LATEST NEWS – June 26th 2024

Investigating racial incidents

Over the coming months, the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice (ACRJ) will be investigating racial incidents in the Church of England.

The Commission will explore whether systems are in place to address experiences of racism and the extent to which existing policies and procedures are effective.

Complaints Handling was a key recommendation in the 2020 Report: From Lament To Action (FLTA): The Report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce.

The Commission is working to assess the impact that racism has on the wellbeing, sense of belonging, participation, and/or vocation of Global Majority Heritage (GMH) / UK Minoritised Ethnic (UKME) communities in the Church.

Persons in GMH/UKME communities who have experienced racism or those in the wider Church community who have knowledge of such, are encouraged to contact Race Equality First. Race Equality First is an independent agency recognised for tackling racial discrimination and will guarantee reliability, confidentiality, and anonymity as desired in such a sensitive investigation.

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Church’s 2023 strategic investment focuses on doubling number of children and young people – report 

The latest report on the Church of England’s strategic investment shows how funding in the last year has prioritised doubling the numbers of children and young people, and revitalising parishes for mission.

In the year 2023, Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Funding (SMMI) awarded £60 million to Church of England projects and parishes plus an additional £29 million to support lowest income communities around England.

The Church of England has committed to £1 billion of local investment across England over nine years., in line with its priorities of bringing Jesus’s message to people from all backgrounds especially those who are younger.

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 Weekly Church attendance up five per cent in third year of consecutive growth 

Average weekly attendance at Church of England services rose by almost five per cent in 2023 – the third year of consecutive growth, preliminary figures show.

Meanwhile weekly attendance by children was up by almost six per cent last year, according to an early snapshot of the annual Statistics for Mission findings.

While total attendance is still below 2019 levels, the analysis suggests in-person attendance is drawing closer to the pre-pandemic trend.

In 2021 all-age Sunday attendance was 22.3 per cent below the projected pre-pandemic trend, but the new figures reveal that the gap had narrowed to 6.7 per cent last year.

All-age weekly attendance rose to within 8.3 per cent of the trend last year, compared with 24.1 per cent in 2021.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said “This is very welcome news and I hope it encourages churches across the country.”

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 Church of England welcomes opportunities to open Special Schools following Government announcement

The Church of England has welcomed a government announcement of proposals which would allow for the opening of special faith-based academies.

Special schools are those designed specifically to cater to the needs of children with special educational needs or disabilities. These schools provide tailored support and interventions that may not be available in mainstream schools.

 The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer, Nigel Genders, said: “This broad package will mean more people can benefit from the education provided by Church of England Schools which is so highly valued by parents and children and young people.”

The announcement also details plans to lift the existing 50 per cent cap on faith-based admissions in new free schools.

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 King Charles accepts the patronage of National Churches Trust and Bible Society

Queen Elizabeth II was the patron of both charities, but following her passing, her patronages underwent review. Now King Charles has agreed to continue with his mother’s legacy, saying he would be “delighted” to accept them both.

King Charles said his faith is “deeply rooted” in the Church of England. On his accession to the throne, he told faith leaders that he was “a committed Anglican Christian” and promised at his Coronation to “maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the gospel.”

Chief executive of the National Churches Trust, Claire Walker, said: “We are honoured to welcome King Charles III as Patron. This highlights the significance of UK churches and the important role of the National Church in keeping these wonderful buildings open and in good repair.”

Bible Society’s chief executive, Paul Williams, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this news, and very thankful. This is an affirmation of the value of Bible Society’s work in sharing God’s Word at home and abroad.”

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Demand for foodbanks increases

The demand for emergency food parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust’s foodbank network has nearly doubled in five years, with a record amount being handed out over the past 12 months alone. 

Between April 2023 and March 2024, 3.1 million food parcels were given out; 65 per cent of which went to families with children.

Now the chief executive of the Trussell Trust, Emma Revie, has called on political leaders to set out polices that ensure that foodbank use will become obsolete in the UK.

She urges: “We must not let foodbanks become the new norm. A supportive social-security system is the bedrock on which we end hunger for good. Building on this, we need much more effective employment and financial support for parents, carers and disabled people. And action to ensure everyone can have the security we all need to access opportunities and have hope for the future.” 

Families with children and working-age adults are among the most frequent users of foodbanks, but there has been a 27-per cent increase in the number of pensioners needing emergency food in the past year.

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