The Diocese of London has been awarded a £9.4 million grant from the Church of England’s ‘Diocesan Investment Programme’ (DIP) to catalyse church mission in Hackney and Islington over the next six years.

The investment will bring in new lay and ordained leaders to grow the church in the Stepney Area and make a significant and lasting social impact in two of London’s youngest and most deprived boroughs.

Both Hackney and Islington deaneries have very young populations (33% under the age of 19) and the highest number of socially rented households in the UK. Overall, around half of their parishes are in the broad catholic tradition. Many face significant mission and financial challenges.

The ambitious Hackney and Islington Programme has been co-created by local clergy and diocesan leaders responding to the needs and opportunities presented by parishes.

‘We started praying and planning together with a collection of parishes in January 2023 and soon became excited about what we could achieve if we worked more intentionally in partnership’, said the Archdeacon of Hackney, Peter Farley-Moore.

‘It became apparent that by working collaboratively, making the most of our strengths, and with a boost of investment to get us going, we could reach many more young people, impact our estates in new ways and grow mission in our churches from a distinctively catholic tradition.’

By drawing on the experience and expertise of church leaders with a good track-record in these areas, the Hackey and Islington Programme team are confident that several new collaborations will emerge between churches, yielding significant fruit.

The investment will bring in over 20 new roles, including four clergy missioner roles, to support parishes in the two deaneries over the next six years.

‘Our diocesan vision is for every Londoner to know the love of God in Jesus Christ’, said Joanne Grenfell, the Bishop of Stepney. ‘We want our churches to grow in health, depth, impact, and numbers, and to be able to reach every part of the deaneries of Hackney and Islington.

‘By God’s grace and with this funding, we can now give much needed support and resource to 28 parishes, particularly those in younger and less affluent areas, with the aim of growing the churches towards health and sustainability by 2030.’

With a previous Strategic Development (SDF) grant from the Church Commissioners in 2022 already bolstering ministry with young people in Tower Hamlets, all three Stepney deaneries are now equipped with exciting, intentional and multi-church mission plans aimed at encouraging growth through greater collaboration and mutuality.

This is the first DIP grant to be given to the Diocese of London in the triennium of funding up

This is the first major DIP grant to be made to the Diocese of London as part of new national funding arrangements introduced last year. The Diocese hopes to build on this award by developing plans for further mission investment in other areas in the coming years.

“We are confident that the Hackney and Islington programme will lead to a broad renewal of our parishes, and make a lasting impact on our communities,” added Bishop Joanne. “This initiative embodies a commitment to strategic, sustainable, and collaborative mission working across the diocese.”

The programme will stimulate growth through four main workstreams:

  1. Planting and partnerships: establishing ten new worshipping communities through strategic church plants and partnerships.
  2. Youth engagement: creating five youth minsters to serve 21 parishes, each supported by a youth worker, a youth apprentice, operational support, and seed funding. The intention is to form four new worshipping communities and significantly boost youth participation.
  3. Low-income communities: deploying five estates missioners across five parishes, providing contextual training, operational support, and seed funding to create five new worshipping communities and enhance mission work on estates.
  4. Catholic renewal: forming two catholic clusters to serve eight parishes, supported by a dedicated mission enabler and team, including two missioners, two support officers, and a music director, with seed funding, to establish nine new worshipping communities.

Author: Angus Stephenson