Background information about the diocese
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Coventry and Warwickshire

Environment and Location

Coventry and Warwickshire are on the eastern edge of the West Midlands conurbation.  This has a significant impact on its life and economy.  There is considerable commuting from and to the sub-region.  Birmingham provides its regional level services.

The natural and built environments of the sub-region are varied, from the former mining areas to the north, and the edges of the Cotswolds to the south.  Agriculturally it is an area of mixed farming, mainly arable, with a number of beef and sheep farms: there is some dairy but little intensive pig or poultry farming.

Travel networks are extensive and good, with better public transport services in the urban than rural areas.

Regional policy supports the growth of these activities alongside the regeneration of existing towns whilst maintaining allegiance to 'green belt' restrictions around Coventry and tight planning controls in Warwick and Stratford.  Significant new housing development is planned across Coventry and Warwickshire  over  the  next  10  years  which  will  lead  to  further  population  growth  and  some relaxation of green belt/boundary criteria.

Society, Religion and Culture

Coventry and Warwickshire are places of immigration. This has been the case for well over 100 years.  There is a strong multi-cultural character to some neighbourhoods in Coventry, Leamington Spa, Rugby, and Nuneaton.

In Coventry city itself, 74.1% of the population is 'white British', with 25.9% of the population coming from minority ethnic communities (compared with 16% for England as a whole – mid year estimate figures 2007).  12.1% of the population are Asian or Asian British (of whom 8.2% have an Indian background), people from 'other white' groups make up 3.1%.  The trend in the city is towards greater ethnic diversity.  Warwickshire is generally much less ethnically diverse, but with significant minority populations in Leamington and Nuneaton.

In terms of religion, Coventry has a large range of faiths. The 2001 census provided the following statistics:

  • Christian 65.3%
  • Sikh 4.6%
  • Muslim 3.9%
  • Hindu 2.6%
  • No religion 15.1%
  • No answer 8%.

2% of Rugby is Hindu, and 1.6% of Nuneaton and Bedworth are Muslim (2001 census).  Much work has been done to build community relations through inter-faith work across Coventry and Warwickshire.

Several thousand asylum seekers and refugees (in Coventry) and migrant workers (throughout the diocese) have been noticeable, new arrivals coming from Portugal and Poland in particular.  (Though many of the latter have now returned home since the recession, there are still many new arrivals in the city from Eastern Europe and Africa).  Students, many from abroad, are part of the population 'churn' in Coventry – there are 28,000 full time students at Coventry University and the University of Warwick.  This leads to a higher number of people in the 18‐24 age range than national averages; Coventry is one of only six cities in the UK which is getting younger.

Whilst some parts of Coventry and Warwickshire appear to be comfortable middle England, there is also significant deprivation. A north south divide is clearly evident.

Culturally, the Diocese has much to offer: there are a number of music festivals which attract artists of international calibre, Coventry has an annual jazz festival, the Belgrade Theatre, the Herbert Art Gallery, and the Transport Museum.  Stratford-upon-Avon is home to the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company, now housed in its newly rebuilt theatre.  There are thriving universities and colleges across the diocese and the University of  Warwick has an excellent Arts Centre with a theatre, cinema, and concert hall.

There are also a range of excellent sports venues throughout Coventry and Warwickshire including the Ricoh Arena (the previous home to Coventry City and a venue for the Olympic Games in 2012).

The Diocese of Coventry

History

The area comprising the modern Diocese of Coventry has had a fascinating history.  Originally part of the ancient Diocese of Mercia, the Coventry area subsequently became an integral part of the Diocese of Lichfield, the title of which varied many times over the course of several hundred years, reflecting the names of both Coventry and Lichfield.  The rest of Warwickshire had been part of the Diocese of Worcester since its creation in 679 and, in 1836 when the Diocese of Coventry and Lichfield was divided, the Archdeaconry of Coventry was ceded to the Diocese of Worcester where it remained until 1918.

The modern Diocese was reconstituted in 1918 when the mediaeval church of St. Michael became its Cathedral.  This building was severely damaged by incendiary bombing in 1940.  The ruined walls and spire were preserved and form an awesome backdrop to the modern Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1962, and celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2012 with a wide range of missional and cultural events.

The population of the Diocese is approximately 805,000 people living in an area of nearly 700 square miles.  Of the 43 dioceses in England, Coventry is 33rd in population size, 30th in land area, but 19th in population density.  The diocese roughly equates to the City of Coventry and the County of Warwickshire.

Parishes and Clergy

The Diocese is currently divided into eleven Deaneries.  The deaneries are seen as key strategic structures for mission; with Area Deans and Lay Chairs being increasingly seen as key strategic leaders in mission.  As the Bishop of Coventry’s 'Signposts for the Future' and 'On the Way' booklets indicate, the Deaneries and their leadership now play a significant role in the Diocese.

Oversight of the two Archdeaconries is now shared between our two Archdeacons, geographical allocation of responsibilities having been set aside.

Across the Diocese, there are 248 churches, 197 parishes and 132 benefices being served by 184 licensed clergy.  There is a great diversity among the clergy-women and men, self supporting and stipendiary, younger and older working together in ministry.  We are committed to thinking creatively about how we work in different areas, for example, with pioneer ministers; with 5 team ministries; with  some  SSM  Incumbents  leading  parishes,  with  several  multi-parish  benefices  successfully adopting a model of the full-time priest being supported by one or more house-for-duty posts and/or SSM and retired clergy.

Nine parishes have petitioned for sacramental responsibilities to be carried out by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, but are integrated into Diocesan life, including attendance at Deanery Chapters and Synods.

The ministry of Readers is highly valued and there are now more Readers than there are stipendiary clergy.  Lay ministry in all its variety is strongly affirmed and encouraged.

Sector Ministers

The Diocese funds a Chaplain at the University of Warwick (which is located in south Coventry) and part funds one at Coventry University.  There are licensed clergy employed by local hospital trusts, prisons, and one of the FE colleges.  In addition, there are a number of workplace chaplains, both lay and ordained, operating in 35 locations around the Diocese under the umbrella of WorkCare, a separate charity.

Congregations

35 churches in the Diocese have a Usual Adult Sunday Attendance of over 100 with eleven having a uSa of over 200.  There are 177 churches with a Usual Adult Sunday Attendance of fewer than 100 (66 of which have a uSa less than 20).

Finances

In early 2000s, the Diocese consumed just over £2m of cash reserves to finance spending in excess of incoming resources.  This situation was addressed in 2006 by the introduction of a number of cost saving measures and an increase in parish share of 9.4%.  In each of the years since then, though increases in parish share have been low, the Diocese has made a financial surplus. Much of this surplus is being returned to parishes by way of grants from the Diocesan Mission Fund.

The allocation of the Parish Share system has recently been revised after extensive consultation and the new system has been implemented through deaneries. The new system emphasises mission rather than maintenance and the Gospel imperative for wealthier deaneries to support poorer ones sacrificially.

Organisation

The majority of the Diocesan staff is located in the Coventry office which is in the Cathedral quarter of the city.  Some staff in the areas of Property services, Pastoral Scheme administration, Finance and IT are joint workers with the Diocese of Leicester, based in St Martins House, Leicester.  Recently, as a result of the need to recruit additional staff to resource our response to the changing educational landscape, we opened a new office in Rugby to accommodate the staff of the Diocesan Board of Education.

The Cathedral Church of St. Michael

"God reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5 v.19)

The Cathedral has been committed to the ministry of reconciliation since November 1940 when the mediaeval cathedral was destroyed by bombing.  Provost Howard vowed to work towards reconciliation.  The three medieval nails from the Cathedral roof tied together to form a cross is the symbol of the Cathedral, and the words "Father Forgive" inscribed on the wall behind the altar in the ruined Sanctuary are used as the response in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation which is prayed every weekday at noon as well as at many special services.

The Community of the Cross of Nails has 162 partners in 26 countries across five continents including several in the Diocese.  The International Ministry has been involved in Israel/Palestine, Nigeria, and Muslim/Christian relationships in Kenya, and the British Government has acknowledged the importance of its work.  Recently there has been more emphasis on local reconciliation with involvement with the City Council, police, and leaders of other faiths as well as supporting parishes in conflict situations.

The Cathedral has a particular commitment to mission and making disciples through such strategies as Alpha Courses, working with disaffected young people, and special events.  The Cathedral offers a wide range of services on Sunday and during the week.

The Bishop's Staff Team

The Bishop has a core staff team (BCST) consisting of:

  • The Bishop of Warwick (the Rt Revd John Stroyan);
  • The Archdeacon Missioner (the Venerable Morris Rodham);
  • The Archdeacon Pastor (the Venerable John Green);
  • The Dean of Coventry (the Very Revd John Witcombe);
  • The Dean of Women’s Ministry (the Revd Kate Massey);
  • The Dean of self-Supporting Ministry (the Revd Canon Dr Jill Tucker);
  • The Diocesan Secretary (Mrs Ruth Marlow).