THE contribution of the Church of England to social action was
celebrated in the House of Lords on Thursday of last week; but
bishops were warned about the risks of the Church of England's
developing too cosy a relationship with the State.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, tabled a
debate on a report published by the think tank ResPublica in July,
Holistic Missions: Social action and the Church of England
(News, 12 July). The report called for a "new settlement" between
the Government and the Church, arguing that the latter could become
"a critical platform for deep social transformation".
Bishop Stevens spoke of congregations' contribution to social
action. He said that the Church's "great strength is in the
creation of local networks" that "reduce the demands for many
aspects of state welfare". He called for "a readiness to break up
monopolistic power that leaves the churches and the voluntary
sector sometimes out of the equation".
In her maiden speech, Lady Lawrence of Clarendon, the mother of
the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, said: "Faith-based
organisations are an important resource for many communities,
providing volunteers, buildings, and a stable network for those in
Lord Phillips of Sudbury, a Liberal Democrat, argued that the
Church was "better off being less connected with the State than
more. . . I see the Church of England - indeed, all Churches - not
as great, hub institutions . . . but as seedbeds of individual
civic activism - hotbeds even."