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Clergy: Training

Church Commissioners written question – answered on 12th February 2020.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Church of England is taking to inform and educate its clergy on (a) scientific advances and (b) new technologies.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Division has partnered with the Universities of Durham and York to address gaps in understanding between science and religion. Equipping Christian Leaders in an Age of Science has been running for four years and has just been awarded £3.4m by the Templeton Religion Trust for its next phases. The team has organised 11 conferences enabling bishops and senior church leaders to engage with the latest developments in topics ranging from neuroscience to cosmology.

The Church of England is also a partner in the Centre for Doctoral Training in AI Ethics at the University of Bath, along with numerous other industry partners, gaining understanding which will be shared within the Church. The Bishop of Oxford is a member of the House of Lords Select Committee on AI and is a board member of the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. The Church also made a submission to the recently-published consultation by the Committee for Standards in Public Life on the impact of AI on public life.

All this work on new technologies will feed into the Equipping Christian Leaders in an Age of Science project and the wider engagement of the Church on public affairs. In March 2020 three new pieces of research will begin. These are designed to deepen understanding of science and to resource and expand the reach of Church engagement. This research will take place at Durham University, York University and within the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops' Council.

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