Grants Awarded 2017/18

35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield District

35 Chapel Walk is a unique creative project within the Methodist Church family, modelling the potential for other artistic approaches to building spiritual communities. Despite Methodism’s focus on creativity as a reflection of God’s creative heart, the church often struggles to reach artists, partly because the culture of the art world differs greatly from church culture. The Methodist Church already sees how people in art scenes around the country are best listened ministered to by fellow artists/creatives themselves. 35 Chapel Walk has established links, experience, necessary skills and important lessons learnt by pioneering into this area in Sheffield. We want to continue to grow and develop this exciting bridge-building work. In 35 Chapel Walk we have an opportunity over the next five years for a fledgling ecclesial community of creative people, who Methodism would otherwise have no contact with, to organically grow in depth of discipleship and become self-sustaining.

In 2010 Rev. Ric Stott was stationed as a Venture FX Pioneer to spend time with artists is Sheffield and seek to build a new ecclesial community. With help and support, hundreds of artists have now come in to contact with this incarnational ministry through 35 Chapel Walk. Since its opening in 2013 it has become a well-known and loved art space in the city centre and many have experienced the transformation where creativity, community, love, reconciliation and hope reside together in a sacred space.

In the past two years we have seen rapid growth, particularly in our integration into the art scene and our relationships with other organisations. Growth has occurred also in establishment of robust management structures, effective co-ordination of the work at large and the depth of relationships we have with creatives. This work is far reaching now into other sectors; working with schools, universities, charities, professionals, religious organisations. Much of the reason for this growth and gained stability has been from employment of a Centre Manager. This role is multi-faceted requiring a broad mix of skills.

The next key step in the journey for us is to become fully sustainable and the plan outlined in this application sees us move toward a greater reliance on regular donations and social enterprise to generate funds. Connexional funding will allow us to continue to employ our Centre Manager and create a new part-time Volunteer Co-ordinator role. The new role would release the Centre Manager of primary responsibility for work with volunteers, releasing time to develop the sustainability and strategic direction of 35 Chapel Walk. The Volunteer Coordinator will focus on expanding our work with volunteers. One way we plan to do this is through the initiation of a framing service which would not only generate income for the centre, but also opportunities for volunteers to learn a practical skill. We expect this opportunity to be taken up by those inside and outside of the art community, especially those we already know who are unskilled and under occupied. When this service is established it will generate income alongside our on-site digital printing service, art sales, gallery rentals and regular donors.

We as a community at 35 Chapel Walk are dispersed, and the people who comprise it engage on different levels and through many channels:

  • Artists who come in regularly for a chat, class or to see the current exhibition.
  • Individuals and groups who use our communal studio or meditation space.
  • Exhibitors who hire the space and are around every day for a time, often these people remain engaged post exhibition/event.
  • Volunteers who take responsibility for practicalities and being a public face of the art space
  • Partners including art therapists, and refugee charities

Grant award £110,000

Adavu Project

Adavu, Birmingham District Project

The idea of a Methodist response to human trafficking was born in the Birmingham District in 2010/11.  Rev Stephen Willey and Deacon Kerry Scarlett, were responsible for setting up and developing the Regional Anti-Trafficking (RAT) Network (now called the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network) in 2009. Modern Slavery involves people being trafficked into or around the UK and being forced to illegally work against their will. 

The West Midlands has the second highest rate of referrals, after London, for victims of modern slavery in the UK:  between Sep and Nov 2017, there were 159 offences recorded of modern slavery in the region, with 233 intelligence logs. Usually, victims who are supported through the Government funded NRM system are sent, for their well being, to a safe house. Two of these safe houses are in the greater Birmingham area, with survivors then usually remaining in Asylum seeker or council accommodation in the same area once they leave the safe house.

A proposal was brought to the Birmingham District that Methodist funding should be sought to finance the development of anti-trafficking work focused on the above issues within the West Midlands.  It was with great joy that we learnt that a Connexional grant of £45,382 for the period March 2011 to August 2013 had been awarded. Within a short time, the name of the project became Adavu.  Birmingham District, through Kerry’s leadership, took the Adavu project to its heart. Adavu led a multi-agency team to provide specialist training for workers in the hotel and entertainment industry in the Greater Birmingham area, a model which has subsequently been replicated nationally.  Kerry’s work also included speaking at various events throughout the District. 

The third aspect of the work, the development of the multi-agency RAT Network, had seen the successful engagement of an increasing number of agencies.  At the end of the initial funding period, a further connexional grant of £50,000 was awarded for the 2013/14 Methodist year, to help the project to expand.  The grant was used to pay for a project consultant, an administrative assistant and also for professionals whose role it was to seek grants from external sources for the future. Thanks to major grants, Adavu has operated without any Methodist funding in recent times.  However, these external sources of funding are about to come to an end. Adavu has played, and continues to play, a significant role in advocating for change at not only local but also national and governmental level.  We have had the opportunity of directly addressing to those in power and to provide a voice for the survivors we support.

We are asking that Methodism once again take the funding lead.  This would provide a breathing space for Adavu to continue and develop, whilst at the same time working hard to secure non-Methodist funding for the future. Adavu is recognised as a key district project. The grant is necessary because Adavu wants to continue and expand its successful work to support adult survivors of modern slavery in the long-term rebuilding of their lives, as well as to raise awareness of the injustice of modern slavery amongst both practitioners and the general public. Our practical and emotional support to survivors is being Jesus’ calling to be a good neighbour to those in need, and in using our knowledge, and sharing the stories and experiences of survivors, we are able to directly challenge the structures and systems which not only perpetuate slavery, but contribute to the continued poverty and marginalisation of victims and survivors.

Grant award £48,000

Amelia Methodist Trust Farm

The ATF has been a pioneering and successful Methodist mission project for 27 years. The project is established as a care farm where disadvantaged young people can make a new start to their life. Significant steps have been taken to create structured learning programmes delivering measurable and recognised outcomes for young people attending. Since 2015 Karen Turnbull has been Director and the Farm has grown its reach and range of activity (supported by a M&M grant).

In July 2017 the Vale of Glamorgan Council unexpectedly reduced the number of young people placements it purchases from 46 per week to 22 per week for the academic year 2017/18.  This means a reduction of income of £42,120 for the year.  Furthermore, the Vale of Glamorgan Council also announced its proposal to move the Pupil Referral Unit from the Farm to another site which means that rental income of £39,130 pa will be lost.  Together this means more than 20% drop in our annual income. Consequently, the Council of Management have taken significant and painful steps to reduce costs as quickly as possible resulting in some redundancies. This application for grant support is not made to ‘plug’ the above income loss or to cover redundancy costs.

Alongside the above actions we are repositioning our work with disadvantaged young people and adults with a concentration on nurturing the most difficult and needy young people. We are seeking grant support to develop programmes outlined in the four-page graphics in the application, which we believe will be income generating and cover their ongoing costs within 12 months to two years.

In addition to the retained staff we are looking to broaden the skill base of the staff team to include occupational therapy skills and a background in social enterprise and employability.

Grant award £57,000

Bath Universities Student Chaplaincy

North East Somerset and Bath Methodist Circuit

The presence of 22,000 students (likely to rise to 27,000 by 2020 requires an innovative approach to student chaplaincy.  In 2017 we appointed a ‘student chaplain’ to  develop a pioneering approach to chaplaincy which is student-centred rather than being a chaplaincy to the institution; and who meets students where they live and spend their time, rather than being solely based in a chaplaincy centre.  The chaplain is present both on campus and in the city and is developing a holistic approach to chaplaincy,  supporting and developing spiritual life among students, and caring for students at a point of major change in their lives.  We are seeking to develop a new pattern of student chaplaincy that  reaches all students (of faith or none) whilst being based around the key Methodist emphases of scriptural and social holiness.  We are already working to develop new patterns of Christian community out of this new approach.  We recognise that this carries a degree of risk, not present in conventional patterns of chaplaincy, but we regard this as part of the tradition of the Methodist movement.

The circuit is committed financially to this pattern of working and has the District’s support for this period but in 2016 the Connexion awarded two years of funding in order to see how the work developed and encouraged a further application.  In the light of the successful launch was are now applying for the further three years that was part of our original application.

Grant award £62,500

CAP Debt Centre, Portland

Easton Methodist Church

We are applying because we wish to extend the work of CAP (Christians Against Poverty) in Weymouth and Portland. National statistics (see section 2) show that the borough contains many areas which are classed as poor and deprived. In fact only this week data published by the Office of National Statistics shows that Weymouth and Portland has the lowest average weekly wages in the country.  A major consequence of this is that many people are living in the grip of debt. This affects all areas of people’s lives but in particular it leads to isolation, family break-up, mental health issues and lack of food to name just some. CAP has been active in Weymouth and Portland for three years now but is restricted by having had just one Debt Coach to serve a total population in excess of 60,000. Nationally 1 in 6 people are in debt and so the problem is huge but the service we have been able to offer has been inadequate.

Recently a second Debt Coach has been employed who will expand the service but we want to specifically employ a third Debt Coach who will work exclusively on Portland. The other two Debt Coaches will continue to work with clients on Portland but will do most of their work in the Weymouth area. We wish to offer Portland a much more comprehensive service than we can provide at present. It is a unique area of need - both financially and spiritually. We also want to support the work of the Methodist Church as they share the gospel on Portland. The service CAP provides has a proven track record in connecting people with churches through befrienders, meeting people at their point of need, not abandoning them, providing opportunities for social inclusion and helping them to get their lives on track and in a much better place.

