Methodist Action on Poverty and Justice
Methodist Action on Poverty and Justice (MAPJ) exists to promote the work of the Methodist Church in support of people affected by poverty and disadvantage (see SO 1004).
A review of the MAPJ programme was presented to the Methodist Conference in 2016: Mission Alongside the Poor in the 21st Century.
Extract from the report
The Methodist Church, from its very beginning, has placed a concern for the poor at the heart of its mission and ministry. Our Calling states that “The Church exists to be a good neighbour to people in need.” Changes to the labour market and the social security system have substantially altered the profile of poverty in the UK. Material poverty is best defined with regard to a person’s ability to access resources. Poverty is easy to recognise, but difficult to describe in a universal definition. No one statistical definition is perfect and all the available definitions leave us with uncomfortable anomalies where people we know to be experiencing poverty may be excluded.
Unemployment remains a good marker of poverty in the UK, however being in work is no longer a good marker of not experiencing poverty. It may be counter intuitive but projects that seek to help employed people may now very well be within the aims of MAPJ.
Proposals in the report include raising the profile of the programme through a launch, a change of name, and setting a target amount for MAPJ grants each year.
Until December 2019 MAPJ grants were awarded by the Connexional Grants Committee. A new process will be announced for connexional year 2021/2022.
Examples of grant-funded MAPJ projects
Lozells Methodist Community Centre is a thriving place of welcome where the local community access support, lives are transformed and friendships are born. We have made a significant impact on a large number of people and hope to continue to grow and develop the work that began almost 8 years ago. Having received £10,000 per annum from 2017 – 2020 to contribute towards the costs of employing three members of staff, we are applying again to help with staffing costs as without investment in these vital posts the centre would not be the success it is today. These staff and volunteers are committed to the centre and often give sacrificially of their time and talents to work with partners in the local community and in so doing, promoting the work of LMCC. This is risk taking mission that began as an exciting and innovative project and has established itself as the ‘the church in the community for the community’, offering a safe space to the local community and working with numerous partners both inside and outside the building. The project is an example of investing in resources to enable mission in the neighbourhood to flourish and the Methodist Church is held in high regard in this multi-cultural and diverse faith community. It is a model that others can learn from and could be replicated in similar contexts around the connexion.
Lozells is a community facing many challenges. The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015 lists Lozells, as amongst the 5% most deprived wards in the country, and 4th for income and employment. Lozells has an age profile younger than Birmingham's average, and the percentage of ethnic minority residents well above the city average. Lozells has been affected by community tensions with riots in 1985 and 2005 and recent newspaper items refer to high levels of crime, including incidents of drugs, gun and knife crime and domestic violence, yet it is a privilege to be a part of this community.
Grant awarded: £50,000 (December 2019)
The Wharfedale & Aireborough Circuit is situated in the northernmost parts of Bradford and Leeds; to the north is North Yorkshire and the Dales. It is not an area of acute poverty but we are becoming increasingly aware of people facing financial crisis in our communities. One of the Circuit churches, Burley in Wharfedale MC, has strong links with the Bradford-based charity, Christians Against Poverty (CAP). The church received a substantial legacy and this prompted their proposal that the Circuit open a CAP debt centre. Our Circuit area is currently a significant gap in CAP’s debt centre provision.
The Circuit spent a year carefully considering the proposal and gauging support from the Circuit churches. In 2018 we reached the point that, with Burley’s financial contribution and enthusiasm generated around the Circuit and beyond, we had the confidence to sign a partnership agreement with CAP and discover whether someone could be found to lead the project. Following Methodist lay employment procedures, a debt centre manager was chosen. The budget for the debt centre is £20k p.a. and it is our intention to fund this from contributions from the Circuit churches and from grants from funding bodies. CAP alerted us to this grant fund and we are therefore submitting this application in the hope that the Connexion will support our response to identified need in our communities.
Grant awarded: £27,500 (June 2019)
Mosaic Church was planted in January 2015 as a result of a partnership between the Methodist Church and the Pioneer Network. Now in its 5th year, Mosaic is modelling an innovative and faithful way of forming a new church community in an area of significant deprivation. It is committed to being a place of ‘hope and help’ to local people offering practical and spiritual support. The Circuit, District, and Pioneer Network have all invested heavily in the first stages of this new church, but in order for Mosaic to continue to grow and see lasting fruit, further financial investment is now needed. The Pioneer Network do not have the funds to invest from August 2019 and so we are seeking financial help from the Connexion.
Firm foundations and good leadership are now in place, but this grant is vital to support both the next chapter of Mosaic itself but also to enable wider learning and sharing so that similar churches can be planted and thrive in the future. The grant will enable: growing the range of local ministries available at Mosaic; growing the number of new Christians; developing how all that is being learnt at Mosaic can be shared within the District and beyond to enable other new plants in estates and areas of deprivation to develop.
Grant awarded: £50,000 (June 2019)
Full Time Community Outreach Worker, Priory Place - Priory Place is the town centre Methodist Church for Doncaster (population 300.000). Whilst the church remains active in its social outreach to those loitering in town because they have nowhere else to be, the majority of our congregation are past retirement age. We have reflected hard and deep over the last year on whether we should continue as a church and in what form. We have emerged united in the belief that we are still called to minister and bring good news to the town centre population, 10,000 of whom pass our door each day, and that to do so effectively we will need to make radical changes to our programme of worship and other activities. Our plan for renewal is centred around outreach, nurture and in-reach. early signs since we started making changes have been encouraging, but we need a community outreach worker if we are to fulfil our missional potential and meet the pressing needs of the people around us.
Grant Awarded: £50,000 (December 2018)