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Twenty Years of the Christendom Trust

An historical account, guide and commentary by a founder member

Martin Jarrett-Kerr C.R.

The Christendom Trust was established on 31 March 1971 by Mr Maurice B. Reckitt as a charitable research foundation into the human and social issues of to-day, and into the Christian response to these issues. The Trust Deed1 was drawn up on 21 January 1971, between Maurice Bennington Reckitt, and six ‘Managing Trustees’.2 Through the years the number of Trustees has increased to nine, which reflects the widening of the interests of the Trust and the increasing demands upon the funds available.

There are many Christian Trusts that try to tackle the problems of human society, and even more that try to help its victims. But the Christendom Trust has always firmly stuck to the principle, not merely that ‘prevention is better than cure’ but that the first questions to ask are always ‘why should there need to be anything to prevent?’ Or, ‘can we not look behind the present situation and try to discover how we got to where we are?’ Reckitt put it bluntly: ‘We are not here to bind up the wounds of the world.’ In this the Trust is continuing a tradition started many decades earlier. To describe that tradition briefly may explain something of the origins of the Trust and its present context.

I

Maurice Reckitt was a comparatively wealthy layman, married but with no children. The Reckitt family derived its wealth from ‘Reckitt’s Blue’ in North East Yorkshire. Maurice was educated privately until university, when he went to St John’s College, Oxford, where he got a good degree in history.

He was brought up as a traditional ‘Anglo-Catholic’, but as a youth he soon became worried by the gap, even contradiction, between his faith and the human and social life around him. As a schoolboy he came under the influence of the fine historian Fr John Neville Figgis, C.R., who was not a typical ‘Christian socialist’ so much as a scholar who saw, and taught others to see, the significance of ordinary ‘worldly’ life in the light of the Christian gospel. After university Reckitt became involved in lively and intelligent groups concerned with social ordering. The economist G. D. H. Cole and he founded the National Guilds League, which (as Dr V. A. Demant later put it) ‘endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to divert the Labour movement from state collectivism to a more self-ordering industrial policy, with labour being master of its own house of production instead of craving for mastery of the state’. 3 When Reckitt went up to Oxford ‘I became’, he said, 4 ‘a Socialist in 1908, and I shall always think that, for my generation, a Socialist was a very good thing to have been.’ But he was disillusioned with the ‘Fabian atmosphere’ of Oxford socialism, and found the Church Socialist League more congenial. His practical work in 1916 was as an assistant in London of the ‘Labour Research Department’: his task was to read, mark and index the trade union press. (This is interesting, as disproving the picture of Reckitt as a rich dilettante talking about egalitarianism in comfortable surroundings.5) Later, in 1923, the Church Socialist League ‘was reborn, not without travail, as the League of the Kingdom of God’. 6 One of its members, Sir Henry Slessor, explained that ‘we came to see that our objective was not the promotion of Socialism, but the advent of the Will of God as expressed in His Kingdom on Earth. A society pledged to forward this purpose, sacramental in doctrine, composed solely of communicants, seemed far nearer to our desires than one pledged to Socialism, in part supported by modernists and persons only sub-Christian in belief.’7

Many have described this development as ‘ideological’ or even ‘sectarian’; it was certainly claimed by its supporters as ‘dogmatic’, for it argued for a ‘Christian Sociology’, implying that it could offer something distinct from ‘liberal’ or ‘marxist’ or ‘structuralist’ sociology. And certainly that was the assumption of two phenomena that resulted: the summer schools and the quarterly. The summer schools started as small meetings of friends and developed into large annual gatherings, specifically designated as ‘Anglo-Catholic’, which ran from 1925 to 1952. These conferences were first reported in the ‘Catholic Literature Association’ (CLA); but in March 1931 came the first of a new quarterly journal, Christendom ‘A Journal of Christian Sociology’; and for nearly 20 years Reckitt edited (and largely subsidized) this publication which carried reports of the conferences, the texts of main lectures, reviews of books, letters to the editor, and notes of topical interest. The main lectures were by people of the stature of Nicholas Berdyaev, Lewis Mumford, T. S. Eliot, Christopher Dawson, Donald Mackinnon, Bernard Williams, Charles Smyth, Alec Vidler, Julian Langmead-Casserly, Philip Mairet, Josef Folliet, and many others. The list was not confined to ‘Anglo-Catholics’ and included on occasions non-Christians. Those invited were expected to be (and often were) critical of the movement’s basic assumptions. But it is significant that when William Temple, as archbishop of Canterbury, felt that ‘the Church must be ready with its system of principles’ to meet the ‘vast social transformation’ of Britain after World War II,8 he called a large conference of clergy and laypeople to discuss and outline these principles; and – rather surprisingly – it was members of the ‘Christendom Group’ (Reckitt, V. A. Demant, W. G. Peck and others) whom Temple asked to plan the conference; though others like P. T. R. Kirk, Director of the Industrial Christian Fellowship also took part. Surprising, because the Christendom group was in fact not widely known in the Church, and where known, regarded as obscure and esoteric. Indeed, many of the participants at the conference (‘Malvern, 1941’) found the speakers from the Christendom Group unintelligible.

But the Summer Schools came to an end in 1952; and the quarterly, Christendom, folded up with Reckitt’s ‘Valedictory’ in December 1951. And no comparable organization or periodical arose to take their place.9

However, in 1968 a small book edited by Reckitt appeared out of the blue, For Christ and the People.10 It was a study of ‘Four Socialist Priests and Prophets of the Church of England between 1870 and 1930’ – Thomas Hancock, Stewart Headlam, Charles Marson and Conrad Noel. In his introduction Reckitt points out delightedly that two of the writers – Dr Stephen Yeo on Hancock, and Kenneth Leech on Stewart Headlam – ‘are young men, closely engaged in different ways with the problems of their time’ and that they were both offering ‘a fresh look at two prophets who were at the height of their powers some seventy years ago’. Stephen Yeo, the youngest (aged 27 at the time) was a gifted university lecturer in modern history; and he had read all the Christendom literature. Indeed, he told Reckitt that he thought this the only serious and intelligent work of recent years in Christian social thinking. Reckitt’s reaction was immediate: ‘We thought we were all DEAD’, he announced, characteristically, ‘but here’s a young man who thinks we’re still ALIVE!’ And he gathered a few of the ‘survivors’ to discuss how the tradition could be revived. Result: the founding of the Christendom Trust.