Grant award £27,500

CAP Job Club (Central Newcastle), Junction 42

Junction 42 (J42) is a Christian charity based in Newcastle, created with the goal of seeing the lives of ex-offenders, their families and their communities visibly transformed by the hope of the gospel. We work in six prisons and young offender institutions in the north of England, delivering creative enrichment and education classroom sessions and chaplaincy-based activities. In the community we run offence-disclosure workshops, offer 1:1 employability mentoring and hold a weekly Job Club for ex-offenders. We have planted and support several evangelistic Missional Communities for ex-offenders and their families across the region, we run outward bounds activities and Christian discipleship and leadership training programmes.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a national organisation specialising in debt counselling for people in financial difficulty, including those in need of bankruptcy or insolvency, in Job Clubs for those seeking employment and in Release Groups for people looking to overcome addictions and dependencies. J42 has run nine CAP Job Club programmes in Newcastle and Sunderland to date and is currently launching Job Clubs on Teesside, all for ex-offenders.

J42, in partnership with Brunswick Methodist Church (BMC), is seeking to extend its Newcastle CAP Job Clubs from currently only serving ex-offenders, to also including other disadvantaged groups (vulnerably housed, recovering addicts, long-term unemployed, people with mental health issues) and where there is a clear overlap of complex needs. Amongst other routes, these people would be drawn from the various ministries that BMC oversees or hosts, including the BMC Friendship Group for the homeless, the Salvation Army soup kitchen, Changing Lives women’s services, Alcoholics Anonymous and its Listening Post.

An MAPJ grant would allow J42 to employ an additional staff member as a Job Coach, which would increase organisational sustainability by reducing a heavy reliance on volunteers (currently 2 part-time staff members and 10 volunteers on this project) and which would allow us to increase the Job Club group capacity by 33% (increasing the annual intake from 75 clients to 100). It would also diversify our current grant funding and decrease our reliance on government “payment-by-results” contracts, which are awarded one year at a time; we are currently in our 3rd year of an annual Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contract.

Our intention is to continue to run five Job Clubs a year based at BMC, serving 100 clients, giving them all an explicit opportunity during the course of the club to hear and respond to the gospel message, as well as offering to pray on an individual basis with each person in their 1:1 coaching sessions and all the while building authentic and caring community around them. Our expectation based on past performance is that we would see over 60% move into voluntary/paid work or training and many men and women take personal decisions to accept Christ as Lord and Saviour, to start on a truly life transforming journey.

Grant award £75,000

CAP Job Club, Tiverton

Tiverton and Wellington Methodist Church Circuit in partnership with Tiverton Vineyard Church

The CAP Job Club in Tiverton is applying for a grant from the Connexional Grants Committee to enable the ongoing relief of poverty in Tiverton and Mid-Devon by committing to work alongside the poor and disadvantaged through evangelical Christian outreach, using the CAP Job Club as a vehicle to provide practical, tailored assistance to help those in need of securing employment.

The ministry outreach project will be achieved through a continued partnership with Christians Against Poverty to provide a local CAP Job Club that is openly evangelical and provides training, coaching, prayer, connexions and community. The CAP Job Club will be free to access and open to all, regardless of their status or creed.

Grant award £24,990

Chaplaincy to the Ghanaian Community

Chaplaincy to the Ghanaian Community, GMF UK

The work that the Connexional grant has enabled is now well established and well regarded within the Connexion. It continues to expand beyond its initial programmes and beyond London.     

Our on-going activities and strategy have included:

a) reaching out, mobilising and encouraging fellow Ghanaian Methodists in and outside London and the UK who have not been worshiping in their local Methodist churches to return and do so.

b) promoting integration and assimilation of all Ghanaian Methodist Church members into their local communities.

c) encouraging integration and education of the Youth to embrace and continue with their Methodist heritage.

d) encouraging interested members to take leadership and active roles in the local churches and circuits where they worship.

There is a need to consolidate the gains that the Connexional grant has helped the GMF-UK to achieve and therefore the it is applying to the CGC for further help to make up the total amount needed for the next five years for the project.

Grant awarded: £55,000

Children and Families Worker, Heaton Park Methodist Church

We at Heaton Park Methodist Church want to actively focus on and develop our working with young adults, children and families. The foundations are already in place as the church has a number of groups currently meeting. These include an active toddler group; a junior church; a group for teenagers and several Circuit activities. In addition to the regular groups a ‘make lunch’ scheme operates during the school holidays for children who normally receive free school meals.

Along with these church run groups there are a couple of non church uniformed organisations - Brownies and Cubs & Scouts.

Engagement with the groups already meeting and developing new activities and opportunities along with the aim of developing new groups and contacts outside of the church will be essential in bringing our Mission Statement to life.

This project, then, is aimed at first of all identifying what and where the specific needs are, planning to remedy them and then implementing those plans. The church seeks a person who has the faith based insight, energy, knowledge & experience of their own faith who can enthuse and encourage those around them,  particularly concentrating on children, young people and families; to bring the joy of the Lord to the community by helping to develop and promote this project.

Grant award £38,028

Chinese Mission in the North East, Darlington District (with Newcastle District)

The story of the Chinese Mission started around 2008 in Middlesbrough and Newcastle.  Prior to this there were lay led bible study groups in both Middlesbrough and Newcastle set up by likeminded people to discover and develop their own faith.  Initially the work was based in Newcastle and Middlesbrough, within 2 circuits and 2 districts each with their own distinctive cultures. Trying to instigate any change or action in this context was very challenging.  As the work expanded and the management and financial oversight became more complex, it was decided that the northeast should set up a formal oversight body for the work. The Darlington Synod Co-ordinating Group for Chinese Mission was established in 2012 under SO 402 and reports to both the Darlington and Newcastle District Synods.

The presbyter is stationed in the Durham and Deerness Valley Circuit and is a member of the staff team there and under the pastoral oversight of the superintendent. Rev. Lawrence Law has contributed greatly to the work through his leadership in mission and understanding of both the Chinese community and the culture of the north east.  Around 2012 Co-ordinating Group opened a new mission into Durham.  Grant funding has been essential for the mission to build upon its work.

In September 2017 the Middlesbrough congregation became a church in the Middlesbrough and Eston Circuit having been a class of Linthorpe Road Methodist Church. As this church continues to grow we anticipate increasing engagement with the Circuit and the District. In Durham the congregation is increasing in number. In September 2017 the Vice-President of the Conference was present when they celebrated their 3rd anniversary and 6 people were baptised. There has been increasing shared bilingual worship with the English speaking congregations. We have contact with large numbers of children and parents through English and maths classes and Sunday school. We want to continue to develop this aspect of our work and to ensure that we find ways to encourage the children to remain part of the church when they become teenagers and young adults.

We are now at the juncture where are again reviewing and planning for the future of the Chinese mission.  The work that Rev. Law has started with others is just touching the surface of the needs and requirement of the Chinese community. To this end we must acquire a further grant to fund our work. 

The overall work is flourishing and we find that we do not have enough people to support it. Currently we employ 2 lay workers who have a pastoral leadership role, 1 lay-worker dedicated to work with students and 2 interns to help us increase the number of students and children we reach in Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Durham. We would like to offer the opportunity of a 3rd internship in the future and have included this in the budget.

Lay people are becoming more involved in leadership within the churches. We now have Chinese members who are accredited or training as Local Preachers. At the service marking the inauguration of the church in Middlesbrough, the members of the Church Council (all Chinese) were commissioned and blessed. The people in the churches are growing in their knowledge of Methodism and in lay leadership roles but this is a long process and we are still in very early days.

This grant will enable us to secure the stipend for a presbyter and will help us to maintain the current staffing levels so that the work can continue. We hope to increase our income through increased giving from the churches/congregation and other grant applications. We are grateful for the continuing direct support we receive from the Methodist Church in Hong Kong.

Grant award £142,000

Chippenham CAP Debt Centre

North Wiltshire Methodist Circuit

The former Great Western Federation (cooperation between the Upper Thames, Swindon & Marlborough, and Chippenham Circuits) partnered with Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to establish a Money Management and Debt Centre for North Wiltshire in 2010. When the Swindon & Marlborough, and Chippenham Circuits amalgamated to form the North Wiltshire Circuit the project partnered with the Circuit and involves local teams of volunteers (befrienders) to support referrals from the Debt Centre. We see this as one opportunity among others to reach those outside the church and receive referrals from other voluntary and statuary bodies. By partnering with CAP we have an opportunity to reach those in need on the doorstep of local churches by showing in a practical way God’s love in action. The local church then seeks to provide a welcoming community of support for the clients.

Through the Debt Centre Manager and a team of Befrienders, the Centre has seen over 240 clients since it commenced at the end of 2010. These clients are based within the Wiltshire towns of Chippenham, Calne, Corsham, Bradford-On-Avon, Melksham, Devizes, Trowbridge, Malmesbury and the small rural villages and hamlets surrounding these main towns. Rural poverty has been an interesting challenge due to the clients needing funds to travel into the towns for shopping, doctors, and DWP Interviews at the Job Centre Plus offices.  The has been driven by national partnership agreement between CAP and DWP to signpost clients for CAP’s services.

Over the 8 years the Centre has been open as stated above we have seen over 240 clients with over 50 clients going debt free and a further 12 coming to know the Lord for the first time in their life. Some 20 clients have recommitted themselves to Christ.

During the period 2016/2017 the centre saw a reduced number of clients due to the Debt Centre Manager taking time off for personal family reasons. This resulted in approximately 20 clients not being seen. With the additional assistance of a Debt Coach this problem would be alleviated.

Grant award £50,000

Church Community Development Worker, The Olive Tree Church, Luton

Blenheim Crescent Baptist Church and St Margaret's Methodist Church have been the lead organisations in managing a Community Development Worker in the Biscot area of Luton, through the auspices of 'Biscot Faith Partnership'. The worker has been successful in beginning to build bridges between the church and the various diverse communities that coexist in this multicultural area.  She has partnered with other community organisations and enlisted the assistance of a number of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds, including church members and others with looser associations with the church. The area is one of urban deprivation and great ethnic diversity with a majority (approximately 70% Muslim population.

