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Bishop claims poor are abandoned by middle-class clergy

by Eno Adeogun

Rt Rev Philip North said in a speech at the Christian conference New Wine United that he was "astonished at the number of people Jesus is calling to plant new churches as long as they are in Zones 1 and 2 of the London transport system".

He added: "If you feel called to plant, we need you on the outer estates, we need you in our northern towns, we need you in areas where a majority of people come from other world faiths, we need you in those areas where the trendy coffee shops and artisanal bakers are hard to find.

"Come there if you really want to make a difference in Jesus' name."

He said the C of E has become so disconnected from deprived communities that its mission approach is "entirely focused on the needs and aspirations of the wealthy".

He claimed that the least talented clergy usually ended up in deprived areas which had less competition for each role than in-demand posts in wealthier parts of the country.

"We spend £8 per head of population on ministry. In some rural areas that figure rises to £24 per head. On the estates we spend just £5 per head," he said.

In March 2017 the Bishop of Burnley announced the withdrawal of his nomination to become Bishop of Sheffield, referring to "the highly individualised nature of the attacks upon him". He had received a backlash because of his opposition to women's ordination in the Church.

Last year he wrote in The Telegraph that the Church was too obsessed with issues such as sexuality, to even notice the concerns of the poor it should be serving.

However, on Premier's News Hour, Natalie Williams, co-author of the books, 'A Church For The Poor' and 'The Myth Of The Undeserving Poor - A Christian Response to Poverty in Britain Today' said that some efforts of the church were going unrecognised stating:

"The Church is doing more than they've done, perhaps in the previous few decades and I absolutely agree that there's a lot more we can be doing.

"But I think we are stepping up – I think churches of all denominations are running food banks and night shelters and soup kitchens and debt advice and marriage courses and parent & toddler groups and a whole range of activities that are reaching out to some of the neediest people in our communities."

She added that based on her work with Jubilee+, who work alongside UK churches to engage with the poor, she had seen more churches approaching them to get involved with the poor.

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