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Church of England grants worth £13m to support mission work for children and families

28 July 2023

Church of England

ALMOST £13 million in grants has been distributed by the Archbishops’ Council to support children’s and youth ministry and family initiatives in churches around England.

The grants, from the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board, are to support existing projects in Bolton, Bournemouth, Guildford, Southampton, and Wakefield, it was announced on Friday.

The diocese of Guildford received £3.27 million to fund the first phase of a nine-year evangelism project to reach teenagers by working in partnership with schools in the area.

This includes placing youth ministers in four secondary schools, three of them C of E schools, while recruiting and training ten church-based apprentice youth ministers and upskilling four existing youth ministers. The money will also support a new team to deliver youth-worship gatherings in the diocese, train volunteer youth leaders, and offer one-year internships to “allow young people to test their vocation to serve the Church”.

The diocese of Manchester has received £2.77 million to expand Children Changing Places: a five-year Strategic Development Funded (SDF) project in Bolton deanery. More than 8000 children and young people — and 400 adults accompanying them — have attended worship and Christian activities through schools and churches in the area.

This includes the creation of “Wiggle Worship” in most of the church primary schools and church toddler groups in the deanery. It is described as accessible worship including songs, stories, and art activities, for young children and families.

Children Changing Places has also created 12 Christian toddler groups, seven parish youth groups, and an anti-racist and faith project, which promotes racial justice in schools.

Funding of £2.89 million has been awarded to the diocese of Winchester for parish-revitalisation plans in Bournemouth and Southampton, supported by the appointment of three curates and three associate ministers. The model is based on that used for St Mary’s, Southampton, where, Church House reports, worshipping numbers have grown to 600, more than half of whom are aged under 35.

A further £1.66 million is to be given to the diocese, subject to its submitting finalised implementation plans for further parish-revitalisation projects and sustainable ministry in rural benefices.

The diocese of Leeds has been awarded £3.94 million for its Barnabas: Encouraging Confidence programme of “church revitalisation” — leadership development for clergy and laity and practical support for churches. This includes new worshipping communities with a focus on children and young people.

Almost £1 million of this funding will support a new project, Every Good Work, supporting three churches in Wakefield in work with young people, developing youth leadership and social action, and establishing a training centre for church interns.

Finally, the diocese of Leicester has been awarded £925,000, over three years, towards a diocese-wide plan and to “accelerate the formation of Minster Communities”, which are “geographical groups of parishes, Fresh Expressions of Church, and schools working together in mission and led by a diverse team of ordained and lay ministers”.

The outgoing chair of the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board, John Spence, said on Friday: “We are really pleased to be awarding these grants for projects across the country aimed at helping revitalise congregations and support parishes in a range of different ways in their mission to reach children, families, and young people.

“It is exciting to be building on already successful projects such as the Children Changing Places project in Manchester . . . and the successful revitalisation projects in churches across the country.”

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