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The English Protestant Churches since 1770

Politics, Class and Society

Kenneth Hylson-Smith

This book aims to describe and analyse the political and social thinking, attitudes and actions of the English Protestant churches since the late eighteenth century. It focuses in particular on how they have responded to the plight of the least privileged members of society – individuals and groups marginalised or placed at a disadvantage as a consequence of their ethnicity or socioeconomic circumstances. These have been the nation’s underdogs, the most powerless of its inhabitants, and this book explores the involvement of the churches in attempting to create a fairer society, from the anti-slavery campaign to the present day.

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Chapter 7: New century, new possibilities


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New century, new possibilities

A new century with new opportunities

Despite all appearances to the contrary, the churches in England are not to be brushed aside as an irrelevance, or as a spent force. Even in the face of all the adverse trends that have been rehearsed in this book, and regardless of the vastly diminished status of Christianity and of the churches, all the denominations still have their considerable strengths, and taken together they can still be a great power in the land. They can still exercise a relevant ministry of service locally, regionally and nationally. And to this potential there has been added, as at no time in the past to such a massive extent, the boundless scope for international influence in a much shrunken world where various health problems, deprivation of different kinds, poverty, shortage of water, natural disasters, and the results of man’s inhumanity to man provide limitless avenues for Christian service.

A review of the scope for exercising such a ministry in the contemporary world may help to raise awareness of the enormous range of opportunities that confront the churches. Such an audit may be of assistance in dissipating despondency and casting off the all too frequent and paralysing sense of powerlessness and impotence that so often sets the tone of church life, and drives churches to an unhealthy inward looking attitude, and absorption with a very restricted agenda of safe...

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