are called to work for the transformation of communities up and down our country as well as for reconciliation and unity among all people, whoever or wherever they may be in our nation. For the Church of England, and indeed the churches as a whole in England, part of this work will be focussing on the presence of the church in our estate communities. Rather than withdrawing because of a lack of resources we need to make sure that there is a visible and permanent Christian community on every significant social housing estate in the country. These communities will need to be outward-looking, vibrant, and well resourced, if they are to fulfil the deep desire that we should all follow the example of Christ in Luke chapter four when he says he has come to bring ‘good news to the poor.’ In order to do this effectively we need to make sure that the voice of people from estate communities is heard at all levels of the church, and of our catholic movement. That this voice is heard and listened to will be shown in an increase in lay local leadership, vocations to ordained leadership, and an increase in the deployment of clergy to this ministry. As a catholic constituency we can be proud of our commitment to these communities in the past and in the present, but we cannot afford to sit back and rely on what has gone before. We will need to explore new ways of developing mission and support in these communities and make sure that clergy and lay leaders are properly equipped (and given appropriate support) to deal with the challenging situations that will face them. We cannot simply send people off without offering proper support and resources. Ultimately there are limited financial resources and we must ensure that these resources are used well and effectively, particularly in setting people free for mission. Removing the burdens of building, administration and financial management would be a key way of doing this. As catholics in the Church of England we must be willing to partner with other church groups as well as with community groups and national provisions in order that we might offer hope and help to those who are in need. As catholics we must be confident in our ability to do this sort of mission: it is too easy to believe the rhetoric that it is only evangelical Christians who ‘do mission.’ Our style of mission might be different, but it has a proven track record of working.
What we need to do now is to ensure that we embrace this mission and ministry and use all of the resources we have. We should not be afraid of entering a new period of evangelization in our nation; it is important that this should be grounded in prayer and a true desire for service. We should also not shy away from using the language of mission and evangelization—very often ‘grafting communities,’ ‘planting churches’ and ‘Fresh Expressions’ are what our parishes are trying to do already. It is an important calling of the Church of England to reach out to all of the communities across our nation, especially those on the edge. We can be a part of this work and help to strengthen and support communities which are already strong in community spirit, but which may lack resources. The Oxford Movement Fathers set out to work for the conversion of England, and this continues to be our task today. Filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit we might be vessels of bring good news to all communities and people in our nation.