THE Church Commissioners have denied that too much of their money is spent supporting church-plants led by Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB).
From this year, the way the Commissioners’ funds are distributed is changing, so that half of their support for ministry goes to the poorest dioceses, while the other half is spent only on new projects aiming at church growth.
The Commissioners’ annual report for 2016 states that a total of £54.1 million was spent supporting ministry in dioceses and parishes in England, an increase of 14 per cent from 2015.
While much of this money was spent on non-HTB projects — including £1 million for the diocese of Leicester’s plans to improve multi-ethnic mission, and £2.6 million for Birmingham diocese’s Growing Younger programme — significant sums were poured into city-centre resource churches, almost exclusively planted by teams from HTB.
Dioceses that received funding for such churches include Derby, Portsmouth, Chelmsford, and Bristol. Furthermore, £1.35 million of unspent research funding from 2011-13 was given to seven resource churches from 2014-16; six of them are HTB plants.
St Luke’s, Birmingham, a church planted by the former director of worship at HTB, the Revd Tim Hughes, was given £350,000, while other HTB plants, St Swithin’s, Lincoln, and St Matthias’s, Plymouth, each received £200,000. St Swithun’s, Bournemouth, St George’s, Gateshead, and St Mark’s, Coventry, were each given £150,000.
But Andrew Brown, the secretary and the chief executive of the Commissioners, insisted on Tuesday that there was no bias towards HTB. “Yes, we have been pleased to support a number of resource churches, [but] there’s no clear one blueprint that we will back or not,” he said.
“We are looking to work with the Archbishops’ Council and with dioceses, and are looking to back projects to encourage churches to grow through a range of different ways.”
For instance, one of the other projects supported with £1 million of the Commissioners’ money was the diocese of Liverpool’s efforts to develop a model to multiply congregations without using large-scale and expensive church-plants.
If there was a bias, it was only towards “working with people who want to be the gospel of Jesus Christ where they are”, Mr Brown said. “That will be different, and we are working with a very broad range of projects.”
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