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New head of the Church Urban Fund gears up to tackle poverty amidst cost of living crisis

by Sophie Drew
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Church of England

In the midst of soaring energy bills and increasing food bank desperation, a new CEO is to take his seat as head of the Church Urban Fund (CUF).

The CUF works to confront poverty across the UK, usually by investing in churches and groups serving “hard-pressed” communities.

Following his appointment, the Bishop of Edmonton, Rt Rev Rob Wickham, said he was surprised that God had granted him this opportunity, but that he would continue to “feed the lambs,” as Jesus commanded.

Prior to assuming the role of bishop, Rt Rev Wickham served as a rector in Hackney before becoming the area dean of the London borough.

In a statement following the announcement of his appointment, Bishop Rob said: “For twenty-five years I have found a home in the Diocese of London, and I have worked with some extraordinary and visionary people. God never fails to surprise, and I am now responding to a new calling. The command of Jesus to ‘feed my lambs’ has been instrumental in my ministry as a parish priest and as a bishop and I am delighted to be appointed as the Group CEO of CUF. I look forward to working with dioceses, churches, different Christian denominations and networks, alongside other faith communities, praying that, together, this command will be fulfilled.

“The pandemic and so much more has revealed excessive inequality in England on many different scales, yet the hope-filled call of Jesus remains the same.  I look forward to working with the CUF family in helping to shape a collective response to these challenges and opportunities. I thank too the everyday pioneers and heroes across the Edmonton Area, in Hackney and in King’s Cross who have prepared me for this new role.”

Archbishop of Canterbury and president of the CUF, welcomed the news. He said: “As the country copes with food and energy inflation and tens of thousands of people struggle financially, CUF’s involvement is needed now more than ever. Likewise, their work in bringing together different faiths in their Near Neighbours programme is invaluable.

“Bishop Rob brings to CUF many years of deep engagement with hard-pressed communities and a profound theological understanding of Christian social action. I pray that he, and CUF, will continue to flourish and will keep the Church at the forefront of positive change when it comes to poverty and exclusion.”

Rt Rev Wickham’s replacement as Bishop of Edmonton is likely to be announced later this year.


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