THE CHURCH of England is spending £27 million to create more than 100 new churches up and down the country.
The new funding will focus on coastal areas, market towns and outer urban housing estates and was said to be a sign of the Church’s ‘confidence’ in its future.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “The Church of England exists to share the good news of Jesus through our words and our actions. Across the country, churches are bursting with life – which in part is shown through how they love and serve their communities. I’m especially pleased about these grants because they demonstrate our commitment to following Jesus to the places of greatest need in our society.”
The Most Rev Justin Welby added: “These projects are wonderful examples of how churches are seeking to be faithful to God – and faithful to their communities in love and mission. Through their innovation, they signal a growing determination in the Church to share the good news of Jesus Christ in ways that make sense for those in our most deprived communities.”
John Spence, chair of the Church of England’s Strategic Investment Board, which approved funding for the work by the dioceses, said: “These grants are funding bold ambitious initiatives. Their scale and breadth show that the Church is feeling confident about its future.”
Among the projects receiving funding is the pioneering café-style church called ‘Ignite’ in Margate, Kent, which is to be used as a blueprint for nine new worshipping communities in the coastal towns of Herne Bay, Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey and St Peter Port in Guernsey as well as Sittingbourne, Maidstone and Ashford.
That project is aimed at marginalised and deprived communities. However in Plymouth some £1.69 million will be used to create three new churches in outer urban estates there.
A former railway works building in Swindon is to be converted into a church for under-40s who have no connection with a place of worship.
In total 10 dioceses are to receive grants under the Renewal and Reform programme with targets to create new worshipping communities. These are:
Bristol (£1.49 million) to create the Pattern Church;
Canterbury (£887,015) to create nine new worshipping communities throughout the diocese and the Channel Islands;
Ely (£2.13 million) to develop work in market towns such as Wisbech and Chatteris as well as pay for community support workers;
Exeter (£1.69 million) to create churches in three estates on the outskirts of Plymouth, which will have close links with Christians Against Poverty;
Leicester (£5.34 million) to six existing churchesto achieve a growth of 1,400 people, to establish 20-50 worshipping communities and to see around one new ‘fresh expression’ of churchevery two years alongside strategic church ‘plants’ every four years;
Manchester (£2.14 million) to plant 16 small churches over six years on estates and deprived communities;
Newcastle (£2.6 million) to create a church in the city centre to provide clergy and other support to churches in the area. It will target 17-45-year-olds who study, work and live in the city centre;
Peterborough (£1.13 million) to invest in training and employment of children and youth ministers;
Southwell and Nottingham (£4.6 million) to develop four churches and future church plants with the aim of creating 75 new worshipping communities by 2023; and
Worcester (£5 million) to develop two church buildings and employ additional team members.