Tony Emerson explores how Joy in Enough connects with the Church of England’s five marks of mission.
The Church of England has adopted the five marks of mission:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
I acknowledge that this framing is CofE specific – but most churches have rather similar mission aims to these.
Now Joy in Enough (JiE) is a campaign for a fair and sustainable economy, led by Green Christian and supported by partner organisations. It is a challenge to Christians to imagine and work towards an economy that supports human flourishing within the planetary boundaries.
In other words, we are striving to bring about a society and economy which
- stays within the boundaries of nature (operating within strict limits or caps on emissions and resource use) – Mark Five above
- prioritises well-being and the common good, in which all have enough and no one too much – relevant to Marks Three and Two.
In addition to running conferences – most recently the Big Workshop last November and sending speakers to church and community events, we have two major programmes or projects at present. Firstly the development of our programme Plenty! This consists of five 90 min sessions on topics such as the stresses of modern living, consumerist pressures, inequality and social justice, and questioning the value of ‘economic growth’. Plenty! could be run as a Lenten course and we’re hoping to have it completed by Lent 2019. The first two sessions are already in use.
Our second main activity is an advocacy project: a declaration that we hope will be signed by a wide variety of church leaders, committing themselves to rethinking church missions in the light the needs for major changes in our economies and societies. We’ve had a couple of drafts out for discussion, and are still refining exactly what it is we want to say, consulting with church leaders in the process. Once we have a final statement, we’ll begin the process of collecting signatures ready for a launch in 2019.
JiE seeks to involve different people and groups at different levels in the very challenging change process. The journey to a just and sustainable economy and society is difficult. We will need to work with various partners in promoting a range of policies and practical projects geared to these ends.
Indeed we are already working with many such the partners in many civic society, as well as faith, organisations. We are or have been working with the Centre for the Understanding of a Sustainable Economy (Surrey University.), New Economics Foundation, Rethinking Economics, Positive Money, the Mothers Union, and many others. In this way we help to present and position Christianity as relevant to the great problems and issues of the day – relevant to Mark Two, perhaps?
We believe that direct action to reduce emissions and non-renewable resource use – such as building insulation, switching to renewable energy use, restricting air travel, eating organic foods where possible – is necessary, but not-sufficient. We believe other measures are necessary to reduce the pressures on us to consume so much, and of the ‘wrong stuff’. To this end the church has one great strength: it is embedded in the community, and in many places the pillar (almost literally) of the community. People fully engaged in community activity are so fully involved in their music or drama societies, football clubs, park or library groups, church activities, etc, they don’t have the time or inclination to be flying off on week-end breaks to Prague or addictively shopping in the mall! The more the church and its members support the full range of community activity, therefore, the more we help reduce pressures to consume.
Indeed if we look back at the Marks of Mission we can see a ‘triple dividend’ for community activity engagement: promotion of human well-being (mark two), good relations between people (mark three) and environmentally sustainable living (mark five).
We are endeavouring to develop a vision for the economy and society, one in which both people and planet flourish; in which economics is no longer the ‘dismal science’, but a joyful art and a sacred enterprise. We want to help the churches rethink their own mission and advocate for this alternative economy. Perhaps even prefigure this economy.
Which may go some way to proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom – Mark One.