19 July 2010
Churches should get stuck in to the Big Society
The Big Society is an immense opportunity for community service that Christians should not pass up, the Evangelical Alliance has said following David Cameron's speech this week.
Mr Cameron called the plans "the biggest, most dramatic redistribution of power" from the state to individuals, saying they will enable people to feel both free and powerful enough to help themselves and their own communities.
He added that funds stuck in dormant bank accounts will be used to enable charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to take over the running of public services.
Steve Clifford, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, said Christians are already at the heart of serving their communities, and should grasp this opportunity to get further involved.
He will be writing to Evangelical Alliance churches in the initial Big Society project areas - Liverpool; Eden Valley, Cumbria; Windsor and Maidenhead and the London borough of Sutton - encouraging them to get involved wherever possible.
"Churches are already the life blood of communities and the lifeline for many on the edge of society," he said.
"We are delighted that the Prime Minister has recognised the incredible work community groups are already doing, and want to enthusiastically encourage churches to accept his invitation to get stuck in."
He added that churches outside these project areas still have many opportunities to serve, particularly at this time of economic austerity and loss of public service funding.
He expressed concern that the new Government's cuts could hit the most vulnerable in society, and called on the Church to play its part in preventing this from happening.
"We must not pass by on the other side when our neighbours may suffer through funding cuts," he said.
"Churches and Christian charities can step in by approaching their local council to ask how they can best respond to the needs of those around them."
Mr Clifford also welcomed Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles' comments last week. Mr Pickles said the new Government is committed to building on the huge amount of experience faith groups have in getting out into the community, and to valuing the role of religion and faith in public life.
The Government has set up a "Your Square Mile" website to link people to local community groups and social enterprises.
Mr Clifford said: "We hope the Government also looks at our Square Mile initiative, which encourages Christians to let their faith impact all of their lives - including caring for those around them."
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Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.