October
10
Author
Jubilee+ Team
Blessing through unity

In the nearly 40 years since I arrived in Bristol as a young graduate there have been many changes – some for the better, and some not. Over that time Bristol has become an economic powerhouse, a market leader in the IT and aerospace sectors, and a major legal and financial hub. It has also become a popular destination – in 2017 it was voted the best place to live in the UK.

Alongside this ‘up side’ the city also has significant challenges – with a number of wards having some of the highest levels of deprivation in the UK. Homelessness is a major issue, with the number of people sleeping rough one of the highest for any city in the UK. The number of people experiencing food poverty and indebtedness is increasing at alarming levels. There are significant numbers of looked after children in need of fostering and adoption. Mental health is a serious challenge across all age groups, but particularly for the young, and drug and alcohol addiction is also extensive.

In this context of need there has been growing evidence that cross-sector partnership and collaboration between churches/Christian communities, the business sector, the charitable/voluntary sector and public sector bodies (including the local council) brings huge benefit. In the last two to three years the level of partnership working has increased markedly, and I’m hugely encouraged by this trend. The Council itself has introduced what is referred to as the ‘One City Approach’, seeking to bring all sectors to the table in addressing some of the key challenges that the City faces.

Another word for ‘collaboration and partnership working’ is unity. Scripture reflects very positively on the importance of unity. David, in Psalm 133, establishes this truth with great eloquence, noting that there is a direct relationship between unity and blessing. I have to admit that until recently I’d limited this scripture as applying only to churches and Christians working together in unity – but I’ve moved on from this rather narrow application of a scriptural truth. I’m now very much of the view that as all sectors of society continue to see the benefit of collaboration and partnership working this city will be blessed – and the Christian community has a key role to play in this process, as we openhandedly seek to share God’s heart of love for this city we call home.

My hope and prayer is that this level of unity continues and grows in the coming years – it will be a key driver to see a city transformed.

 

Andy Street is part of Church Action Bristol and will be speaking on partnering for good in one of the afternoon seminars at our Churches that Change Communities conference in Bristol on 16 November 2019. Book your ticket now and select his seminar from the options to learn more.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.