In a report for the Church Urban Fund, Paul Bickley argues that churches tackle the relational deficit blighting deprived communities.
That’s one of the findings of research project conducted by Theos for the Church Urban Fund, focusing on the work of churches serving some of the most deprived communities in England.
The report presents the findings of 12 case studies and hundreds of individual interviews with people from inside and outside of churches. It explores not just what local churches offer, but looks to understand in greater depth how they work and whether they offer something which other institutions don’t or can’t.
The report argues that, alongside essential material support for vulnerable communities, churches build relationships, social networks and community connections, which are often in short supply.
In his foreword to the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, says: This report from Church Urban Fund and Theos demonstrates the scale and nature of that love for neighbour in practical action. It shows that relationships are at the heart of every community, and that churches are at the heart of local communities. Painting a rich and detailed picture of local activity, this report shows how local churches are actively seeking the blessing of those around them and creating spaces where relationships of mutual care and support can flourish.