Tory leaders son to be Anglican vicar
Nick Howard, the son of the Tory leader, is training to become a priest in the Church of England.
Mr Howard, 26, who was brought up in the Liberal Jewish tradition of his father but converted to Christianity at 15 while at Eton, is in his first year of ordination training at Cranmer Hall, Durham.
His training includes a BA in theology and for the first two of his three years most of his studies will be academic. But as an ordinand he must also do pastoral work and every Sunday he helps at a parish church near the college.
Mr Howard was baptised at a Christian summer camp.
He studied for his first degree, in English literature, at St Catherineís College, Oxford, and by 2000 had discerned a vocation to the priesthood.
Howard was then advised to ìtestî his vocation by doing church-related work for a few years before applying for theological college.
While at university he spent time working with homeless and deprived young people. After his degree he stayed in Oxford as a Christian youth worker and then worked in London arranging Christian activity holidays for the young.
Cranmer Hall is part of St Johnís College, an independent Christian foundation within Durham University. All Cranmer Hall students are also students of the university, regarded as having one of the best theology departments in the world.
Anglican ordinands at Durham train alongside student Methodist ministers in the Wesley Study Centre. Many courses are also taught in partnership with Roman Catholic seminarians at Ushaw College.
Mr Howard is one of about 60 Anglican ordinands at Cranmer Hall. Its programme is one arranged around public worship and private prayer and from the start, ordinands are involved in taking services for undergraduates at the college chapel, the ancient Parish Church of St Mary the Less.
Michael Howard is a practising member of St Johnís Wood Liberal Synagogue in northwest London. He attends on the main Jewish holidays.
He was born and brought up in Llanelli, South Wales. His maternal grandmother died in Auschwitz and his father, Bernat Hecht, who had been a synagogue cantor in Romania, fled to Britain from the Nazis in the 1930s. He was naturalised in 1947 and changed the family name to Howard.
Nick Howard, whose mother Sandra is a member of the Church of England, does not consider himself to have renounced Judaism. Rather, he describes himself as ìa Jewish believer in Jesusî, just as the disciples and many members of the early Church, including Jesus himself, were Jewish.
While at Oxford he aroused controversy when he helped to organise a meeting of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, to which Christians were encouraged to bring Jewish friends to tell them about Christ.
Writing in Cherwell, the student newspaper, he said: ìAs Christians, it is our duty to reach Jews, who are a priority in our evangelism.
ìIt is a process of reasoning, persuading them to become Christians. Christianity is fulfilled Judaism.î