Minority congregations' use of Anglican church spaces across the Church of England in Birmingham

Jones, Demelza ORCID: 0000-0002-5985-1972 and Smith, Andrew (2018) Minority congregations' use of Anglican church spaces across the Church of England in Birmingham. Project Report. University of Gloucestershire.

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This report shares findings of research into minority congregations’ use of Anglican church spaces in the Birmingham region. It defines minority congregations as congregations meeting outside ‘main’ Anglican worship, and focused around a particular ethnic, national or linguistic identity. The research had two parts – an online survey of all Anglican clergy in Birmingham which ‘mapped’ minority congregations’ use of church spaces, and follow-up in-depth interviews with ten clergy whose churches hosted such congregations.The survey identified thirty-eight minority congregations using Anglican church spaces across the Church of England, Birmingham at the time of the research.There was great diversity amongst these congregations in terms of national and ethnic backgrounds and language of worship, and a mix of Anglican-affiliated and non-Anglican denominations with an array of transnational connections. Relationships between ‘main’ churches and minority congregations can be grouped into three categories: landlord/tenant, host/guest, or partner. In interviews, clergy identified a number of benefits to minority congregations’ use of church spaces: the provision of rental income; the appearance of a busy, vibrant church; the continuing relevance of the church in highly diverse neighbourhoods where other faith communities are the local majority; and supporting social cohesion by encouraging meaningful interaction between diverse Christians. Clergy also identified challenges. These included practical issues around timekeeping, and use of the church space and equipment, but also more profound issues around theological and liturgical difference, uncertainties over whether it was appropriate or not for some groups to use church spaces, and serious concerns around issues such as safeguarding. Despite this, clergy felt that these were challenges worth meeting, and that hosting, and developing positive relationships with minority congregations was central to church mission and sustaining the church’s relevance in a religiously diverse region such as Birmingham. Clergy’s tips for success in building positive relationships with minority congregations included open and honest communication, understanding the theological basis of congregations’ practices, fostering mutual respect and understanding, and avoiding “empire-building” and paternalism. The Church of England in Birmingham and more broadly could support clergy in developing these positive relationships by producing advice for churches who host (or are thinking of hosting) a minority congregation; providing occasional training for clergy involved in hosting minority congregations or new clergy who are set to work in ethnically and religiously diverse diocese where these kinds of requests around use of church space are more likely to arise; producing information for minority congregations thinking of using an Anglican church space for worship; and signposting other resources from the Church of England that would be of use to clergy when hosting minority congregations.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Demelza Jones
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2019 13:20
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:24
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/6911

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