Despite the fact that the Church of England’s attendance figures continue to plummet it believes that throwing cash at the problem will turn its fortunes around.
In 2016, speaking at the opening of the Anglican primates’ meeting in Canterbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, above, said:
In some parts of the Communion decline in numbers has been a pattern for many years. In England our numbers have been falling at about 1% every year since world war two … The culture [is] becoming anti-Christian, whether it is on matters of sexual morality, or the care for people at the beginning or the end of life. It is easy to paint a very gloomy picture.
Around two years ago the number of people attending Church of England services each week dropped below 1 million – accounting for less than 2% of the population – with Sunday attendances falling to 760,000.
It’s now reported that the C of E is to lash out £24.4 million in the latest tranche of its Renewal and Reform programme funding. The money is being provided by the C of E’s Strategic Investment Board, which was created as part of a change in the way national funding from the Church Commissioners is provided to dioceses and parishes.
The diocese of London, which plans to open 100 new churches in Britain’s capital, will receive the biggest grant, valued at £4.8 million, to revitalise churches and develop “Church Growth Learning Communities”. It will also receive an additional £3.89 million to help train curates to be deployed across the country to support the national church.
The grants to the diocese of London:
Will enable churches of every tradition to join learning communities that help them grow in depth, impact and number. It will also help churches to train curates who will pay dividends back to the diocese by revitalising existing churches and promoting further mission.
Responding to the grant, the acting bishop of London, Pete Broadbent, above, (who is also bishop of Willesden) commented:
Planting and learning communities complement the inherited parish and chaplaincy model. The church of the future needs vision, depth and new resourcing. I’m delighted that the national church is investing in London in this way.
The second-largest grant of £4.23 million will be spent helping the diocese of Winchester to:
Engage with the ‘missing generations’ of young people across Hampshire and East Dorset.
The diocese, which is investing £4 million of its own funds on the scheme, dubbed Winchester Mission Action:
Will bring the Christian message to people who have not previously interacted with the Church of England. Through new projects designed to reach people in every location within the community, the Diocese of Winchester intends to re-establish the Church as a partner with other organisations in tackling challenges in society.
The projects which the new funding will facilitate include reinvigorating the Christian presence in large urban centres and smaller villages, establishing new Christian communities in places where there are new housing developments and reaching out to students in further and higher education.
The bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, said:
Society is changing rapidly, and traditional institutions are adapting. Winchester diocese is committed to the sustainable growth of the church for the common good. We have taken time to identify the challenges which face the people of Hampshire and East Dorset, whether they be in our rural villages or urban centres, seeing those challenges as opportunities for mission action.
We are a growing Christian community with an increasing emphasis on young people. Shaped by the life and work of Jesus, we aim to be an active participant in helping to renew our society and address the concerns of our cities, towns and villages.
The diocese of Blackburn will receive £1.54 million to help fund:
An ambitious project aimed at opening new churches in deprived urban estates.
Other grants announced by th eC of E, as part of this £24 million round, include £3.09 million for church planting and to strengthen mission across the City of Leeds in the diocese of Leeds; £1.88 million to develop mission in St Helens, Warrington and Widnes in the diocese of Liverpool; £1.84 million to develop mission and ministry to children, young people and families in the diocese of Sheffield; £1.61 million for nine new pioneer posts to be created as catalysts for pioneering activity across Somerset in the diocese of Bath and Wells; and £1.45 million to resource evangelism with younger generations, social action and church planting in the city of Bristol in the diocese of Bristol.
The country’s 27 dioceses also have a fortune of at least €26 billion, including large investments in real estate and equities, making the German Church likely the wealthiest Catholic institution in Europe other than the Vatican.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn and Antony Niall (German report)