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Diocese invests quarter of a million pounds in evangelistic Choir Church

by Kelly Valencia

A new church initiative in Lancashire is hoping to reach children and families by connecting them to a choir group. 

The Diocese of Blackburn will seek to plant up to 24 Choir Church groups in schools to teach children hymns and anthems from the English choral tradition. 

The new three-year initiative will aim to have at least 25 children in each group where, once a month, the choir will participate in the Eucharist along with their family members.

Tom Dagget from Choir Church Foundation told Premier Christian News they have already seen children and families come to faith in schools through Choir Church. 

"We've learned from what has happened in those schools and would like to share this way of working in schools bringing together singing sacraments and social justice to form new congregations." 

For Dagget, leading people to Christ through uniting school, home and church "is something we believe to be very powerful."

"The role of music in children is like a missional tool. "I can't think of anybody who won't have been moved by hearing children singing at some point in their lives, whether they'd be their grandchildren or their own children. "Or perhaps we have an experience, ourselves as a child, where a piece of music moved us. 

"We should be absolutely wholeheartedly celebrating the fact, that the gospel can speak to people through hymns and anthems. "And really, it's just a revival, if you like, of that original purpose, that music speaks directly to the heart and God's words come to us," Dagget continued.

Although it is the first time that Choir Church is being rolled out on a diocese scale, Dagget thinks there's potential for scaling the initiative up in other dioceses as well. 

The project has been awarded £249,530 from the Church of England's Innovation fund - a fund to support fresh and creative approaches to spread the Christian message. 

The money will help hire a full-time Church Choir coordinator and recruit musicians to work in schools across Lancashire. 

The Diocese has already started working in year one with the first cohort of eight parishes and schools. 

Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North said: "This is a fantastic initiative; we are delighted to be pioneering Choir Church in our Diocese on a scale never before attempted.

"With our Choir Church Project we aim to connect home, church and school in a fresh approach to outreach; providing opportunities in places where they may not be available otherwise."  

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