“Signs of Hope” (Seeking life in troubled times), is the title of the forthcoming JPIC Links conference, to be led by an Anglican vicar, the Revd Dr Al Barrett. It’s taking place from 5 - 7 April at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
Organiser Sr Gillian Price FC said: “It really is a great support network for religious and associates. This year’s conference follows on from Brexit (or not) so we reckoned it was a good time to 're-group' for support and encouragement for each other.”
The Reverend Al Barrett is Vicar in Hodge Hill, East Birmingham, where he has been involved in grassroots community-building since 2010 and is seeking to develop ‘a radically receptive political theology in the urban margins’.
In his keynote address to the 40th annual gathering of the Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales last year, Revd Barrett called for a radically receptive solidarity with the poor and marginalised.
In a talk entitled 'Can anybody hear me?' : Christian discipleship in Brexit Britain in the shadow of Grenfell Tower,' he noted how his own vision chimed with that of Pope Francis's preaching of 'encounter' in genuine, mutually nurturing relationships.
Revd Barrett suggested that these are times of 'profound fragmentation' - generational, ethnic, socio-economic - and he identified an underlying post-imperial melancholia, in British society. Revd Barrett argued that our entrenched and widening class divides - our structural inequalities - were the effects not just of current austerity policies, but also 'the longer-term legacy of Thatcherism, deindustrialisation and the rise of the super-rich.'
He summarised precarity as 'the lack or loss of employment (or insecure, zero-hours contracts); poor quality, overcrowded and inadequately available housing; unyielding and punitive welfare regimes; and variable and uncertain access to food and healthcare; coupled with a lack or loss of voice in politics' - all making for a perfect storm. 'Many people have to deal with a hell of a lot more precarity than others.'
More information on the conference can be found here.
Applications for the April conference can be downloaded by clicking here.