The Diocese of Guildford’s goal to create at least 100 new worshipping communities by 2027 has been boosted with the award of £1.08m in the latest round of funding grants for dioceses from the Church Commissioners.
As well as supporting this growth, the funding will be matched by £2million raised within the diocese which will fund new parish opportunities in line with the Transforming Church, Transforming Lives strategy launched in 2016.
With several large housing developments planned across the diocese, a major part of the project will be to make provision of church into these areas, supporting church planting and partnerships with developers and local authorities by providing financial support and expertise. Such developments are already in motion in Bordon, Wellesley (Aldershot), Deepcut and Shearwater, with more expected down the line.
Video: new housing development ministry in Wellesley (Aldershot urban extension)
Increased expertise and information sharing will be organic to much of the work already taking place at Diocesan House, but funding in this area will allow for the continued employment of a Church Planting and Fresh Expressions Adviser, a role in which Jens Mankel is already working in parishes, training and equipping people to pioneer new communities.
In addition, over half a million pounds has been set aside to support fresh expressions of church and planting of new worshipping communities through parish led initiatives. This funding will be accessed by parishes applying to the Diocese of Guildford’s enhanced Growth Fund.
"Turning dreams into reality"
The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, welcomed the news saying, “I’m delighted that the Church Commissioners have backed our vision of a Transforming Church, Transforming Lives, and especially of a whole swathe of new congregations reaching out to those who have yet to encounter the life-changing message of Jesus.
“It’s a privilege to be able to support the initiatives of many creative clergy and lay people across the diocese with the funding needed to help turn such dreams into reality.”
Alan Hulme, Director of Parish Development and Evangelism for the Diocese of Guildford, said: “We want to ensure that we have a church near to everyone, geographically and culturally. The three elements of this project will go a long way to making that a reality”.
“91% of the population do not consider themselves to be practising Christians, but many are genuinely seeking spiritual truth, and we need to make sure that our provision reaches them.
"To do this, we must find new ways of engaging this huge number of people with the life and truth that come with knowing Jesus Christ.”
“Sometimes this requires substantial investment, and sometimes a small grant can make all the difference.
“For example a micro grant of £800 has recently been made to St George’s Badshot Lea to employ a musician, enabling a Family Praise service to begin which has grown to more than 40 people, over half of whom are new to the church.”
The Strategic Investment Board, on behalf of the Archbishops' Council, has awarded £10.5 million to eight dioceses to support major growth and change projects. This is the fifth tranche of Strategic Development Funding which has so far provided £34.6 million to dioceses as part of Renewal and Reform.
In addition to Guildford, the seven other dioceses receiving grants are Coventry, Hereford, London, St Albans, Salisbury, Southwell and Nottingham, and Truro.