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Diocese of London sets out seven-year vision

14 June 2013

PETER NEILL

Paper shower: confetti petals rain down from the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, on Thursday of last week, at the launch of Capital Vision 2020

Paper shower: confetti petals rain down from the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, on Thursday of last week, at the launch of Capital Vision 2020

HUNDREDS of confetti petals danced like butterflies in the space beneath the dome of St Paul's Cathedral on Thursday evening of last week, as members of the diocese of London made individual pledges to build a more "confident, compassionate, and creative" Church.

More than 1000 clergy and churchwardens filled the cathedral to celebrate the launch of Capital Vision 2020, the diocese's strategic plan for the next seven years. The Vision contains commitments to create or renew 100 worshipping communities, commission 100,000 ambassadors "representing Jesus Christ in daily life", increase the number of ordinands by 50 per cent, and open up church buildings to the wider community.

In his introduction to the service, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, said that, owing to press reports about the Church, he was "constantly told" that "the state of empty pews and dwindling numbers must send my heart downwards. How can we get the message through that the reality is quite different?"

He highlighted statistics to challenge the narrative of decline. Electoral-roll membership in London has risen by 60 per cent in the past 20 years, while giving by individuals to their churches has risen by 50 per cent in the past decade. More than 53,000 children are educated in church schools in the diocese, which produces more than 40 newly ordained clergy every year.

The three tenets of the Vision - confidence, compassion, and creativity - were illustrated by conversations with three members of the diocese. A churchwarden at St John's, Hackney, Vastiana Belfon, described how she had challenged the racial-equality charity she works for to engage with Christians, after research suggested that they were the group most likely not to "believe in human rights".

Darren Raymond, the creative director at Intermission Theatre, a project of St Saviour's, Knightsbridge, spoke of his work with young people at risk of offending ( Feature, 4 January). Ben Bell, of St Stephen's, Islington, described how the charity Urban Hope is reaching out to young people.

At the end of the service, more than 800 churchwardens stood to be admitted.

 

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