The Diocese of Lincoln has been awarded £2.67 million from the Church of England’s Strategic Development Fund (SDF) to help transform lives in its urban centres over the next five years.
The funding will enable three existing churches to become ‘resource’ churches to promote growth across greater Lincolnshire. A resource church is a church with a track record in growing its congregations and which wishes to share its learning with other churches by ‘giving away’ its leaders for the benefit of other churches.
The three churches that will become resource churches are: St Swithin’s in Lincoln, St George’s in Stamford and Lincoln Cathedral. These churches begin to represent the diversity in geography and Anglican traditions present across the diocese. Churches in urban centres have been chosen as attendance in these areas is generally lower than in the diocese as a whole therefore potential for growth is the greatest.
The plan for growth across the diocese centres around the development of future church leaders through the resource churches who will go on to lead new or revitalised churches of which there will be eight in total in the diocese’s urban areas over the next five years.
The Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, Bishop of Lincoln, said: “When I was appointed as Bishop of Lincoln I started to lead the diocese in a new direction in which we would reverse what was seen as a culture of decline in our congregations and give the diocese a new focus. This investment is key to that. We hope that everyone will want to be part of this exciting journey.
“The churches we have chosen as resource churches have the potential to be successful in reaching out to their local communities and we want to spread that success to other areas. There has been significant growth in numbers at St Swithin’s and St George’s in recent years and Lincoln Cathedral, which has stood as the mother church of the diocese and region for almost 1,000 years, is keen to increase its profile across the historic county in social justice and be a leading centre for catholic mission.”
The Rt Reverend Dr David Court, Bishop of Grimsby and Strategic Lead for Mission in the Diocese of Lincoln, said: “We are delighted that our application for funding has been granted. At the heart of our plans is our belief in our local churches and their power to transform lives and communities with their message of love and hope.
“We have chosen to focus on our urban centres with this funding as it will give the most people possible the opportunity to explore faith, find hope and experience community through their local church. This project sits alongside our other investment in continuing outreach and mission in our 630 churches across the diocese – with £10 million in additional funding from diocesan resources being invested across the next four years.”
The Very Reverend Christine Wilson, Dean of Lincoln, said: “Cathedrals are described as a centre for mission in support of their bishop and diocese. We are delighted to be invited to participate in this imaginative initiative to strengthen confidence in sharing faith, transforming lives and developing disciples as a centre of formation for catholic mission”
The projection of growth is that each resource church will grow initially to a Sunday attendance of at least 500 people. The new or revitalised churches will aim to grow to a congregation of at least 150 people and become self-sustaining within five years.
In early 2019, the diocese will begin a period of consultation with key stakeholders to determine the locations and timings of these new Christian communities.
The link to the Church of England news story can be found here.