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The BBC's Robert Piggot
"Ministers may welcome the idea of paying the church to provide social services"
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Sunday, 8 July, 2001, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Church cannot afford rural work
General Synod
The church's role in the countryside will be discussed
The Church of England may ask the government to pay it for its social work in rural areas.

The proposal is due to be discussed in York on Sunday as part of a five-day meeting of the church's governing body, the General Synod.

The plan could also include the conversion of hundreds of rural churches into clubs, concert venues and post offices.

The church's parliament was also due to discuss the impact of the foot-and-mouth crisis on rural communities, and the church's response.

This debate comes after the publication of the government's White Paper, which praises the work of churches in rural areas.

Religious leaders are expected to argue that the need is so great in rural areas that the government will need to intervene to help finance social work by the church.

Poverty trap

This weekend the religious leaders have been discussing studies into the link between poverty and ill-health.

One report by King's College in London for 1998 suggested that a lone mother with two children needed a minimum income of 173.22 a week.

A separate report by Newcastle University called for churches to call for independent research into minimum income needs.

The church leaders have also called on the government to maintain the place of Bishops in any reformed House of Lords.

Members also urged that there should be representation of other Christian denominations and other faiths in the second chamber.

The General Synod meets twice a year, in York each July and in London each November.

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14 Nov 00 | UK
Clergy appeal for pay rise
14 Nov 00 | UK
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