LONDON – A report by the theology think tank Theos has found that more than 80 percent of the churches, groups and individuals that took part in Hope 2008 last year believe the movement made a tangible difference in their communities.
Hope08, an initiative of the churches of Britain and Ireland, saw Christians across the United Kingdom reach out to their communities with Christ-centered actions throughout last year. The movement was launched to revive the nation’s hope and demonstrate Christ’s love in a practical way.
The report, commissioned by the Hope08 board, found that the movement’s reach extended far beyond the 500 locations originally identified as ideal places for a HOPE presence, with Hope08 projects being registered 1,478 locations.
Participants in Hope also reported a huge impact in the area of ecumenical relations, with 88 percent agreeing that their church’s attitude towards other denominations had improved as a result of taking part in the initiative. Among the churches already working with other denominations, 71 percent said they believed Hope08 had strengthened their working relationships.
The results of the report were welcomed by the Chair of HOPE08 and new Evangelical Alliance head Steve Clifford.
“The passion and drive of the church in the UK is amazing, and we saw involvement from a huge variety of denominations and church streams,” he said.
“Thousands and thousands of churches took the 'do more, do it together and do it in word and action' challenge of HOPE08 and made it their own."
The Theos report also noted a tendency among large churches to question the benefits of being associated with national campaigns. It recommended that organizers of similar initiatives in the future explore ways of encouraging large churches to serve smaller churches as an expression of their commitment to the wider Christian community.
Paul Woolley, director of Theos, noted, "The aim of the report was to record the extent and nature of HOPE-generated activity across the UK during 2008, and to identify successes and areas for improvement.
“We hope that the final report and its findings will not only give an accurate historical account of what happened, but will also support individuals and organizations planning similar initiatives in the future."