Modern Religious History and the Contemporary Church
is a Project

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Status Closed
Identifier AH/G010234/1
abstract In this 3-year project Professors John Wolffe and Arthur Burns join forces with the Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace Library to bridge the gap between academic historians and the contemporary Church. Supported by two research officers, Burns and Wolffe will collaborate with Archdeacon William Jacob of the diocese of London to convene seminars in which historical insights into contemporary problems will be discussed with leading figures in the diocese responsible for formulating both diocesan and national policy. Working with Neil Evans, the diocese's director of professional development, the historians will also contribute to training programmes for clergy and other local leaders, furnishing historical perspectives on practical concerns. Local seminars in locations across London will engage wider church and community audiences. All these encounters will draw on the resources of Lambeth Palace Library. Resource packs and a website will convey the fruits of the project as a whole to a still wider audience and provide expert guidance to those who may be inspired to further explore the history of their local church or congregation.\n\nThis pioneering project brings together two leading historians of modern English religion, the most important archive of the Church of England and the most dynamic and strategically important of its dioceses. The last twenty years have transformed academic understandings of the place of religion in modern English society, and produced a sophisticated appreciation of the dynamics of the Anglican church's relations with both national and local communities, as a pastoral and missionary enterprise, as an influence on public policy, and as a community in an increasingly multifaith environment. In exploring these themes, historians, including project leaders Wolffe and Burns, have devoted much attention to the history of the diocese of London, and exploited the rich holdings of Lambeth Palace Library. This is the leading national repository for English religious history, with collections designated outstanding by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council; and containing key archives for the religious history of London, including the papers of its Anglican bishops. \n\nYet much of this academic work remains largely unknown to current Anglican clergy and churchgoers, who are also unfamiliar with the rich archives on which it is based. This deprives the church of a vital intellectual asset in devising approaches to many current challenges. There are striking parallels with the issues that confronted the Victorian and Edwardian church; moreover local communities, both of churchgoers and non-churchgoers, lack crucial insights into the processes that generated the societies (and buildings) in which they find themselves. For the diocese of London, this is particularly the case given the wealth of relevant historical work and the importance of the issues encountered. It is a key metropolitan institution engaged with the multi-ethnic community of contemporary London through schools, community services, welfare provision, and the maintenance and utilisation of a rich built heritage.\n\nThis project has great potential benefits for all involved. Academics working on the history of the modern church will gain additional insight through understanding how the contemporary church operates.The historians will see the themes they are pursuing in a new light, and will be able to feed the knowledge they gain back into the wider scholarly community through articles and conference papers. Lambeth Palace Library will benefit from increased knowledge and usage of its important collections, so furthering its aim of promoting the utilization of its holdings. Local communities will acquire better self-understanding. And the diocese will be able to root its approach both to pastoral provision and serving the people of London ina better appreciation of its own past success and failures in these endeavours.
Type Project
Label Modern Religious History and the Contemporary Church
Title Modern Religious History and the Contemporary Church
Collaborator King's College London
Has principal investigator John Wolffe
Has co-investigator Arthur Burns

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