The two churches are several years into the process of coming together to form an LEP, ‘The Olive Tree Church’. We see the development of this community work as a key aspect of our mission and ministry in this context. We seek now to employ the Community Development Worker to take the work on in the name of The Olive Tree Church, whilst remaining in consultation with those who were part of 'Biscot Faith Partnership'. We seek support from Connexion, District and Circuit to continue this work.

Grant award £36,000

Church Family Worker, Louth Methodist Church

Louth Methodist Church (LMC) took a leap of faith in between 2012 and 2015, embarking on the second phase of a huge refurbishment project, supported by a generous connexional grant as well as local grants. During this time we ran down our reserves in order to avoid compromising a vision which was to see the newly refurbished church buildings being used by the local community, at those times when the building was not in use for church activities. As a result of this we have seen use by community groups grow, with the rooms being used almost to capacity at peak times. Youth groups meet weekly, including 6 uniformed organisations; University of the 3rd Age are regular users; charities including Job Club use our rooms; and we have seen income from lettings grow fourfold since the refurbishment.

Analysis of falling numbers at our church services (largely due to the demographic of many older members), and surveys of young families in the town, caused us to remodel our regular Sunday worship. We have developed an innovative Sunday morning service, aimed at young families and with a unique puppet ministry: Exalt. Once a quarter (5th Sunday) all services are collapsed and we try to arrange activities in which we can reach out to and serve the wider community, beginning with a Big Breakfast in church. We are also reviewing our activities throughout the rest of the week and have begun a new monthly toddler group (3-2-1).

These and other activities bring church members into contact with many people who don’t have a church background: our Advent and Christmas Eve services each attracted 200 visitors; our puppet blog regularly reaches 500 followers, and the town centre location makes is easy to draw in some of the local population (which numbers 16,000) for special events.

Since the introduction of the Exalt service 2 years ago we have halted the decline in the number of regularly attending Sunday worshippers and now see some growth, but we are acutely aware that a small team of committed volunteers, most of whom have demanding full time jobs, is unable to follow up on the many superficial contacts that we make on a week by week basis. At times in the past we have been able to employ a lay worker, youth worker or family worker, and during these times we have seen new families join and remain with the church. Although our income is currently increasing, and we have been able to replace our reserves, we are a long way from being able to employ a family worker who can capitalise on the many contacts we are making through our activities.

This application is therefore to fund a part time Church Family Worker. We envisage this role being one of relationship building, liaison and support, which will underpin the ongoing work that will continue to be carried out by volunteers. If successful, we would expect to see our income continuing to grow, so that this post could be sustainable from our own resources after being grant-funded initially. Although there may be opportunities for new activities and special events, these are not the focus of this application: we have a rich and continually developing programme of activities and are able to attract people to these. Our need is for someone who can support the existing activities and invest more time into building relationships, in particular with young families who we consider to be “fringe” members of our congregations: they may attend infrequently or indeed perhaps only once a year.

Currently we see that we can encourage people to Attend our activities; we would like them to feel that they Belong to our church, and ultimately hope they will be able to Contribute by sharing their gifts and talents as their faith deepens and their commitment grows.

Grant award £62,780

Community Development Worker, South West Tyneside

Community Development Worker, South West Tyneside Methodist Circuit

As a circuit we have come to this point of requesting funding as a result of work we have been doing through our churches over the last 5-6 years. In 2012, one of the circuit churches, Blaydon, was down to 6-10 people and when the Deacon arrived in September 2012 there was a very real prospect that the church would close but we sensed that God had greater plans for them. These plans involved them taking a real lead in providing care and practical support as well as hospitality to those in our community and beyond who were experiencing poverty and/or social isolation. Over the next few years we became a Foodbank Centre, we hold weekly Soup Lunch for those who live alone or just need a hot meal, we provide regular, free Sunday dinners, we run a Domestic Abuse Support Group, We have a clothes bank, we run Holiday Hunger provision with our ecumenical colleagues as well as a Credit Union.

Over these 6 years we have also seen a growth in the church membership and attendance. Membership has doubled and attendance has quadrupled or more. In responding to the needs of the poor we have been able to show people something of the love of Jesus which they have responded to.

One of the other churches in the circuit has been working with local Asylum Seeker Families providing language classes, a community football team and a bike workshop. They too work ecumenically on Holiday Hunger Provision. In addition they have an active Hope for Justice Group.

The provision we have created has supported around a 3000 people a year and because of the impact of the work we have been approached by the local Council to work with them in other areas of need across our circuit and to replicate some of our work.

From the very beginning however, there was a strong sense that we did not simply want to bind the wounds of the poor but to provide a Gospel of hope and transformation where their voices can be heard and we can see real change in the future and challenge the injustices of what we see and experience. As a result we feel that now is the right time to establish a Poverty Truth Commission to move beyond the emergency aid to real change for the future and to empower those clients we work with. To this end we are hoping to take on a Lay Worker from May 2018 who will work across the Circuit but predominantly with those activities already established in Blaydon and Rowlands Gill / Chopwell to ensure their sustainability and also to support the Deacon primarily, and other staff in discerning which areas God is calling us to next. The Lay Worker will also have a key role in establishing the Poverty Truth Commission and working with the Deacon in developing relationships with the Commissioners.

The Local Council are now in a process of transition to a more Poverty-focussed policy agenda and are working closely with us and our clients to embed policy with experience. So, this project has come from continued discernment of God's will for our Circuit and communities and all our work has been driven by local people and their very real experiences of poverty. As a Circuit we continue to pray into this project and seek to identify God's priorities moving forward. By employing a Lay Worker we are able to release our Deacon to focus more on identifying the priority areas for our work as a Circuit in relieving poverty, challenging injustice and discerning where God's Church needs to be and how our resources are used.

This may involve developing new communities of faith in areas of our circuit (and District) which are not currently being served by any church.

Grant award £18,000

Community Engagement Officer, Langley House Trust

In 1958 Langley House Trust was established with a mission to help people to live crime free lives and it all began with a partnership with the Methodist Church. That partnership enabled the Trust to lease their first property from the Methodist Church which is called Elderfield in Otterbourne, near Winchester and we still lease that property today. Now 60 years on the Trust continues to fulfil this mission and has helped thousands of men and women to make a fresh start upon leaving prison. The Trust would like to continue that successful partnership with the Methodist church and work with the church on the front line, changing people’s lives by equipping the Methodist churches in the Rochdale and Somerset area to reach into the community and help the marginalised of society.

We would like to employ a Community Engagement Officer in Rochdale to work with various local churches and community projects run by churches supporting ex-offenders in the community. The Community Engagement Officer will help local church volunteers to conceptualise, develop and grow their community outreach to this vulnerable group while supporting them with risk management, safeguarding and some of the key principles for working with offenders that can put churches off engaging with such groups.

We have already established a need in Rochdale and are aware of activity which will benefit from this additional input.

  • Rev Paul Martin has agreed to support the Trust and has produced a list of churches we can work with. A statement of support has been requested.
  • Smithy Bridge Methodist Church – A working relationship has already been established and they are working in partnership with Tekoa House in supporting the clients and providing an allotment space for the clients to work on and provide produce for the church café.

We hope to grow this work to eventually be nationwide coverage. Ultimately, we plan to make these roles self-sustaining through local church subscription to the service and commissioning through local funding arrangements. We have spoken to the Cinnamon Network and they have expressed interest in our proposal and have agreed to evaluate the project enabling the role to become sustainable in the future. This Methodist grant will enable us to partner more closely with local Methodist church communities in developing and delivering services which will really impact the most vulnerable and marginalised in the local community. Specifically, the funding will finance the salary and project costs for an individual to provide the bridge between the church and ex-offenders.

The project will enhance the opportunities that ex-offenders can access when they are on their journey of rehabilitation. We wish to see this happen through deeper and wider engagement with churches and the local community, giving access to essential tools and support which will help with each personal journey towards successful reintegration into society. This engagement will seek to strengthen local relationships with the Methodist church and the wider Church community and create opportunities for both church members and the clients themselves to contribute to mission. 

We see this proposal as an opportunity to develop a deeper connection between local expressions of the Methodist Church and the work that the Trust undertakes. We also wish to use this grant to extend this work across all denominations in a way that can develop sustainability and local buy-in for the work and to influence change across the Christian community through equipping and empowering the local church.

Grant award £75,000

Ecumenical Church Plant in Bordon

Ecumenical Church Plant in Bordon, East Solent & Downs Circuit

An Ecumenical Church Plant in a regeneration area of Whitehill & Bordon (W&B), Hampshire.

W&B is a small town in Hampshire and has been home to the British Army for over 100 years. In 2015 the army left the town and a major redevelopment of the town was underway. This is to include over 3,500 houses, a new town centre, a link road, business facilities, leisure facilities, health centre, new schools and lots more. In response to this major redevelopment the churches started praying together to see what it was that God required of them. Out of this it emerged that the Anglican church and Methodist Church (with some URC interest) had a vision for a new church plant on the Prince Philip Park development and have started to develop this.

We are called The Beacon Church, Bordon, being led by Rev Dom Clarke (Anglican Vicar) and Deacon Janet Heys (Methodist Deacon) and have a small core group forming a leadership group and a wider group of 20 coming on board. We have had some successful community events and start regular monthly open worship from September 2017 and soon continue to develop a Messy Church. We meet at The Mustangs building which is an old officers Mess and on the site where we hope to have the church/community centre built, the developers have agreed to fund this with 106 money; the site is opposite a new secondary school, junior school, close to what will be the new town centre and also houses.

Our vision is for a modern building, to be built early in the development, and be open 7 days a week, a place for a worshipping community expecting to grow quite quickly, as a base for outreach work such as youth work, town centre chaplaincy and developing as is the needs of this town as forms.

We are in conversation with the developers who are offering to fund the building of the church/community centre and are in the process of design.

