Levelling up the lowly?
It might be a phrase that makes you inwardly groan. After all, we’ve heard a lot of it lately. But what’s behind the soundbite ‘levelling up’? Nottingham Diocese contains some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. So is it something that your parish stands to gain from?
The government calls it ‘a moral, social and economic programme for the whole of government’. So let’s try a bit of ‘local theology’ on it.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
Ministers have described levelling up as a ‘moral programme’. Perhaps it has an echo of Isaiah’s and Mary’s vision of valleys lifted up and the humble exalted. But Mary goes further. God puts down the mighty too, and as a newly-expectant mother, she could see it coming in her son.
He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty.
Where in your parish are the lowly, in need of lifting up? What will make it happen? Perhaps you have a part to play. But Mary’s prophecy has a warning: if we think we can act from a place of power, we must think again. The Gospel comes from below.
Pope Francis longs for a ‘poor Church for the poor’. If ‘levelling up’ is to mean anything, the Gospel calls us to ‘level down’ ourselves. That’s when that we discover the full wonder of human dignity that only a just society can reveal.
In this bulletin you can read the Society of St Vincent de Paul’s reaction to the White Paper, and an example of service at ‘street level’ with Street Pastors.
First, though, we invite you to join Caritas on 24 February for our ‘Let’s Go’ workshop. There have been many opportunities over recent months to discuss together how we are called to mission, and there are plenty of ideas. Let’s not leave it there. Let’s meet, roll up our sleeves, and prepare the way of the Lord.— Paul and Helen
for Caritas Diocese of Nottingham
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In this issue
– Let’s Go: Bearing fruit after Here: Now: Us – 24 February
– Racial Justice Sunday – 13 February
– Street pastors in Lincoln and a town near you’
– Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up’ – the 2022 Justice and Peace Conference
Let’s go! Here: Now: Us and Synod –
Bearing fruit in outreach
Thursday 24 February at 7.00 on Zoom
Six Here: Now: Us workshops took place around the Diocese in Autumn 2021 to equip lay people for outreach. And now the diocesan Synod consultation process is reaching its conclusion with a celebration at the Cathedral on 22 February.
You’re invited to an online gathering to start putting our plans for social outreach into action. If you didn’t take part in Here: Now: Us or Synod meetings, you’re particularly welcome to join us – it’s never too late to get involved!
Click here to book for ‘Let’s Go’ on 24 February
Over 90 people from 23 parishes attended one of the local Here: Now: Us workshops around the Diocese between September and December. They produced a ferment of creative ideas for regenerating our parishes after lockdown and reaching out to the community.
Download a summary of each workshop’s conclusions here.
Similarly as part of the worldwide Synod 2023, parishes in Nottingham Diocese have been discerning how they are called to reach out to the marginalised, ecumenically, with other faiths, in charitable outreach and with civic bodies. On 22 February the fruits of all this discernment are gathered up at a celebration at the Cathedral.
Then the work really starts. Don’t let your dreams fade away! This workshop on Thursday 24 February will help you build momentum and turn your ideas into reality.
You’ll meet Catholics from parishes across the diocese to:
– Hear each others’ plans for regeneration and outreach
– Build the networks that will help you make a lasting difference
– Tap into support in the diocese, public sector and ecumenical networks
– Identify projects which could be funded by grants.
In Caritas we’re keen to hear what will help you. From what we’ve heard already, we are already developing support to help parishes:
– Open friendship cafes, ‘listening centres’, drop-ins and well-being sessions
– Promote racial equality and inclusion through our parishes and in society
– Develop environmental initiatives for our Pioneer Parishes scheme
– Mobilise parishioners, for instance through a new census or a parish council.
What else would help you? Let’s go forward together – book your place below.
Click here to book for ‘Let’s Go’ on 24 February
Could you help Caritas with fundraising?
