A large and leading Christian social action charity, Faithworks, has announced that it is restructuring to focus on new ways of achieving its strategic priorities in the current difficult funding climate.
A key aspect of Faithworks' strategy will be the new "Charities’ Parliament", which is intended to enable debate and dialogue between churches, charities, faith groups and government.
Based at the Oasis Centre on Westminster Bridge Road, the Charities’ Parliament will be launched later in 2008, and aims to increase participation by these groups in public life. It will "celebrate the vast contribution of local grassroots projects, and be a space to share ideas, develop resources and to work together for positive transformation."
While the final structure of this is yet to be announced, Faithworks says it will remain committed to its 23,000-strong membership and the three strategic aims, which are to resource and empower churches and Christians to develop their roles at the hub of community, to challenge and change public perception of church through engagement with government and media, and to encourage unity and partnership working.
The Rev Malcolm Duncan, leader of the Faithworks Movement, has also chosen this moment to step down from his role as its leader, with effect from January 2009.
“With the development of the Charities’ Parliament, I have taken the opportunity to consider my own priorities and sense of direction and decided that I want to focus my energies and ministry on encouraging local churches across the UK and beyond to remain committed to serving others in word and deed,” said Duncan this week.
He added: “I believe that the time has come for someone else to take up the reins of the Faithworks Movement and to steer it through all that is required for making the Charities’ Parliament the success it deserves to be. Faithworks has a vital role to play in helping local churches to continue to serve others. As I step aside as leader, I remain committed to the values and vision that unite all those who wish to make a difference in the lives of our local communities, and I will continue to support Faithworks.”
Faithworks was recently recognised by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a reception at No 10 Downing Street held jointly with the Christian Socialist Movement - though it remains solidly non-party political. Mr Duncan is involved centrally in the government's consultation with faith communities. The reception affirmed the work of award-winning local groups.
The 'Faithworks Charter' has been recommended as a possible best practice model in two government white papers. It tackles a range of equalities and discrimination issues raised by the involvement of religious and other groups in government welfare, though not explicitly the opt-outs granted to faith groups on employment.
The Movemente was also awarded a £1 million contract from the Big Lottery Fund to develop the Regional Networks Support Project.
Comments the Rev Steve Chalke, founder of the Faithworks Movement: “Several months ago we became aware that a significant amount of income would not be continued. These changes have been hard but, at the same time, have forced us to focus our energy and resources in such a way as to ensure that Faithworks continues to support and facilitate its membership in their commitment to the transformation of local communities across the UK.”