Church Commissioners Written Answers: Ukraine, parish ministry, support for those in need

Andrew Selous MP, representing the Church Commissioners, gave the following written answerto questions from MPs on 10th November 2022:

Jim Shannon MP (DUP): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, if the Church of England will make an assessment of the potential merits of allowing the use of parish halls free of charge for (a) English classes for Ukrainian refugees and (b) community hubs for rurally based Ukrainians to meet.

Andrew Selous MP (Con): There are a number of such welcome hub initiatives already taking place in church premises. The decision to waive or reduce fees for use of premises is at the discretion of the Parochial Church Council or relevant management committee.

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Jim Shannon MP (DUP): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent steps the Church of England has taken to help support Ukrainian refugees.

Andrew Selous MP (Con): The toolkit published on the Church of England website contains information for parishes and individuals seeking to respond and is updated regularly with the latest advice and guidance: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/community-action/war-ukraine-responding (opens in a new tab)

Numbers being hosted continue to rise. We are aware of particularly good models in the London and Canterbury dioceses, and other dioceses have partnered with Citizens UK, working collaboratively to deliver partnerships for hosting. Many churches are also working on welcome and education programmes, and community hubs.

The Church is also addressing concerns around the risk of exploitation and modern slavery facing Ukrainian refugees, through the work of the Clewer Initiative with national and diocesan safeguarding bodies.

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Mark Pritchard MP (Con): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent discussions the Church of England has had with the Russian Orthodox Church on the conflict in Ukraine.

Jim Shannon MP (DUP): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Church of England has had recent discussions with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church on the conflict in Ukraine.

Andrew Selous MP (Con): The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’ met online earlier in the year, and channels of communication remain open. A brief meeting took place between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Russian Orthodox delegates at the World Conference of Churches Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany (31 August to 8 September 2022) where there was a robust exchange. The Archbishop of Canterbury also met with leaders of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

The Church continues to pray for an immediate ceasefire and a return to dialogue in order to secure a negotiated peace settlement. The Church calls on all parties to respect the principles of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure and for the humane treatment of all prisoners of war.

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Jim Shannon MP (DUP): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Commissioners are taking to help ensure rural parishes are supported in providing assistance to parishioners in need.

Andrew Selous MP (Con): The Church Commissioners intend to distribute £1.2 billion between 2023 and 2025, up 30% from £930 million in the current three-year period, to support the Church’s mission and ministry, including through parishes across England. The core of the extra funding will be channelled into the revitalisation of parish and local ministry and go some way to continue enabling local parishes to serve their communities and the whole nation. The distributions will help fund dioceses’ plans by reaching more young and disadvantaged people, radically cutting the Church’s carbon footprint, and addressing issues of racial justice.

In addition, during the cost of living crisis, the Church Commissioners have worked with the Archbishops’ Council to provide £15 million for dioceses, both rural and urban, to help churches struggling to pay energy costs. The fund will help churches to remain as centres of worship and pastoral care and will also make a key difference in helping churches to continue opening their buildings for vital practical support for their communities over the winter through social action, such as food banks and warm hubs.

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Jim Shannon MP (DUP): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to strengthen its parish ministry.

Andrew Selous MP (Con): The Church Commissioners intend to distribute £1.2 billion between 2023 and 2025, up 30% from £930 million in the current three-year period, to support the Church’s mission and ministry, including through parishes across England. The core of the extra funding will be channelled into the revitalisation of parish and local ministry and go some way to continue enabling local parishes to serve their communities and the whole nation. The distributions will help fund dioceses’ plans by reaching more young and disadvantaged people, radically cutting the Church’s carbon footprint, and addressing issues of racial justice.

During the cost of living crisis, the Church Commissioners have worked with the Archbishops’ Council to provide £15 million for dioceses, both rural and urban, to help churches struggling to pay energy costs. The fund will help churches to remain as centres of worship and pastoral care and will also make a key difference in helping churches to continue opening their buildings for vital practical support for their communities over the winter through social action such as food banks and warm hubs.

Funding from the Church Commissioners has helped to enable the continued rise in the numbers of ordinands in training, who will be the parish clergy of the future, and the most recent data from the 2020 Ministry Statistics are available here: Ministry Statistics 2020 report (no link in source). An updated document is in the process of being compiled.

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