Partners in the Passion
Green Christian is a small organisation with big ideas. Sometimes we have to act on them because no-one else is. It was like that when we set up Operation Noah. Ten years ago, just as we were struggling to realise our ambitions, a large unsolicited private donation helped us get the project launched by Ann Pettifor and Mark Dowd. Now it is an independent charity leading the campaign for churches to ditch their investments in fossil fuels.
The big idea we are taking on now is to expose the empty promises of endless economic growth. Through our Joy in Enough programme we want to present a gospel-based vision of truly sustainable economy, and build a faith-inspired movement for economic change. If you were one of the 250 people who attended our two recent conferences on the subject, you can count yourself as being there at its genesis.
Joy in Enough has reached the point where the five volunteers who have nursed the project into life are no longer enough. We want to set the project on firm foundations and employ people with the necessary skills – a big undertaking for an organisation which normally gets by on just over £20,000 a year, mostly members’ subscriptions.
That is not the only challenge we are working on. Thanks to a legacy from a late member of Green Christian, Elizabeth Rendall, we recently employed three project workers to recommend how we should serve, and learn from, people in their 20s and 30s – an age range not strongly represented in our membership. Now we have to start acting on their advice, and that too will require new skills.
These aspirations could easily feel beyond us, but a wonderful thing has happened. At just the right time we have been approached with an invitation to become ‘Passionist Partners’, with an offer of funding which will increase our income by nearly a half for the next four years.
So who are the Passionists?
Among the pioneers of the worldwide green Christian movement was Thomas Berry who died in 2009. You may have one of his books on your shelves. He was an American member of the Community of the Passion, a men’s religious order. The offer we have received comes from his confrères in the United Kingdom.
It is perhaps no surprise that the Passionists see us as kindred spirits. Green Christian shares a number of their core values – we build a foundation of community life to underpin our work, and we want to help people enjoy living generously, even perhaps sacrificially.
Above all Passionists are committed to solidarity with Jesus the ‘Crucified One’ and the many crucified ones of today, including the crucified earth. We too seek to help people to befriend the earth in its predicament, and also to befriend our common grief, fear and denial – forces which are preventing many individuals and policy makers from making the decisions which are needed.
Over the next four years we look forward to growing with the Passionists in solidarity with the earth. Their funding will help us become more effective as messengers of hope. We hope to announce in 2017 the first job opportunities which will help us launch Joy in Enough in the churches and to the wider world.
Paul Bodenham, chair of Green Christian