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From St Michael's to St Mike's: Bournemouth church changes its name to attract younger people

by Kelly Valencia

A Church of England parish has decided to change its original name, St Michael's, to St Mike's Church in order to attract younger generations.

Speaking to Premier, the church's lead vicar, Rev Sarah Yetman, said the idea came when the leadership team was thinking about how to make the church more visible in the community. 

"The vast majority of people in our community either walk straight pass it and don't see the church at all, or have no meaningful interaction with it," Rev Yetman said.

"We hope that by being a little bit creative, a little bit more informal, a little bit more friendly, that we would encourage more people to start asking questions and think: 'actually, maybe I could belong here. Maybe this doesn't represent a barrier for me come to church or to discover more about Jesus for myself'."

The rebrand is part of a number of changes to transform and revitalise the church's worshipping community. The 148-year-old church has recently been awarded funding from the Church of England's Strategic Developing Fund to help face financial hardship as well as strengthening the mission in the community.

Rev Yeatman said the funding is "a gift" that has allowed them "to do and to live out" their calling.

"Our vision is to be a beacon of light and hope in the west of Bournemouth and to shine the light of Christ into our community."

When asked whether people might feel that the church is only catering for a specific group of people, Rev Yeatman said the church is open for everyone but recognises younger generations are vital for congregations to grow.

"I do feel that if we don't take steps now to draw in people in those younger generations, we will be lamenting what we have missed in the years to come. And I know a lot of the older folk who are in our church community are really keen that their children, their grandchildren, come and know Jesus, and care about him in a way that they have known and loved."

The church's name will officially change in December.

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