‘Priest force’ will target hoodies and rappers for Church

The Church of England will today unveil plans for a new squad of pioneering priests to work among rappers in nightclubs and “hoodies” in shopping arcades.

The priests will receive special training before being ordained, and they will operate in housing estates, skateboard parks, pubs and cafes rather than traditional parishes.

Called “pioneering ministers”, the new breed are a key part of the Fresh Expressions initiative backed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to attract people back to the pews.

Dr Williams wants the Church to appeal to people whose faith has lapsed or who have almost no contact with organised religion.

The plans were approved by the House of Bishops last month despite misgivings that the pioneers might duplicate the role of parish-based clergy.

But the Rev Robert Marshall, a spokesman for Fresh Expressions, said they would form “a dynamic new force” who “will be able to reach parts that other clergy might not be able to reach”.

Among the 300 or so alternative church schemes already established under the Fresh Expressions initiative is Rezurgence, a Christian “extreme sport” ministry in Surrey.

It describes itself as “a unique first that brings mountain biking, BMX and faith into one”.

Meanwhile, clergy in Manchester are being urged not to eject youths who hang around churchyards intimidating worshippers and causing damage, but to try to get to know them.

The advice follows a vicar’s decision last summer to move a service into his vicarage because parishioners had become so frightened of gangs of teenagers near the church.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Telegraph, UK
Feb. 2, 2006
Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday February 3, 2006.
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