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Friday, 2 December 2016

The State We're In - Faith and Politics post-Brexit and the US Election

A large group of Christian leaders came to St Stephen Walbrook today for a special breakfast with guest speaker Michael Wear, Faith Advisor to President Obama. Michael, who has been in the UK this week to talk about his book Reclaiming Hope which can be preordered here, shared insights from the White House and reflections on the changing role of faith in public life. The event was organised by the Good Faith Partnership, in conjunction with Home for Good, Premier Radio and HeartEdge.

St Martin's Voices sang to open the proceedings before Michael spoke about faith, politics, adoption and hope in US politics noting that the next four years will mark a pivotal time for the church in the Western World. He was encouraged by the elevation of women's voices in American Christianity and mentioned Tish H. Warren and the testimony of Nicole Cliffe, in this respect:
  • "Hope is about God coming and crashing into the here and now,"
  • "If you really care about your neighbour you'll love God."
  • "Christian knowledge is for all of life and can be applied to politics."
  • "Christians will be swept aside unless we grapple with the issues that people in general are talking about."
  • "I am convinced that politics is damaging our spiritual lives."
In my welcome to the breakfast, I said the following:

Welcome to St Stephen Walbrook. For those who haven’t been here before this building is one of Christopher Wren’s masterpieces which was built after the Great Fire of London and is the Parish Church for Mansion House, the home of the Lord Mayor of London. In the 1950s, under Chad Varah, this church was the place where Samaritans began and from which it operated in the early part of its existence. That major social outreach programme led to the understanding that when God’s people to gather they should be in community. That understanding led to the reordering of the church so that its people could gather round a circular altar carved by Henry Moore where God would be found at the very centre of the community. Most recently, the church has developed a partnership with St Martin-in-the-Fields which had led to new mission initiatives including early morning reflections for people on their way to work and which has also revitalised the cultural offer (music and visual arts) of the church.

The partnership which St Martin’s has formed with St Stephen’s provides a model for future partnerships which St Martin’s intends to form as a way of building association, learning, development and resource together with other churches. As part of developing its support of partnership working St Martin’s is initiating and incubating a new network of churches called HeartEdge, about which you have been given an information pack among the papers you have been received this morning.

HeartEdge supports churches in blending their mission around four key areas:
  1. Congregation – Inclusive approaches to liturgy, worship and day-to-day community life.
  2. Community – sharing models of outreach which serve local need and address social justice. 
  3. Culture – art, music and ideas to re-imagine the Christian narrative for the present moment.
  4. Commerce – Commercial activities that generate finance but which also creatively extend and enhance mission and ministry through social enterprise.
So, HeartEdge intends to create opportunities for churches to:
  • Learn from each other – building a community of practice.
  • Celebrate achievement – validating a range of activities.
  • Look to the future – evolving new forms of cultural, commercial and community-based work.
Why should you join? We can do unbelievable things together as churches if we start with one another’s assets not our deficits. In a community of fear we begin with our hurts and our stereotypes, and find a hundred reasons why we can’t do things or why certain kinds of people don’t belong. But if we take off our labels (like disabled or wealthy or migrant or evangelical or single) and instead see qualities like passion or commitment or generosity or enthusiasm or humility then there’s no limit to what a community of hope like HeartEdge can do.

By listening to and learning from each other we can build a community of practice able to evolve new forms of cultural, commercial and community based mission and ministry and find our way to becoming abundant communities that open space for generosity and cooperation.

HeartEdge will be launched here on 8 February (please come along) and will provide mentoring, workshops, conferences, mission models and project opportunities to its members as it develops. You don’t need to wait until 8 February, however, to sign up as initial members. We are beginning to get this Membership Pack out to interested churches and to sign up initial members from today’s event onwards. For more information please contact me on


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