CofE celebrates key Christian appointments in Parliament

Caroline Spelman.

The Church of England is celebrating the appointment of two of the nation's most influential Christians, one lay and one ordained, to key posts in the new Parliament.

Caroline Spelman, a patron of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and MP for Meriden in the West Midlands, has been appointed Second Church Estates Commissioner, succeeding Sir Tony Baldry. Her role will be to represent and answer questions on behalf of the Church Commissioners in the House of Commons.

And the leading evangelical David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, has been appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury as convenor of the 26 bishops in the House of Lords, known as the Lords Spiritual.

He succeeds Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, who retires in July.

Spelman said: "I am honoured to be asked to undertake this role as the Church is important for the future of our country and I want to help it navigate the challenges of the modern world with the support of our parliamentarians."

She takes over the role at a time of prosperity for the Commissioners, currently enjoying successive years of exceptional results in their accounts and with enough cash in the bank to finance the ambitious clergy expansion plans of Archbishop Welby.

Her previous posts have included time as Environment Secretary, Shadow Secretary for International Development, Shadow Minister for Women and Chairman of the Conservative Party. She has also been a member of a number of Parliamentary committees, including the draft Modern Slavery Bill.

In addition she is vice chair of Tearfund and patron of Welcome, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity. In March last year she initiated a House of Commons debate on the contribution of women to the ordained ministry of the Church of England. She is a talented choral singer and is chair of the Parliamentary Choir.

Welcoming her appointment, Andrew Brown, secretary to the Church Commissioners, said: "Caroline has a strong commitment to the church and its mission to local communities. This is vital to the Church Commissioners as we carry out the work and mission of the Church of England."

And commenting on the appointment of Bishop Urquhart to lead his brother bishops - soon to include a sister bishop - in the Lords, Archbishop Welby said: "I am delighted that Bishop David has agreed to take on this important position.

"As the lead bishop in the House of Lords, the convenor is relied upon to speak on my behalf and that of all the Lords Spiritual, often engaging with the leaders of other benches across the House on complex and detailed legislative issues."