II

Before we embark immediately on the history it may be helpful to say something of the word ‘Christendom’ in the title. For there are queries. Here, for instance, is a probing comment from a distinguished theologian, Prof. Duncan B. Forrester:

It has become conventional to assert that we now live in a post-Christendom situation, and to look back patronizingly to the attempts to revive a rather romanticized version of medieval society on the part of Maurice Reckitt, V. A. Demant and the Christendom Group, or even T. S. Eliot in his The Idea of a Christian Society, with its ringing pronouncement that ‘The Christian can be satisfied with nothing less than a Christian organization of society – which is not the same thing as a society consisting exclusively of devout Christians. It would be a society in which the natural end of man – virtue and well-being in community – is acknowledged for all, and the supernatural – beatitude – for those who have the eyes to see it . . .’ But if that kind of political theology has had its day with the recognition that Christendom has passed away beyond recall, there remains an urgent need for a post-Christendom beyond theology . . .11

Prof. Forrester might have added that neither Demant nor Eliot ever wrote about medieval guilds; and that Reckitt, who did, was always careful to dissociate himself, at least after the death of G. K. Chesterton and the end of G. K.’s Weekly for which he (Reckitt) once worked, from nostalgic medievalism.

When the six first ‘Managing Trustees’12 were approached to form the Trust there was, indeed, much discussion of the title. Would its retention not imply that ‘Christendom’ still exists, or should exist if it doesn’t? None of the six was unaware of the possible criticism. But it was concluded that kind of work envisaged by the Trust, the nature of the bodies and individuals whom it would approach and support, would guarantee that the projects would not carry the burden of historical lumber. Those surviving who had attended the Summer Schools and/or read the quarterly were free of any charge of ‘mere medievalism’. So the word was retained as representing a distinctive tradition in Christian social thought of this century; and as holding to an element of ‘given-ness’ in such a tradition which can act as a brake upon the temptation to ‘make up the rules as you go along’. True, there will always be controversy about the nature of that ‘given-ness’; but at least it must imply, and indeed insist, that there is a ‘social nature’ upon which ‘grace’ can operate, perfecting rather than destroying it. And the history of 20 years would, we claim, illustrate how the general basis of the Trust’s operations are both revealed by the work undertaken and limited by the work it has deemed right to decline.

III

One of the first steps taken by the newly-founded Trust was to ask the Chairman, Dr V. A. Demant, to draw up a statement of its aims. This he did, and circulated it among the Trustees, and then with their encouragement sent a copy to the editor of Theology in 1971.13 And the Trust republished it in the form of a brief pamphlet which has been available to this time to send out to enquirers, applicants, and candidates for appointments and competitive essays that the Trust has inaugurated. A brief outline of what it covers will be helpful here.

It opens with a general statement of the place of man in God’s order:

Human beings are set in the world by God and are meant to live in it and use it to the glory of the Creator and in the service of their fellows . . . The good life is not to be separated from the needs of men. 

But the image of God in man is deformed by sin. A healthy social order is not merely a society of perfected individuals, but one where each organised activity is true to its valid secular purpose. So our world today needs a Christian judgment upon the structure of society, not merely upon the behaviour of men in it, for the structure imposes its own conflict of aims upon the purposes of citizens . . . [Moreover] a Christian understanding of the nature and destiny of man is a source of guidance for the validity of secular goals . . .

And so Demant analyses ‘Man as a Social Being’, and ‘Man as Biological Being’; and finally he points towards ‘A Revived Humanism’. He sees the urgent need for this at a time when

there are millions of people, especially among the young, who are in a state of resentment, but find it only possible to protest in word and behaviour. Contracting out . . . sheer rebellion, violence or sullen recalcitrance, escape through narcotics or quasi-religious cults . . . Can we help to canalise these energies into constructive avenues which will do justice to men as persons and as members of real communities, which will ensure that men’s natural and instinctive drives can have healthy and creative outlets . . . (and) help them to recover from loss of nerve and from despair of finding ways of working for the future?

This statement by (the late) Dr Demant attempts to expand and expound the brief clauses in the original Deed of the Christendom Trust. That Deed speaks of the aims of the Trust as being ‘the promotion of research in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland into the application of Christian social thinking in such fields of acting as the Managing Trustees may in their discretion select . . .’ And it goes on to suggest specifically ‘such fields as industrial training, religious education in schools, terminal medicine, clinical theology, the exhaustion of natural resources through men’s activities, and the effects of an industrial society on man’s environment’.

It is fair to say that not all of these tasks have yet been tackled by the Trust; but it is evident from the wording that the choices are wide, and still pertinent to the situation 20 years later.

IV

The first task of the Trustees was clearly twofold: to select areas immediately amenable to study; and to make searching enquiries which might uncover agencies, research teams, individuals, scholars, and official or semi-official Christian bodies already undertaking similar or parallel work.

A preliminary meeting was held at St Edward’s House, Westminster on 28 October 1970, to elect a Secretary, appoint a Chairman, and consider the appointment of further Trustees. The Revd David Peck was asked to be Secretary with a nominal sum as payment for expenses. It was also proposed that a young academic Sociologist, Dr R. C. Towler (University of Leeds) be invited to become a Trustee. Dr Demant was asked to be Chairman. The first full meeting of the Trustees was on 31 March 1971. And an excellent suggestion was made to offer three prizes for the best essays on topics relevant to the ‘Christendom’ projects. This would incidentally be a useful way of finding out where informed interest in these areas might be located. The essays were to be:

  1. ‘The Rescue of Humanism’ – ‘Open to all theological students, including newly-ordained clergy still under their diocesan directors’. [It is interesting that, by implication, entrants would all be Anglicans!]
  2. ‘The Concept of Economic Growth in relation to Human Welfare – ‘Open to all students in Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Further Education.’
  3. ‘The Role of Prophecy in the Church Today’ – ‘Open to all ordained clergy of the Church of England’. [Again, Anglican exclusiveness.]

The essays were to be of ‘not more than 10,000 words each’, and were advertised in a number of journals and academic publications. There were quite a number of entrants, but only one was awarded a prize (the Revd Richard Legg, at that time chaplain to Brunel University) though an essay by the Revd T. Gorringe was favourably mentioned. Only essay 3 was attempted; which perhaps suggested that the advertisement did not range widely enough. All the entrants were male – a matter that the Trust was slow to correct.

However, the response was sufficiently encouraging to prompt the Trustees to repeat the experiment from time to time. In 1984 it was agreed to advertise a first and second prize for an essay to be called ‘The V. A. Demant Essay in Christian Social Thought’. (Dr Demant had died in 1983; and with his widow’s consent and encouragement the monetary value of the prize was to be increased, and to be given his name as a memorial.) This time there were some 40 entrants. The theme was not closely specified, but those competing were advised to submit a theme and title. A short list of five was drawn up from the 40 essays, and read by three of the Trustees. The first prize went to the Revd David Cockerell, for his essay (1986) on ‘Jeremy Seabrook’s Britain: The old Reportage and the new Realism’.

The second prize went to Mr S. C. Spencer for ‘The Meaning of History in William Temple’. The Trustees were later gratified to learn that a part of Mr Cockerell’s essay was incorporated in a book he published in 1989 – David Cockerell, Beginning Where we Are – A Theology of Parish Ministry (SCM Press, 1989); he generously acknowledges the help of the Trust in starting on this work; and the book has been very favourably received by reviewers and those concerned with the training of clergy.

