COMMENT: A worthwhile investment in spiritual wellbeing
Investment is a word often associated with business or the economy, but the Church of England's Â£9.1m investment in our area's spiritual wellbeing is welcome news indeed.
The diocese of Portsmouth has today announced its multi-million pound project to help the church have a bigger spiritual impact on the region.
In our increasingly secular age the news might be greeted with some scepticism, but Â£9.1m of anyone's money would go a long way to solving many problems, and if anyone's heart is in the right place, surely it is those on God's side?
The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, was short on specifics about where the money would go, but he outlined an admirable philosophy: '˜We'll invest resources andÂ employ new staff in these areas to create brand new congregations, and to meet local needs for support with families, debt counselling, engagement with schools, and lots more.'
The plan mentions new '˜pioneer ministers'Â for inner-city Portsmouth and Paulsgrove, focused on working with local communities. Leigh Park and Gosport are also to be targeted.
ItÂ makes a welcome contrast to another of our stories today which reveals that people avoid certain areas of Portsmouth where they fear becoming victims of crime.Â
Their concern is not necessarily borne out by the evidence, but people who responded to the fear of crime survey said that anti-social behaviour, coupled with beggars and homeless people on the streets added to their worries.
Might it be a leap to hope that the church's investment in areas of need might have some effect on smoothing away some of the rougher edges of deprivation that couldÂ lead to crime and anti-social behaviour?
That is clearly what the church is hoping. Deeds can beÂ more valuable than words, and this might prove to beÂ the best investment the area has ever had.