National funding boost of £860,000 towards God for All vision

The Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria - has been awarded £860,000 from the national church to support the God for All vision in Cumbria.

This week the Church Commissioners and Archbishop’s Council confirmed release of the money from their Strategic Development Funding. It will be rolled out over the next three years.

The cash will support the county wide God for All ecumenical strategy – developed through a partnership of the Methodist, URC and Anglican denominations - which has the aim that “by 2020 every person in Cumbria of all ages and backgrounds will have had an opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives, so that they will discover more of Jesus and the Good News and become followers of Jesus within a Christian community.”

As part of the vision up to 40 Mission Communities are to be created in Cumbria – groupings of churches which form networks of collaborative support with mission and outreach at their centre.

The funding award will target three specific areas: developing leadership programmes for Mission Communities and Local Churches, supporting ministers in the transition to the new patterns of church, and funding the county’s Fresh Expressions of Church and BigReach initiatives to connect with people who feel church is irrelevant or God is unknowable.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev’d James Newcome, said: “We are delighted that the Church Commissioners and Archbishop’s Council have seen fit to award this money to the diocese.

“Understandably the process has called for us to demonstrate clearly and visibly how this money will be allocated for mission over the next three years. Our vision and strategy is an intentionally bold one. We’re delighted that the national church has embraced both our aim that everyone living in, working in and visiting Cumbria has an opportunity to know more of God in their lives and the ways we are going about making that happen.”

The Church Commissioners support the work and mission of the Church of England across the country and manage an investment fund of £7 billion, distributing £218.5 million in 2015.

Their ongoing responsibilities include supporting those dioceses with fewer resources with ministry costs, providing funds to support mission activities, paying for bishops' ministry and some cathedral costs, administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling the future of closed church buildings, paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998 and running the national payroll for serving and retired clergy.

Under the church’s national Renewal and Reform programme, a previous funding formula – the Darlow formula - has been replaced, with dioceses now having to apply for part of their funding via the Strategic Development Funding by demonstrating growth initiatives.

The support for fresh expressions of church has an ambitious goal of seeing 1,500 new churchgoers in the county. As part of this the funding will aid the expansion of the emerging networks of OpShop and Network Youth Churches. Through BigReach the investment will open up awareness and engagement with the idea of a Christian God beyond those who are typical churchgoers.

Derek Hurton, Diocesan Secretary, said: “This grant will support work which is central to the Churches’ vision of God for All. It secures the funds we need to support and enable our Mission Community leaders to be equipped with the skills they need for their crucial role in this. And it means we can make a significant investment into new ways that people can come to know the reality of God.

“An indication of the level of importance we, as a diocese, are placing on God for All is reflected in the fact that even prior to this funding being secured, we had already appointed to a new post which is enabling the creation of new forms of church. And we are in the middle of the process of recruiting a BigReach innovator.

“It shows that we and our ecumenical partners are serious about taking the steps of faith needed if people across Cumbria are going to know more about God.”

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For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.