The Big Society
The coalition government's ideas about encouraging a "Big Society" have been received with considerable interest by churches across the country since practical neighbourliness and voluntary service for the sake of others have been motifs of Christian discipleship for centuries. At the same time, many in the churches worry that the economic constraints of an austerity budget will make it harder than ever to find the resources for communities to flourish, especially among the least well-off and marginalised people.
In November 2010, the General Synod debated a report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council on The Big Society and the Church of England which weighed up the arguments and concluded that "the church has an interest in seeing the best elements of The Big Society thinking succeed". The report also introduced the church's proposals for work under the title of Near Neighbours designed to encourage stronger social cohesion in strongly multi-faith areas.
The Synod debate attracted a following motion from Mr Gavin Oldham which called on Mission and Public Affairs to develop a user-friendly resource to enable parishes and church groups to learn from each other and share experience in local community action of many kinds. The website Resourcing Christian Community Action, launched in January 2012, is such a resource.