Writing for the Church Times today, Stephen outlined his view that the church in England is driving social action and providing hope to communities across the country at a time of dire need. Far from being in decline, the church has 'stepped up to the plate' to make a 'remarkable social impact'.
“Imagine, five years ago, that you were asked: “What would happen in Britain if hundreds of thousands of people were no longer able to afford enough food?” If it was me, I think I would have guessed that local councils would have organised something. What has actually happened, however, is that the churches have stepped up to the plate...
... Most people think the churches in Britain are experiencing a slow but inexorable decline into irrelevance. The truth about Britain in 2014, however, is rather different. Only the churches have had the capacity to address a sudden crisis of food poverty.
And it is not just foodbanks. Debt advice, street pastors, helping jobless people into work, tackling homelessness, and international development: in all these areas - and many others - the churches are making a remarkable social impact...
...In disadvantaged neighbourhoods, where many institutions have pulled out, the Church is sometimes the only one left. In those situations, it represents hope.
In previous centuries, waves of church-based social activism have had profound and lasting effects on Britain. They have delivered social progress. They have forged new forms of social organisation, and enduring institutions. It is too early to judge the long-term effects of this current wave, but the scale of it suggests that the effect will be substantial.”
You can read the full article on the Church Times website by clicking here.