The Church of England has announced a new initiative aimed at preventing Christianity 'sliding out of cultural memory'.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, chairman of the Church’s board of education, said his Church will promote religion through its schools, the Daily Telegraph reports.
At a meeting of the Church’s General Synod in York, Bishop Pritchard said that plans were being drawn up to overhaul the entire curriculum to reflect the Christian foundation “in every part”.
He added that clergy should be trained to maximise their use of schools to extend the Church’s “mission”.
The bishop said Church schools were “under attack” from all corners but the Church should respond to “creeping scepticism about religion” by using its schools as a tool for evangelisation.
His comments came as he launched a new report on the future of the Church of England’s schools. The report calls for “faith and spiritual development” to be placed at the centre of the curriculum.
“If we miss the importance of this report the Christian story will continue to slide out of cultural memory,” he told them. “But if we seize the moment, we could be embedding that story in the life of the nation in a way we haven’t been able to do for decades. I’d put it as strongly as that.”
The bishop highlighted campaigns to force the Church to relax its entry criteria to its schools, which reserve places for churchgoers, and calls for state funding to be removed from faith schools.
He said: “Church schools are under suspicion or attack in many corners of society . . . the pressure is on and our response must not be defensive but confidently on the front foot. Nationally we have a million parishioners in our schools every day. And these children have a whole hinterland of families. What an opportunity – are we up for it?”
He added: “Do we train our clergy for that opportunity or do we see engagement with schools as optional? The clergy ought to have a camp bed in there.”