Alex, our Pioneer Minister writes…

This year is the 50th anniversary – the Jubilee – of the United Reformed Church. Jubilee is all about forgiving debts. When we talk about forgiveness, in a contemporary Western culture, we often think of it like a Clinton’s or Hallmark card – like a soft-hearted emotion towards a person who has harmed us. And that is ok.

But, in scripture and in the roots of the word – forgiveness means to let go of all claims on a person. To let go of all claims on a person. It frees us all. And this forgiveness – this active forgiveness of debts, rooted in justice, also includes space for grief and for anger.

Amos writes:

Hear this, you who oppress and marginalise:

This season of injustice will end.

You won’t be able to denigrate good people with lies any more.

God will not forget justice.

Those with power are called to free those with little agency, little power, little justice. That is forgiveness. That is God’s justice as portrayed in scripture.

People have been talking to me about social justice everywhere that I go in Cambridge City Centre – from employers to managers, from councillors to shop owners, from bar staff to patrons, from door staff to folks wandering the streets. This has made me think of two quotes:

“When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist”. Dom Helder Camara

In other words, we are often very comfortable with good deeds, and less comfortable with challenging questions and words.

“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in”. Desmond Tutu

In other words, we need to not only help people, but also understand and talk about the systems that cause their distress and risk.

Whilst there is a place and time for rescuing folks – after all, a person overboard should never simply be left to drown – there is also a time and space for challenging the unjust systems that strand folks, leaving them in need of rescue. Otherwise, we will simply run out of hands and feet to do the work. These are the questions that exercise me, and that exercise most of the people whom I have met during my first six months in pioneer ministry in Cambridge.

And so, I would like to introduce you to the pioneer project Solidarity Hub.

Over the next twelve months, I will be spending much of my time doing this:

· Co-operatively working towards the radical renewal of solidarity and hope. Organising across diversity for social justice and eco justice in the city of Cambridge.

· Networking across communities and individuals who care deeply about inclusion / affirmation, well-being, and sustainability.

· Dismantling binaries and stereotypes around tables and on city streets by holding space to share, to hear, to feel, together.

· Dancing into – and out of – spaces of leisure to co-curate gatherings of radical love and distinctive identity.

· Imagining a new world into being by living in the world we dream of actively today.

This will include talks about inclusion, wellbeing, and sustainability, drop in days for 1-1 conversation and hands on activities, and action sessions in which people can work together for change, in ways that reflect the Gospel – the good news – that we hope to share. A parallel project called Solidarity Scripture will begin at Downing Place this October – an opportunity to explore the Bible and contemporary culture in a conversation over a meal with relevant questions and multisensory prompts.

Solidarity Hub events in 2022-2023 are:

· 20 Nov. 6pm: Vigil: Trans Day of Remembrance

· 01 Dec. 7-8pm: Talk and Action: World AIDS Day

· 09 Dec. 2-6pm: Drop In Action: Write for Rights

· 11 Feb. 2-8pm: Drop In Action: LGBTQ+ History Month

· 22 Feb. tbc Drop In Action: Glitter and Ashes

· 08 Mar. 7pm: Talk and Action: International Women’s Day

· 02 Apr. 2-5pm: Drop In Spaces: Sensory Space for Neurodiversity

· 22 Apr. 10am-5pm Drop In Action: Earth Day

· 13 May 2-5pm: Drop In: Talking about Health

· 17 Jun. 10am-9pm: Drop in Fayre: LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Solidarity Scripture meals in 2022-2023 are gathering from 7pm for a 7.30 start:

· Oct. 23rd – Death

· Nov. 27th – Gender

· Jan. 22nd – Love

· Feb. 26th – Lent

· Mar. 26th – Sex

· May 28th – Mental Health

· Jun. 25th – Pride.

Where, and with who, might you seek and offer solidarity this year?

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