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Leafleting suburbia with the vicar

Leafleting suburbia with the vicar

In today’s Guardian, Rev. Chris Chivers writes about the act of distributing seasonally themed literature for his congregation, John Keble Church in Mill Hill, London.

Our leaflet is unashamedly unchurchy in design. Of course it does list service times and a children’s activity slot after Christmas for parents desperate to escape broken gifts and cabin fever. But the message on the leaflet’s reverse side seeks to speak a prophetic word into a world where human worth is too often given a purely cash value. Such a denial of the uniqueness recognised in each person through God becoming human inevitably means that an increasing number are made to feel worthless….

The context has changed a good deal. At Deansbrook school across the road 46 first languages are spoken. But we remain a focus of hope and aspiration in difficult times. We’re treasured by the community not least, it seems, for speaking out this Christmas on rampant executive pay at a time of lower living standards for most and increased deprivation for the poorest. But, to be honest, we’re largely forgotten by the church.

Like others in society perhaps it sees “suburban” as a sneeringly dismissive term for too narrow a mindset. Yet this manifestation of church is part of the backbone of Britain. It offers embedded community stories and values as well as the possibility for a conversational meeting point that’s safe and transforming. In an age when the adoption of ever more entrenched views is how many destructively respond to massive social change, suburban churches allow the fears of indigenous citizens to rub up against the reality of different ethnicities and cultures in a way that’s dynamic and reconciling. The understanding and friendship it brings makes the leaflet dropping well worth the effort.


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