02 February 2004

New Commission on Urban Life and Faith launched

The Commission on Urban Life and Faith, chaired by a Methodist minister and launched today in the House of Lords, will "promote a vision of urban life which analyses and addresses the realities of its delights, injustices and its needs". It will spotlight work, especially by faith communities, that makes a difference in disadvantaged areas.

Working in an innovative and creative way, the Commission will listen to and reflect on the experiences of individuals in urban communities. Reporting at the end of 2005, having held conferences, consultations and festivals up and down the country, its findings will be available to inform government views on urban issues. The government's own report, The State of our Cities and Towns, is also due to be published in 2005.

The Commission on Urban Life and Faith is chaired by the Reverend Baroness Kathleen Richardson, a Methodist minister and Moderator of the Churches Commission for Inter Faith Relations. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Right Rev John Sentamu, is the Vice-Chairman. Other members of the Commission have been drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, denominations and faiths. The Commission was initiated by the House of Bishops of the Church of England and is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Faith in the City, the groundbreaking urban poverty study.

Baroness Richardson said: "I am delighted to be asked to chair this Commission. The work ahead is both stimulating and exciting. It will involve a fresh look at all the dynamics that impact on our cities."

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, stressed the importance of the Commission and commented: "Real commitment involves listening to and learning from those in most need. By working together with them, with different faiths, with the government and the voluntary and community sector, we can make a real difference to people's lives."

The Rt Hon Paul Boateng, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: "The role of faith groups in community regeneration and renewal is vital. The Government applauds this initiative on the 20th anniversary of 'Faith in the City'; my colleagues and I welcome the opportunities for effective partnership that it will undoubtedly offer."

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