So my very first official engagement since the OP! One of ACEVO's "Learning with Leaders" lunches. And this one is particularly fantastic. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, is one of the most erudite, learned and amusing Prelates in the land. It was a real joy to listen to him speak. And he looks exactly like an Anglican Prelate should look. None of this modern day nonsense with jeans and blue shirts in an apology for being a priest type approach.
Our lunch was at the offices of the great CCLA ,who so splendidly look after much of our sector assets. The food, and a fine Chablis, were much appreciated.
The Bishop spoke about the strong links between the Church and the sector of which it is a part, and yet how often Governments marginalise or ignore religion and the role that churches play in local an national life. He made the point that many ministers and politicians will readily acknowledge the strong role of churches in their locality but divorce this from the role of churches more widely. He did however admit that the Church has had some part to play in his marginalisation by its apparent obsession with gender and sex.
The Church does indeed have a strong role as a "community hub" as he described it. Indeed he pointed out that the CoE has a huge infrastructure of buildings and personnel in 24 churches there are sub post offices for example. Every day the priests of the church are supporting and nurturing people in communities in difficult times. The Church works across communities and in them. They have links with other community organisations and with the wider third sector. It's a real force that we often ignore because we find religion embarrassing (speaking generally that is - as I don't!)
I have blogged before about the work of Saul Alinsky, the Chicago community organiser guru (his seminal work is "Rules for Radicals). He used the power of church congregations in Chicago to get real force behind various community campaigns. Obama has written about this from his own work as a community organiser (and he was tutored by Alinsky).
The Bishop commented on the theme of Christmas as a time of giving. The CoE gets 9% of all gift aid contributions. Interesting! We may need to enlist them in our campaign to get Government to move its arse on this.
I receive a letter from Ian Pearson MP, Economic secretary to HMT today (Click here to read it.)
He suggests; "I hope you find time over the Christmas period to read and consider the report so that our discussion of Gift Aid reform in the New Year is informed by its findings."
Always fun to be patronised.
Actually I think it's Ian who needs to remember he is the Government so perhaps he would like to read the research and then tell us what the Government is going to do about it. I shall be replying to say we will come to the meeting in the expectation of hearing their proposals for reform. And I shall be suggesting that as Christmas is a time of giving they decide they will introduce gift aid changes on higher rate tax payers.
Next year every ACEVO member will have to pay higher costs in increased VAT and National Insurance. We need the higher rate reform to help us meet those costs and to carry on our much needed work with our beneficiaries. So Ian, what is your Christmas present going to be?
Nice thoughts here...we must learn to give else and think of those who have lesser than us.
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