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What Makes a Good City? Reflections on Urban Life and Faith

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This article is a case study in public theology, drawing on the author's experience as a member of the Church of England's Commission on Urban Life and Faith (CULF). Following in the footsteps of the seminal Archbishops' Commission on Urban Priority Areas (ACUPA) report, Faith in the City (1985), CULF aimed to evaluate the future of the urban church and its role in the local community, arguing that the impact of faith-based organizations constituted a major contribution to local community empowerment and well-being. CULF coined the term 'faithful capital' (after Robert Putnam's concept of 'social capital') to express the added value that people of faith contribute to their local communities, and called for wider debate around the question 'what makes a good city?' This article also scrutinizes the Commission's theological method, and in particular its attempt to model a form of 'theology from below'; and in the light of the Commission's findings, poses questions for the future of public theology.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Manchester


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