Community - Old Paths and New Directions

On Sunday, 9th January we were delighted to welcome Dr Gemma Simmonds.

As a continuation of our “Community: old paths and new directions” theme, Gemma reflected on the idea of global community, responding to questions such as:

a) a time of global crisis: could we see it coming?

b) drawing on faith: a guide to responding to crisis?

c) finding and giving hope in a time of crisis: is there a better way of living a global community?


It was a very inspiring afternoon.  Gemma opened with an exploration of ‘hope’ and of faith.  During the COVID crisis many have felt a powerlessness, depression and hopelessness. As Christians, we are called to have hope and to have faith.   Hope and faith are not certain, sometimes can lead into the darkness but sometimes, that darkness is filled with light!

Gemma spoke about the act of creating hope in and for others; being community; creating hope for the marginalised; listening and speaking to each other.  She urged us to step out of our comfort zone, not to opt for ‘comfort blanket faith’ and to adopt a ‘synodal mentality’ – speaking and listening to others, having solidarity in community, in a global community.

We were encouraged to develop a deeper sense of community, to see the face of God in all things, not just in the “officially sacred”. We should take action  and resolve to carry through our opinions; and remember the importance of those small acts of mercy, those gestures person-to-person.

To listen to the whole recording please click on the button below:


Gemma Simmonds is a sister of the Congregation of Jesus.  She is a senior research fellow at the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology in Cambridge where she is director of the Religious Life Institute, teaching Christian spirituality and pastoral theology. An international speaker and lecturer, she is an honorary fellow of Durham University, past president of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain and chair of trustees of the ecumenical Community of St. Anselm based at Lambeth Palace, London.  She lectured in theology at Heythrop College, University of London from 2005 until its closure in 2018.

Gemma has been a missionary in Brazil, a chaplain in the Universities of Cambridge and London and a chaplaincy volunteer in Holloway Prison for 25 years.  She is a regular broadcaster on religious matters on the BBC, Radio Maria England and other radio and television networks.

For more information including Gemma’s more recent publications – please click here.