Urban worship is getting a huge boost with £3.9million of national funds being invested in new church projects in Leeds and Bradford city centres.
A new-style church to suit the needs of city workers will soon open for business at Holy Trinity, Boar Lane, Leeds, thanks to an £800,000 Church of England grant.
And a brand new Anglican church backed by £4.6million is set to open in a former nightspot in Bradford’s City Park.
Holy Trinity Church, Boar Lane will offer special weekday services at times tailored to people’s busy lives and already has the backing of business leaders and Leeds City Council.
The much-loved landmark on Boar Lane had faded as a spiritual presence in the city, with almost all its religious activity ceasing last summer.
However, £802,376 from the national Church of England’s Strategic Development Fund means it will be reborn in 2019 as a place of weekday ministry designed to reach out and welcome city centre professionals with a start date scheduled for 2020.
Some 80,000 people work within ten minutes walk of the church, which stands beside the Trinity Shopping Centre and 60,000 people walk past its doors every day.
The project, which was proposed to Church Commissioners by the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, will be overseen by the Revd Canon Sam Corley, Rector of Leeds who said:
“This is fantastic news.
“I am committed to seeing this project succeed and will strive to ensure that the Church thrives as a centre of worship and mission, growing the Kingdom of God among non-Christian young professionals and making a significant contribution to the life of the city.”
Holy Trinity will be working closely with St George’s Leeds, where its Rector, Revd Lizzy Woolf said:
“I regard the plans for Holy Trinity as crucial for our city and look forward to collaborating with others to ensure their success.”
The new Resource Church in Bradford’s City Park will be a friendly Christian worship centre that will reach out and embrace the whole community – welcoming the large resident student and business population in particular, alongside those who call the city centre their home.
The project has been developed by the Bradford Episcopal Area of the Church of England Diocese of Leeds, supported by £3.1million from the national Church Commissioners’ Strategic Investment Board and £1.5million of local money.
The funding will be spread over the next six years and pay for necessary building works, plus the establishment of a strong, energetic church team who will develop a centre of real influence.
Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Toby Howarth said:
“This is a wonderful leap forward in growing the spiritual identity of Bradford.
“The reasons behind this new Resource Church are obvious: Bradford is a significant city nationally and internationally and while we have a thriving Cathedral, there is currently no other Anglican presence in the heart of the city centre.
“It will have a strong Bradford identity: young, entrepreneurial, ethnically and culturally diverse and confident about holding out a clear religious offer and call in the public space.
“It will have a mandate from the start to grow and send folk out to plant new churches and revitalise existing congregations around the area.”
Bishop Toby praised Bradford Metropolitan District Council for promoting significant improvements to central area:
“The city has made huge strides in redeveloping and reprofiling itself, with milestones including the opening of the new Broadway shopping centre, the creation of City Park, with its award-winning mirror pool, surrounded by City Hall, the National Science and Media Museum, the Alhambra Theatre and the restored St George’s Hall venue.”
The Leader of the new church will be Revd Linda Maslen, who was born and bred in Bradford and currently runs a new type of outreach church in Halifax, The Saturday Gathering.
“I am really excited to be returning to my home city and the place where I decided that I would follow Jesus,” Linda said.
“I love what I am seeing with the city centre renewal and am excited to be a part of what God is already doing in Bradford."
Bishop Toby is pictured with (from left) new church assistant leader Nathanael Poole (and baby daughter Ivy), its leader Linda Maslen, Nathanael's wife, Lauren and Archdeacon of Bradford, Andy Jolley.
The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Anglican Bishop of Leeds added:
“This carefully targeted funding will lift our presence and engagement in exciting city centres.
“I am delighted the vision and hard work of clergy and lay people who prepared this funding bid has been recognised and rewarded.
“An exciting vision and commitment lie at the heart of it.”