NINETEEN “resource churches” have been named by the diocese of London. They will each receive a “planting curate” paid for by the diocese.
The diocese, which has also named two Evangelical churches — Holy Trinity, Brompton, and St Helen’s, Bishopsgate — as “national resource churches”, said in a press release last week that the 19 would “work with their area bishops to help to revitalise existing parish churches where we are looking to build confidence and stimulate growth, start new worshipping communities in areas where there is scope for new initiatives, and develop missionally minded leaders and create resources for the wider Church”.
Each of the curates will be trained to incumbent status and expected to plant within three years of arrival. Fifteen of the posts will be funded from some of the £8.69-million strategic-development grant awarded to the diocese by the Church Commissioners last year (News, 15 December 2017).
The 19 represent a variety of church traditions. Four are conservative Evangelical: All Soul’s Langham Place; and St Peter’s, Fulham; and two churches that have been planted or supported by St Helen’s, Bishopgate — Christ Church, Mayfair, and St Nicholas Cole Abbey, in the City of London.
Both Christ Church, Mayfair, and St Peter’s, Fulham, are part of “Co-Mission”: a church-planting network established in 2005, which believes that “London needs hundreds of new gospel churches if the millions of unbelievers from the different communities of this city are to be saved from hell for heaven.”
Others are in the New Wine network, including Christ Church W4 (which includes Christ Church, Turnham Green); St Barnabas’s, Woodside Park; and St Paul’s, Ealing.
The list includes the “Harrow Cluster” (comprising Christ Church, Roxeth; St Paul’s, South Harrow; St Peter’s, West Harrow; and Holy Trinity, Hounslow), “KXC”, a plant from St Mary’s, Bryanston Square, in King’s Cross; St John’s, Hackney; St Luke’s, Kentish Town, a plant from Holy Trinity, Brompton; and St Martin-in-the-Fields.
Those in the Catholic sphere are St George-in-the-East, which has started a choir-based church plant (Features, 17 December 2017); St Michael’s, Wood Green, which has started a Turkish mass; and St Mary’s, Tottenham, which was was one of seven churches featured in a Centre for Theology and Community report on growing Anglo-Catholic churches last year (News, 8 December 2017).
Only one church has a female incumbent: St John’s, Southall Green, an Evangelical church in a Presence and Engagement parish.
Several of the 19 have been involved in planting some of the 50 new worshipping communities listed by the diocese this year (News, 29 June). More churches are set to be designated resource churches “over the next few years”, the diocese said.
Last year’s strategic-development grant to the diocese is also funding the training of 15 “planting curates”, who, at the invitation of diocesan bishops, will be deployed to 15 “strategic cities” between 2020 and 2022. Ten are being trained at Holy Trinity, Brompton.
Last year, the Rector of the other national resourcing church, St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, the Revd William Taylor, said that it would no longer take part in City of London deanery activities “that imply partnership in the gospel” (News, 15 December 2017). At the time, he said that his first question to the new Bishop of London would be: “Are you prepared openly to declare as sin what God calls sin, and to summon all people to repentance, and to do so publicly?”
Christ Church W4
Christ Church, Turnham Green, has already reopened St Alban’s, Acton Green, and prevented another church, now called the Mission Hall, on Cunnington Street, from closing. “The heart of the church has been to gather people, grow people, and give them away,” the Vicar, the Revd Richard Moy, said this week. The money would help to fund a planting clergy couple, and would help the church to lift its horizon, he said, “beyond the box that the ancient system gave us”. Training planting curates in an established church helped them to “imagine what being a parish priest in a fairly normal situation might be”.
St John’s, Southall Green
Set in a “very diverse, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic area”, St John’s was set to become typical, the Vicar, the Revd Dr Anna Poulson said this week. “We feel that London is going to become more and more like Southall.” The church is home to the Kings Centre, a hub for interfaith engagement and education, and the new curate will be trained to plant “in an area of London that we aren’t able to reach at the moment”. As the only woman incumbent among the 19, she is conscious that “there aren’t enough women leading large Evangelical resource churches,” and is “passionate for women to be leading at all levels”.
She also believes that it is “hugely important” that the Church raises up “global majority leaders”, and she points out that “BAME” would be an inaccurate description in her parish, where she is in an ethnic minority. It was very difficult to get curates to come to areas such as Southall, she said, because “ministry in multi-religious areas is regarded as a specialism”. But it was “everyday ministry”, she argued, “and we must be equipped for it.”
St Mary’s, Tottenham
St Mary’s, Tottenham, has already drawn on the Commissioners’ funding to support St Philip’s, Tottenham. The money has enabled St Philip’s to support a full-time priest: the Revd Lee Clark. “The problem, perhaps, in the past, has been you keep doing the same things and expect something different to happen,” the Vicar of St Mary’s, Fr Simon Morris, said this week. “This is giving them a full-time priest, which parishes need — especially Anglo-Catholic parishes — but doing it in way where proper support is given.”
The congregation at St Mary’s also attend St Philip’s, for example on feast days, and are offering financial support, both in terms of advice and through giving. “This is a good opportunity for people within St Mary’s to grow in their own discipleship, and for us to have our horizons expanded,” he said. “If you want Anglo-Catholic churches to be growing, then you will need Anglo-Catholic churches to be planting into them.”