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Church and community projects awarded over £198k

13 parishes, across the Thames Valley, have been awarded grants to support a range of local church and community projects including a music mission project for socially disadvantaged people, a new Associate Minister to grow a new congregation, a Children and Families Minister and plans for a Heritage Centre.

The Development Fund, now in its twelfth round, assists churches across the Diocese of Oxford to provide vital support for their communities and meet the needs of the growing population in the Thames Valley. Churches are encouraged to explore and engage with their local contexts to be a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world, to discern where God is at work in their communities, and to be missionally creative and sustainable in response to local challenges. 

A new Music and Development Outreach Worker at Reading Minster will lead a music mission project for socially disadvantaged young people in the city through links with local schools, youth and community groups. The Revd Sonya Wratten, Vicar of Reading Minster, shares the aims of the project:

“We’re excited to continue the tradition of choral music at the Minster and using music for the glory of God. We hope that this outreach mission will offer new opportunities for young people on the margins to develop their gifts and skills, to build self-confidence and play a part in the many civic events we host each year. Our long-term plan is to establish a new community choir focusing on global music to reflect the interculturality of the city.”

Listen to the Revd Sonya Wratten speaking to BBC Radio Berkshire about the Development Fund project.

In Banbury, a grant will fund a post for an Associate Minister to work and grow a new congregation on the socially deprived Bretch Hill estate. This new post with build on the prayer and mission work of St Paul’s Church with the local community and schools. The Revd Dan McGowan, Vicar of St Paul’s Banbury, said:

“We are very excited about the prospect of employing someone who can be wholly focused on establishing a new congregation in this very needy area of Banbury, in order that many men and women, boys and girls can hear about the saving news of the Lord Jesus, and then be nurtured in their faith by a committed and loving church family on their doorstep, led by a faithful pastor-teacher.”

Plans to develop a local Hooke Heritage Centre in Willen, Milton Keynes, are supported by a grant for a feasibility study to develop the heritage centre and improve facilities at St Mary Magdalene Church. Sharron Marland, member of the PCC, said:

“The church has been standing since the 1600s without basic facilities, so we are looking forward to being able to install running water and toilets to expand the missional use of the church for the local community and congregation. With our plans to create a heritage centre we aim to offer people the opportunity to learn more about the local area and history of the church, England’s only remaining unmodified Robert Hooke building still in continuous community use.”

At St Peter’s Church in Loudwater, a new Children and Families worker will lead on growing engagement with local children and families. Mark Humphries, Director of Youth and Children’s Ministry at the church, said:

“Receiving the award towards extending our children workers contact has been a huge blessing. Knowing that we will be able to continue our work within the community at the level we have operated is a huge encouragement. Projects such has Holiday lunch club, School supplies, early intervention in schools, a hugely successful children’s club for primary school children and a baby sensory group are just some of what we can continue to operate with confidence. Relationships that have been formed within these groups can continue to flourish and further outreach ideas can be perused.”


The full list of projects being funded by the awards are: a children and families worker in Loudwater, a new chaplaincy provision at Slough and Eton CofE Business and Enterprise College, a new Associate Minister to grow a new congregation on the Bretch Hill estate in Banbury, a purpose-built children’s cabin in Purley, plans to develop a Hooke Heritage Centre in Willen, feasibility studies for improved facilities and accessibility at churches in Newport Pagnall, Woughton and North Hinksey, improved warm space facilities in Banbury, increasing engagement with young people in Chinnor, Sydenham, Aston Rowant and Crowell, improved AV facilities to increase community and school engagement in Waddesdon, Westcott & Wichendon, and development of creative and accessible Sunday Services in Newton Leys.

Page last updated: Wednesday 31st May 2023 12:10 PM
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