First of all, we want to wish you a very Merry Christmas from all of us at Just Love. Regardless of where you are in the world and how you are spending the festive season, we hope it is a joyful and peaceful time. As we reflect at the end of 2021, we want to thank you for your continued support of our movement. This support has ensured that we finish the year in a healthy financial position which, in turn, means that we can look forward to providing increased and more effective support to our students and graduates in 2022. We hope you find the following update encouraging!
The last few months have been action-packed for our student groups throughout the UK. Our students have been remarkably generous with their time and resources. As we approach Christmas, they can look back on a term full of inspiring events, fundraising, and record-breaking levels of volunteering. It has also been a busy time in our Alumni Network. In November, over 150 graduates joined us for our Generosity conference across three locations in the UK; Sixes Series 3 has launched on this same theme of Generosity; and our 9 career sphere groups are running Generosity-themed events off the back of the conference. Generosity has certainly been in the air.
As term nears its end, we can look back on a really action-packed and fruitful few months for our students. Our staff support has focused particularly on local volunteering: equipping our students to make a real difference in their towns and cities. From the start of term until the beginning of December, our students contributed over 1,100 volunteering hours in their local communities, more than any previous term! They haven’t just been volunteering: our students have raised over £16,000 for effective causes and have run almost 400 events with an aggregate attendance of 4,500. (These numbers are all likely higher in reality, since not all data has been entered yet). Further, students up and down the UK engaged with climate justice during the UN COP26 by praying, fasting, campaigning, marching, and raising awareness on their campuses (see pictures below). For example, students from the 5 Scottish groups ran prayer sessions together for the conference, and the Glasgow students joined with Tearfund on a rally.
On Saturday November 20th, 159 graduates attended our Generosity conference across three different locations: London, Sheffield, and Glasgow. This is the first time we’ve ever put on a multisite event and it was certainly a logistical challenge, but we’re very glad we did. It was a wonderful time of encouragement, challenge, and community. The day included worship, prayer, a keynote talk by our CEO Josh Smedley on “The Gift of Abundance,” a panel discussion on “Embracing Freedom and Cost,” and a whole host of seminars on various topics within the broad theme of Generosity. The feedback has been really positive: the average rating was 8.7/10 for how relevant the content felt to our graduates, and 8.1/10 for how our alumni’s vision to pursue justice was refreshed. Here’s one piece of feedback:
“Thank you for hosting a day that has reignited me & sparked my heart and brain for the first time in a very long time. What you hosted is deeply unique, influential and will not be forgotten for a very long time. Thank you for tackling the difficult topic of generosity and presenting it in such a way that I feel excited and freed to be generous.”
Sixes and Spheres
We launched Sixes Series 3: Generosity at the conference in November. Here is our official trailer! We are very excited for our alumni to learn from our expert interviews and to enjoy deep and challenging discussion together. Our staff team recently did the first session together, which includes the Old Testament scholar Myrto Theocharous explaining Ezekiel’s prophetic critique of wealth accumulation in Ezekiel 28. We were all deeply challenged by her wisdom, and know that our graduates will benefit from such interviews. (If you’re interested in any of the topics mentioned in the trailer, we’d be very happy to share interviews with you). Elsewhere in the Alumni Network, Sphere groups are running events on the theme of Generosity, applying insights from the conference to their particular careers. For example, this week the Business and Law spheres have an event on pursuing generosity in their work.
Finally, and on a more lighthearted note, we’d love to invite you to Just Love’s Big Christmas Quiz on Monday December 13th at 8pm. It is a Zoom quiz which I (Joel) have put together for the amusement and enjoyment of all those involved in our movement. The Eventbrite page and (free) sign up is available here. After a busy year of Just Love activity, this is a great opportunity to have a fun time together as a movement. We would love to see you there!
Whether we see you there or not, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at Just Love.