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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Together for the Common Good

Over 170 persons gathered in Liverpool from Friday 6 to Sunday 10 of September for an event called "Together for the Common Good". It was a conference for Christians and people of other faiths to explore how we can work together for social justice. It was moving to be part of an event with so many committed activists and workers for justice, all stemming from their firm foundation of faith.

The inspiration behind the conference was the work of (Roman Catholic) Archbishop Derek Worlock and (Anglican) Bishop David Sheppard of Liverpool who, together with their Free Church colleagues, spearheaded grassroots social action for justice in the city from the mid 1970s to the mid 1990s. Through addressing social issues together, these Church leaders built a relevant and visible role for the Church in wider society. In a city known for sectarian strife they remained faithful to their distinctive beliefs, but in working side by side demonstrated that there was more to unite Christians than to divide them. The venue for the conference itself was significant - Liverpool Hope University - the only Anglican-Roman Catholic joint university in Europe.

Bishop David Sheppard and Archbishop Derek Worlock
Towards the end of the conference I gave an address on how the International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission  for Unity and Mission, (IARCCUM) is seeking to promote joint action and witness between the two Communions, led by their bishops. In many ways the Worlock-Sheppard partnership prefigured the IARCCUM model of joint action.  

Some of the themes and questions explored during the weekend were:

  • identifying the differences and similarities between the current Church and the Church as it was in the context of the Sheppard and Worlock collaboration
  • recognising the role of the Church as an advocate for the most vulnerable people, asking how we can look outwards and focus on community action, moving beyond denominational differences to focus on being a servant Church
  • key elements that help to build effective working relationships of trust between people of different faiths

RC Archbishop Bernard Longley and Anglican Archbishop David Moxon give a joint blessing
Other keynote speakers during the packed weekend were: Rt Hon John Battle KCSG, Phillip Blond, Claire Dove MBE DL, Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Dr Eliza Filby, John Flamson DL, Revd Ruth Gee, Lord Maurice Glasman, The Rt Revd Dr Rupert Hoare, Neil Jameson, Pat Jones CBE, Revd Phil Jump, Clifford Longley, The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Revd Dr Peter McGrail, Robin Millar, The Most Revd David Moxon, Roger Phillips DL, Professor Gerald Pillay DL, Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Dr Anna Rowlands, Max Steinberg CBE FRSA, Dame Mary Tanner DBE.

Further information on the event can be found here.

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