The Centre for Theology and Community (CTC), based in east London, has been awarded £453,000 by the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (SMMIB) to extend its work to more than 50 parishes across the country.
The award follows a successful three-year pilot project backed by Strategic Development Funding and run by the CTC, with support from community organisers and churches in Citizens UK.
This helped six parishes in the Barking and Stepney areas in community organising, rooted in prayer and life of the church, to renew their congregations and develop leaders.
More than 100 more worshippers now attend these churches every week, 40 of whom are under 18.
Parishes taking part in the pilot included Holy Trinity Church in Leytonstone, east London, where the 17-strong congregation committed to having 100 conversations across the community and the church as part of a listening exercise for Lent.
As a result, more than 500 people became involved in a campaign on youth safety, and average Sunday attendance has more than trebled, with most of the growth among children and families.
St Andrew’s N16, in north east London, had a congregation of 15 when it started the project. A community organising campaign around a children’s play area helped congregation member Keisha Nembhard-Andrade (pictured third from left in group photograph, above) to grow in confidence and leadership. She went on to build a new worshipping community with 15 new young members, as well as four young people who already attended the church. Sunday morning services are now also growing.
Rev Charis Enga – previously part-time priest in charge – was licensed last week (pictured fourth from left in group photograph, above) as the first full-time Vicar of St Andrew’s N16 for 18 years.
She said: “This approach is showing the gifts already present in inner-city parishes which faced an uncertain future. We’ve seen grassroots leaders emerge from our pews and our local streets – and disciples deepening in faith and in sharing their confidence in Christ.”
Fr Angus Ritchie, Director of CTC, said: “Community organising is best-known for its campaigns. But its greatest strength is the way it develops leaders and relationships within local communities. This project is showing what happens when that work is anchored in prayer and worship – and how it can help churches grow in number, depth and impact.”
Read more about this on the Church of England website here.