I have just been writing a detailed response to a public consultation about the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC). There are a whole host of issues related to the impact of the construction of this massive project: compulsory purchase of homes, removal of public footpaths and highways, re-routing of villages, damage to the environment, road closures, loss of animal, bird and insect habitats, stables and farmland.
I recently ran a project to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Together with friends from the ecumenical Mission Theology Advisory Group we produced 95 Missional Theses. One of our new ‘theses’ reads:
‘We believe in a Church where the lonely can find friends’.
When this statement was posted on social media, it immediately provoked an avalanche of comment and discussion, especially from those clergy and lay people following us from rural situations. Loneliness has been called ‘the last taboo’ and it seemed that posting a statement about loneliness made the unsayable possible.
A former colleague of mine, the late Revd Canon Marion Mort, said these words at a conference called Making Christ Known. I have never forgotten them:
‘Mission is one and it is God’s mission. We are invited to share in his work of reconciliation, and that reconciliation was achieved by the blood of the cross. We come therefore as Christ’s Ambassadors, delivering the message of the King in the language of those to whom we are sent. It is therefore about moving on from where we are, or even sometimes going back to the community from which we came.’
The Ship of Fools website (ship-of-fools.com) has an interesting section entitled ‘Mystery Worshipper’. The premise: a brave soul ventures into a service at a church they have never visited before and reports on what it is like. The anonymous mystery worshippers have to answer questions about if and how they were welcomed to the service as a newcomer, what the experience of attending church was like, what happened afterwards and, crucially, whether they would consider going back again! All kinds of churches are reviewed from many different denominations with a huge range of styles of worship and size of congregation.