Diocese of Portsmouth

    Multi-million pound investment to help our mission and ministry

    Live | Pray | Serve
    9 Oct. 2018

    OUR diocese aims to launch an ambitious multi-million pound project to help the work of the Church of England have a bigger spiritual impact in this region.

    It wants to invest £9.1m into parishes over the next five years to stimulate spiritual and numerical growth and to help worshippers to engage better with their local communities. It’s hoped more than half of this money will come from the national Church.

    The plans are part of the diocese’s live | pray | serve strategy which aims to make new disciples, to grow our church communities, to equip worshippers for lifelong learning, and to help to transform our society.

    The strategy includes the creation of multiple new congregations and working in brand new ways to serve those who we have traditionally been poor at engaging with – younger people, those in urban areas, and people on brand new housing developments. It involves both planting new churches and a network of pioneer ministers who can think in innovative ways.

    The latest strand of that strategy involves reorganising some of our parishes in order to free up some resources and is based on similar transformation models elsewhere in the Church of England.

    Parishes in the urban areas of Havant, Gosport and the Isle of Wight have been identified as places where renewed investment could have the maximum impact – for instance, where a one per cent increase in the percentage of people in those areas who go to church equates to 200-300 new worshippers. The idea is to redeploy people, finances and buildings, so that God can use them in new ways.

    If approved, the £9.1m project would include:


    • investing £3m over the next five years to support new Church of England initiatives in the city of Portsmouth;
    • creating infrastructure to support the growing, new congregations at Harbour Church and St Margaret’s Church in Eastney, both of which have outgrown existing resources since their creation in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
    • new pioneer ministers working in inner-city Portsmouth and Paulsgrove, focussed on working with the local communities.


    • investing £1.4m over the next five years into the Church of England’s ministry in the Leigh Park estates (around double what the diocese currently spends);
    • increasing the staffing levels from three posts to five, with a mix of clergy, pioneering and operations staff;
    • merging the three existing parishes of Leigh Park, Warren Park and West Leigh to become one parish covering all the estates;
    • investing in updating building resources to ensure they can be better used by local communities.


    • investing £1.5m over the next five years into the Church of England’s ministry in Newport;
    • increasing the number of staff from the current 2.8 posts (full-time equivalent) to 5 posts, with a mix of clergy and non-clergy;
    • merging the four existing parishes in Newport to become one parish of Newport (with the rural part of the parish of Carisbrooke merged with Arreton and Gatcombe);
    • a range of new initiatives that will serve a greater number of people in the Newport area.


    • investing £1.9m over the next five years into the Church of England’s ministry in Gosport;
    • increasing the number of staff from four posts to six, including operations support to maximise community use of the church buildings;
    • merging the parishes of Rowner and Bridgemary; and merging the parishes of Elson, Forton, Christ Church and Holy Trinity;
    • planting at least two new congregations in the town.

    It is hoped the project will be funded over the next five years by £3.75m in reallocation of existing resources, £450,000 from diocesan reserves and £4.9m from the national Church. The diocese is applying for this £4.9m from the Church Commissioners, as part of their national Renewal and Reform programme. We’ll hear whether we have secured that external funding by Christmas.

    Bishop Christopher said: “These are ambitious plans and have been developed from a number of detailed studies that we have undertaken in these areas. This isn’t about saving money or reducing what we do, in fact we are increasing our investment in all of these areas and we want to make sure that we have the biggest impact with the resources that we already have.

    “We are aware of the faithful, committed work of many of our clergy and parishes over decades and centuries, and thank God for it. Equally, we know that our church services, activities and events are often only reaching a small percentage of the local community and we need to find better ways to reach the vast majority of people living in these places.

    “Our experience so far with a variety of church plants and pioneering ministers is that innovative approaches do work. Brand new congregations are flourishing and pioneer ministers have found ways to bring the gospel to those who might never attend a church service. This project aims to expand that work, partly by reallocating resources, and partly with significant new investment.”

    We have held three public meetings to discuss the plans with those in the affected parishes. The period of consultation will continue for six months before our Bishop’s Council is asked to approve specific plans to reorganise parishes. The final decision is taken by the Church Commissioners.

    Public meetings

    You can download the presentations from each of the three public meetings about this initiative below. There were also notes taken at each meeting, which will be used by our Bishop's Council as they consider whether to approve or alter these proposals: