On Friday 23 March, the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council passed the following resolution:
“Mission Council strongly encourages all churches to continue to work on developing their radical welcome, recognising the synergy with Vision2020 outcomes, but discontinues the ZI [Zero Intolerance] Campaign with immediate effect.”
Time pressures on Mission’s Council’s agenda meant that the preceding debate, whilst intense, was brief. However, many voices were heard, with the consensus clearly being that take-up across the congregations was not at the level necessary to make a full launch viable, even if it was postponed until September 2012, as had been suggested by the steering group.
The Revd Tracey Lewis, convener of Mission Committee, summed up the debate, proposing a resolution of thanks to the steering group, which passed unanimously. Noting how warmly some 500 local churches had embraced the concept of radical welcome, she said:
“If it had not been for the work of the ZI steering group , which has been brave and risky on occasion, many would not have been introduced to radical welcome, which is bringing health and life into our churches. Let us remember this project has brought tremendous riches to our church.”
The Revd Fiona Thomas, member of the steering group and secretary for education and learning, reminded the gathering that there had been many affirmations of the quality of the toolkit created for those volunteering to act as “companions” to churches who make a serious commitment to the challenges of radical welcome. She also pointed to the affirmation shown of the value of the companion model, and stressed that these resources would be lost unless they were safely located in a specific department of the church.
The steering group meets for the final time this week – on Thursday 29 March – and it will be looking at the many issues that need to be discussed in the light of the decision to terminate the campaign.