Benita Hewitt, Director of Christian Research for the past four years and formerly involved in commercial market research since 1980, has been made redundant by her employer, the Bible Society, with effect from the end of August 2011.
A brief and cryptic post by Stuart Rivers, Executive Director of Enterprises at the Bible Society, on the Christian Research blog on 1 September appears to be the principal official comment to date. See:
Rivers explains: ‘As part of its ongoing development, Christian Research will be making some changes. The new structure will enable us to better serve Christian organisations by allowing us to explore new ways of delivering vital insights.’
‘Christian Research looks forward to continuing to serve it’s clients and members, and to fulfil its purpose in the Christian community.’ Whatever communication there may have been with clients, there has certainly been none directly so far with its members about this restructure.
Hewitt herself has made a number of comments via tweets on her Twitter account since 1 September. She is returning to the independent consultancy which she established in 1987, but which has lain dormant during her time at Christian Research. See:
Hewitt was also interviewed, as was Richard Franklin (Bible Society’s senior press officer), by the Baptist Times, which ran the story on p. 3 of its issue for 9 September. Hewitt told the newspaper’s reporter that she was notified of the redundancy on 18 August.
During her time at Christian Research, Hewitt was closely involved with a number of new initiatives, such as the ongoing ChurchCheck (‘mystery shopping’) and Faith Journeys programmes, as well as with various one-off projects and public opinion surveys.
However, she may be best remembered in BRIN circles for her optimistic assessment last year of contemporary churchgoing trends. She has also been overshadowed in part by the dynamic presence of Peter Brierley, her predecessor at Christian Research, who remains very active in terms of research and publishing himself.
BRIN wishes Benita every success in the next stage of her career. Those of us who are members of Christian Research also seek reassurance from the Bible Society that there is a viable and credible future for Christian Research as an independent organization operating under the auspices of the Bible Society.