We believe that the new development in Bordon going on all around us is an amazing opportunity to BUILD a new and fresh worshipping community to be a BEACON of God's love and to help people explore a faith in Jesus and experience the power of the Holy Spirit afresh! Our motto for Beacon is "Love, Joy, Hope" because those are the sorts of Beacons we want to be in this town.

We hope to be FRIENDLY, SIMPLE, HONEST and are starting small....(we are just a handful of people 'planted' from other local churches at the moment) but we want to grow big and be a place where people can explore, question, doubt, forgive and be forgiven, grow, make friends, have fun, be themselves, be creative and learn.

We are NOT trying to be something we are not: but we do have some good coffee, a taste for nice doughnuts, a friendly smile, a place to meet, a bit of creativity, a vision for the future, some great musicians and a heart for pioneering mission in Bordon.

Grant awarded: £226,122

Exeter Food Action

“For Lent one year, I gave up money. I lived from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday on the food I found in the bins found outside supermarkets in the city centre. Initially I worried that while I was acting as if I had no money, there were lots of other people for whom this situation was real. Was I taking this food from them? The truth was, there was so much food in those bins, my eating from them made no difference to the quantities available. When lent ended, I wanted to see if anything could change – what if the city’s many charities were trusted with this food, and they could feed the hungry? That’s how we started”. (Jon Curtis – founder, Exeter Food Action

This project collects excess food from wholesalers, manufacturers and supermarkets and redistributes it to organisations in the city that feed people. Our work has increased year on year as we have persuaded more suppliers to share their excess food with us, and as we have accordingly shared this increase in food.

We wish to expand this operation – there is so much good quality food available in and around Exeter, and this grant would enable more food to be collected and shared. We have an ambition to massively reduce food waste at this level in Exeter, and thus be able to share it with those most in need, and the organisations that feed these people. We have already gone some way to making this a reality, but there is much more that can happen.

This project was started with Methodism at its very heart, and although circuit involvement ceased for a time, the local circuit has re-engaged with the work, and it is the aim of both sides to re-embed the work within the circuit.

Grant award £34,900

Faith at Work in Worcestershire

Faith at Work in Worcestershire (FWW) - formally Worcestershire Industrial Mission -  has functioned for many years as a Local Ecumenical Partnership.  In recent years funding for paid chaplain posts has rested mainly with the Anglican Diocese of Worcester, which has taken responsibility for appointment, employment and housing. This has included four part-time parish based clergy, who spend a portion of their time as workplace chaplains, as well as two county-wide strategic posts.

FWW has received small amounts of funding from the LEP partner denominations, some local congregations and workplace partners. This has covered a small annual budget which includes insurance, expenses, IT and the work of trustees. It has been part of the strategy and vision of FWW to seek to work increasingly with local churches; recruiting, training and supporting volunteers – both lay and ordained – as Associate Chaplains. As of August 2017 there are 30 such chaplains, many visiting shops and town centre businesses, which are easily accessible.  Associate Chaplains work in teams, in Redditch, Worcester, Alvechurch, Stourport and Kidderminster, under the leadership of one of the stipendiary chaplains.

Beyond 2017, with increasing pressure on resources, the Anglican Diocese is unable to sustain funding for the two strategic posts, though it is continuing to support the part-time posts in Redditch, Alvechurch and Kidderminster.

Chaplaincy with the Fire Service has been organised for the past 10 years under a Memorandum of Agreement, by which Associate Chaplains have worked with the lead chaplain to provide visiting chaplaincy to fire stations.  With the prospect of losing the link with FWW if the lead chaplain role could not be sustained, the Fire Authority  agreed to provide funds to employ the lead chaplain.

Although securing funds for sustaining this limited staff post is a key part of the current Development Plan, even more critical is the importance of sustaining and further developing FWW’s work with local congregations and Associate Chaplains. Without some central staff resources, sustaining and developing FWW as promoting outward facing church would be very difficult.

The Development Plan seeks to grow the number of active chaplains by 50% over the initial 3 years of the project (2018 – 2021), promoting links with more congregations in recruiting chaplains, but also encouraging all church members to develop their own sense of vocation as Christians in their own workplace. To support this a further appointment is planned of a part-time administrator.  We are seeking financial support from the Methodist Connexion having secured the support of the two Districts that cover the county (Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District and Birmingham).

Grant award £18,000

Firth Park Community Worker

Community Worker (Soft Play Development Worker)

Firth Park Methodist Church is set within the heart of the Sheffield Inner City in one of its most deprived areas.  Some years ago it set out on a journey to use its premises to serve more effectively the wider community.  Its auxiliary rooms were transformed and a rich and diverse range of activities take place serving a wide age range.  The building, literally at the roundabout, stands at the heart of Firth Park and its location is one of its greatest assets.  In discerning the next step forward, to transform the large 400 seater pew worship space, a period of consultation with the community was undertaken.  Added to this was exploration of various models of fresh expression.  A clearly identified need in an area with a disproportionate number of young families, with few facilities in the area, was ‘how could we serve them?’  The church became excited by the possibility of transforming part of the worship space into a bespoke soft play centre and looked at other churches that had carried this out, as well as taking professional advice from a soft play equipment firm.  A trial, using hired soft play equipment, proved a great success with 88 children attending over 9 days.  We will, from February 2018, run a once a week soft play time for 0-4’s (in our Stubbin Hall) to maintain the momentum while we transform the building.

In speaking to other churches, we identified the need not just for someone to manage the day to day running , with an assistant and volunteers, but that they should exercise a pastoral role.  This individual would first build good relationships and then create opportunities to share faith at key times and allow the project to develop into a fresh expression of Church in whatever way is appropriate for Firth Park.

This also builds on our links to local schools (Hinde House lower school in particular, where all year groups visit each year as part of their RE curriculum).  The new facility and worker will be able to offer a space to build on that work through Story Telling/Godly Play.

To help us achieve this key part of the project we are seeking funding for three years as our business plan shows that by year three the scheme should be self funding.

The remaining part of our church worship space will become both the new worship area and cohesion centre to help promote, in an ever growing diverse community, a safe place to meet and engage.  The context of a multi-cultural and multi-faith community is an ever growing challenge and the church wants to be part of the solution.

Grant award £37,500

Free Church Chaplain to the University of Bristol

Bristol & South Gloucestershire Circuit

The University of Bristol Free Church Chaplaincy is seeking renewed funding in order to continue offering a Non-Conformist missional presence as part of the university’s Multifaith Chaplaincy team. Continuing to fund a 0.8 time Free Church Chaplain here will enable the chaplaincy team to maintain, and continue developing, a ministry which is valued by both the institution and its members (staff and student), and which embodies the presence and love of God in contextually appropriate ways in a large and culturally diverse secular university. The Free Church Chaplain will continue to play a central role in each of the key areas of work that comprises chaplaincy at the University of Bristol, which may be summarised as follows:

1) Being a visible sign of God’s Christ-like love for all the world by offering hospitality, pastoral and spiritual care, and a community to which students and staff of all faiths and none can belong, through the facilities available at the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre on campus.

2) Being a source of insight for the university into matters of faith and spirituality, and to facilitate pastoral care through rituals that the University of Bristol recognises Chaplains are specifically trained to offer.

3) Creating opportunities for students and staff to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith and personal spirituality, as well as engage with inter-faith learning.

4) Bringing insights from chaplaincy into the life of the church

A new five-year grant from the Connexion would be a major contribution to enabling the work described above to continue. However, in the coming five years, the Free Church Chaplain would also look to develop new strands of work where possible. Since November 2017, the Free Church Chaplain has also been running a film club at Bristol University’s Vet School in Langford (Somerset) to offer another kind of “hosted space” there, strengthening relationships with international and postgraduate students based on this site. As well as helping to a foster a stronger sense of belonging amongst students particularly vulnerable to loneliness there, the film club has created opportunities for significant conversations about moral topics and the emotional impact of social media. We hope to develop further opportunities to offer pastoral support and to explore matters of wisdom and spirituality at Langford in future, and to that end am cultivating links church communities local to the site.

Plans to create a new Student Christian Movement (SCM) group with the minister of Victoria Methodist Church in Bristol are currently being discussed. The involvement of the Free Church Chaplain in this group could create new opportunities to explore the Christian faith with Bristol students and to support them in discerning ways to express it.

Our desire to renew funding sufficient to sustain a 0.8 post is to enable the enduring presence of a Free Church Chaplain who can continue to build trusting relationships and, through them, to serve God’s mission in the world in ways that combine neighbourly love and the sharing of a Christian vision of the world in a diverse secular context. Without this post, the capacity of the University of Bristol Multifaith Chaplaincy team would be dramatically reduced, with corresponding losses to the range of activities, events and availability for pastoral care it could offer.

Grant award £10,613

Girls’ Brigade Connection and Extension

Girls' Brigade Ministries provide local groups, in partnership with local churches, where girls and young women (aged 3 -30) may gather, grow and make a difference - we have over 10,000 members in over 500 churches across England & Wales, including Methodist Churches. Over 45% of our young people come from families who would not engage with church in the traditional sense and this represents an opportunity for the local church to engage with and have an opportunity to transform the lives of not just the girls and young women but their families and the wider community.

We resource churches and youth leaders to holistically develop girls and young women in their local communities and we provide equipping programmes, resources and events for our volunteer leaders in the practical aspects of running their groups, faith development and support in responding to the issues affecting young women.   We also have experience of equipping the wider church through events such as Gather, Go, Grow which we delivered for the Methodist Church during 2016.

We currently work across a number of denominations including the Methodist Church, Baptist Union, United Reformed Church, Church of England, Church of Pentecost UK and RCCG, with our largest number of groups being in the Methodist Church – 41%.

GB Ministries is seeking two year start-up salary funding to appoint a full-time Mission Development Co-ordinator and part-time Administrative Assistant, and match funding towards event costs, including the revision of existing resources. In addition to the above roles the project will be supported by GBM’s Director, Media Co-ordinator Discipleship Co-ordinator and Volunteer Co-ordinator.  The Rooftop will provide support from their Missional Consultant to GBM as well as access to resources that they have developed to help local churches .

