LATEST NEWS – May 12th 2024

LATEST NEWS

Church of England awards £2.4 million to boost participation of Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people

The Church of England has awarded £2.4 million to fund a series of measures aimed at boosting the participation of Deaf, disabled,and neurodivergent people in parish life.
This ranges from encouraging vocations to the priesthood, to grants for improved access to buildings.

Under plans over the next three years, the funds will back projects including lay and ordained vocations events, leadership programmes, and guidance to churches on more accessible signage.

The schemes will be developed and managed by the Church of England’s Disability and Deaf Ministry Task Groups.

A pilot scheme is planned for seven dioceses for café style spaces in churches, in partnership with mental health professionals and the charity Renew Wellbeing, aimed at providing welcoming spaces.

Another pilot will also be developed in the Church of England’s Northern Province providing 20 grants of up to £50,000 for projects that include physical changes to buildings that improve access.

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Latest wave of ‘Living Ministry’ research published

The fourth set of findings from long-term research into how Church of England clergy can flourish in ministry has been published by the Church of England.

Holding Things Together, Church of England Clergy in Changing Times builds on three previous waves of the Living Ministry research programme.

The latest analysis assesses changes in clergy wellbeing since before the pandemic, as well as exploring how clergy manage change. A total of 486 clergy in active ministry took part in the research, conducted in March 2023.

Wellbeing was measured using questions on physical, mental, relational, financial, and vocational wellbeing, repeated from previous Living Ministry surveys. Some additional questions were included on social class, the cost-of-living crisis, and culture and psychological wellbeing.

Dr Liz Graveling from the Church of England’s national Ministry Development team, who heads the Living Ministry research programme, said: “While there has been some recovery since the pandemic, this report shows that there is still much to be done to support the wellbeing of clergy.”

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More than £250,000 distributed in conservation grants

More than £250,000 was distributed by the Church of England last year to support conservation projects in parishes, including work to preserve wall paintings, baptismal fonts, stained glass windows and rood screens.

A total of £255,585 has been awarded for 123 projects in 34 dioceses – with the number of grants up 20% on the year before – to help churches maintain and preserve significant cultural and historical items, including paintings, doors, chairs, clocks, and organs.

The grants, from donated funds, including major funder, the Pilgrim Trust, were distributed by the Church of England’s national Cathedrals and Church Buildings team.

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Archbishops welcome publication of Future of Church Safeguarding Report

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have welcomed the recent publication of the Future of Church Safeguarding report from Professor Alexis Jay, with an outline of next steps for how the Church responds.

Professor Jay, the former Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, agreed in July 2023 to develop proposals around independence in safeguarding in the Church. The work was commissioned following the termination of the contracts of the original Independent Safeguarding Board, ISB.

In a statement the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell said:
“We thank Professor Jay and her team for this fully independent report, and the wisdom, expertise and meticulous proposals contained within it. We recognise her criticism of our safeguarding structures and processes, and we welcome this scrutiny and challenge.

“For the sake of all those who come into contact with the Church, particularly victims and survivors, we welcome the plans that are in place to take forward this work as swiftly as possible to give everyone confidence and trust in our structures and processes.

“Professor Jay rightly acknowledges the excellent work that is done up and down the country by experienced and committed Safeguarding Officers and others, but her challenge to us all is how our safeguarding structures and processes reach that same standard. ?This is a constructive challenge that we must all take very seriously.

The Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop, Joanne Grenfell, who is chairing the Response Group for the Wilkinson and Jay reviews said: “The report from Professor Jay contains important recommendations for the structure of safeguarding in the Church with a clear emphasis on independent scrutiny and the importance of independent professional advice in all our safeguarding work.”

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Archbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice publishes Fourth Biannual Report

The Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice has released the fourth of its biannual Racial Justice reports.

Mandated to drive ‘significant cultural and structural change on issues of racial justice within the Church of England’, the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice (ACRJ) is headed by The Rt Hon. Lord Paul Boateng.

In his foreword letter to the fourth Report, Lord Boateng comments on the good work the Commission has seen in some areas of The Church of England, in particular the continuing focus of the Church Commissioners on restorative justice.
However, he laments the “glacial pace of change” that the Commission and the Racial Justice Unit continue to encounter.

Lord Boateng calls for the church to embrace an inclusive theology, one which recognises the contribution of diverse origins and diversity in liturgy. ?He questions whether the Church of England is really willing to meet the challenges of becoming a more inclusive and diverse church and whether it is best positioned for its professed mission.

Commenting, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “As Lord Boateng makes clear in his foreword, at the halfway point of the Commission’s remit there is still so much that needs to be done if we are to achieve our goal of a more diverse Church of England.
“I am very conscious of the need to act more quickly than we have to date to respond to the lack of Global Majority Heritage/UKME clergy in the senior ranks of the Church.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell said: “These reports continue to remind us that we have a very long way to go if we are to become a truly representative church in the communities in which we work, better reflecting the diverse make-up of the people we are here to serve and bring to Christ”.

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£8.5m for parish outreach

The Church of England has awarded nearly £8.5 million for projects to help churches spread the Christian faith, including parish renewal programmes and children’s and youth work in rural and urban areas.

Grants have been approved for mission from the north of England to the Kent coast, much of it in low-income areas, covering parish revitalisation programmes, ‘hubs’ for children’s and youth work, church planting and the expansion of a model of family church that has grown ‘exponentially’ after it was set up in 2020.

The awards, to Canterbury, Durham, Hereford and Southwark Dioceses, have been made by the Church of England’s Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (SMMIB).

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Visit the C of E online page

There is now a range of digital resources for to you connect with God at this difficult time.  These include:

Time to Pray app (https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/time-to-pray) which is free and has an accompanying daily audio offering on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Mental health reflections (https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/supporting-good-mental-health)

Tips to tackle isolation (https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/dealing-loneliness-and-isolation-five-top-tips)

Finally, there are the Church’s smart speaker apps, which provide a range of Christian resources.  https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/our-smart-speaker-apps  In March alone, the number of people using the Alexa app rose by more than 70 per cent.

More details at:  https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/church-online

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