After a successful period as head of community fundraising and public engagement at Christian Aid, Chine McDonald is to lead religious affairs think tank Theos as its new director, where she will be replacing outgoing director Elizabeth Oldfield starting in January 2022.
Chine McDonald read theology and religious studies at Cambridge, before embarking upon a career as a journalist, broadcaster, author and public theologian. She’s a regular guest on programmes like Thought for the Day, Prayer for the Day and the Daily Service, has written for a number of regional and national publications, and serves on the boards of several charities including Christians in Media, Christians Against Poverty and Greenbelt Festival.
Before her current role at Christian Aid, she was head of communications for the Evangelical Alliance, and according to a press release from Theos “brings with her a wealth of executive and non-executive leadership experience across faith, media and international development organisations”.
Chine is also the author of two successful books, the first of which, entitled Am I Beautiful?, focused on questions of religious women’s self-image, and encouraged them to smash the “beauty myth”. Her second book God Is Not a White Man & Other Revelations came out earlier this year as a lively critique of what Chine describes as the “casual racism” of white-majority Christianity in the UK.
She said of her new job: “I have long admired the work of Theos: its clear-sightedness, its creativity, its ability to draw people in with differing points of view, its success at presenting to the world a credible Christian voice and a non-anxious presence in a society that can at times feel increasingly fractured.
“I am thrilled to be joining Theos, so ably led over the past decade by Elizabeth Oldfield, and leading it into the next phase. I am looking forward to working with the excellent team on some of the most pressing issues facing our world today and in the years to come.”
Theos is a think tank focused on the question of religion in the 21st century, and acts as both an advocate of the significance of religion for contemporary debates on issues such as “immigration, mental health, diversity, climate change, meaningful work, human rights and more”, as well as conducting research and designing policy in relation to these areas. Theos is a non-denominational organisation, and works across all religions, but has a Christian focus and is part of the British Foreign and Bible Society, who also represent its largest source of funding.
Its website states: “We exist to inform and enrich the understanding of everyone with a stake in shaping the public conversation, from politicians to poets, academics to archbishops, journalists to judges. You’ll hear and see us on the news, or quoted in the press, bringing a non–tribal, thoughtful and intelligent Christian perspective.”
Speaking about Chine’s appointment, the Bible Society’s chief executive Paul Williams said: “I’m so pleased that Chine has agreed to join us as our new director for Theos. She’ll bring fresh thinking, high energy and strong leadership to build on the strong track record of Theos as it tells a better, richer story about Christian faith as a force for good in society.”
Ms Oldfield said: “I am delighted that Chine is stepping into this role. She has an instinctive grasp of the dynamics of public debate, and experience of the many different and delightful groups that make up the Church. I know she will be fierce in her commitment to effective communications, intellectual and theological rigour and the good of the team.”