The Christian Church has a long tradition of community hospitality and social engagement with the delivery of a range of services in the yields of welfare and education. It has provided sanctuary and been a strong advocate for justice and a fairer distribution of the world’s resources. For much of Australia’s history the Church’s participation in everyday living was welcomed and even applauded. By way of stark contrast, the contemporary Church’s voice is ridiculed if not rejected by a society critical of a perceived lack of integrity, transparency and indifference to internal misconduct. Concurrently, Church welfare agencies are serving more and more disadvantaged people in need of compassion and hope. While many have benefitted from this expanding role there is an implicit danger for faith-based welfare agencies that the Church’s commitment to the gospel will be marginalised by the political aspirations and secular agendas associated with meeting dire human need. This challenging book calls the Church and its agencies to reclaim their shared mission by listening to the poor and caring for disadvantaged as a vivid expression of Christ’s vision for a renewed world.
Ray Cleary has spent forty years at the cutting edge of the church’s life with a special commitment to the gospel injunctions to promote justice and equity as foremost expression of God’s love. He claims this work has the same priority as worship and proclamation and believes they are diminished when the Church fails to notice and nurture people in need. His work as CEO of several welfare bodies has been complemented by appointments to a range of Church committees and government boards including the Victorian Children’s Council of which he remains a member. He is presently the Director of Ministry Formation and the Sambell Lecturer in Pastoral and Public Theology at the Trinity Theological School in Melbourne. He was made a member of the Order of Australia for his work in community justice and contributions to the Anglican Church.