Church and Economy
Chris Lewis and Mike Hedges discuss the Well-being of Future Generations Act and church involvement
Chris: As you know Mike, I’m interested in the 2015 Future Generations Act (Wales). It’s been hailed in the UN as a visionary and groundbreaking approach to social policy. How would you summarise its aims?
Mike: The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other, and to prevent persistent problems such as poverty, health inequalities and climate change. It sets out seven wellbeing goals to show the kind of Wales we want to see. The goals are prosperous, resilient, healthier, more equal, cohesive communities, globally responsible and with a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Together, they provide a shared vision for the public bodies to work towards.
Chris: Which public bodies are those?
Mike: Those are principally national government, local government and local health boards but other public bodies are included too. The Act is a framework for how public bodies should work, it’s about thinking more about the long-term, working better with people and communities and each other, looking to prevent problems and take a more joined-up approach.
Chris: As you know, I’ve been working with the University Law Clinic and doing this has reinforced my view that law is not something if you like, done to people but it should include people, they become participants. A lot of people are inspired by the New Covenant vision of Jeremiah (Chapter 31) in which people no longer tell each other about what is God’s will, what makes for a good society because they all know what it’s about, they ‘ve internalised it, if you like. Without wanting to make a long sermon of this, you might think too of the Gospel according to John, Jesus calling his disciples friends, not servants and appointing them to ‘bear fruit’ (John 15), to be actors if you like in a creating a society that works:
Mike: Well yes, I think you’re taking about what in my world is called sustainable development, that’s about improving the way that we can achieve our economic, social, environmental and cultural wellbeing. I think there’s something you could call spiritual in such goals.
Chris: It’s worth interrupting at this point to say that ‘economy’ is a word that has its roots in Greek – ‘oikos’ - a household, and ‘nomos’ – law. Perhaps that demystifies the word a bit. ‘Household’ and ‘householder’ are words that occur many times in the Bible, Paul writes about a household of faith (Galatians 6) or in parables, God is imagined as a just householder (Matthew 24 / Luke 12) just to cite a couple of examples. So really this is my question, do you think that churches in Wales should be part of this economic, social, economic and indeed cultural ‘housekeeping’?
Mike: Most definitely. As you know as someone who runs a foodbank out of their chapel, the role that churches, chapels and other religious organisations play in society is often under valued but they are a critical part of society.
Mike Hedges is the Labour AS/MS for Swansea East and a member of Seion Newydd Chapel (UBC/BUW)
Chris Lewis is a Baptist Minister
You can read more about the Well-being of Future Generations Act here