The third ‘essay prize’ was advertised in 1989, and this time the wording was altered to indicate that the entrants could be of either sex. (All the previous candidates had been male, though that had never been specified; it seemed necessary, therefore, to do a bit of ‘positive discrimination’. The result was that there were several essays by women, and indeed the first prize went to one of them.) The topic was slightly more limited this time: ‘Religion and the Resurgence of Capitalism’. (This title was chosen in connection with a Conference planned on that theme for 1991, about which more will be said below.) The first prize (£1,000) was awarded to Mrs Roberta Topham, for her interesting and original essay, ‘Religion, Kinship and Economics in Rural North Lancashire’. From the title her thesis does not seem to bear very closely on the topic prescribed.14 But from a close study of family connections in a small rural Methodist Church near Lancaster over several generations, she was able to make a small dent in the standard conclusions of Max Weber and his sociological successors about the certain erosion of religious concepts, values and behaviour through the coming of secular industrialism. She found her sample group maintaining a surprising continuity of churchly and family loyalty, conviction and expression. She has been urged, if conditions allow of it, to pursue the study further and elaborate – at the level of a doctorate – her (sociologically) unorthodox conclusions. The second essay prize was awarded to Dr Patrick Logan for a thoughtful and comprehensive essay, ‘Capitalism, Christian Realism and the Politics of Transformation’. This was directly related to the topic prescribed. Fr Logan noted that: ‘most current debates about religion and capitalism have adopted one form or another of Christian Realism (which I will refer to as “The Politics of Containment”). With the apparent collapse of the socialist alternative in the 1980s, a less balanced view of capitalism has arisen (which I will refer to as “The Politics of Celebration”). There remains, however, a third alternative (which I shall refer to as “The Politics of Transformation”) . . . I shall argue that the changed nature: of contemporary capitalism does actually open the way towards . . . [the last].’

In all these case the prizes were presented at a reception in London organized by the Trust to which the public was invited; and this was an occasion to make the work of the Trust (or at least one aspect of it) more widely known, as well as encouraging writers to develop their thoughts, and in a few cases seek publication.

V

A further way in which the Trustees believed they might be able to offer some help to workers in the many fields of Christian thought and practice would be to commission, and fund, bibliographies or historical surveys of enquiry and research. The first such, planned as early as 20 October 1971, was to ask Miss Dorothy Howell-Thomas (trained in the social sciences, and at one time secretary to William Temple) whether she could produce a ‘Bibliography of Christian Social Thought’. After an initial refusal she agreed. Two years later she was able to produce something a little different: a ‘Gazetteer’, that is ‘A Selective list of studies into present social structures and systems as background for the Trust’s “Fellow”’. 15 A list of the subject headings will give some idea of the range of Miss Howell-Thomas’s research: Community; / Employment: work, redundancy, etc; / Environment; / Industry: inclusive term; / Institutes: social (and see Social Structures);/ Legal Questions; / Management; / Planning, Police and Society; / Power: Political, governmental, etc;/ Rights: human etc. /Science: social responsibility in; / Social Structures (See Industry); / Strategy: socioeconomic, etc; / Urban questions; / Violence, Vandalism, etc. (1975)

It seems a pity that such a useful tool, produced at the Trust’s expense – and very modest expenditure, at that – should not have been more widely known and available: though it would have needed to be regularly brought up to date.

Three years later Miss Howell-Thomas compiled a ‘Bibliography of Maurice B. Reckitt’s published work, for his ninetieth birthday’ (1978); and this was revised and enlarged in 1980. She also helped the archivist of the University of Sussex to sort out the Reckitt archives deposited there, along with other related material, especially that associated with Reckitt’s friend and colleague, Philip Mairet, sometime editor of The New English Weekly to which Reckitt frequently contributed.

The policy of trying to provide researchers with tools of reference continued with a later Reckitt Fellow at the University of Sussex (see section VI below). Fr Francis McHugh, who produced a, ‘Directory of Christian Social Study/Action Groups’ (1982), entitled British Churches and Public Policy. It contains 129 entries (104 pp.), in alphabetical order, from ‘Advent Group’ to ‘Young Christian Workers’; and has three Appendices: A. Directories and Periodicals; B. ‘Individual Research’; C: Overseas Units ((a) Church-related agencies, and (b) Academic Research); D: Publishers; E: ‘Bibliographical’ arranged under 42 separate heads. The whole work, including the five Appendices and a four-page Introduction, amounts to 107 pages. It is the product of much time, labour and ingenuity. The Introduction contains a shrewd assessment of the trends discernible through the mass of titles, names, statistics and postal addresses in the Directory. (This will be described briefly in section VI, below.)

VI

Probably the most significant decision made by the Trustees was to approach likely universities to find out whether they would consider, and welcome, the appointment of a ‘Teaching Fellow’ in the field of Christian Social Thought and Action. The salary would be paid by the Christendom Trust; the advertising of the post, scrutinizing of the applicants, interviewing of candidates, would be undertaken by a joint committee agreed between the university concerned and the Trust. The appointment would normally be for three years, with a possible extension if it seemed that the work undertaken by the Fellow needed it for completion.

Dr Asa Briggs, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex from 1967 to 1976, who had considerable admiration for the work of Maurice Reckitt, expressed a great interest in such a scheme. ‘The idea of a Research Fellow in Christian Sociology would appeal to us immensely’, said Dr Briggs (reported at a Trust Meeting on 9 October 1972). A consultation of the Trust was held at Dartmouth House, 27–29 July 1973, and it was here that the plan of such a Fellowship was thrashed out. A private meeting between Dr Towler and Dr Briggs was described by the former as extremely good: ‘His (Dr Briggs’) personal interest and concern for the Library and the Fellowship are going to be absolutely invaluable.’ (The mention of the university library refers to Reckitt’s intention of willing his own books and papers to the Sussex Library and Archives.) Mr Christopher Martin suggested a press conference at St Bride’s, Fleet Street to which Dr Briggs would be invited. He came, and here publicly repeated the interest he had expressed before in private.

What appealed to Reckitt himself about the idea of a ‘Fellow’ was that such a person would not only do his own research, but teach in the university, and also ‘get around a bit’ – being less tied to a university appointment, and with possible travel expenses available to him (her), able to travel, accept invitations to lecture outside, visit seminars or discussion groups outside the university. By March 1973, 300 copies of Dr Demant’s article in Theology about the Trust (see summary in section V) were printed and distributed, and this may have helped to make the venture known beyond the readership of that journal.

