A £3million Church of England grant to boost numbers of worshippers across the Diocese of Leeds has just been announced.
Part of a rolling strategy to promote church growth, the staged funding will develop five Resource Churches in the Leeds Episcopal Area, and each will then help revitalise other nearby churches.
The first Resource Church, St George’s, Leeds, is already up and running and is now linked with St Paul’s, Ireland Wood.
Curate Mark Harlow (left) and 45 members of St George’s have already gone to swell the St Paul’s congregation, where Sunday attendance was around 25.
The church plant to Ireland Wood is a pilot for the Leeds Episcopal Area and the rest of the diocese.
Discussions on selecting the other four churches are in process.
And now the CoE Strategic Investment Board has awarded £3.09m to fund the project, which addresses local needs and is hoped will extend to specific churches across the huge diocese that reaches from Richmond to Barnsley.
Resource Churches are designed to serve their local communities and to intentionally resource mission across a city, by planting and revitalising churches, developing leaders and providing other resources for mission.
Area Bishop for Leeds, Paul Slater, who chairs a working group to develop diocesan strategy says: “I am very excited that we have received this funding which is for the Leeds Episcopal Area, but also for the whole diocese.
“Creation of Resource Churches with a view to plant is not the only way we are seeking to stimulate church growth, but it offers the opportunity for a step change.
“Resource Churches are about leading into growth and developing a pipeline of leaders. The idea is to create a spiritual cascade, so St Paul’s Ireland Wood will eventually become a Resource Church itself and develop leaders who can help revitalise another church.”
Diocesan Secretary Debbie Child says: “This is all about growing the Church and so the grant is extremely good news.
“As this is a staged project, the funding depends on us continuing to deliver our objectives and we are at the start of this work in our diocese.”
The Revd Mark Harlow says: “I’m really excited and looking forward to loving and serving the areas around Ireland Wood and seeing a growing community shaped by Jesus.”
Eight Church of England dioceses are to share a total of £24.4 million awarded by the Strategic Investment Board and the other seven are:
Bath & Wells – nine new pioneer posts to develop new worshipping Communities and fresh expressions of Church – Strategic Development Funding grant of £1.61m awarded.
Blackburn Diocese – A programme over six years to fund work in outer urban estates and parishes as part of the Church’s Renewal and Reform programme – Strategic Development Funding grant of £1.54m awarded.
Bristol – Resourcing evangelism with younger generations, social action and church planting in the city of Bristol – Strategic Development Funding grant of £1.45m awarded
Liverpool – Developing mission in St Helen’s, Warrington and Widnes – Strategic Development Funding grant of £1.88m awarded.
- Church growth learning communities and revitalising churches across the diocese - £4.80m of SDF awarded
- Supporting the national Church through leadership training for curates to be deployed across the Church – Strategic Development Funding grant of £3.89m awarded.
Sheffield – Developing mission and ministry to children, young people and families – Strategic Development Funding grant of £1.84m awarded.
Winchester – Piloting new approaches to rural mission; reinvigorating urban mission in Southampton and North Hampshire; investing in mission in new housing development areas; and revitalising student ministry – Strategic Development Funding grant of £4.23m awarded.