Church to build football cages and skate parks across region with new £2m pot
PUBLISHED: 11:35 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:36 04 August 2019
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A £2m pot will help the Diocese of Norwich create skate parks and football cages to reach out to communities and 'plant' new churches.
The diocese has been awarded £1.98m by the national Church of England towards the new programme.
Beginning in September 2019, the project aims to grow over five years, creating 10 new or revitalised churches across Norfolk and Waveney.
Teams of church and worship leaders, sports ministers and others will be appointed to areas where research shows there are local needs the church can help meet and communities that can be better supported with additional resources.
The programme seeks to reach both rural and urban areas, engaging with young people and families by focusing on areas of population around secondary school catchment areas.
It builds on the Diocese's Undergraduate Training Scheme in Youth Ministry and expands and combines that with the work of St Thomas Norwich (STN), a City Centre Resource Church in Norwich, which has experience of planting new congregations and churches.
Sports ministries form an important part of the programme, taking inspiration from STN's Sports Factory which has run holiday clubs, community events, sports coaching academies, social sport and work with disengaged young people.
Mobile skate parks and mobile football cages will form part of the programme to bridge the church and community through sport.
A new church training hub will also be formed, based at St Barnabas Church in Norwich, to attract and develop future leaders - both ordained and those not ordained. The Diocese's vision is that the training hub will be an ongoing legacy of this programme to equip future church planting initiatives and support wider church revitalisation projects.
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The Venerable Ian Bentley, Archdeacon of Lynn, who is chair of the programme board, said: "This is an exciting and fresh opportunity to develop new areas of work and help people in sharing faith with our communities.
"It builds upon the successful experience of STN's work in growing a disciple making church and is targeted to help communities where there is need. Churches are at the heart of community life and a growing church means we can offer more support to local communities. We want to empower churches to exist for their local community, and so each church may have a different focus, style or support depending on local needs."
Existing buildings will be used to deliver the programme and it's envisioned that some new churches will meet in schools or village halls and some in existing church buildings. Several churches being supported are existing church congregations whilst others will be new congregations.
Tim Henery, who leads sports ministry at St Thomas's Church in Norwich said: "I'm passionate about sharing sport with people. We want to see lives changed as a result of engagement with sport, faith and the church, and it's really encouraging to see the vision of our work being embraced and replicated to areas of Norfolk which will benefit so much from it."
The Revd Ian Dyble, Vicar of the Mitre Benefice - a group of churches in Norwich - will be appointed the Diocese first director of church planting and revitalisation.
Speaking about his appointment and the project, Ian said: "Planting new churches and disciple making is part of the DNA of the church.
"Jesus said: 'I have come to give life in all of its fullness', and we want to enable people to experience that together through the local church.
"The new training hub is particularly important in enabling us to recruit and train individuals to be part of the new teams who will make such a difference, and I'm looking forward to others to catch the vision of the church in action."
The money comes from the Archbishops' Council Strategic Development Funding which supports transformational work programmes.