Building Strong Families and Hopeful Communities – The Work of Justice
I’ve always thought of ‘social justice’ as living right together. God teaches us how to live ‘right’ and the Bible helps us to get a handle on that. But so does our life together, when we try and live that out and (let’s be honest, and I can only speak for myself) often fail miserably. But God’s grace is such that we get picked up and back on the road.
At the Social Justice Commission we have been working intentionally around this for some time, trying to think through the best strategy for getting the church to live more justly and be more engaged. Part of that is about celebrating what we do as a church so well already – and a great deal of that happens through Anglican Care. As we know, being just where we are is about being God’s family, and being the Community of Christ. But those aren’t things limited to the building we call church and being ‘religious’. They are ways of being that have a strongly missional or ‘outward facing’ dimension.
That’s why the Commission has adopted the strategic direction of building strong families and hopeful communities for this church, and is engaging with a broad cross section of issues and concerns, like family violence, poverty and income inequality, criminal justice and restorative justice, parent education, community development, alcohol etc., as they touch on those outcomes. This means our engagement with ‘issues’ might look ‘ad-hoc’, but it will always be serving and seeking our strategic outcomes. Our work with the church is to assist it to attain these outcomes too, both inside and outside the church.
It necessarily requires us to work ecumenically and means all our work will necessarily be interagency. We are continuing to develop these links and connections as part of the relational fabric for the whole church so that engagement is national, regional and local. This is truly missional work, causing us all as a church to work and develop positive relationships of trust and respect with others for shared common concerns and outcomes. Many in the church are already engaged in this, and we want to grow and develop that, and create pathways through which we can all learn from it.
We will be doing this by requesting dioceses and hui amorangi put forward the names of up to ten people from their area that the commission and work intentionally with to train and equip so that they can become agents of change where they are, and catalysts for others in their diocese or hui amorangi so that the movement can grow from the ground up. These people will have passion and energy for the work of building strong families and hopeful communities, and might come from a broad cross section of backgrounds. We will be getting this initial group together before the end of the year for our first hui. If you think you would be interested, please get in touch directly or contact your Bishop.
We have been working very closely and intentionally with Tikanga Maori in Christchurch in the aftermath of the many earthquakes. In particular we have been working with whanau in the eastern suburbs, providing respite for social service agencies, and therapeutic programmes for tamariki and whanau to help them in a time of great uncertainty.
We are also in the process of developing a discipleship resource, initially for tikanga pasifika, and developing a trial for a family based ministry initiative to help upskill families and reduce domestic violence. This is a bi-cultural initiative, working across Waiapu Diocese and Te Hui Amorangi O Te Tairawhiti. In addition, we have been working in Te Hui Amorangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika to develop Awhi Whanau ministry and a new approach to missionally focussed bi-cultural education, that facilitates outcomes that enhance families and communities.
If you are not on our mailing list, I’d encourage you to contact me so you can get on it. We are putting out three booklets before the end of the year – one about a Maori model of practice for creating strong families, another on christian anarchy, another on mining. You will also receive our material at Christmas, new praying cards, and a variety of materials we think might interest you. It will also mean we can contact you and invite you to justice related hui!
(This article was originally written for the Anglican Care newsletter a few days ago).