A community’s bonds of trust are tested by the big events; outbreaks of rioting and looting, the threat of a neo-fascist march. How it responds depends on many much smaller events; encounters and actions which build trust across boundaries of faith, age, ethnicity and language.
This summer, four Jellicoe interns have been working in the estates nearest to the Contextual Theology Centre – Sarah Santhosham and Tom Daggett with local churches and Abdul Jama and Abdi-Aziz Suliman with local mosques. They are building on work done by previous interns, as catalysts for communities to identify and act on issues of common concern. Previous blogposts and tweets tell of the work done by last summer’s interns and their year-round counterparts – organising a listening campaign (July 2010), helping organise a Mayoral Accountability Assembly (October), relationship-building meetings between local churches and mosques (November), a Community Walk to challenge neglect to parks and housing (April 2011) and a Scriptural Reasoning event on Christian, Muslim and Jewish attitudes to money and exploitative lending (May).
July saw further progress – with St Paul’s Shadwell and Dar Ul Ummah mosque securing the refurbishment of a neglected property used as a crack den and members of Stepney Salvation Army, East London Mosque and other local congregations forming a trust to run a local park which the council had planned to close.
The last two weeks have shown how this work stands up in testing times – with over 200 members of these congregations gathering in a witness to peace after the London riots, and ongoing work to persuade the Government to ban the proposed English Defence League march in Tower Hamlets in September.