WHAT IS TO BE DONE:
THE FUTURE OF THE JUBILEE GROUP

INTRODUCTION

The Jubilee Group was set up around 30 years ago as a support group for Left-Wing Clergy ministering in the East End of London. Since that time, it has grown into a loose network of (broadly) Socialist (broadly) Anglo-Catholic lay and ordained Christians. Since its inception, much of the administration and organisation of the Group has been done by Fr. Ken Leech. With Ken's announcement of his intention to retire and move out of London, the Group needs to reassess its position and develop ways of working in the future.

THE OPTIONS

There are three main options for the future of Jubilee:

1. Keep on keeping on

Find someone (or two or more people) to take on Ken's work and carry on roughly as before.

   Advantages:

   Disadvantages:

2. Make some changes

Carry on with the group in its present 'interim' state, i.e.:

   Advantages:

   Disadvantages:

3. Close down (and start again)

Fr. Gresham Kirkby reminds us that most Anglo-Catholic Socialist groups (GSM, Catholic Crusade, etc.) seem to have around a 30-year life span. The Jubilee Group was set up in a very different ecclesiastical and political context from the contemporary one. It may be right to draw a line below Jubilee, and then consider what the Church needs from the Left in the coming years.

WHAT COULD 'NEW JUBILEE' LOOK LIKE?

Three main changes we could make to ensure the future of Jubilee in the coming years:

Re-name the movement:

The name Jubilee has served us well for many years. However, in the present time it might be useful to change the name of the group for several reasons:

  1. The emergence and success of the Jubilee 2000 'Drop the Debt' campaign has meant that most people now associate the word Jubilee with that single issue.
  2. Recent Biblical scholarship has questioned whether the Levitical concept of Jubilee (Yov'el) has the same connotations as previously assumed; it may be felt uncomfortable to name ourselves after what now appears to be a form of social control of the poor and benefit to the indigent rich!
  3. The name does not immediately reflect what we are or try to be: a more obvious name (e.g. Anglo-Catholic Left; Sacramental Socialists) may be more useful for recruiting new members and getting our message across.

Re-assert our Socialist identity:

In the present political and church climate, there is a great need for a Socialist Christian voice. Jubilee as presently constituted is not able to provide this, because of our broad and undefined identity and the consequent unwillingness to take a 'party line' position on the issues of the day. However, there have been issues on which most of us would basically agree (e.g. the war on Iraq; the consecration of openly homosexual men as bishops).

The Jubilee Group has always comprised people with a range of political views, and it is important that we retain diversity and debate within the group. We also feel that a statement of belief and identity would be useful in anchoring the group and letting others in the Church and the world know where we stand.

Although other 'left-ish' groups exist within the Church (e.g. CSM, Inclusive Church), they tend to be rather broad-brush liberal. Jubilee was born from a more radical prophetic tradition, seeking to live up to our reputation as "dangerous"! A more specific left wing identity with a statement of belief would allow us to issue press statements, express solidarity and march together (literally and metaphorically).

Re-assert our Catholic identity:

In recent years, the Executive has made attempts to include Mass and prayer within their meetings. This has extended to the activities of the wider Group to some extent, e.g. with the Mayday Mass celebrated in S. Martin in the Fields in 2002.

In today's Church, there is a need for an authentic Catholic left-wing voice on ecclesiastical and moral issues. The so-called 'Catholic Societies' (e.g. SSC, ACS) have rather hijacked the Catholic agenda in the Church of England, allying it with conservatism and opposition to the ordination of women. We ought to be publicly representing the radical Catholic heritage passed down by our foremothers and fathers.

As a group of Sacramental Socialists, we ought to reflect both parts of our identity. This could include:

Social action and regeneration has always been part of the Catholic tradition in the Church of England. We should continue to value the vast experience our 'members' have in this area, especially in urban ministry. At a time in which community development is high on the political agenda, we could usefully develop ourselves as a known resource for ministry praxis and theological reflection on regeneration and human flourishing in communities of multiple deprivation.


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