A Christmas message from Ekklesia: working for change

By Simon Barrow
December 24, 2017

All involved with Ekklesia send their warmest seasonal greetings for Christmastide – thank you so much for your interest, engagement and support in so many ways. We are a 'citizen think-tank' rather than a corporate one, and it is the strength of our networks as much as our resources that enables us to engage in our work: web commentary, publishing, reports, events, media analysis, meetings, research, and engagement with political, civic and religious opinion-formers and decision-makers... on issues as diverse as social security, disability, peacemaking, climate change, human rights, economics, and the changing place of belief systems in a globalised world.

Thanks in particular go to our assistant director Jill Segger and to associate Bernadette Meaden (who have contributed an immense amount of writing and research over the past year), to publishing manager Bob Carling (who has enabled us to put out five books, with more in the pipeline), to our authors (especially Savitri Hensman and James Paul Lusk), to our many NGO collaborators, to business adviser Luke Dowding, to our partners at Bloomsbury Baptist Church (especially Simon Woodman and Ruth Gouldbourne), to consultant Ian Dommett, to associate Virginia Moffatt (enabling our presence at Greenbelt and editing a fine Reclaiming the Common Good collection), to David Moloney and staff at Darton Longman & Todd (who are publishing our Lent book on austerity and the alternatives, Feast or Famine?), to board members Vaughan Jones and Kate Guthrie... and to countless others, not least those who help keep us afloat (just!) financially.

As this list indicates, we have continued to be busy in 2017. A report will follow in the New Year, along with news about significant developments for 2018. In particular, we are working on a new webiste and mailing system. Our apologies that mailings, in particular, have been few and far between over the past twelve months – something we want to change moving forward.

However, the question of how we move forward has been much under consideration recently, and we cannot pretend that we do not face major financial challenges in the immediate future. We have no paid staff at all, and only a handful (not including the director) are remunerated for services. A viable business model for what we do is difficult to achieve. Our continued existence is in question if we do not find one. We will be writing to supporters and saying more on our website about this in the near future.

Meantime, the message and spirit of Christmas is at the forefront of our minds. It reminds us that change happens in small, subversive, unexpected ways – like the sign and promise of a baby born in obscurity and semi-poverty at the edge of Empire. And that the world is transformed not by obeying those with wealth and weapons, but by building solidarity among and with the disposessed, realising the creativity of love organised into tangible initaitives for justice, creating moral communities capable of resisting the blandishments of neoliberalism, deploying peacemakers against militarism, and calling out the (mis)use of religion in buttressing systems of injustice, inequality, abuse, war, envoronmental destruction and oppression. 

As Brian Zahnd put it today: "Once we have identified God in a baby born into poverty and peril, a refugee fleeing a Middle East despot, a common labourer living in occupied territory, we have to rethink everything about greatness." In other words, the kind of power that comes to us as the infant Christ in a manger calls into serious question so much of 'business as usual', 'politics as usual' and 'religion as usual' in arrangements of the world deemed normal. Ekklesia exists to stengthen the thinking, policy, action, strategising, relationships and alliance-building needed to make a different world -- and a renewed sense of faith and hope – both imaginable and possible. Thank you for being part of the journey, whatever your background or belief. 


Simon Barrow is director of Ekklesia. He is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. (simonbarrowuk AT gmail DOT com)

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