The project team will work with churches and local GB Champions to: strategically co-ordinate and extend the mission outreach of churches through the work of GB local groups; produce both mission and discipleship resources and support the church in looking out into the needs of their local community as they shape their mission; provide equipping events to increase the confidence of GB leaders and church members to share their faith. 

Who will benefit?

  1. GB Members of all ages and church congregations through improved relationships and stronger partnership in mission in their local community.
  2. GB Leaders and church members will feel better equipped to share their faith in their own situations, whether in their local community, at school or at work.
  3. Local churches will be supported to look out into the community and identify ways in which they can developer stronger relationships and offer worship, mission and community outreach that meets the needs of the community in which they are.
  4. 18-30s women through developing their confidence in faith and evangelism and equipping them as leaders.
  5. Members of the local community will have an opportunity to experience the Christian faith through the work of the church and local GB groups, and experience the love and mutual support that this can bring to them.
  6. We pray that more people will come to know Jesus and follow him as a result of the partnership between the local church and GB and more GB/church partnerships can be enabled.

Grant award £96,368

Gospel Car, Burslem Methodist Mission

Gospel Car, Burslem Methodist Mission, Stoke-on-Trent

To promote the heritage and story of the Gospel Car.  During late 19thC ‘mobile churches’ in the form of Gospel Cars were used to engage with hard-to-reach communities and marginalised members of society.  Recreating a typical historic scene within the boat dock area at the Black Country Living Museum, visitors will be invited to learn about boat people and the role a visiting missionary played in their lives. This story is placed in its historic context of wider Christian mission activity (and especially Methodist activity) of the late 19thC.

Through the experience of an authentic replica of a Wesleyan Methodist Gospel Car engagement takes place with contemporary visitors.   These visitors are full of questions both about the Gospel Car and about the Christian faith.  So the ‘late 19thC preacher’ engages in dialogue.

For three years the Gospel Car (2013-15) was funded with a grant from the Chester and Stoke-on-Trent Methodist District.  Built in 2011 in Hampshire, it was subsequently (from 2012) based at Burslem Methodist Mission, and from there the Gospel Car visited (using a break-down truck for transport) a large number of primary schools over the three year period.  It also attracted visitors at Burslem Methodist Mission, and for a number was weeks was located at Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum.

The financial cost of moving the Gospel Car from place to place on the back of a break-down truck was considerable, and so in response to the invitation of the Methodist Church and the Black Country Living Museum to involve the Gospel Car in the Francis Asbury celebration in 2016 the Gospel Car was moved to that site in January 2016. Since then the Gospel Car has been warmly welcomed by visitors and staff at the BCLM, and those volunteers who have engaged with the public have also felt the thrill of a public keen to engage. 

During the years 2016/17 the BCLM have put resources into the Gospel Car in terms of maintenance.  The strength of the BCLM support has been in the labour of the volunteers - however the BCLM can only provide very limited money from their total budget. During 2017 the Rev Stephen Hatcher has been invigilating and demonstrating the Gospel Car regularly - usually once a week. The focus of his time has been spent in engagement with the public at the Gospel Car.   BCLM visitor numbers are approximately 300,000 per year.

There is a need to be realistic about the longer-term future of the vehicle.   If the Gospel Car continues to be displayed outside and exposed to the elements, maintenance will become increasingly complex and costly! Even with further investment the physical life of the Gospel Car is clearly finite and it is quite possible that at the end of five years the Gospel Car programme is concluded. However, even if this happens it is believed that this is a valid five year plan for these reasons:

1) There is a significant opportunity within a modest budget to engage meaningfully with a large cross section of the public using the replica Gospel Car, to answer questions, and engage in conversation when asked about the contemporary Gospel.

2) There is a further opportunity during this period to engage with Black Country paid workers and volunteers. 

3) This is a successful partnership between the Methodist Church and a secular site.  

Grant award £16,250

Improving health and well-being in South Elmsall

Trinity Methodist Church, Pontefract

The congregation of Trinity Church has, over many years, and with the support and encouragement of its two previous ministers as well as the current incumbent, developed a vision to turn this relatively small and very traditional church building into a community hub for its disadvantaged neighbourhood in the former Yorkshire Coalfield.

Part of this vision is to redevelop the premises to make them fit for purpose and create some off-road parking, including spaces designated for disabled service users, at a cost of £415,300. This is the subject of a separate application to the Connexional Property Fund for a capital grant of £96,000.

However, the church members did not want to wait to expand their mission and community outreach until the building had been adapted. With the strong encouragement of the circuit and the district, who see this as an ambitious and exciting proposal, they are working with the Parish Nursing Organisation to develop a health and well-being project because this will address one of the most pressing needs in the local community, will allow us to draw on the expertise and support of a partner charity that shares our mission ethos, will add value to and develop naturally out of our existing work and allow a small group of willing volunteers to get the professional in-put that we need while making best use of their time and skills.

Grant award £37,000

Lay Worker for Children and Families, Guisborough Methodist Church

Guisborough Methodist Church wishes to appoint a Lay Worker for Children and Families. The context for the appointment is our experience gained in working in the community for many years in partnership with our partner organisation Guisborough Bridge Association and as part of Churches Together, the ecumenical forum where different denominations in the town are represented. Over the past 5 years, one of our projects has included the appointment of a Lay Worker for Youth. That project will come to an end on 31 August 2018. We have learned through that project and our other activities in the community, that a key focus for our outreach work must be children and families.

The focus of our current Lay Worker Project has been adjusted to include a significant element of this work, and much has been learned through that process.

Guisborough as a town is growing.  New housing estates are being built. The town has some affluent areas, but there are significant pockets of severe deprivation in North Guisborough including, in particular, the Wilton Lane Housing Estate with some 615 houses.  

The new scheme will involve the Lay Worker:

  • Working with Children  Families and Young People
  • Devoting significant time to working amongst the deprived in the Wilton Lane area in particular, and focussing on children and families but with an element of Community development.

Our existing work amongst families has started to show results both in terms of residents’ engagement with activities and church attendance. Our aim is to show the love of Jesus to all of the families in Guisborough, but have a special focus on those most in need. Church Council is to be asked to consider becoming a Christians Against Poverty partner with particular emphasis on job seeking and healthy living. That approach will be evaluated against undertaking similar activities ourselves or with another partner.

Grant award £50,000

Liberty Farm Manager

Liberty Farm Manager, WALK Ministries

WALK Ministries is innovative in that we specifically focus on offenders who have committed their life to Christ whilst inside prison.  As one of the pioneers of the project, myself (Simon Edwards) an ex-offender, I identified with the Chaplain at HMP Dovegate that men coming to Christ in prison, upon release were finding that their faith was not sustained and without support, often returned to prison.  Whilst in some cases the men were attending local churches, they found that they were unable to develop meaningful disciple/mentor relationships, that congregations were unsure how to support the faith struggle, whilst integrating into a society which had changed. Whilst certain aspects of their practical life were being supported through other organisations, such as hostel accommodation, their faith walk remained unsupported.

WALK  is a project specifically designed to support ex-offenders by providing Supported Housing, Mentoring Schemes and Christian discipleship Programmes. For ex-offenders returning to the community lack of proper accommodation is the primary risk-factor. In 2012, 35% of offenders had nowhere to stay upon their release. Alongside this risk and isolation, many of these men upon release from prison were also unable to find meaningful training and volunteering, with limited opportunities for employment due to their history. Our aim at WALK is provide these vulnerable men with secure accommodation and a mentor to walk alongside them and enable them to access additional services and develop a sense of routine and normalization into the wider society. In order to assist with such a transition from prison to employment, WALK’s participants undertake voluntary work before they enter paid employment. Individuals are skills matched through one of our partner companies, with local businesses (local food bank, charity shops, local garages for example) or with other local charities. Volunteering is a stepping stone for most ex-prisoners and is beneficial in developing skills with the hope that all our men will eventually walk into regular paid employment.

For individuals who join WALK but are struggling with issues around addiction, they have an opportunity to be accommodated in  WALK’s  high-dependency supported housing unit, Liberty Farm situated a few miles outside Stoke on Trent in the Staffordshire Moorlands. This unit takes adult men from prison/homeless who are on drug replacement therapies, or who have ongoing drug or alcohol dependencies and express a sincere desire in Christ Jesus to change. The programme we run  consists of a medically supervised detox and drug and alcohol therapy including counselling. In addition, residents will participate in the ‘Out’ skills course and Christian discipleship activities to equip them to take responsibility for their decisions and actions. Liberty Farm is situated within a farm environment and it is expected of residents to also undertake work of various kinds during their stay.

At the core of all WALK project’s you will find a transparent Christian, Bible-centred ethos. Participants, whether at Liberty Farm or supported housing, engage in worship, prayer and Bible study as parts of the programme. At every opportunity, we encourage them to develop their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Each WALK House also adopts a close relationship with a local church which supports it spiritually. Our overall prayer is that given time each man who attends WALK becomes a more welcomed part of a local congregation and less dependent on WALK so they in turn can go on to make an Christ impact within Prisons, Young Offenders Institutes and eventually provide Christian mentoring themselves to others, to prevent the cycle of re-offending.

Grant awarded: £50,000

Lincolnshire Coastal Chaplaincy, East Lincolnshire Circuit

Our vision is to create a chaplaincy for the coastal strip of Lincolnshire. Within the boundaries of the East Lincolnshire Circuit we have upwards of 28,000 static caravans, many in these homes have no meaningful connection with the local community and significantly no link or association with the Church. The Coastal Chaplaincy will consist of a Deacon and a (trained) volunteer team building links, signposting and developing relationships between the mobile homes, sites and local church – meeting spiritual and social needs in the name of Jesus.

