Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The planned new facility at Ridley Hall

I was walking the dog across the fens as the sun was starting to set the other evening when Gordon Brown drove to Buckingham Palace and tendered his resignation to the Queen, by the time I was home the new Prime Minister was on his was to 10 Downing Street to take up the reins of office, as many have said, perhaps accepting a chalice poisoned by the ailing British economy.

At the back of my mind was anxiety about what the markets would make of all this -- we are certainly in for some roller-coasters and months of uncertainty as soon-to-be proposed debt-reduction measures are brought into play. Just yesterday the markets tumbled and the value of the euro plummeted. A layman has to be asking questions about what this means.

This last week has felt something like those days in November 2000 when the Florida election was twisting in the wind because of hanging chads. There was that sense of deep uncertainty, fear and hope mingling with one another at each turn in the road that finally delivered a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition. This was the first time Liberals have even sniffed power, with the exception of World War Two, since 1922.

What does seem to be clear is that while not wanting to give anyone a majority, the British people are getting ready to grit their teeth and accept that the finances are a mess, there are debts to be paid, so we had better hunker down and do something about it. That fiscal tightening will hurt us all as taxes rise, services diminish, and discomfort increases in all sorts of ways. The truth is that the British people have been spending too much, saving too little, manufacturing has shrivelled, and despite all the vitriol that has been thrown at the banks, it has been the huge financial sector that has done a lot of the economic heavy lifting for too long.

As someone whose job is to raise money this is just a tightening of the screw that will make my work just that little bit more difficult. Development work in Britain is not easy at the best of times, as there is just not the tradition of giving here that there is in the USA, but now we are being stretched that little bit further.

As we have moved forward with the major capital campaign on which we are working at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, we have been acutely aware of God's leading and guiding along the route that we have taken. If that leading is into a long wilderness journey, then so be it. Our task is to follow in hard times as well as good. This task we are involved in is of great importance for the future of Christian witness in a university city like Cambridge, and to the ends of the earth. So let us get on and do it, anticipating that God will open the windows of heaven in some way or another.