Awards of nearly £13 million have been made for dioceses to help churches reach more children, young people and families, from toddler groups to apprentice youth ministers, in the latest round of grants for mission from the Church of England.
The grants from the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board of the Archbishops’ Council will revitalise parishes and start new congregations. The investments build on already successful projects to create new congregations and reach children and young people in areas including Bolton, Bournemouth, Guildford, Southampton and Wakefield.
In the Diocese of Guildford, £3.27 million has been awarded for the first phase of a nine-year project to reach young people of secondary school age with the good news of Jesus Christ in partnerships with schools.
The first phase of the programme will place youth minsters in three Church of England secondary schools and one state secondary school, recruit and train ten church-based apprentice youth ministers and train four existing youth ministers. The programme will also recruit a team to lead high quality youth worship gatherings across the diocese.
The programme will provide training for volunteer youth leaders and offer one year internships to allow young people to test their vocation to serve the Church. This first phase will test and validate a model of evangelism and discipleship to be expanded in a second phase.
In the Diocese of Manchester, £2.77 million has been awarded to build on the Diocese’s Children Changing Places project, a five-year project supported by Strategic Development Funding and based in Bolton deanery.
The plans aim to reach more schools, children, young people and their families across Bolton deanery and the diocese.
The project so far has engaged with more than 8,000 children and young people in worship and Christian activities, through school and church and more than 400 adults who worship with their children.
The majority of church primary schools and church toddler groups in Bolton deanery have adopted ‘Wiggle Worship’ – accessible worship including songs, stories and art activities, for young children and families.
It has also created 12 new Christian toddler groups and seven new parish youth groups along with an anti-racism and faith project, which promotes racial justice in schools.
Funding of £2.89 million has been awarded in the Diocese of Winchester for parish revitalisation plans in Bournemouth and Southampton including three curates and three associate ministers to support this work.
The programme will build on successful revitalisation projects in the diocese such as Saint Mary’s in Southampton where around 600 people a week now regularly attend services, with more than half aged under 35. St Mary’s in Andover now also has more than 370 people attending every week after a revitalisation project which began in 2019.
In addition, a further £1.66 million has been agreed subject to the diocese submitting finalised implementation plans to include further parish revitalisations and work to enable sustainable ministry in rural benefices, including the launch of new children, families or youth ministry.
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.
The programme includes plans for new worshipping communities, along with an increased focus on children and young people.
As part of this, nearly £1 million will go to a new project in Wakefield: Every Good Work, supporting three churches to serve and work with young people, develop youth leadership and social action, and establish a training centre for church interns.
John Spence, the outgoing Chair of the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board, said: “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 be building on already successful projects such as the Children Changing Places project in Manchester, which has reached more than 8,000 children and young people, and the successful revitalisation projects in churches across the country .”
• The Diocese of Leicester has been awarded £925,000 over three years to help support their capacity to develop a diocesan wide strategy and implementation 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.