The Church of England is to appoint its first Bishop for Urban Life and Faith
3 October 2006
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe,(pictured left) Bishop of Hulme, to promote the dissemination and implementation of the report Faithful Cities, the follow up report to Faith in the City, which was widely welcomed at its launch in May. The appointment is for three years, during which the Bishop will respond to issues of urban policy and life on behalf of the Church.
Faithful Cities, the report of an ecumenical and interfaith Commission initiated by the Church of England, argued that, while millions of pounds have been poured into Britain’s city and urban areas in recent years, the resultant growth has forced many to the margins and dramatised the gap between the ‘super rich’ and the poorest.
Emphasising that cities and towns are for all, Faithful Cities stressed that regeneration is not just about the built environment and economic targets but should also be concerned with human and spiritual needs. The growth of a regeneration industry which focuses on real estate, prestigious buildings and big ticket events, the report says, often marginalises the needs of those in deprived communities.
Bishop Stephen will encourage and resource partnerships between the Church of England, Government and other national agencies working to improve the quality of life and well-being of urban communities. He will work with the Urban Bishops’ Panel to encourage bishops and dioceses to develop strategies for urban mission in the light of Faithful Cities and will help in developing work with ecumenical partners and other faiths around the issues in the report.
Theological reflection and debate about the values that should form the foundations of communities will be central to Bishop Stephen’s new role, developing skills among clergy and laity to undertake mission in specifically urban contexts, as well as encouraging fresh expressions of the Church’s mission and ministry in such areas.
Announcing the appointment, The Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said: “We are grateful to the Church Commissioners and the Bishop of Manchester for making this happen. Bishop Stephen has a great depth of experience in urban ministry which equips him perfectly for this role as an Episcopal pioneer for the Church in this important area of our work. I have little doubt that over the next three years he will make a significant impact on urban life and faith and will lead the Church in its service to those in urban areas.”
Bishop Stephen will work with the Church’s national adviser on urban affairs, the Rev Dr Andrew Davey, as well as advisers to the Archbishops and staff of the National Church Institutions, to develop a national strategy for urban mission. He will remain as chair of the Urban Bishops Panel of the House of Bishops.
The Bishop for Urban Life and Faith will begin his new role on November 1. He will remain Bishop of Hulme, maintaining a limited, liturgical role in the Diocese of Manchester but disengaging from the exercise of Episcopal oversight. Bishop Stephen will be commissioned by Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, in Manchester Cathedral on Sunday, November 12.
Bishop Stephen says: “I am delighted to take up this challenge. I have spent all my ministry in urban areas and know how important it is for congregations and clergy to feel that the joys and problems they face are understood by the wider church and nation.
“Faithful Cities provides an agenda for nation and church about creating ‘the good city’. I hope that my appointment will give some additional energy to the mission of the Church in urban areas in partnership with dioceses, parishes, other Christian denominations and other faiths. I also hope that we can engage government, local, regional and national, about the values that should be found in urban regeneration.”