The choice of Sussex was obvious, after Dr Briggs’s encouragement; and – as briefly mentioned above – the university librarian was most amenable to Reckitt’s suggestion that his writings, MSS, runs of periodicals, occasional papers, and (later on) his books, should go to Sussex.

Finally a joint committee of university representatives and chosen Christendom Trustees was set up and advertised the post. This was not a permanent endowment to the university, but an undertaking to meet the salary, at the appropriate academic scale, on condition that the university guaranteed room-space, adequate (normal) secretarial assistance, and above all, a properly thought-out plan for the use of the Fellow by liaison with other departments or disciplines – Religious Studies, History. Sociology, Economics, Political Philosophy, etc.

When the first applicants came in the choice among them may have seemed an unexpected one. The first Reckitt Fellow to be appointed did not come from a typical ‘Christendom’ background, that is, Anglo-Catholic, probably in Holy Orders, formed in the Establishment experience of church and society. Dr Haddon Willmer came from a severely Baptist/Independent/Nonconformist background (indeed, ‘Particular Baptist’, though he did not continue all the way with them). He was (is) a church historian, and his doctorate was on John Henry Newman’s evangelical upbringing, and its relation to his theological development. But Dr Willmer had studied in Germany and interested himself in the Evangelical Churches vis-à-vis the rise of Hitler. So he was concerned not merely with the ethical issues in the challenge to the churches but with the theological basis for the opposition to Hitler. After his appointment to the Fellowship his own personal investigations led him to the post-war reassessments – culminating, of course, in the Nuremberg Trials. He was particularly interested in the case of the Nazi leader, Albert Speer. Speer’s acknowledgment (limited, perhaps) of elements of guilt for the extent of his collaboration with Hitler in the ‘Final Solution’ raised, for Willmer, important issues of sin, responsibility and reparation. From this Willmer developed a major theological consultation on ‘Politics and Forgiveness’ – about which, it must be owned, some Trustees had considerable reservations. This was understandable, in a controversial area.

However, it is clear that Willmer’s work was much appreciated by colleagues in the university and bodies outside. The project on ‘Forgiveness and Politics’ was adopted as a study project of the British Council of Churches, backed by a ‘reference group’ which included figures like the Rt Hon. David Bleakley, CBE, Prev. John Gladwyn, the Rt Revd David Jenkins, and others.

Towards the middle of his term of employment, Willmer applied to the Trust for an extra year, to complete two works that had developed directly out of the Fellowship: (a) ‘a study of Christian Social Thinking in England since about 1945’; and (b) an ‘involvement already started with the Industrial Mission Association’. They wanted him to ‘write a book which might serve as a methodological and substantive guide to theological-political analysis for people like industrial chaplains’, written in partnership with them – for such people find it hard to stand back from their job and assess the ‘bewildering barrage of political theologies’ (Letter of 21 June 1976). He would seek a further year’s leave of absence from Leeds University if the Trust could extend his tenure for another year – which Sussex University would be willing for him to do. Unfortunately for him, the Trustees felt it impossible to grant the extra year, partly because they did not feel that one year – the most that could be offered – would be enough to complete both, or even one, of the two projects. He had, however, managed to complete two other projects: the study of ‘Forgiveness and Politics’ already mentioned; and a study of ‘Parliament and elective representative institutions of government as a theological issue’. There is no doubt that his skills and knowledge were made good use of in Sussex, and the Trust can, on the evidence, feel gratified by their choice of the first Fellow.

Dr Willmer’s successor, the Revd James Bentley (at that time Vicar of Oldham) also came in from ‘outside’; like Willmer, he had never attended a Summer School, and was not known to any of the Trustees. He came into the public eye when a long article by him appeared in Theology on ‘Karl Barth as a Christian Socialist’. 16 (Two years later, he wrote another article for Theology (October 1975) on ‘Christoph Blumhardt: Preacher of Hope’. 17 Blumhardt, little known outside Germany, had influenced the young Barth; he had been a Social Democrat in Wurtemberg from 1900 to 1906, and had like Barth related his theology firmly to politics. The Trustees were aware that their concerns (by the Trust Deed) with British society alone might be a temptation to ignore the European context. It was, therefore, valuable to have another candidate whose interests were wider than ‘little England’. So Bentley was appointed on 29 July 1977, and was immediately and happily immersed in university affairs, and a fair amount of extra-curricular activity. However, his tenure was cut short by his resignation after eighteen months, when he was offered a chaplaincy at Eton which had to be taken up at fairly short notice if it were to be accepted. When he was appointed he had already finished a book, Ritualism and Victorian Britain: The Attempt to Legislate for Belief (OUP, 1978). But he was able to start working on a second book while at Sussex, which appeared in 1982 as Between Marx and Christ18 and two years later he produced the careful and valuable biographical study of Pastor Niemöler.19 In a letter of August 1989 to the Trustees Bentley pays a warm tribute to their appointment of him, even if proved a short one – it enabled him to finish his second book, but more than that, it enabled him ‘to fulfil my intention of stopping being a full-time parish priest before I began rusting and to transform myself into a worker-priest whose income comes solely from writing’.

By a coincidence, at the time of Mr Bentley’s early resignation from the Fellowship an unusual application came in from an unexpected quarter. Prof. A. M. C. Waterman, Professor of Economics at St John’s College, Manitoba, wrote on 13 January 1979 to say that he was interested in the Trust. He had a year’s leave from his university, and was keen to study the relationship between Christian faith and his own discipline, economics. He made it clear that his own position was one critical of the traditional ‘Christendom’ interpretation of that relationship; but that as he had spent some time studying the problem, and as he had a previous degree in theology, his contribution could be a useful one. It was clear that he could not be appointed to a full Reckitt fellowship of the usual two to three year’s commitment especially at a ‘Professorial level’ of salary. But since Mr Bentley had resigned after eighteen months, one quarter of his salary could be made available for Prof. Waterman, and he could be appointed as an ‘additional Reckitt Fellow’ for 1979. This he accepted, and he was able to attend one of the Trust’s Consultations at Clewer, Windsor – along with Dr Willmer, who had just reached the end of his appointment. (I shall say something more about Prof. Waterman’s contribution at the end of Section VII, below.)

The successor to Bentley was a (secular) Roman Catholic priest, Fr Francis McHugh, who was happy to work with an ecumenical team in the chaplaincy of Sussex University, as well as in Religious Studies. He was well read in the literature of Catholic Social Encyclicals, also in the Christian social thinkers, English, American and European; he was well equipped to join, or conduct, seminars in Marxism. He was appointed in July 1979, but unable to start work at Sussex till May 1980, owing to previous engagements. His report on his first year, September 1981, together with his plans for the second year, 1981–2, were very encouraging. So when he asked for an extension till 1985, to complete the work already started, it was readily accorded, especially in view of his major contribution, which could be called ‘extra-curricular’ – the compilation of a ‘Directory’.

