New Commission on Urban Life and Faith launched

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

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

The Commission on Urban Life and Faith is chaired by theReverend Baroness Kathleen Richardson, a Methodist minister andModerator of the Churches Commission for Inter Faith Relations. TheBishop of Birmingham, the Right Rev John Sentamu, is theVice-Chairman. Other members of the Commission have been drawn froma wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, denominations andfaiths. The Commission was initiated by the House of Bishops of theChurch of England and is timed to coincide with the 20thanniversary of Faith in the City, the groundbreaking urban povertystudy.

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

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, stressed theimportance of the Commission and commented: "Real commitmentinvolves listening to and learning from those in most need. Byworking together with them, with different faiths, with thegovernment and the voluntary and community sector, we can make areal 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 isvital. The Government applauds this initiative on the 20thanniversary of 'Faith in the City'; my colleagues and I welcome theopportunities for effective partnership that it will undoubtedlyoffer."