If you have experience of applying to the Lottery or grantmaking trusts, we’d love to hear from you. As part of the Caritas team you’ll be able to help parishes in the Diocese turn ideas like those above into reality. Find out more in the last issue of Grapevine, and email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org to fix up an informal chat.
Click here to make contact with Caritas
The Government published its Levelling Up White Paper last week. What might it mean for the most deprived people in our diocese? Money is being invested in all four cities, and in several towns: Kirkby and Sutton-in-Ashfield, Boston, Clay Cross, Long Eaton, Loughborough, Mablethorpe, Mansfield, Newark, Skegness, Stapleford and Staveley, Heanor, Buxton, Gainsborough and Grantham.
What difference will it make to the most vulnerable in our society? SVP (Society of St Vincent de Paul) called the White Paper a ‘missed opportunity’. While most of the government funds have so far been spent on transport infrastructure, SVP highlighted the increasing financial stress on the poorest households – something the unfolding gas crisis will only exacerbate.
SVP chief executive, Elizabeth Palmer, says: “The social and economic disparity between wealthy and poorer regions isn’t a new phenomenon, it has been a reality for millions for decades, trapping the most vulnerable and poorest in a cycle of deprivation. I hope the aims of this White Paper will be realised, only then will our poorest communities have the economic and social infrastructure to lift themselves into a position of parity with the rest of the country.”
Find out here what levelling up might mean for your parish
Read SVP’s comment on the White Paper
Seventeen towns and cities in Nottingham Diocese have a Street Pastors scheme which reaches out to young people..
Lincoln Street Pastors are looking for people who are willing to offer up their time and their prayers for the Night Time Economy streets of Lincoln and become one of the team of Lincoln Street Pastors.
Prayer Pastors are as vital part of what we do as Lincoln Street Pastors, as Street Pastor Teams are who go out on Saturday (or Friday) nights.
To find out more about what’s involved follow the links below.
Click here to learn about the Street pastors scheme
Find out if there is a Street Pastors scheme in your town
Email Melanie about the scheme in Lincoln
Booking is now open for the annual National Justice and Peace Conference, which is held at The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire on 22-24 July 2022.
The theme this year is a commitment to new things, with new time and energy, in the post-emergency time, enabling people in our country and beyond to go forward with hope in everything they do.
Nottingham Diocese is always well represented at the conference – it is in our backyard after all. If you’ve never been before, we’ll look you out and introduce you to others!
Click here for details and booking
Prayer for Racial Justice Sunday
‘Racial Justice Sunday: What’s it got to do with me?’
This is very much a call for all Christians to engage in the righteous struggle for racial justice because racial justice is everyone’s business.
The Bible has a lot to say about justice because as God’s Word, it reflects God’s heart for justice. It can be argued that we should love justice because God does!
Racism and racial discrimination are justice issues because they deny basic justice and human dignity to women and men who are made in the image of God. Equally, they are sinful because, among other issues, they assume all are not equal before God and are not part of God’s family.
Racial justice is everyone’s business and Racial Justice Sunday should not be regarded as an onerous matter to be avoided, but an opportunity for churches to focus on the three ‘R’s of ‘Remembering’, ‘Reflecting’ and ‘Responding’:
• ‘Remembering’ the importance of racial justice
• ‘Reflecting’ on human diversity and thanking God for it
• ‘Responding’ by working to end injustice, racism and ignorance through prayer and action.
Consider marking the day by praying this prayer at Mass (taken from Fratelli Tutti):
Come, Holy Spirit, show us your beauty,
reflected in all the peoples of the earth,
so that we may discover anew
that all are important and all are necessary,
different faces of the one humanity
that God so loves.
For Racial Justice Sunday 2022 the Bishops’ Conference have produced a beautiful series of posters showing images of Mary and Jesus from around the world, including the one below from China. Click on the image to discover the full range of the resources available this year.
- Newsletter 06 February 2022
- Newsletter 13 February 2022