The Heart of the Kingdom

God, Theology

Contributed by: Canadian Poverty Institute

Christian theology and children who live in poverty

This collection of essays is an invitation.

It is an invitation to the church to join with The Children’s Society in a process of theological reflection that will challenge how we understand and respond – both practically and prayerfully – to the issue of child poverty in the UK. It is certainly not an attempt by The Children’s Society to articulate a theology on behalf of the church, or even to suggest that we know what the theological answers are. It is simply an invitation for others to join us in a conversation that we hope will help us all see the issue more clearly.

The origins of this collection lie in a consultation at St George’s House in Windsor, hosted by The Children’s Society in 2011 in collaboration with the Contextual Theology Centre, where we began to outline what a theological response to child poverty might encompass. It has continued through numerous conversations and a roundtable where we have tried to listen to diverse voices within the wider church in the UK.

Over the course of its gestation, the topic of this collection of essays has become more and more relevant, its urgency only increasing as it has become clear not only that the government would fail to achieve its targets for the reduction of child poverty, but also that levels of child poverty are rising and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

In this context much of the public debate has fallen into practical issues about definitions of child poverty or divisive political splits between right and left over whether irresponsible parents or reduced levels of welfare spending are more to blame. What has been less in evidence in the public debate is a vision of what we as a society want for our children and what, in light of that vision, are the vocations of families, churches and the state. For the church, these more profound questions are properly the territory of theology, and we hope this collection will prove to be a useful place to start in discerning some of those theological answers and filling in a space in the public rhetoric.

In reading these essays I invite you to join in the theological debate and in particular I would encourage you to consider the place of hope, a theological virtue in which we are all invited to live and yet often and increasingly seems to be in short supply.

Each of the essays in this collection represents the views of its author or authors and not necessarily the views of The Children’s Society. We offer them in the hope that they will start a conversation that will ultimately inform our practical work with children, our campaigning and advocacy, and our prayer and liturgical resources.

We would like you to be a part of that conversation.

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