One of the biggest issues health care professionals find on these sites is that of loneliness and isolation. Research suggests loneliness can have as damaging effect on health and wellbeing as 15 cigarettes a day. On top of this, residents live in close proximity to our churches and only a few of them come to us for support in times of crisis. Our Superintendent Minister as a hospital chaplain regularly sees mobile home residents who have been admitted for treatment but has no system or structure to refer them to for ongoing pastoral or spiritual care –this disconnect is echoed by statutory agencies too. This is for those he comes into contact with. There are many more who struggle will health, family and life issues who could benefit from a chaplaincy ministry but are not able to access it.

Our Chaplain will forge links with site owners and the statutory services (some of these links are beginning to develop), support residents and their families and create links with the local church. One person alone cannot achieve this task so part of the chaplains role will be to build an ecumenical team of volunteers from communities local to the sites to act on behalf of the church. They will assist the chaplain in these duties.

Pastoral care by the chaplaincy team, particularly in a time of crisis and attention to rites of passage will draw communities together and improve the health and wellbeing of many residents. The chaplaincy will also forge links that have long been neglected between sites and the local church. It is hoped that worship and other gatherings can be developed as the project proceeds.

We believe this to be a pioneering application which could benefit Connexion as a model that could be used elsewhere. There is commitment from other denominations to make this an ecumenical initiative across the churches along the coast and we are eager to get started.

Grant award £100,000

Listening and Learning Together, The Council of Christians and Jews

This project enables Jews and Christians to engage in dialogue on issues relating to Israel/Palestine and obtain tools to facilitate programmes of education, public events, and conflict resolution.

Reactions to the situation in Israel/Palestine are the biggest source of conflict between Jewish and Christian communities in the UK. Drawing on the experience of leading groups of Jewish and Christian community leaders in Israel and Palestine, CCJ offers a model for how people with very different views can discuss these perspectives in a safe, respectful, and constructive way, neither condemning or placating any one view but allowing views to be heard so that shared understanding can shape a more positive future for interfaith engagement on these issues. This is not exclusively a Jewish/Christian conversation, nor is it about presenting one narrative over or against another, to the exclusion of any one community. Rather, the project will provide an example of a model whereby people with very different views can uphold and discuss those views with respect for each other. The model can then be applied and transferred into a number of contexts, including a diverse range of faith communities.

The grant will fund two aspects of CCJ’s dialogue on Israel/Palestine:

1) Work to enable participants in CCJ’s annual study tour to respond to their learning, to continue to engage in dialogue as a group, and to offer training to others in this model of dialogue on difficult issues. This will include training for Student Leaders as part of our Campus Leadership project.

2) Creation of resources to disseminate model of ‘listening and learning’ beyond the tour participants to Jews and Christians across the UK, through:

  1. a) Video, available online, featuring interviews with tour participants.
  2. b) Written resource, with contributions by tour participants, with perspectives on some of the key issues relating to Israel/Palestine and giving space to different views to be shared alongside each other.

Grant award £51,712

Methodist Workplace Chaplaincy Bristol

Bristol and South Gloucestershire Circuit

This role is developing significantly into the Wellbeing of Staff. The chaplain is an integral part of the induction and wellbeing team at Rolls Royce, Air Bus and the Prison. 

The Fire Service are relocating from Bristol to Portishead and the chaplain is supporting the staff during this transition. He is now supporting families as well as staff when there are bereavements and this has included conducting funerals.

The Circuit is committed to the post of Workplace Chaplain, but unable to support this financially without extra funding streams.

Grant award £30,000

Mission Enabler, North Cumbria Circuit

North Cumbria Circuit has been responding to our calling with a diaconal appointment developing work on a new housing estate and with a focus on children’s and youth work around the circuit.  This was a very innovative and challenging way for the circuit to work and use its resources.  This allowed us to trial and develop models and new ways of working. The diaconal work has undergone continuous informal reviews with the result that, with this new role of the Mission Enabler, we would like to encourage innovative mission and outreach projects, whilst continuing some aspects of the current role.

A renewed desire for mission and outreach from across the circuit together with changes on how people view “church” challenge us on how we relate to society outside traditional church culture.  Coming from a traditional background, we are now a forward-looking circuit recognising the needs to take risks and operate outside our normal comfort zones as it is here that there are opportunities for greater rewards for the Kingdom. Building on the experiences made with the current diaconal appointment, we are now aiming to develop a broader mission strategy with new projects, new emphases and a new mission-orientated position.

The North Cumbria Methodist Circuit is currently undergoing a process of major change in response to changed circumstances. Therefore, it is envisaged to organise the circuit in two ‘mission hubs’, which will be the centre for circuit services and other centrally organised activities. Worship in the other chapels will continue, but will be increasingly lay-led or take alternative forms. The chapels will be encouraged to explore forms of worship that suit their current size rather than their traditional way of worshiping. At the same time, chapels are encouraged to identify their mission and outreach projects; with this they will receive help and support. If chapels find it difficult to identify projects due to age profile etc, they will receive pastoral care and support.

Two members of staff will have pastoral responsibility for the churches; however, no church will have their ‘assigned’ minister. Although the circuit will aim for stable pastoral relationships, especially in times of personal crisis or during palliative care, it is envisaged to further encourage and enable pastoral visitors. An important part of this encouragement is the public recognition and authorisation of pastoral visitors, if this suits the local church structure.

To ensure the increased orientation towards mission and outreach across the circuit, we are now looking to create a new station for a Mission Enabler. The overarching aim of the circuit is to increase the overall mission and outreach activity, whilst still maintaining, nurturing and supporting inherited church, albeit in an adapted form. The grant is to fund the stipend and expenses for a full time Mission Enabler. The Mission Enabler will encourage and enable the circuit to put into practice the God for All vision as well as the Circuit’s own mission and vision statements. The Mission Enabler will be involved in the following projects:

  • Circuit events across the circuit (Community Worship)
  • Brampton Ecumenical Youth Hub (‘Green Door Project’/ Network Youth Church)
  • Crindledyke Estate and/ Ecumenical Schools Work (Emerging Church)
  • St Cuthbert’s Garden Village Carlisle (Emerging Church)
  • The development of Solway Chapel into a Day Retreat Centre (Sabbath)

In addition, the individual churches will be able call on the Mission Enabler for a specific and agreed number of hours to ‘kick start’ mission projects.

Grant award £160,000

Momentwm (Methodist Youth Wales) Diaconal Appointment

The project is to support a 5 year diaconal appointment working with Young People (YP) across both the Wales Synod and Synod Cymru. This appointment will also be linked to a possible church plant in the South West Wales (SWW) Circuit.

Momentwm began life 6 years ago as Youth Work Action Group (YWAG) a body appointed by the Wales Synod, working only in the English language, and charged with the task of bringing the young people (YP) of Wales together. Over the years the work, scope and reach of YWAG developed and grew leading in 2016/17 to YWAG organising an exchange to Jamaica which included, as part of the return visit an all Wales youth camp. One of the joys of this exchange was that it was a joint project between the Wales Synod and Synod Cymru and so after the exchange the Synods opted to make YWAG a joint Synods group with the new name of Momentwm (chosen by the YP).  This is a word which works across both languages and reflects our aim to be a body that moves and responds to God’s prompting. There has been a high level of success, engagement and importantly growth with what we’ve done so far and we feel God has very much been at work in and through the work of Momentwm with lives enriched and faith deepened. However, the work has now grown so much, along with a recognition that there is much more, that could be (and needs to be) done that we need more capacity and expertise in the team which we believe the diaconal appointment would afford. 

Going forward we see the appointed deacon working specifically in the following area. All work would be bilingual as appropriate.

  1. Relationships - With many small and remote churches in the Synods youth isolation is a particular problem in Wales. Although we try to reach these YP through posters/ emails to the superintendent etc. many still are unaware of what we do. The deacon would liaise with circuits and churches with a view to contacting/travelling to meet and encourage isolated YP and encourage them to engage with the work of Momentwm.
  2. Communication - As the deacon becomes familiar with circuits and churches Momentwm will gain a better understanding of the youth work that is going on and what is needed. Momentwm can then respond to that need. With full awareness of, and compliance with, the Data Protection Act the deacon will maintain a database of youth workers and key youth work contacts in the circuits and churches across the Synods.
  3. Community - Much of the work of Momentwm is about creating Christian communities for the YP. The deacon would continue to be involved in organising the Youth Forum, Big Day Out, Camp etc., which happen across the year. Whilst the Momentwm online communities are already in place and are sometimes used they could be so much more. The deacon would put considerable effort into these, building and developing what happens through this medium. Social Media is something that YP use a great deal, is a good way to communicate with them and we feel could be a fantastic way to combat their isolation and build community. The deacon would, along with others, input into a local group for young people. This would be in Kidwelly a town which until recently has had strong Christian youth work.

We always noted that the Momentwm work would not equate to a full-time station, and there would need to be another part to it. It was felt that church community planting work would sit well with the Momentwm role and with the calling of a deacon.

Grant award £67,650

Money Advice Newcastle East

Newcastle Central & East Circuit

‘Presence’, a project of Newcastle Central & East Circuit, is literally the ‘presence’ of the Methodist Church in the area. The two Methodist churches that served this area until 2009 have been demolished as part of local government regeneration plans for the area.

‘Presence’ offers spiritual and emotional support to members of the community and to the
Community Centre staff. This is very much about support for the whole person and whatever
issues they bring. Low income, high unemployment and welfare benefit changes underpin
many of the problems and stress which people deal with on a daily basis.

In partnership with Mission Initiative Newcastle East (MINE), a group of four C of E parishes in
Byker and Walker operating together under a Bishop’s Mission Order, pledged to work
ecumenically and with organisations and individuals across the community, the Newcastle
Central & East Circuit, through ‘Presence’, wishes to set up a Money Advice Centre. Affiliated
to Community Money Advice, Money Advice Newcastle East will provide advice and support
to people facing debt and financial hardship, delivered by trained volunteers in a setting
where other resources, both practical and spiritual are also available. Volunteers will be
drawn from Anglican and Methodist churches and local community members.

