I learnt today that the 'finance committee' of Bradford Diocese does not think that it should support the work of Desmond Tutu House, and that I would have to make the case again for the survival of our project.
I realise that the kind of church I operate does not please everyone in the wider church, but I had hoped that most people would still recognise the value of it. If the Church of England is to survive, it must build links with those working for the good of humanity. At Tutu house we have done just that, working alongside CND, The non-violence centre, the Childrens Peace Library, the Treehouse Cafe, Fairgrounds, The Olive Branch fairtrade shop. We have provided a great meeting space used by Friends of the Earth, Bradford Amnesty International, Refugee prayer groups, peace campaigners and many, many more.
Out of all this work, great spiritual hope arises. We make wonderful links with some of the best folk in the city, and those who want to ask 'God' questions have a safe space to do so. We have more weekly groups using the chapel for prayer than in any other parish church I have ever worked with.
Some are using the financial instability of the Treehouse cafe as an excuse to undermine the entire work of Desmond Tutu House, wanting to sell the building and effectively destroying all we have worked to build up over the last 5 years. Without the building, and the links it makes with those outside the Church, SoulSpace and JustSpace could quite easily be killed off. The lack of vision from those who hold the purse strings is disappointing, but perhaps is to be expected. The financial struggle to keep the Diocese afloat must be a nightmare to handle, but the solution cannot be to cut off a church that provides hope for the future.
But our work has built up many allies. If they try to close us down, I am confident that many will come together to resist. 2 Ashgrove will remain a place where the love, justice and peace of God reaches out into the community. I hope that those responsible for mission in the Diocese will learn to value our work, and work out ways of supporting us instead of making our life harder.