Near Neighbours and Being Neighbourly
The Church of England is actively discussing with Government plans for a major extension to the pastoral work of parish churches, particularly in multi religious neighbourhoods. These propose a variety of ways in which the recognised strengths of the Church of England can contribute to the flourishing of people in these neighbourhoods. The Church Urban Fund with its 25 years of experience of supporting local communities in deprived urban areas, will oversee the programme.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Baroness Warsi, Minister in the Cabinet Office, have affirmed the role of the Churches and Faith communities at the heart of local communities and have spoken positively of the unique contribution of the Church of England's 20,000 local churches, schools and centres at the heart of every neighbourhood.
The Church of England's ethos as the national Church is to have a duty of care for all parishioners irrespective of their religious belief or none. A consequence of this has been its very substantial contribution to inter faith initiatives at local, regional and national levels and with all Faith communities.
The proposals have the strapline "Being Neighbourly" and could include new support for street and neighbourhood level initiatives; partnerships with national faith based and inter faith organisations and work with young adults.
The Church of England believe these proposals could be a significant affirmation of the contribution of faith communities to the 'Big Society'.
Eric Pickles said:
"For years, churches and other faith communities have been quietly making a huge difference day-in and day-out, to every single neighbourhood in the country - something that has not been sufficiently recognised by central Government. We can together build on the huge amount of experience faith groups have in getting out into the community.
The Church of England's proposals to extend their work with communities are very interesting and we are looking at them closely."