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Why the Church Should Care About Housing

Graham Tomlin and Stephen Backhouse

Grove Books, 2021, £3.95. Paperback ISBN 978-1-78827-1493

Review by Neville Manning, Retired Priest in Chichester Diocese

<strong>Why the Church Should Care About Housing</strong>

Grove Booklets have a reputation for dealing with important issues in a clear and succinct way. This publication is no exception. Prompted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy and more recently by the Church’s report ‘Coming Home: A Theology of Housing’ (of which the two writers of this booklet are the co-editors) housing issues are hopefully more firmly on the national agenda.

The Church’s concern with housing issues and its awareness that shelter is a basic human need are nothing new. The writers offer a very clear biblical base and background for this concern, answering the question that is the booklet’s title with both a concern to resist injustice and a desire to be part of God’s work of New Creation in which all are able to flourish. Housing should not be seen simply as a form of investment vehicle or financial asset but as building up community and not located only in the hands of the wealthy few. If homes are to reflect the coming Kingdom of God, they need to be sustainable, safe, stable, sociable and satisfying. A NIMBYIST attitude which says housing is good so long as it is not in our own local setting is not helpful.

In all this the Church, as a major landowner and through its voice in society, has a responsibility in encouraging housing which enables human beings to flourish. On the preaching front it will sometimes be appropriate to point out that Christ’s call to love our neighbour as ourselves must be worked at on the housing front as well as in personal attitudes and relationships.

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