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Photo Credit: Keith Blundy
Photo Credit: Keith Blundy
Durham's Communities of Hope in Murton 2.jpg
UK News

Church of England awards £24m in grants to spread faith in deprived areas

by Tola Mbakwe

Several towns and cities in urban and deprived areas of England have got a major boost from the Church of England. 

The Church has awarded £24 million in grants to spread the gospel through mission and evangelism, as well as social action projects. 

In the North East, the diocese of Durham got a £4.2 million chunk of the money. As well as planting six new churches within five years, the church will be opening centres called 'Communities of Hope'.

The centres will be for projects like food banks, community cafes, budget cookery classes and help with job hunting.

Rev Canon David Tomlinson, programme director for strategic growth in the diocese, told Premier it's much needed in the area. 

"Jesus fed the hungry and he gave hope wherever he went. He set free prisoners, he heals people and he restored lives. He did that by being where people are, not by shutting himself up in a Victorian building. 

"The Communities of Hope are about doing that, about being Jesus in the centre of the community. So, in some places they will be taking shop units, of which we've got many vacant. In other places, they'll be using buildings that we already own, but are really easily accessible and then they'll be open every day.

"There will be a strong emphasis on hospitality and on listening to local community. It'll be scratching people where they itch and engaging people with faith on that on that basis."

The Rev Canon David Tomlinson with members of the Murton 'Communities of Hope' project examine their planned new location in a disused shop. Photo credit: Keith Blundy

Canon David said the funding comes at a perfect time as communities try to recover from the many impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"If we see God as someone who loves us passionately, then we have to look for good things to come out of our current situation," he said. 

"As we respond to people's sudden realisation that life is really uncertain and that we're quite fragile beings, in the middle of all of that Jesus offers us the kind of hope that gives us a solid foundation."

Here's a list of other dioceses that received grants:

Diocese of Birmingham - £963,000 to fund work at St Mary's Pype Hayes to evangelise in Aston and Sutton Coldfield and a new church in Shirley in Birmingham.

Diocese of Chelmsford - £3 million to renew mission in Newham, by investing in All Saints West Ham and in three other projects, including projects to address homelessness, hunger and drug abuse and an advisory service for those suffering financially.

Diocese of Liverpool - £4.61 million for a project  that will develop mission to 11-29 year olds in Liverpool and Wigan; investing in hubs at St James in the City and St Barnabas Penny Lane in Liverpool; creating a third hub in Liverpool City Centre; and investing in a School of Discipleship to form young leaders.

Diocese of Manchester - £5.035 million to revamp The Ascension Church in Hulme, to work with other churches to evangelise and attract new congregations. Five new churches are planned for Rochdale. St Werburgh's Church in Chorlton, Manchester, will become a centre for outreach. 

Diocese of Oxford -  £2 million for mission in Milton Keynes, High Wycombe, Reading and Slough. Five urban churches, including St Mary's Bletchley, St Andrew's High Wycombe, Greyfriars in Reading and St Paul's in Slough will become centres for building new congregations and supporting existing communities. 

Diocese of Winchester - £3.19 million to invest in mission at St Winfrid's Totton, St Michael's Bournemouth and in Southampton City Centre, including revamping churches, evangelism to younger generations and creating new congregations. 

Diocese of York - £1.37 million for Middlesbrough, Hull, Scarborough, Redcar & Cleveland and Bridlington.  The project will help more than 140 local people to become effective in mission and evangelism. 

Listen to Premier's interview with Rev Canon David Tomlinson here:

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