Clergy support ministry rebrands to be more inclusive of women

Clergy support ministry rebrands to be more inclusive of women

Reuters

With women now making up nearly a third of the clergy in the Church of England, a 364-year-old support ministry is rebranding to be more inclusive.

Sons & Friends of the Clergy has re-launched as the Clergy Support Trust at the Christian Resources Exhibition North taking place in Manchester today.

The organisation, which dates back to 1655, was formerly two separate organisations - the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy and the Friends of the Clergy Corporation - which merged in 2012.

It is believed that the name goes back to the days when 'sons of clergy' gathered to raise funds for priests who had been left destitute during the rule of Oliver Cromwell.

The change was announced one day after the Church of England marked the 25th anniversary of women priests.

The charity exists to promote the wellbeing of active and retired Anglican clergy and their families, but a consultation with beneficiaries found that the former name wrongly suggested support was only available to male clergy or the sons of clergy. 

In a survey of over 1,200 stakeholders, only 27 per cent said the old name was good or excellent. Almost two thirds - and 79 per cent of female respondents - agreed that it was a good idea to change the name. 

In addition to the change of name, the charity is embarking on a new strategy to provide grants and other charitable support to clergy totalling over £12m over the next four years.  

In 2018, the charity gave out grants to 549 clergy households and provided assistance to a further 900 Anglican ordinands. It now also wants to double the number of Anglican clergy families receiving help.

Chief Executive Jeremy Moodey said the change was about bringing help to the clergy who need it.

'Most Anglican clergy families do well and thrive in their lives and ministries.  But a small minority struggles, whether with financial problems or other challenges such as stress or mental health,' he said. 

'We hope that this re-branding, and further changes to our grant-making to be introduced later this year, will help us reach many more clergy families in need.' 

The Clergy Support Trust's chair of trustees, the Rev Canon Simon Butler said: 'Any change of a charity's name involves risk. 

'But, in this case, our new name only highlights the true work we do, at a time when clergy wellbeing is an important element of the agenda of the wider Church. 

'We are confident that this new name will enable us to increase our visibility, especially where our work is less well-known.' 

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