Grant award £15,800

No 11 Burslem

No 11 Burslem, Swanbank Methodist Church

Burslem sits in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, an area of deprivation with increasing social problems, reduced or stretched statutory and charitable provisions and increasing numbers of people facing crisis situations. The ward in which the project is based is one of the 2% most deprived wards in the country.

Within the locality there are significant social issues such as: high unemployment, poor long term health, poverty and debt, mental health issues with limited provision of services, isolation and social exclusion and multiple deprivations / disadvantages and personal problems. Many services aim to meet the needs of the above groups, but often the help provided is just a ‘plaster over the problem’. This has been recognised by the city council, hence the transition towards co-operative working. Meeting immediate needs is important, but addressing the source of the problem provides a more long-term, sustainable solution. The aim is to move people from a place where they are dependent on charitable help, to a place where they are self-sustainable.

The proposal is to set up a centre focussing on providing a holistic support package, based upon the individual, identifying specific issues around their social, emotional, physical, mental and spiritual needs. This is opposed to the traditional approach of isolating one issue and then signposting to other services. An overview of this holistic support package is attached as an additional appendix to this application (the ‘Number 11 Client Journey’ document).

The key principle is that the service is flexible to the needs of the client and, wherever possible services are run in partnership with existing organisations. This approach permits the client to retain a stable support network whilst they are assisted to navigate the complex array of support services, thus helping them to move from a place of chaos to stability.

The grant will provide the infrastructure to develop skilled staff in supporting these clients and a base within the heart of the community.

Grant awarded: £110,000

North Street Community Church Centre

North Street Community Church Centre, Cheshire South Methodist Circuit

The Centre is on the site of a former Methodist Church, which was in a very poor state of repair. The site was sold to a local housing association, and the existing congregation moved to a modern building a mile along the road. An arrangement was forged, by which the housing association did not pay money for the site, on the rear of which they have built modern flats. Instead the housing association, Wulvern Housing, built the new Community Centre at the front of the plot for the Circuit. This comprises a modern and comfortable coffee shop with a variety of seating, and a space to one side separated by a glass partition wall. We have blinds which can make this space private, and this area can be sub-divided into 3 smaller areas. This is where community driven activities take place.

This offered us a once in a lifetime opportunity. We now had the massive asset of a modern building, but no congregation, and as such no pre-conceptions of what church should be. This gave us the chance to explore a Fresh Expression of Church at this location. The Centre is overseen by a management board with visionary thinking. It had been thought that a semblance of a traditional worshipping community might develop, but this not to be the case to date.

Unlike churches with a traditional congregation, the Centre sees a variety of people who come and go regularly, in the process of their daily lives. Unlike traditional church, the Centre is open 6 days a week, and is a part of the everyday life of many people who find what they are seeking in the open and welcoming attitude of both the manager and the volunteers running the Centre. We have found that we have not needed to take the kingdom of God to the people, and increasingly we see that God is already there in the community.

People who would most likely not feel comfortable seeking in traditional church are at home and happy to discuss spirituality. Many do not have the recognised church vocabulary, or are not able to clearly verbalise their spiritual and emotional needs and feelings, but we have seen lives changed.

One person, after unloading some issues which had been troubling him, said “I love it here; it’s like going round to your mate’s for a drink.”

God has brought people to the Centre to share; we see that he has already been at work in their lives, and they come to see this for themselves.

This project impacts individuals rather than groups, because it values the uniqueness of each person; this makes people feel loved, and so the kingdom is shared. We see the location of Christ as being in others in the community; by serving and caring for them we are revealing Christ in them. Worship is happening every day we are open:

The funding we are requesting, for 5 years is £10,000 towards funding the salary of the Church Community Centre Manager; we now believe that as well as administrative and oversight of volunteers increasing as the project grows, there is now a great need for the manager to be present and available for people throughout the week, to build on the relationships which are developing, and to offer support and friendship. We are also requesting a further £5,000 for development of the activities which bring people into Centre from the wider community; these activities are delivered in conjunction with a wide range of community organisations including the Town and Borough Councils, and offer a holistic approach to community health and wellbeing: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Grant awarded: £75,000

Northwich New Thing, Knutsford Methodist Church

Knutsford Methodist Church

We believe that the right way to start this new venture is with a pilot phase in which a core team will be formed, values established and ways of being church tested out.  This will involve piloting two courses with the core group and piloting a form of service to the community of Northwich. 

We believe that this will give sufficient experience to be able to reflect and modify the way that we are doing things in order to begin the first phase of the new Thing in Northwich in the Autumn of 2018 with a clarity of vision and a team that is committed to a set of values and a way of being church in a new context.

This journey will be full of challenges and opportunities to grow. We will be moulded and shaped by the delighting of God and the prophetic song he is continually singing over us. We will continue to pursue the nature of love. A love that has a name and whose name is Jesus.

Below is a snap shot of the initiatives that we shall be giving ourselves to.

EXPRESSION 42 - This initiative will encourage people within the church to explore ways to gather together in a variety of fresh and creative spaces; bowling trips, movie outings, shopping trips, coffees, meals, BBQs etc –we are cautious not to provide too many examples as to what these spaces could look like because we want to cheer people on to be as creative as they like, when expressing their own individual ways of offering hospitality.  People will gather either one to one or in smaller groups. The vision of the initiative is to champion creativity and to encourage everyone from church to get together with as many other people from church as possible to live out authentic kingdom values in the supernatural every day. These will also be spaces that not yet Christians can be invited into, to allow them to experience kingdom hospitality in a perhaps less intimidating environment to conventional church settings.

Love Northwich Action – Radical hospitality! - As a way of serving the town and taking the good news to the streets, we will deliver random acts of kindness that will be in line with our ethos. As part of the action we will be exploring what it means for individuals within church to express their gifting’s not only within the context of church but also to be a blessing to the wider community.

Creative arts Initiative - In line with the prophetic invitation we have received, we will be writing brand new worship material.

Grace and Kingdom Culture Course - This course will establish our core values and secure the foundation blocks of the vision for team members. We will worship together, learn together, dream together, prophesy over each other, deliver further revelation of Holy Spirits goodness towards each other, participate in team building activities, develop our identity and eat together.  ALL as ways to enjoy God's love over us.

Grant award £176,000

Off The Streets: Summer 2018, West London Mission

Off The Streets: Summer 2018, West London Mission

This summer we want to support 100 homeless people off the streets and into accommodation.

We are seeking funding for a specific programme when we will designate two of our project workers to focus on the homeless people who are coming to Seymour Place in order to work intensively with them to get them into accommodation.  We want to run this from 1 June to 30 August 2018 - aiming to find new homes for 100 rough sleepers before the onset of winter when colder weather presents considerable dangers and challenges for rough sleepers.

Grant award £20,000

OneSound Connexions

One Sound

OneSound is a vibrant and exciting group of young Christian musicians who meet to share in musical excellence and Christian fellowship.  We strongly believe that OneSound should be open to all young Christian musicians yet we only have one member with a protected characteristic.  Young people from all parts of the UK, rehearse, perform and worship, performing up to six times per year to the community mostly in Methodist churches nationally.  Other churches who hold a OneSound concert are supported with media and marketing material to sell tickets to their communities and in return, OneSound delivers a concert, normally on a Saturday evening with musicians and singers interspersed with testimonies from the OneSound young people – the whole concert is both joyous and moving.  

OneSound has reached a stage in its development where it recognises that it needs to grow.   It aspires to expand its national profile to engage and embrace young people who are musically inclined but have not had the opportunity to learn about and join the OneSound community.  This grant will enable OneSound to gain greater stability, greater national presence and enable a solid 5-year plan to be developed.  We will plan sustainable development opportunities enabling talented young musicians to use their God-given gifts to strengthen their own faith and inspire the wider church and community to celebrate God’s love by:

  • bringing together young Christian musicians to express their faith, to learn and grow through mutual support and care
  • actively challenging inequalities whilst discovering new opportunities for young Christians of all cultures and abilities to enhance their musical skills, celebrating God’s love through their actions
  • enabling OneSound members to work co-operatively with other Christians, sharing their faith journey through words, music and prayer encouraging and supporting new and potential Christians to trust in God’s love
  • working in partnership with local and national venues, building on opportunities for communities to hear the gospel and feel God’s spirit irrespective of age, gender, faith or none

 Grant awarded: £45,864

Outside the Box

'Outside the Box',  Mission and Heritage Officer, Englesea Brook                 

‘Outside the Box’ is an exciting missional opportunity to create a purpose-built Open Store, which will make the museum collection of over 5,000 artefacts accessible to all, identify and interpret the stories, and use them to engage new audiences with the gospel story, especially in ways that speak to young people. This grant is for a Mission and Heritage Officer, which we believe is crucial to maximise the missional potential of ‘Outside the Box’. This will enable us to develop the interpretation of the collection. Our aim is to tell the Primitive Methodist story through its objects, in fresh ways that engage people of all ages and backgrounds with the gospel message. They will show how people can be transformed through a personal experience of the love of God, and how faith relates to contemporary issues. We are also applying for a Property grant for ‘Outside the Box’ (ID 42594). This is towards the cost of building the new store.

Grant awarded: £32,252

Pioneer Ministry (Children), Brownhills & Willenhall Circuit

The Pioneer Ministry Lay-Worker (Children) project of Brownhills & Willenhall Circuit has grown from the work of the Circuit Children & Families Lay-Worker, Vickie Heydon-Matterface, and centres around the development of a Story-telling Garden based in Leamore Park, Bloxwich.

During her 8 years as a Children & Families Lay-worker in the Circuit, Vickie has developed work within the churches through Messy Church, and increased the links with other youth organisations and schools through assemblies, RE Classes, and setting up Open the Book teams locally.