On 18 January 1982 there appeared a ‘Directory of Christian Social Study/Action Groups’, entitled British Churches and Public Policy by Francis P. McHugh (Christendom Trust 1982). (I have briefly described it above, Section V.) This was not merely a painstaking work of digging up groups and organizations, some very little known; it was also a way of posing questions about the trends that the figures, titles, and statistics revealed. This he does in his four-page Introduction. For instance, discussing the growing interest during the 1960s to 1970s in the extent of their social and political responsibilities, he says that ‘The heightened awareness to be found in the Evangelical wing of the Church of England on the question of corporate social responsibility is evidence, where least expected, of this growing interest.’

He suggests that his Directory might well help those who are concerned to investigate both the growing social awareness ‘in what seems, on a first appraisal, unresponsive theological thinking, in the case of the evangelical’, but also ‘an unresponsive clerically dominated institution in the case of the (Roman) Catholic Church’. The former, he reckons, began at an unofficial level, and ‘one element in its explanation may be the evangelical ethic-of-achievement’. With regard to the development of Roman Catholic social thinking he calculates that though a phenomenon like the Catholic Renewal Movement ‘may seem marginal to the social thought and action of Britain’s Christian churches’, yet ‘academics in that movement, which had begun as a more purely theological and spiritual protest, have begun to take up more specifically social and political issues’; and that this could have had some effect upon general Catholic thinking.

If Fr McHugh does not claim to have reached firm conclusions of a general nature, he has provided valuable resources for workers in this area. As with Miss Howell-Thomas’s earlier ‘Gazetteer’, it is a pity that the work could not have been taken up, perhaps by others, and kept up to date.

Fr McHugh’s work on the Sussex archives has already been mentioned. It ought to be added that he also somehow found time to help with the collecting and ordering of other archival material: especially those of the late Miss Violet Welton (an old ‘Christendom’ supporter) in the area of ‘Young Christian Workers’ (Jocists), the ‘Nouvelles Équipes Internationales’ (= Christian Democrats), ‘European Youth Campaign’, ‘World Assembly on Christian Youth’; also many papers of the late Patrick McLaughlin (first Director of St Anne’s Society, Soho), with his many European contacts, including the papers of the Semaines Sociales with their Director, M. Josef Folliet, in France; the ‘European Movement’, and memoirs of A. E. de Schryver, international president of the Christian Democrats; and the cultural activities of the St Anne’s Society until Patrick PcLaughlin’s departure to Rome. All these could provide valuable material for students of the international aspects of social thought and concern from the early 1930s to the early 1960s.

In December 1982, as plans were being discussed for a successor to Fr Francis McHugh, whose extended term came to an end in 1983, it was agreed that the connection with the University of Sussex, having never been a permanent arrangement, should come up for scrutiny. The result was that the project of a Reckitt Fellow was reasserted, but advertisements were sent at this stage to universities, not individuals, inviting applications to have the Fellowship located on their campus. Four universities applied: Sussex, University of Kent (Canterbury), Manchester and Lancaster. The Trustees had had some criticisms latterly of what the University of Sussex offered the Fellow in the way of support; and we had not been wholly satisfied that their re-application brought conditions which would meet these criticisms. The University of Kent applied and were clearly very keen to get the Fellowship established there. But it seemed, after close questioning of their spokesmen, that this eagerness was motivated by the hope thereby to save a small, minimally funded, and struggling (in terms of staff and student numbers) Department of Religious Studies. The Trustees did not think that rescue-work of this sort was a responsible use of the Trust’s funds or a valid reading of the purposes for which they were designed. The University of Manchester prepared the way for its own loss by failing to send its full application (apart from the initial indication of its interest) in time. One of the professors in the department concerned (Theology), realising that the Head of Department had missed the dead-line made a frantic telephone call to the Chairman, which he received on his return home after the meeting of the Trustees was over. (Mr David Lodge might be asked to base a new novel on a plausible and hilarious account of the next departmental meeting.) The University of Lancaster, however, replied to the advertisement with an extremely well thought-out plan for using the Fellow if he was appointed there. Their plan was business-like financially, imaginative in how it envisaged the relationship of Christian Social Thinking to such departments as history, sociology, economics, philosophy, politics and literature. The Trust unanimously agreed that the Fellowship should be located at Lancaster for the next period of years. (Trust Meeting, 21 March 1982)

On 14 November 1983 – after the interviewing of candidates by the joint Lancaster-Christendom Trust panel – Mr John Milbank was appointed as Reckitt Fellow, to start work in October 1984. As he was eligible only (being a first post) for an academic salary at the lowest point, it was agreed that the surplus of the money set aside for the Fellowship should be offered for a Research Studentship. Mr Kenneth Durkin, who was already studying at the University, was appointed to the studentship, which became a Ph.D. study of the work of Reinhold Niebuhr. Mr John Milbank would appropriately act as his supervisor.

It may be helpful at this point to list Mr (now Dr) Milbank’s qualifications and achievements, so as to give some idea of the Trust’s expectations of the Fellowshi: Oxford Ph.D. on ‘The Religious Dimension in the thought of Vico’; Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (Blackwell, 1990); numerous articles in Literature and Theology; Modern Theology, etc.; sometime Review Editor, Literature and Theology.

In addition to Mr Milbank the Trustees were able, on 7 November 1988, to appoint Dr Richard Roberts, from the University of Durham, as an additional ‘Reasearch Fellow’. Dr Roberts had taught theology in Leeds for a brief period, soon after he had completed his doctorate on ‘The concept of Time in the Theology of Karl Barth’. He had worked in the Department of Theology in Durham on the philosophy of hope in the thinking of the German revisionist Marxist, Ernst Bloch – his book on Bloch is shortly to appear. But latterly Dr Roberts had turned to Christian social matters, and was planning a major project on ‘Religion and the Resurgence of Capitalism’. During his tenure at Lancaster his work on this topic will, it is hoped, culminate in a Conference, hosted by the University, in 1991. The Trust supports him in this, and, indeed, planned that the Consultation, to take place in June 1990 at Hengrave Hall, would be a preliminary discussion of the topic, and act as a precursor to the 1991 Conference, for which the Trust will not be responsible, but to which it will give such support as is within its powers. When Dr Roberts completes his term as Reckitt Fellow at Lancaster, his future is secure: for he has (just) been appointed to the Chair of Theology at the University of St Andrews.

