Church in so­cial ac­tion

The Wokingham Paper - - VIEWPOINTS -

MORE than 33,000 so­cial ac­tion projects - from food banks to debt coun­selling - are run or sup­ported by churches, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures set­ting out for the first time the full scale of the Church of Eng­land’s ser­vice to com­mu­ni­ties.

The find­ings – which amount to the largest sur­vey to date of the ex­tent of the Church of Eng­land’s work with some of the most vul­ner­a­ble in so­ci­ety – show that 80 per cent of con­gre­ga­tions are in­volved in one or more forms of so­cial ac­tion.

The Arch­bishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “From food banks to debt coun­selling and lunch clubs to lan­guage classes, these fig­ures spell out for the first time the sheer scale and range of our churches’ com­mit­ment to their com­mu­ni­ties.

“We are do­ing more to love and help peo­ple in need than at any time since 1945.

“We don’t just do this to be ‘nice’ but be­cause our faith in Je­sus Christ com­pels us to act.”

Data gath­ered from 13,000 churches shows that the big­gest area of work is in food banks - with 60 per cent, or nearly 8,000 churches - in­volved in ei­ther run­ning or sup­port­ing food banks through vol­un­teers, do­na­tions and pro­vid­ing venues.

Nearly a third, or 32 per cent, of Church of Eng­land churches run or sup­port par­ent and tod­dler groups; just over a quar­ter, or 26 per cent, lunch clubs; and just over one in five, or 22 per cent, com­mu­nity cafes. Hol­i­day clubs and break­fast clubs, often pro­vid­ing meals to chil­dren from low in­come fam­i­lies, are sup­ported or run by nearly 17 per cent of churches.

Other com­mu­nity ac­tion projects sup­ported or run by the Church of Eng­land’s churches in­volved a range of ac­tiv­i­ties from be­reave­ment sup­port and com­mu­nity gar­dens to mu­sic events and English lan­guage tu­ition.

The fig­ures on the ex­tent of so­cial ac­tion by Church of Eng­land churches were col­lected as part of the an­nual Sta­tis­tics for Mis­sion 2017 sur­vey.

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