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Communities on the edges gain funding

12 July 2018

Church of England grants totalling £27 million aimed to creating more than 100 churches


Oldhams Church in Bolton

Oldhams Church in Bolton

THE creation of more than 100 churches is being planned by the Church of England, funded by another tranche of strategic development grants totalling £27 million.

Large sums will go to Evangelical resource churches, but there are also plans to serve deprived communities in coastal areas, market towns, and outer urban housing estates.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the grants “demonstrate our commitment to following Jesus to the places of greatest need in our society”.

The largest individual grant — £5.3 million — will go to Leicester, where six churches, some in the Central Anglican tradition, will be designated as resource churches, with a goal to double the number of worshippers across all forms of church by 2030.

A £5-million grant will fund two new resource churches in Worcester: All Saints’, Worcester, an Evangelical church, and St Thomas & St Luke, Dudley. The latter will be redeveloped and given a new team and will be “very different from the other Church of England congregations currently in the town” and “bring new life to this iconic church”, a press release said. It will be led by the Revd James Treasure, currently a curate in the Dudley benefice.

With £2.6 million of funding, All Saints’, Newcastle Quayside, de-consecrated in 1961 and placed on the Buildings at Risk register, will be designated a resource church “aimed at people between the ages of 17 and 45” to “act as a catalyst for growth” across the diocese. It will be led by the Revd Ben Doolin, a curate at St Michael-le-Belfrey, York.

In Bristol diocese, a former railway-works building in Swindon is to be transformed into a church, aimed at those under 40 who have no current connection with a church. The new church, backed by £1.49 million of funding, will be known as Pattern Church, and will be launched in December and led by the Revd Joel Sales, an assistant curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton. It follows the £1.5 million spent on re-opening St Nicholas’s, Bristol, also led by a former assistant curate from the London church (News, 26 January).

DIOCESE OF MANCHESTERTrinity Community Church, Rusholme

In Southwell & Nottingham diocese, existing churches will be given £4.67 million of further support in Nottingham, Retford, and Mansfield to “help develop 75 new worshipping communities by 2023”.

In Ely diocese, £2.13 million will go to the Changing Market Towns project, focusing on seven market towns. The diocese’s funding bid describes such towns as “areas of relative church weakness” and suggests that “isolation and disillusionment was expressed in the overwhelming support for a Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum”. Attendance in Wisbech is 0.5 per cent compared with three per cent in Cambridge.

The bid sets a target of 780 new churchgoers over three years. Children, youth, and families workers will be funded, and a church plant, Christ Church, Huntingdon, led by the Revd Charlie Newcombe, currently an assistant curate at St Andrew the Great, Cambridge, will be launched in September. There will be a lay-led plant in Downham Market and training for lay funeral celebrants.

Sixteen new small churches will be created on estates and in deprived communities across Greater Manchester and Rossendale with a grant of £2.14 million. A network of church-planters who will mentor others will include the Revd Ben Woodfield, who set up St Paul’s, Astley Bridge in 2016 (News, 11 May). Work with children, their families and schools in the Bolton area will also be funded.

In Exeter, a £1.69-million grant is aimed at creating three new churches for people living in outer urban estates in Plymouth, with each having close links to the debt charity Christians Against Poverty. A grant of £1.1 million will be used in Peterborough diocese to invest in ministry with children and young people.

A café-style church, Ignite, set up in St Paul’s, Cliftonville, the 16th most deprived parish in the country, will be used as a “blueprint” for nine new worshipping communities in the diocese of Canterbury, assisted by a grant of £889,015.

They will be in the coastal towns of Herne Bay; Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey; and St Peter Port, Guernsey; as well as Sittingbourne, Maidstone, and Ashford. A recent coastal communities conference at Lambeth Palace highlighted a range of challenges facing these communities, including fewer clergy: 14 priests per 100,000 people, compared with 20 nationally (News, 27 April).

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