One of our Wakefield parishes is able to connect more with children and families thanks to new funding.
The parish of St Peter and St Leonard, Horbury, with St John, Horbury Bridge recently secured funds for a further three years of their Children and Families Project.
The first phase of the project began in September 2020, when funding became available for the employment of a part-time Children and Families Worker, Katherine Brackley.
Over the past three years, Katherine has worked with lay volunteers, staff of the two church schools in the parish, clergy and the PCC to champion provision for children and families within the parish.
As a result of this hard work, the parish has seen congregations grow, and become significantly younger in demographic.
In the latest estimate, children’s attendance at Sunday worship has increased by about 180% over this period, and about 10% of the Sunday congregation is now under the age of 16, bucking the trend of the Church of England’s national statistics.
Provision for children and families has also broadened, and the parish now boasts a weekly Kids Church (Sunday school) and Messy Church (craft-based worship, during term time), in addition to pre-existing toddler groups and Peterites youth group.
Half-termly School Masses have been introduced at Horbury Bridge Academy, with children participating in the preparation and delivery, and Baptism Brunches are hosted every quarter to offer warm hospitality to families desiring to have their children christened.
Regular pilgrimages for children and teenagers also now take place to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
The project has been such a success that when funding needed to be renewed, the PCC sought to extend Katherine’s hours from part-time to full-time.
In this second phase, the parish has secured over £100,000 of funding, from the Fellowship of St John, the Community of St Peter, Horbury, the Henry Smith Charitable Foundation, the St Leonard’s Trust, and the Bishops’ Development Fund of the Diocese of Leeds, which has made this bold step possible.
Responding to the generosity of these charitable bodies, Fr Christopher Johnson, Vicar of Horbury with Horbury Bridge, said: “The investment in the parish that these charities are making is paying off, transforming our church communities into places where all generations can come together to worship God and find fellowship with each other.
“Katherine and our volunteers have made St Peter’s and St John’s places where everyone is welcome, and we are excited to embed what has already been achieved, and expand into new and exciting areas, in the next three years, including beginning a children’s choir, teenage youth group, and much more.”