I have spent some time on the character and achievements of the Fellows, and it must be clear that there is great variety among them. The most extreme example was, no doubt, untypical – that of Prof. Waterman, the ‘Second Fellow’ in 1979. His original application revealed that his interest in ‘social concerns’ was almost accidental. He was an expert in economic theory (his research was in Malthus and population statistics). But as an Anglican layman in the Canadian Anglican (Episcopal) Church he was asked by the Provincial ‘Board for Social Responsibility’ to chair a group commissioned to discuss the desirability – and feasibility – of the policy of ‘A Basic Minimal Wage’ for the nation. The group needed the advice of a professional economist. He accepted, and found himself on unfamiliar ground. But he also found it stimulating, if puzzling, to delve into ‘Christian Social Thinking’. In the course of this he came across, for the first time, publications of the ‘Christendom Group’. He remained unconverted. And he told the Trust that when he met his colleagues in the Economics department of Sussex University they none of them could understand what he was studying and teaching ('what’s that got to do with economics?’ they asked.) When he attended the Trust’s Consultation he met another professional economist, Dr Charles Elliott, who was then about to be appointed a Trustee. They had a vigorous debate on (roughly) ‘the moral neutrality – or otherwise – of market forces’. A pity it could not have been recorded. However Waterman remained a committed ‘marketeer’. Indeed some years later he did not hesitate to publish in Theology (1990) an article defending the ‘Denys Munby Tradition’. 20 In it, for instance, he says that ‘Munby was originally much influenced by the so-called “Christian Sociology” of the Christendom Group as propagated in the writings of Maurice Reckitt, V. A. Demant and T. S. Eliot. It is now well known that these much admired authors were totally ignorant of economics and frequently committed to egregious nonsense.’ It is piquant that at the end of the article Prof Waterman is described as ‘a former Reckitt Fellow at the University of Sussex’. It is good, at least to have visible confirmation that the selection of Reckitt Fellows is made strictly on merit, with no account being taken of political or philosophical convictions. However, Prof. Waterman’s appointment at Sussex was only for one year; and other examples of divergent views held by holders of the Fellowship are not so dramatically opposed as in his case.

VII

The Founder was always very emphatic that the Trust should be concerned with Christian Social Thought and Action (Reckitt’s emphasis). One of the regular ‘activities’ of the Trust has been, in fact, to arrange ‘consultations’, roughly every two years. I have quoted the consultation at Dartmouth House in July 1973 as the time when the plan for a Research Fellow in a university was really incubated, though it took nearly seven years to give it birth. Other consultations have since then been held: at Clewer (thrice) (the house of the Sisters of the Order of St.John the Baptist) in Windsor; at the Northern Baptist College, Manchester, with delegates from the William Temple association (1984); at Cartmel in Lancashire (1985); at Hyning Hall (near Lancaster) (1987); and at Hengrave Hall, near Bury St Edmunds (1990). These were designed to give time and leisure for relaxed discussion (usually of ‘position papers’ prepared for the occasion) about policy, principles and direction, among the Trustees; but also to consult with an invited group of ‘outsiders’, ‘experts’ in various fields, who might widen our vision, provide correctives to our analysis of current trends in society, and give us information about other organizations or individuals engaged in projects relevant to those of the Trust.

Thus, for example, the joint Consultation in Manchester (mentioned above) with the William Temple Association was the result of discovering that that Association was already planning a study of ‘Work’, and especially its future in what was predicted would be a ‘Post-Industrial Society’. This theme being clearly relevant to the Christendom Trust it was agreed, first, to help with funding of research on the topic; second, papers from the W. T. Association were circulated round the Trust; and finally it was agreed to hold a joint Consultation of the two bodies (July 1984). The fact that the Consultation revealed some considerable divergence of view between them by no means made the venture a failure. Since the divergence was partly on the relation of theology to social analysis – or to put the matter another way, between two concepts of theological thinking in a social context – was in fact a positive gain (we hope to both sides in the discussion).

However from time to time, before his death in 1980, Reckitt protested that the Trust was still behaving in too theoretical a manner. He submitted a ‘Statement’ to be read and discussed at the Trust meeting of 6 May 1973, which emphasized the clauses in the Trust Deed that the Trust is ‘charged with promotion of research into the application of Christian social Thinking’ and with obtaining expert advice ‘upon the form and feasability of research projects and the areas where they could best be affected’. He feared that the Trust had neglected its duty in this respect – the duty ‘to initiate, seek out and further enquiry into what we may judge to be the vital aspects of modern economic and industrial disorder’. Instead it was ‘tending to confine itself to doing exactly what it began by repudiating – distributing its resources (on) purely charitable gifts’. He admitted that the Trust has not the skills, expertise, or time itself to tackle the required projects; but ‘while it is desirable that others might combine with us’ in developing projects of this nature, ‘it seems to me vital that the control of it should remain in the hands of Trustees who must be assumed to know what we exist to promote’.

It was largely in response to this plea that the Trustees agreed to support, at least provisionally, the Revd Donald Reeves’s Urban Ministry Project (UMP). This started in 1969 in Ripon Hall Theological College; it was an heroic attempt to train ordinands, and later clergy, in urban understanding. Its most publicized introduction to this attempt was by ‘The Plunge’ – an exercise is survival, when the student was given 50p to live two-and-a-half days in London as best he might. However this apparently melodramatic gesture was not a pseudo-identification with the poor, but immersion in the urban experience. The UMP applied to the Trust in 1978 for help towards providing a theologian who would work with the students, devise courses, and help them to relate their theology to their parish/urban ministry. This seemed a worth-while venture; and the Trust’s initial response, with finance, led to a desire on the part of the UMP that the two bodies might make a legal merger. This, however, proved constitutionally impossible, and – especially when Donald Reeves himself moved to new work – the relationship was (perfectly cordially) discontinued.

It may help us to discern the general trends of the Trust’s policy in twenty years, and perhaps answer one of the Founder’s serious criticisms, if we list a sample, first of the applications made to the Trust which were turned down.

Some rejected applications (in ascending order, from the ridiculous to the plausible):

  • For . . .: An Acupuncture Course
  • (By the Revd . . .:) Donation towards reservation of the Blessed Sacrament
  • Church Garden Project at Lambeth St Primary School, in . . . (North of England)
  • The Revd A. . .S. . .: Funding towards Son’s Diploma
  • Grant Towards purchase of Old Vicarage, High St., . . .
  • Funding for film: ‘John Wycliffe The Morning Star'
  • Return airfare to the Marshall Islands
  • (Mrs C. . .): Funds for Group Therapy (Awareness, Inner Growth through Yoga)
  • Friends of the Council of Churches for Wales.
  • Women’s aide; Funding for play-worker
  • Purchase of mini-bus for the New Testament Apostolic Deliverance Centre
  • N.E. Prison Ministries: Christian Support for Released Prisoners
  • Greater London Fund for the Blind

(And so on. Most of them extremely worthy objects: but not within the stipulated terms of the Trust.)

Some applications supported (the selective list excludes all projects directly initiated by the Trust): (The *starred items indicate substantial support.)

