Anglican church-based social action
From a report by Church Urban Fund
CUF and the Church of England have recently published the results of a survey, Church in Action 2017: A National Survey of Church Based Social Action.
It shows that Anglican churches are highly engaged in responding to social issues and building community across England. The key findings are:
Loneliness is the most widespread social issue according to the church leaders surveyed. More than three-quarters identify this as a major or significant problem in their parishes, with relatively little variation between the most and least deprived areas. Other social issues, such as homelessness, low education, and food poverty are much more concentrated in the most deprived parishes.
The proportion of church leaders reporting that mental health problems are a major or significant problem in their parish has increased sharply from 40% in 2011 to 60% in 2017.
70% of churches run three or more organised activities for the benefit of their local communities, such as parent/carer and toddler groups, community cafes, lunch clubs for older people, holiday clubs and youth work.
Churches in the most deprived areas are the most active in their communities in terms of the range of activities they run, with 34% of them running six or more of the activities listed (e.g. night shelters, debt advice, lunch clubs). Churches in more deprived areas are also more actively engaged in campaigning and advocacy on social issues.
Informal help and active signposting to other organisations are important components of churches’ social action. When these are included, most churches are involved in supporting people with mental health problems (83%), family breakdown (86%), and loneliness (94%).
There has been a marked increase in partnership working in recent years, both between different churches, and between churches and voluntary, public, and private sector partners.
There is often a gap between belief and practice, or intent and reality. Whilst 97% of clergy agree that ‘engaging with the poor and marginalised in the local area is a vital activity for a healthy church’, only 54% agree that ‘tackling poverty is a fundamental part of the mission for our church’. Similarly, 88% of church leaders agree that ‘advocating or campaigning for social justice is an important part of the role of local churches’, yet only a third of churches are frequently involved in such activities.
In terms of the relationship between social engagement, discipleship and church growth, 64% of church leaders agreed that ‘community engagement has helped draw new people into the church’ and 80% agreed that ‘community work helps church members to live out and grow in their Christian faith’.
Download the report from here.
See also articles:
Church for the Poor research here.
Reaching parts of the Community others can't here.
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