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John Brown final thesis Oct 14.pdf (5.26 MB)

The changing role of the Church of England through the use of its community buildings: Newham 1945-2010

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posted on 2023-08-30, 14:07 authored by John Brown
This thesis seeks to re-examine theories of religious decline in the inner-city. From Edward Wickham (Church and People in an Industrial City) to Callum Brown (The Death of Christian Britain), decline and death have defined inner-city Christianity. In the late twentieth century the Church of England in Newham began a process of renewal by creating combined churches and community centres in a number of its parishes. Examining the motivation behind these projects creates a more nuanced understanding of the present secularization debate. Four churches were chosen that underwent this process to reflect the diversity and complexity of this approach. This work draws on minutes, reports, newspapers, interviews and oral histories. This is a study of how one area of East London renewed itself, inspired by the theological approach of J. G. Davies and his followers. Far from discovering the Church in its death knell, evidence emerges of an energetic, highly motivated Christian community, able to draw funds and expertise into this process of renewal. The Church of England is still willing to reassert its mission to the inner-city and expand its sphere of influence to encompass communal activities in a process of reclaiming a role within Newham life. The Anglican Church has defied notions of decline and secularization, and this study reveals an inner-city part of London that has a thriving religious culture. The renewal of its buildings has enabled the church to carve a role out within the community that ensure it remains positive, financially stable and numerically more resilient that its suburban neighbours. This suggests that the predictions of the death of Christian Britain are premature in this instant and arguments about decline have to be further evaluated in the light of this study.



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