  • William Temple Association Project on ‘Religion and Deindustrialisation’ (1983)**
  • History Workshops (Brighton: via Dr Stephen Yeo) (1982–5)
  • Sociological Research: ‘Religion and the Mass Media’ (Leeds University via Dr R. C. Towler) (1982)
  • Christian Socialist Movement (Publication of Conference papers) (1982)
  • Christian Aid: Research Programme (via the Revd Dr Charles Elliott) (1983)
  • 'Urban Priority Areas’ (the basis of the official report: Faith in the City) (1983) ***
  • Jubilee Group (1982 and thereafter) (pamphlets and publications) **
  • Church Action on Poverty (via Mr Frank Field, MP) (1985) ***
  • Centre for Theology and Public Issues (Edinburgh University) (1985) ***
  • Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants (1985) **
  • Charles Elliott: Research for TV Series: Sword and the Spirit; and Signs of the Times (Institute of Contemporary Spirituality) (1986–9).
  • National Centre for Christian Communities and Networks (NACCAN) (1986/9) **
  • Black Liberation and Black-Spirituality (Conference) (1987)
  • Basic Christian Communities (Bilbao Conference) (1988)
  • British Council of Churches: Community Resources Unit (Cost for two years for working party on ‘theology of community work') (1988)
  • Conference on ‘Eradicating Racism in Theology’ (1989)
  • The Study centre for New Religious Movements (Selly Oak) (1980)
  • Urban Ministry Project (1976ff.)
  • Department of Religious Studies, Lancaster University: towards research into the Distributist Movement (1977)
  • TV Ministry application: Investigation of new means of using TV on a local basis for Christian ministry (1980)

Projects directly initiated by the Trust (most of these are described in the text above; but they are listed here for convenience):

  • The Reckitt Fellowship (1975– ) **** (The major expenditure)
  • The Consultations (Dartmouth House, 1973; Clewer 1975, 1980; 1982; Manchester, 1984; Cartmel, 1985; Hyning Hall (1987); Hengrave Hall (1990)
  • The Essay Prize Competitions (1971/2;1984; 1989)
  • The three ‘M. B. Reckitt Public Lectures’ in the University of Lancaster given by the Revd Alan Ecclestone, November 1983, on ‘The Response of the Churches to Social and Economic Change in Twentieth-Century Britain'
  • The M. B. Reckit Centenary Lecture: by Dr Garret Fitzgerald, T.D. at Lambeth Palace, on ‘Christianity and Contemporary Political Thinking’ (19 May 1988). This Lecture by the former Taoisach (Prime Minister) of Eire was perhaps the highlight of the Christendom Trust’s activities. One hundred and eighty invitations were sent out (for reasons of security admissions were by invitation only); and nearly three-quarters of these were present, including five or six bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie, was unable to come, but he sent a message which was read from the platform. It included the following generous passage:

I knew Maurice Reckitt. He came to Oxford when I was an undergraduate, and used also to worship at St Nicholas’ Church, Guildford, as I did myself from time to time. His contributions to Christian social thought in this country were considerable. Perhaps the most enduring of his initiatives has been the Christendom Trust. I congratulate this Trust on its many worthwhile and generous contributions towards research and publication within the rich territory of Christian social thought. I am especially grateful for the help you gave to the Commission on Urban Priority Areas.

. . . The trust has done well to arrange for this Lecture to mark a centenary, and has added to the lustre of the occasion by inviting Garret Fitzgerald to give it. I need hardly enumerate your speaker’s merits. He is widely known for the warmth of his humanity and for his rare ability to temper the passion of his convictions with the cold water of hard facts. His ecumenical courage is beyond any dispute. I cannot think of any other Prince Minister who has also been President of the electoral Reform Society. I only wish that I could be with you tonight to enjoy his humour and benefit from his wisdom. 

  • Support to the agricultural land and housing research in a North Devon survey ('Parracombe’; and a similar investigation into displacement in ‘Peak Park’, Derbyshire (1972)
  • The Gazetteer, compiled by Dorothy Howell-Thomas (1975)
  • D. Howell-Thomas: Bibliography of M. B. Reckitt’s Published Work (1978) (Revised and enlarged new Edition, 198O)
  • Subsidy towards publication of the Life of Maurice B. Reckitt by John Peart-Binns (1988)
  • British Churches and Public Policy – a Directory of Christian Social Study/Action, by Francis P. McHugh (1982)
  • Subsidy towards publication of a Memoir of Philip Mairet: Philip Mairet 1886–1975: Autobiographical and other Papers, ed. C. H. Sisson (1981). (These include several valuable letters to Mairet from T. S. Eliot.)
  • Subsidy towards preparatory work for Consultation in 1991 at the University of Lancaster, on ‘Religion and the Resurgence of Capitalism’ organized by the current Reckitt Research Fellow (to be distinguished from the Teaching Fellow, Dr J. Milbank) Dr Richard Roberts. The Trust’s own Consultation at Hengrave Hall, 25–29 June 1990, was arranged as a preparatory conference to the larger, international conference in 1991 for which Dr Roberts will be responsible.
  • Subsidy towards publishing a small book of unpublished sermons and lectures by the late Dr V. A. Demant, first Chairman of the Trust, to be edited by Dr Andrew Louth.

A Brief and Tentative conclusion, by the Chairman:

Looking over the past twenty years Trustees have, it seems to me, some cause for gratification. First, although several Trustees have retired – some through age, some through other work, some because no Trustee may be a beneficiary from the Trust (and therefore if he/she should develop interests and projects for which application for assistance from the Trust may seem perfectly appropriate, resignation must be the first step) – and these Trustees have been replaced by new ones, the general policy has remained encouragingly consistent.

Second, this policy has been able, through its flexibility, to react to changed social and economic conditions. Early on in the history of the Trust, one of the Trustees,21 who was new to the ‘Christendom Tradition’ presented a paper at a Consultation, in which he said that “The 1950s in the West saw a decline of interest in ontology.” This was (he continued) bound to affect the way in which the Trust would have to tackle its task of analysis and prescription. I think he was right. Re-reading some of the language of the early Christendom Group one cannot but feel that it unconsciously reflects a more stable, less secularized society and weltanschauung than we can assume. Maurice Reckitt wrote a paper for the same Consultation, which constituted what he called an ‘ABC’ of Christian Sociology, based on a statement by Canon Percy Widdrington (one of the doyens of the early Christendom Movement) that:

The true mission of the Church was not, and could not simply be, fulfilled by its members looking round to find secular bodies to which they could attach themselves. They must seek for what only the Church could do, for it is only Christianity which could know – or at least seek to know – that Man, however ‘fallen’, was nevertheless make in the image of God – must seek out what it should strive for in relation to the age. The search for this was, in effect, what the Christian prays for every day. From this it follows that if the Christian fails to offer a generation that, this robs that generation of what it has the right to expect from it.

