News reached me over the weekend that it is looking extremely likely that the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture at King's College London is to be closed. The reasons why are unknown to me at the moment. There is a 40-day consultation period.
This is sad, terrible and disappointing news.
The Centre founded by Andrew Walker in the mid-1990s has played a huge part in developing ethnographic ecclesial research. This was largely through Walker supervising the doctoral work of Pete Ward, Kristen Aune, Rob Warner, James Steven, James Heard, Andrew Rogers, Ruth Valerio, to name a few. More recently Pete Ward has picked up the baton in the Ecclesiology and Ethnography Research Network, which is one of the most exciting and interesting research projects in recent years.
Alongside this kind of work Andrew Wright has led research into the teaching of Religious Education in schools, which has been influential in the way the subject is now taught.
And through the work of Luke Bretherton (up-to 2013) and more recently Anna Rowlands the Centre has developed into the field of political theology, largely through its Faith and Public Policy Forum. Bretherton wrote the Michael Ramsey prize winning Christianity and Contemporary Politics whilst a member of the Centre.
In addition, the Centre has also provided an MA in youth ministry for many church youthworkers (myself included, graduating in 2004).
Whilst some key staff are leaving/have left - Alister McGrath back to Oxford and Anna Rowlands to Durham, it would not be beyond the KCL to attract some big names to those positions.
There is nowhere else in England, save perhaps Durham, which is doing the kind of research the Centre has been responsible for. It would be a huge loss for the practice of sociological, ethnographic and political theology to see the Centre close.