Restructuring at Christian Research

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:!/benitahewitt

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.

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2 Responses to Restructuring at Christian Research

  1. Benita Hewitt says:

    Many thanks to all at BRIN for the support given to me and Christian Research during my four years as Director, and for the best wishes for my future.

    It is my intention to continue conducting christian research as an independent, as I believe there is much that needs doing and a need for more insight – particularly into what goes on in hearts and minds.

    I already have my first commission for an interesting piece of research relating to the church and action on poverty, as well as proposals for other projects at various stages. Although this is not where I imagined I’d be a few weeks ago, I am excited and optimistic about the future. I am also delighted to have my son working alongside, who is a recent Physics graduate with good analytical skills.

    Like BRIN, I am concerned about the future of Christian Research. Given the nature of my redundancy, the fact that I was not given the opportunity to hand anything over, and the only full time member of staff being an inexperienced Research Assistant I recruited a few weeks ago, it is not easy to see what Bible Society might do next with Christian Research. I will be watching with interest.

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