In a sense there is nothing wrong with this. But it seems to speak out of a situation in which ‘the Church’ (however conceived) has a public recognition, an influence, a moral authority with its long history and still surviving outward signs of a ‘Christian presence’. That simply is not the case, except as a wishful dream, in present-day Great Britain, especially since this island has become a multi-racial, multi-cultural, and therefore multi-faith conglomerate. Without having had much discussion among themselves about this context in which we live, have our meetings, plan our agenda, make decisions about projects, the Trustees have, I'm sure rightly, accepted the inevitable language of ‘pluralism’. Whether Maurice Reckitt, if he had survived for another ten or more years, would have regarded this as a betrayal of something that ‘the Christendom Group’ stood for, it is hard to tell. But the way in which the Trust has operated seems the only plausible, feasable, and legitimate response to what the Spirit has been saying in and through the fissiparous, tentative, but honest pressures of the world that surrounds, and inevitably, moulds us. A secular philosopher writes, on ‘subjective versus objective’:

The task of accepting the polarity without allowing either of its terms to swallow the other should be a creative one. It is the aim of eventual unification that I think is misplaced. The co-existence of conflicting points of view, varying in detachment from the contingent self, is not just a practically necessary illusion but an irreducible fact of life.22

The Christian can accept this if he remembers that it is ‘at sundry times and in divers manners’ (polumeros kai polutropos) that God spoke through the prophets, but in these last days has spoken to us ‘by his Son whom he hath appointed the heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1.1–2).

© Community of the Resurrection, reproduced with permission

NOTES

  1. The Trust Deed, of 21 January 1971 is an elaborate legal document. It describes this Christendom Trust as ‘a Charity for the advancement of the Christian Religion as hereinafter appears’. When it comes to specify more particularly the aims of the Trust it mentions ‘research in the United Kingdom into the application of Christian social thinking in such fields as the Managing Trustees may in their discretion select’; it mentions particularly ‘industrial training, religious education, terminal medicine, clinical theology, the exhaustion of nature resources through man’s activities, and the effects of an industrial society on man’s environment’. It also mentions ‘publication of research, scholarships to enable research, and co-operation with other Institutions having objects similar to those of this Trust’. 
  2. The first ‘Managing Trustees’ were: Rev.Canon V. A. Demant; Ronald Lothar de Bunsen (a former Bank official); Revd Martin William Robert Jarrett-Kerr, C.R.; Revd Frederick Philip Coleman; Christopher John Neville Martin ('public servant'); and Revd David George Peck.[Return]
  3. Cit. by V. A. Demant, in a pamphlet ‘M.B.R., 1978’, privately printed by the Christendom Trust, 1979.
  4.  M. B. Reckitt, As It Happened (Autobiography), (Dent. 1941), p. 103.
  5. Ibid. p. 137.
  6. H. Slessor, Judgment Reserved (Hutchinson, 1941) p. 83. (Cit. in G. Studdert-Kennedy, Dog-Collar Democracy, (Macmillan, 1982), pp. 29–30.)
  7. Slessor, Judgment Reserved, p. 6.
  8. William Temple, Citizen and Churchman (London, 1941,) p. 83 (Cit. in E. R. Norman, Church and Society in England, 1770–1970 (Clarendon Press, 1976), p. 365).
  9. Some might think that the ‘William Temple Association’ provides an alternative. It is an admirable body; but neither organizes ‘Summer Schools’ nor does it publish a quarterly journal.
  10. For Christ and the People, ed. M. B. Reckitt (SPCK, 1969).
  11. Duncan B. Forrester, ‘Christianity and Politics’, essay in Keeping the Faith: Essays to Mark the Centenary of Lux Mundi, Ed. Geoffrey Wainwright (SPCK, 1981), p. 253.
  12. The names of the first six foundation ‘Managing Trustees’ are given on p. 26.
  13. Theology, Vol. LXXIV (May 1971), pp. 296–300.
  14. A note in the advertisement for the essay widens the possible scope considerably: ‘the general theme of the essays may be interpreted quite broadly. This could include, e.g., entries in the following areas: “Implications of the economic and social policies associated with the ‘New Right’ for Christian theology and social ethics;” “Historical and theoretical studies of the relations between religion and capitalism, European and world-wide”; “Major theorists of the ‘religion-capitalism’ hypothesis and their critics, in the perspective of the 1980s.” And “Theological and political agendas in the process of European integration.”’ So Mrs Topham had the necessary latitude.
  15. The ‘Fellow’ has been described extensively in section VI.
  16. Theology, Vo1. LXXV, No. 637 (July 1933), pp. 349–56.
  17. Theology, Vol. LXXVIII, No. 664 (October 1975), pp. 577–82.
  18. James Bentley, Between Marx and Christ (Verso, 1982).
  19. Martin Niemöler (Oxford University Press, 1984).
  20. A. M. C. Waterman, ‘Denys Munby on Economics and Christianity’, Theology Vol. XCIII, No. 752 (Mar/April 1990), pp. 108–15.
  21. Robin Minney, paper for the Consultation at Clewer, Ju1y 1973.
  22. Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions (Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 213.

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Welcome to the MB Reckitt Trust

THE MB Reckitt Trust (formerly the Christendom Trust) is

  • a UK registered charity (No. 262394)
  • a grant-giving trust that funds projects concerned with Christian social thought and action
  • an organization that takes initiatives and holds consultations on topics of Christian and social concern.

The aim of the Trust is to promote researches and activities that evaluate and develop social structures, processes and attitudes in order to release energies for change, from the perspective of Christianity and the other principal faith traditions.

Trustees are currently wanting to encourage work that supports the following outcome:

Being and building communities that are diverse and cohesive, in order to bring about a stronger society

Within this theme the Trust will prioritize applications focused on:

  1. Constructive communication and understanding between Christianity and the other principal faith traditions;
  2. People of faith engaging in social and political issues;
  3. Shared social action in plural settings;

The Trust will continue to focus its support on thoughtful/qualitative action research that can release energies for change, i.e. producing application and understanding that goes beyond the people or the project involved.

Since its funds are small, the Trust does not fund core activities, nor buildings, bursaries, but seeks to support work that has an element of research and innovation, with the likelihood of wider dissemination, replication or policy change.

With increasing competition for scarcer funds, the Trustees' strategy is to support work where their funding will make the largest difference. Grants rarely fall outside the £500-£10,000 range. The total number of grants will therefore be few, and predominantly awarded within the UK and Ireland. Grants may be given in association with other charities, if this is a means of achieving the Trust’s aims. The Trust prefers not to collaborate in quasi-governmental action research.

Applications for Funding

We welcome imaginative funding applications that will further our aims.

PLEASE NOTE! The next meeting of Trustees, when applications will be considered, is Thursday June 14th 2018 (the closing date for this meeting is Monday May 14th 2018).

It is important to know something of the history and ethos of the Trust before applying for funds. Go to About the Trust.

Trust Accounts

The latest published accounts for the trust can be viewed here.