We look for a time when movements for justice and restoration spring up in the Church, restoring hope to communities around the world.
Our purpose is to help Christians embrace our ancient call to activism, to equip Christian communities to support activists, and to walk alongside activists ourselves, helping them form movements that transform society.
Praxis was birthed out of an epiphany – the sudden realisation that grassroots Christian communities can be incredible incubators for the sort of social movements that change the world. In fact, activism is integral to the Church’s calling: to be actively seeking justice and restoration: campaigning and serving, speaking and acting, praying and walking.
Rich is a former government economist who escaped from the civil service (via Oxfam) and now leads some of Tearfund’s policy and advocacy work. He is passionate about social movements for justice and restoration, and knows how hard (and rewarding) activism can be, having spent several years working at the grassroots in both inner-city Bradford and Zimbabwe.
Hopeful Activists’ Podcast Producer
Abigail is a radio producer, writer and speaker. She has worked for both independent and BBC Radio. Her first documentary, about restorative justice, won a Jerusalem Award. As well as making The Hopeful Activists’ Podcast Abigail helps community groups and charities share their stories and finds joy in practicing hospitality. She also loves making people laugh, hearing people’s stories and custard. She lives in Bradford with her husband and 3 children.
Praxis Labs & Community Coordinator
Beth has recently completed a PhD on Christian international volunteering and its role in addressing global poverty and inequality. She also works part time for Tearfund Cymru where she equips individuals and churches to explore God’s heart for the global poor. Beth joined the team after completing the Praxis Labs course, and coordinates the Labs and our monthly Zoom sessions for the Hopeful Activists’ Community.
Social Media Coordinator
Rachel is a writer, reader, and deep thinker who loves a good story well-told and gets excited by the potential that digital and social media have to motivate people with God’s heart for justice. She previously worked as the Communications Director for Agapé UK, and joined the Hopeful Activists after doing Praxis Labs. She’s currently the voice behind our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles, and is in the process of writing her first novel.
Sue is the Senior Policy Advisor at Tearfund, where she has worked for 10 years. She has done research and lobbying on a range of issues including clean energy and water and sanitation. She led on the publication of Tearfund’s Restorative Economy paper, which set a vision for Tearfund’s global advocacy today. She lives in Staines with her husband and small daughter and attends St Saviours church in Sunbury.
Jan de Villiers,
Jan was born, raised and educated in South Africa. After starting his professional life as a police officer, he joined a mission organisation, worked in Montreal, Canada with marginalised young people involved with drugs and prostitution before discovering Bradford in the UK! In 1994 he came to Bradford to pioneer a youth work project in one of the most deprived areas in the country. This eventually became e:merge which now serves scores of young people each week. Jan continued to pursue his passion for growing projects that help transform communities by establishing Futurekraft, a company that provides practical support in strategy, planning, development and fundraising to churches, small charities and community groups. The company has seen significant growth helping projects in Yorkshire and many other counties in the UK. Through Futurekraft, Jan continues to establish social enterprises and provide strategic support to a number of Boards.
Hannah has just started training for ordination in the Church of England in Cambridge. She is passionate about exploring the ways that Christian discipleship can lead to greater justice, restoration and human flourishing, and has focused on this in international development and humanitarian work, in collaboration and conversation with theologians and reflective practitioners around the world. She previously led Tearfund’s Theology work, and also has a PhD in Ancient History. Her other interests include politics, arts and culture, and photography. She can be found @hannahswiv on Twitter, and at hannahswithinbank.com.
Thobekile has spent the last twenty years walking alongside marginalised communities in Southern Africa, helping them to discover hope and to change their situations for the better. She currently works with Tearfund Zimbabwe, equipping Tearfund’s partners there to walk the same road. She loves good coffee and conversation, and dislikes early mornings (!).
Anna is a passionate communicator, coach, and mum of three. She is the founder of Connect2 Coaching and has over a decade of experience in education as a teacher, manager and coach. She loves to go deep with people who want to make a difference helping them consume less, create more and live well in the land. She makes space for people to explore creativity, justice, joy, beauty and community and bring those ideas into the world in a tangible way through art, music, businesses, projects, lobbying and more. She helps people connect to what really matters and achieve lasting change.
Nick is engaged in coaching, training and facilitation as the founder of Square Pegs Coaching. Seeing people achieve their full potential, rather than living a life of ‘if-onlys’, whether it is in their work or home life, as an individual or in their team, is what makes him tick. He has a background in outdoor education and experiential training and has been involved in leadership and team training courses since 1998. Nick has been active in church leadership and youth ministry for more than 20 years. He is an authorised persolog ® (D-I-S-C) trainer (Personality Profiling) and Outdoor NLP Practitioner.
Aaron is a singer-songwriter with the heart of an evangelist. He is passionate about using music as a way of revealing God’s love to those who don’t know Him. With 12 years experience pioneering projects reaching out to marginalised children and young people in Peckham and rural Indonesia, he now works in Newcastle Upon Tyne leading his latest venture: Worship On The Streets, a ministry with a vision to share God’s love with people on the streets through worship, and help facilitate a growing network of other street worshippers around the UK. You can find more information about Worship On The Streets at worshiponthestreets.co.uk.
History teaches us that social movements change the world. From civil rights to apartheid, votes for women to Jubilee ‘drop the debt’, Food banks to 24-7 prayer, change is often bound up with a movement of activists that embodies a higher set of values to those prevalent in society at the time. Tearfund’s landmark ‘Restorative Economy’ report (co-authored by one of our founders) goes so far as to say, “transformative change will not occur without a movement that embodies the changes it is calling for.”
The pressing challenges of poverty and injustice cannot be solved without the actions of a movement for change.
A movement is a group of activists working together with shared aims, enjoying mutual encouragement and support. These movements are not activists working alone, or Church leaders on the edge of burn-out. Neither are these are just groups of protesters. They are movements of doers and speakers, creating ‘communities of resistance’ that show a better way to be, as well as speaking truth to power. At a local level, these movements tackle causes of injustice head on.
Grassroots Christian communities can be incredible incubators of social movements. In fact, Sociologist Rodney Stark describes early Christianity as one of the most successful movements on record: an initially obscure, marginal and widely despised religious movement that nonetheless managed to become a dominant force in the Roman Empire. In recent times, Christians have also been at the forefront of movements for change, from the Civil Rights Struggle to South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement (e.g. Desmond Tutu and others), the ‘drop the debt’ campaign, food banks, and others.
In fact, recent research co-authored by one of our founders (published in Handbook of Humanities and Sustainability) suggests that in many Christian communities the raw ingredients for transformational movement formation are lying on the ground waiting to be combined.
Given this possibility, why are we not seeing more movements arising from the Church in our age? And why are so many Christian workers near burnout? Praxis exists to answer these questions, and equip Christian communities with the solutions.