Three new reports on partnership working between faith and local government.

ResPublica: Re-Imagining the Church of England: Social Action and Civic Role

ResPublica announces the launch of a new research project: ‘Re-Imagining The Church of England: Social Action and Civic Role’. Supported by a number of senior bishops in the Church of England, the project will explore the role and value of the established Church for communities and the national political sphere in Britain today.

Over the past decade the Church of England has grown in confidence and self-understanding, asserting more than ever the importance of its role in public political life and responsibility for social action. Although increasingly recognised as significant for upcoming policy agendas, this growing and developing narrative has gone largely unnoticed by Britain’s wider population and its various media outlets. With the social capital, networks and relationships fostered by local faith groups largely underexplored, opportunities for the Church to learn from others and others to learn from the Church remain unrealised.

The last few months have seen the Church of England come to the fore of the political agenda; both in the context of the High Court Ruling against the saying of prayers at local council meetings, which sparked a heated debate in which faith leaders, ministers and the Queen voiced their concerns on the marginalisation of faith in public life; and more recently still over the Home Office’s Equal Marriage Consultation published last month, and the place of the bishops in the House of Lords. Against this backdrop, ResPublica will seek to unearth the actual value of the Church, and critically assess its importance for British civic life, both amidst and beyond specific policy agendas and passing governmental trends.

This research will respond by offering a comprehensive analysis of the resources, capital and impact that have arisen as a result. It will seek to capture this growth in social action, recording also the variety of styles and models of civic and social engagement that have developed amongst our churches over the past decade. Specifically, it will highlight that this is not a new phenomenon: the Church of England has historically embodied such a role that it is now resurfacing. The report will also confront the barriers currently faced by such initiatives, which have acted as a hindrance for further action, and highlight a number of opportunities open to government, the Church, other faith groups, civic associations and businesses, to extend an effective local and civic agenda that will serve the needs of communities and individuals.

The Bishop of Worcester, Bishop John Inge, said: 'The Church of England makes an immense contribution to the common good of our society in all sorts of ways which are largely hidden from public view. This timely project will enable that contribution to be properly analysed and recognised in a manner that will be helpful both to the Church and the nation.'

This project emerges from ResPublica’s British Civic Life workstream, which seeks to explore and unearth civic association in helping to cultivate an engaged and connected British society. ResPublica is honoured to have the project supported by:

Archbishop Rowan Williams

Bishop Christopher Chessun

Bishop Christopher Cocksworth

Bishop Stephen Conway

Bishop Stephen Cottrell

Bishop John Inge

Bishop James Langstaff

Bishop John Packer

Bishop Tim Stevens

Bishop Nigel Stock

Bishop Tim Thornton

Bishop David Urquhart

Bishop David Walker

The first phase of research will mark the commencement of the primary research and initial consultation with faith leaders, community groups, churches, members of parliament and civil servants to gauge the social impact and present role of the established Church. ResPublica are seeking further partnership opportunities for the first and consequent phases of the research project. For more information, and to discuss this opportunity further, please contact Caroline Julian, Senior Researcher and Project Manager, at [email protected]

This was a press release by ResPublica. For further information on ResPublica or on 'Re-imagining the Church of England', please visit their website.