Diocese of Portsmouth

    Strategic funding to help churches grow

    live | pray | serve
    15 Feb. 2018

    FUNDING from the national Church of England will help churches in south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to grow, and help them to launch new congregations.

    Our diocese has been awarded £122,000 by the national Church of England towards its strategy to enlarge its congregations and deepen their spirituality.

    The funding will help to pay for a buildings development officer to support churches to maximise potential mission opportunities offered by their buildings; and a strategic programme manager to help larger churches plant new congregations or to develop existing ones. Some funding will also go on admin support.

    This is the second such tranche of strategic funding from the national Church of England. The first £929,000, which was awarded in 2016, went towards the creation of Harbour Church in Portsmouth, and a network of pioneer ministers to help reach those who don’t normally go to church.

    Since Harbour Church was launched in a refurbished city-centre department store in September 2016, it has grown from a core team of 15 to a regular congregation of 250 each Sunday – mostly young people and students.

    The three pioneer ministers, working in Cosham, Leigh Park and Gosport, have launched innovative midweek projects such as an after-school Lego Club, school chaplaincy, gardening projects, and a Trash Café – which feeds guests using surplus food from supermarkets that would otherwise be thrown away.

    This latest tranche of funding aims to build on those initiatives, with plans to launch new church communities in other parts of the diocese, or to support existing church plants such as the new congregation at St Margaret’s Church, Eastney – which was relaunched in September 2017.

    The Archdeacon of Portsdown, the Ven Joanne Grenfell, said: “Our strategy is called live, pray, serve, and it aims to find a variety of ways to help enlarge our existing church communities, and to deepen the discipleship of those we come into contact with. That doesn’t necessarily mean more people there on a Sunday morning – some of our most successful initiatives involve getting real with people about faith on other days of the week.

    “Our parishes told us that one of the things that would help them to grow was help with their church buildings. That’s not about repairing crumbling churches, it’s more about maximising the potential of churches and church halls so they can be used properly by their local community.

    “They also told us they needed help from experts in planting new congregations, especially in new housing developments where there is no church at the moment. Those congregations could meet in schools or community centres – wherever is most convenient.

    “This funding is very timely, as we want to expand what we’re doing. Our experience so far is that when Christians can show the real difference that faith makes to their lives, others are curious to get involved and find out more.”

    For more information, see www.portsmouth.anglican.org/liveprayserve.