Parish ministry is at the heart of Church of England ministry and mission, including in areas that are religiously diverse.
The 2005 report Presence and Engagement: the church’s task in a multi Faith society gave special attention to the role of the parish church in areas where there was a high proportion of people from other religions. Following this the Presence and Engagement programme aims to support and resource the Church of England in its engagement serving all religious communities: ‘loving, serving and witnessing to people of all faiths in the name of Christ, and being enriched and renewed in our own faith by doing so’. This vision is put into practice by the Presence & Engagement Programme, the Presence & Engagement Task Group, and a network of Diocesan Inter Faith Advisers.
The Presence and Engagement programme enables clergy and lay people to act with confidence and sensitivity at times of tension across religious boundaries, including times when global politics impacts local relations. Support provided includes theological resources, for example, Gods Unfailing Word, which was published in 2019 and informs and educates Anglicans about the Christian-Jewish relationship, with the aim of better dialogue and stronger relationships between Christian and Jewish communities. These resources are also used in ongoing work with theological colleges to assist in the training of new priests.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is Patron of both the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) and the Christian Muslim Forum. Both organisations are actively working at national and grassroots levels to boost dialogue, understanding and collaboration between different religions.
In Good Faith is a national initiative co-sponsored by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi, which has been promoting dialogue and collaboration between Anglican priests and Orthodox rabbis since 2016.
The Church of England has a network of Inter Faith Advisers in most regions across England, who work to model, encourage and resource the development of positive relationships between different religious communities locally. Examples include building relationships through Church/Mosque Twinning partnerships, or collaborating on local foodbanks, as well as putting on educational programmes for clergy and lay people in the diocese. Two notable examples are:
The Coronation of King Charles III included participation by other faith representatives for the first time, a very public affirmation of the national role of the Church of England in serving all religious communities.