Is Philip North right about the Church and the poor?

Aug 8, 2017 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

Tiffer Robinson writes: I was at a conference recently with some truly inspirational lay people who had only recently come to faith, and who were really full of ideas and energy. At one point I responded to a suggestion with the words “Well what you’d need to take into account is how to resource that idea” and one of them said “No, that’s what you need to take into account – I don’t need to worry about that”.  And she was quite right: some of us are called to be visionaries, and some of us are called to keep an eye on the details.

For those who haven’t heard, Philip North gave a talk at New Wine last week about ministry to the poor, which has been widely acclaimed as prophetic and important. I want to start by saying I am a huge supporter of Philip North, albeit at a distance, and I was very saddened by the behaviour of many in the Church when he was announced as the next Bishop of Sheffield and later withdrew. I also agree with the main thrust of his talk, and he has identified a few practical issues that need to be dealt with, as well as a more general spiritual problem in the Church of England—namely a lack of presence in poorer areas.  It might seem odd to want to challenge something that you agree with, but I hope it’s more than mere pedantry—we need to be able accurately to identify the problems as well as being able to recognise where improvements have been made.

It also needs to be said that this was a talk to a particular group of people, and not an essay or an article, but it is now being read and quoted much farther afield so I feel a critique is justified.

My first issue with this talk is the use of a statistic that Bishop Philip has used before:

Read here

Read also:

New debate swirls on Church class divide in UK where clergy prefer ‘trendy areas’, Ecumenical News

Church is abandoning the poorest areas, Bishop North warns, by Madeleine Davies, Church Times (features interviews with a number of senior C of E figures responding to Bishop Philip’s talk).

Mission on outer estates, by Andrew Symes (article from 2013; PDF file)


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