Urban Issues


Bishop Laurie was born and bred in the East End of London and worked for fifty years within dense urban communities, both inner city and sprawling estate, within the UK. He began his urban studies in New York in 1968 under Professor George (Bill) Webber, of East Harlem Protestant Parish, and Professor Niall Harper of New York Theological Seminary. He worked with the Puerto Rican gangs of East Harlem before returning to the UK where he has lived and worked in Birmingham’s Handsworth, Gravelly Hill, and Aston and in London’s Poplar (Canary Wharf and Isle of Dogs).

More recently he has written Urban Mission and the Kingdom of God, SPCK, which proved to be a Church Times “Book of the Year”. The reviewer acclaimed it as, “the best book on urban ministry I’ve ever read.” It looks at the urban scene in the context of globalisation and stresses the importance of seeing the interrelation of rich and poor areas, and from that he draws out a liberative theology, giving plenty of examples of ways forward for the Church’s ministry and mission. 
Read the chapter on the History of Urban Mission & Ministry by CLICKING HERE

Bishop Laurie is chair of the Church of England’s Urban Strategy Consultative Group and a member of the Urban Bishop’s Panel. He is also a founder of the international Anglican Urban Network. He is currently living and working in the Thames Gateway regeneration area and so is co-editing a book on Regeneration issues and how the Church should respond to them.

Towards an International Anglican Network and Commission on Faith in an Urban World, February 1999

Addressing Urbanisation - A way forward for the Anglican Communion, September 2000

Towards an Urban Strategy for the Church of England, a paper written for the House of Bishops, December 2001

The Church and Community Work

Addressing the Global City, Texas 2002

Urban Ministry in a Global Context, address at book launch of Urban Ministry and the Kingdom of God, SPCK, 2003

Urban Seminar, Madurai, India, 2008


‘Regeneration’ is a word with a theological pedigree, but has re-entered the urban vocabulary with a wide and none-too-clear meaning. It is used to refer not only to the refurbishment of older properties and settlements but also to the intended ‘renaissance’ of areas even where no buildings have existed before. The building of houses, retail and commercial centres and transport hubs has attracted vast sums of international finance and highly paid consultants. No longer is land understood as opportunity to enhance human flourishing but simply as a chance to make very big returns on financial investment. Ethical issues abound – not least ecological and sociological – and theologians attempt to focus on what it could be to build community where every human being finds respect, fulfilment and God.

Steve Williams is the Bishop of Bradwell's Thames Gateway Officer. He covers all areas of regeneration in the Thames Gateway South Essex Area but is also involved, with Bishop Laurie, in Regeneration matters at a Diocesan, East of England and national level. To find out more about what is happening in the Thames Gateway visit his website atwww.thamesgatewaychurchofengland.com

The QE2 Bridge, Dartford

Building Utopia?

Seeking the authentic Church for New Communities

Published by SPCK, ISBN 9780281058679

Edited by  Laurie Green and Chris Baker, Research Director of the William Temple Foundation and part-time lecturer, University of Manchester. The contributors include Michael Fox, John Perumbalath, Sue Hutson and Bishop Brian Castle.

The new urban areas are reshaping much of Britain. Those who live, work or minister within them are not only at the cutting edge of new forms of built environment, they must also discover new ways of being community and contemplate new expressions of Church. All this demands careful and bold analysis and creative theological reflection. While powerful global economic forces are changing our landscapes, human beings have to wrestle with themes of belonging and identity. The gospel engages with these human narratives, driving and shaping a Christian search for alternative perspectives and practices. What are the appropriate building projects, mission programmes and lifestyles that will be effective in meeting the challenges of these urban settlements? How should other areas respond? 

The writers of this book have worked together as a group, mapping the new situation, analysing their findings and drawing out those themes which demand attention, making it possible to reflect theologically about the challenges of our newly built urban developments.

Resume of Building Utopia? by Chris Baker, April 2009

Review of Building Utopia? by The Right Reverend John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford

Urban Ministry in a Global Context, address at book launch of Urban Ministry and the Kingdom of God, SPCK, 2003

Report from the New Urban Areas Group of the Commission, established February 2004

Olympic Games 2012, a paper presented at Stratford Circus, 9th March 2006

New Opportunities Funding, submission to Church Commissioners, 15th October 2007

Bible Study - allowing the Bible to speak to our 'Regeneration' situation

Stratford Olympic Site