It was a privilege to attend the Global Cities conference as part of a UK team and join with 3000 other delegates from 95 different countries and hear how people are working in partnership to transform their cities. It was amazing to see numerous threads as people shared stories from across the world that created a tapestry of goodness, kindness and transformation. I saw how possible it is to overcome the divisions of diversity and see global issues such as refugees and racism addressed. I heard about resilience and the need to go deep into the fabric of society to include and make room for one another and bring unity. Sona Kazanjian a Syrian working in Dubai to help refugees gave a passionate and moving interview in which she said ‘ with refugees if in 6 months you don’t love and care for them and get hold of them then they turn back to hate and sink back into their culture’. Letitia Shelton from Australia offered from her experience if you want to know the health of a city look at how the women and girls are doing. It was a rich experience, inspiring to see all that the faith community is doing worldwide and as I have reflected I would encourage everyone working here together that we are on the right track and must keep going.
In my experience often I see individuals or small groups of Christians working collaboratively with city leaders and authorities but what we need is the unity of the church to get behind these people and be strategic and steward well what God has given. We need to develop vision as one church in the places we live and pull resources together to work it out. We need to continue to move from naive compassion to informed strategic compassion and overcome differences to find new solutions. I welcomed Bill Hybels call for the local church to lift her head and be part of the global church, caring for one another and working together to care for our communities.
In the welcome from the Mayor, Bill de Blassio, he said ‘the strength of New York City is dependent upon faith communities and the countless ways they add to the rich fabric that runs throughout our neighbourhoods’. It is my hope that here in the UK the church can even more strongly assist transforming our city into a great place to grow up in and grow old in, and everything in between. Collaborative working is key.
For me I came away fired up having strengthened my resolve to do all I can to continue to love and serve wherever God calls me and having made some great friends. Already things have been put into action! Gather UK is amazing and being part of the cutting edge of city transformation is in the words of the Americans….just awesome! Come on church, lets not waste the opportunity before us in this new era of history, lets do this! See you at Movement Day Oct 6/7 2017 for the continuation….
Coordinator Southampton Street Pastors