Report documents new ways of being church

 A report on the role of the Catholic church in community development was unveiled in the parish hall of the Blessed Sacrament church, King's Cross, London, yesterday. MP John Battle, community workers and volunteers from England and Wales, gathered for the launch of 'In the Middle of Our Street' from the Catholic Agency for Social Concern, (CASC) in association with the Bishops' Conference. The report outlines the enormous extent of Catholic involvement in community activities, services and campaigns, at local and national levels, and working with secular and religious agencies from all denominations and faiths. It also sets out proposals and recommendations for future projects and training schemes. The hall in which the meeting took place demonstrated in microcosm many of the ideas expressed in the report. On Fridays it is a used as a place of worship by the local Moslem community, who don't have their own mosque. Set in the fourth most deprived ward in the country, behind Kings Cross station, the parish also runs youth clubs, keep fit, bingo, tea dances, socials, several street and neighbourhood groups, and counselling and parenting classes - (as well as an annual memorial service for the victims of the 1987 Kings Cross fire). Parish priest Jim Kennedy said: "I have a passionate belief in community development. It's no good telling people: 'Jesus Loves You' - we need to show people what that means through our actions." Sue Allen, a lay worker with the Hope community, founded by the Sisters of the Infant Jesus, on the rundown Heath Town Estate in Wolverhampton, described their work with families living in slum conditions in tower blocks. They have campaigned for a clean up, play areas and gardens and run many projects for families and children, reaching out in particular to newcomers and asylum seekers. The report also described Catholic involvement in campaigns at city and national level. TELCO, (The East London Community Organisation) an alliance of schools, churches, temples and mosques. has had a number of successes in battling with planners over development projects. They recently completed a survey of their local health service facilities and are running a minimum wage campaign. Describing the report as a 'turning point' in the life of the church, Richard Zipfell secretary of the Bishops Conference Committee for Community Relations, said he felt it signalled the start of a new movement where people could share knowledge here and in the rest of the world. John Battle said: "It is 40 years since Gaudiem et Spes. Community participation is not an option but an integral part of what it means to be Christian. This is a new way of community development. A new way of being Church. " For more information or a copy of the report e-mail:

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