GROUPS developing new ways of attracting people into the Church
in Cornwall are being asked to compete for funding in "Bishop's
Den" - a BBC TV Dragons' Den-style competition.
But instead of a grilling by entrepreneurs such as Deborah
Meaden or Peter Jones, their inquisitors will be a panel of
West-Country church, charity, and business leaders, chaired by the
Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton. Successful schemes in
the Bishop's Den will receive grants of up to £100,000.
The leader of the project is the Archdeacon of Cornwall, the
Ven. William Stuart-White, who has earmarked about £250,000, raised
from the sale of redundant parsonages: "The idea is an event to
solicit funding-bids for innovative and exciting ideas on how we
face some of the challenges we have got in the Church in
"In common with many dioceses, we are looking at a slightly
uncertain future, and recognise that the structures we have in
place don't always meet our challenges. By stimulating ideas in
this way, we can get a few projects that will be replicable, and
that people can learn from, and get some hints as to what an
effective and flourishing Church will look like in the next ten
Deaneries, parishes, and clusters have until the end of October
to submit their applications to the Truro diocese, which will be
vetted by a panel that includes clerics and finance and business
In January, a shortlist of about eight finalists will be drawn
up to enter the Bishop's Den at a public event at Truro College
Theatre on 23 February.
"The kind of criteria we are looking for is imaginative,
collaborative, and maybe a bit risky," the Archdeacon said. "I
would like to see an evangelistic project that gets the gospel in
word out to the people of Cornwall; projects that really
demonstrate the Church serving its community - maybe even
pilgrimage trails for tourists.
"People are asking us 'What kind of thing should we ask for?';
and our answer is: 'If we knew that, we wouldn't be asking.'"