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"
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
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
At the end of the service, more than 800 churchwardens stood to