The vision for the Story-telling Garden began in 2015, as Vickie started to explore the Pioneer movement.  Using already established links with the local council, a site for the garden was identified; a disused educational garden on the edge of Leamore Park behind Leamore Primary School and in very close proximity to both an Infants School (Sunshine School) and another Primary School (Blakenall Heath).  The council and local volunteers have cleared the site, and ongoing maintenance and improvements are continuing, mostly down to the work of volunteers and in-kind gifts of plants and paint.  The garden was visited in March 2017 by the then President of Conference, Rev Dr Roger Walton and also mentioned in the Methodist Recorder during June 2017.  The garden and the surrounding schools are situation in council wards with high levels of deprivation (see question I.2); therefore, we have found ourselves being led to work in an area affected by poverty, sharing the stories of God, showing care to a community, and being church outside church.

The intention is for local primary schools to be invited to the Story-telling Garden to share in bible stories and related activities based in the garden.  Building on insights from both Open the Book and Godly Play models of engaging children in biblical and Christian narratives, the visits to the garden will give the children an opportunity for extension activities related to their RE work which engages them on a number of different levels educationally and gives space for the exploration of their personal spirituality. 

The story-telling garden has already been visited by a local Anglican toddler group, a bible study group, Messy Church groups, and pupils from Leamore Primary School, and was part of local Thy Kingdom Come events.

We are seeking Connexional funding to support this project, which has developed out of a current role in the circuit – this is a new phase extension.  Recognising what has already been achieved by Vickie with the support of the local churches and other organisations, especially the local council, the circuit is keen to create capacity for the development and flourishing of this project.  Much of the capital for physical items has already been provided by donations or in-kind; the key resource is people and time.  By providing money for the personnel to develop the resources, relationships and activities in this fledgling pioneer ministry, the circuit will be able to use the resources it presently puts into the current Children & Families Lay-worker post into a proposed part-time Children & Families lay-worker post who will continue the work with churches, in particular the support of the popular Messy Church initiatives across the circuit, thus showing its continued commitment to this area of work and outreach (as stated in our Circuit Mission Policy, attached). 

We are grateful to the District for its support (not just in terms of finance) for the past 8 years; they are still very supportive in enabling this project to grow (see District statement below).  A Connexional Grant will enable this project to continue and grow; we believe that the resources and expertise generated from this project will be of benefit not just to our local community, but throughout the District and beyond.

Grant award £39,000

Pollokshaws CAP Job Club

Pollokshaws Methodist Church CAP Job Club

We felt we could help the unemployed by setting up a Job Club. Open to anyone who is unemployed, the club is in a great position to particularly help those in the Glasgow G43 area. More so, in that the local Job Centre is close to the church. Pollokshaws and the wider G43 area contains several neighbourhoods which lie within the bottom 20% of neighbourhoods displaying indices of multiple deprivation. Low incomes, low levels of educational attainment, unemployment, low self-esteem, lack of facilities and opportunities and social isolation are some of the issues facing local people. We have identified these problems in the community surrounding the church. Tackling unemployment would help build bridges, enable us to reach out to the community, allow us to be a good neighbour, and perhaps indirectly help us to address the wider problems.

Unemployment in the area is high, and the resources to help the unemployed are scarce. The problem was exacerbated by the demolition of local amenities.

The aim of the job club is to obtain full-time employment for the attendees, or enable them to meet the criteria to maintain their DWP benefits. This would allow them to have the security, benefits, and quality of life, afforded by a regular income. Doing this will help tackle the problems of low self-esteem, and deprivation. We give realistic, practical support, especially for those battling with long-term unemployment. We feel we are showing in a real way, the love of Jesus.

The CAP Job Club also provides a friendly environment where the unemployed of any race creed colour or belief can use laptops to search for jobs. It provides coaching (eg to provide computer literacy), workshops where training and advice is given, (eg on preparing CVs), and one-to-one training sessions. Refreshments are free of charge. It provides a friendly & safe space, where camaraderie can be built, and where people feel they can share their problems and receive general support

The grant would go towards the salary of the part-time assistant coach, towards the costs of new laptops, Workshop books, memory sticks, stationery, refreshments, and Broadband & Internet costs.

Grant award £37,500

Skelmersdale Ecumenical Town Centre Minister

Skelmersdale Ecumenical Town Centre Minister, Lancashire West Circuit 

The role of the Town Centre minister is to develop relevant models of mission and worship in the town centre setting, using the Ecumenical Centre as a resource and focus for the presence of God, whilst offering training support and outreach to other churches in the town. Over the past five years the previous Connexional Mission and Ministry Grant has enabled the Lancashire West Circuit to join with the other denominational partners in supporting the developing role of Rev Rick Preston [Baptist Minister] as Town Centre minister in Skelmersdale.

Grant awarded: £22,000.

Sowing Seed on the Whitwell Estate

Stocksbridge Christian Centre

Funding is requested for Phase 2 of the six-year project  ‘Sowing Seed on the Whitwell Estate’  from 1 January, 2019 to  31 December, 2021. The funding requested is principally to continue the support for the salary of the full-time Community Outreach Worker.

The purpose of the project is to enable the church to engage with those sections of the local community which are disconnected from the church. Re-engagement may be measured by the following:

1) the creation of sustainable activities which meet the needs of the local community,  particularly children, youth and young families,

2) an increase in attendance at worship and membership in the church, and

3) the development of an enhanced group of leaders from outside the current core of church-based volunteers.

Since the formal inception of Phase 1 of the project, a solid foundation has been laid for further evangelical outreach to the community around the church.  Funding for Phase 2 (beginning 1 January, 2019) is needed:

1)  to firm up what has already been accomplished,  and

2) to expand the work of the project.

By the end of the project on 31 December, 2021, it is anticipated that there will be sufficient new members to carry on the witness of the church in its local community, and to continue to grow new Christians.

COMMUNITY WORKER’S REMIT

1) to work creatively to make new disciples of Christ.

2) to be the liaison between the church and the local community.

3) to have oversight of the work of the placement students and the uniformed  groups.

4) to develop new forms of outreach to the local community including work with youth, younger families,  parents with pre-school children,  and middle-aged adults.

5) to work with the worship leaders, placement students and the minister in creative forms of worship.

6) as appropriate, to assist the minister in his outreach work.

7) over the period of the total project to work towards the sustainability of the work beyond the completion date of the project (the end of the calendar year 2021).

Grant award £45,000

St Arnold's Project

St Arnold's Project, Bradford South Circuit

The St Arnold’s City Centre chaplaincy centres on Graeme Dutton’s work with Bradford Brewery and a number of bars/pubs and cafes in the area around North parade in BD1. This work currently comprises of two main events. Firstly, Graeme is available at a number of weekly sessions known as ‘The Vicar’s Inn’. These are held on a Monday night, on a Friday lunchtime and one other day during the week. Here he acts as a chaplain to the staff and customers at the Brewery bar and other bars including, but not limited to; The Record Cafe, The Sparrow, The Peacock, Al’s Dime bar, Wireless bar and Rumshack. Secondly, Graeme also runs a ‘Beer and Hymns’ event roughly one per each quarter. These are often planned to tie in with particular seasonal event such as harvest, Christmas etc, and are usually held on a Sunday evening. These events give Graeme a chance to strengthen his involvement at the various venues which host them and provide a way to establish and deepen links between people in our churches and people in the pub, thus broadening the scope of outreach being done in the city centre.

The Circuit has carefully reviewed the work of St Arnold’s and agrees that Graeme is currently the correct person in the correct place to carry this project forward. To this end it was agreed that as from September 2016 Graeme will operate half time in the Bradford South Circuit and half time as the lead for the St Arnold’s City Centre Chaplaincy Project.

One of the key reasons this project has enjoyed its initial success is the dual role of Graeme operating as both circuit presbyter and city centre chaplain. His being rooted in circuit means his city centre ministry is accepted and respected as being real and relevant. The document St Arnold’s ‘The Story’ provides evidence that Graeme has established himself as ‘our minister’ for a number of people who have become part of the St Arnolds community in the city centre, many of whom would not otherwise have contact or be connected to any traditional church.  These relationships have enabled Graeme to reach the point of sharing in deep spiritual conversation with the staff and visitors to various venues within the city centre. Many people regularly remark that Graeme is their only link to ‘the church’ and appreciate the time he spends with them.

Grant awarded: £50,000

Supporting Migrant Workers in Ambleside and Surrounding Areas

Ambleside Parish Centre in Partnership with Learning Plus

We are applying for a grant to support migrant workers  who are living and working in the Ambleside area in the two years leading up to the final BREXIT agreement and in the  following three years. Between 2013 and 2017, The Methodist Church awarded a Connexional Grant to the Ambleside Parish Centre and Learning Plus partnership to provide ESOL classes and social activities and support, which would help integrate overseas workers into our community and churches and to recruit local church and community volunteers to help with this process.

Ambleside Parish Centre’s Board of Trustees is nominated by Ambleside Methodist Church, St Mary’s Anglican Church and local community groups. The two churches also form a Local Ecumenical Partnership. Learning Plus is a small local self-help educational charity.

BREXIT had a huge emotional effect on European nationals living in our area and initially a number of people went back to their own countries and fewer migrant workers came to our area.  European nationals reported a different atmosphere, where they felt unwelcomed and some experienced harassment.

A major change during the previous grant period was that, in 2017, Deacon Maggie Patchett became Methodist Minister for the South Lakes Circuit with special responsibility for developing chaplaincy to the tourist industry.  We believe that her expertise and support will enable us to develop new initiatives which will encourage members of both churches to become more involved in the project through prayer and church based events.

We want to meet the new changing situation for migrant workers in our area by: 

  1. providing English Classes twice a week [ Learning Plus]
  2. providing a social support group [ All Together Now: Ambleside Parish Centre]
  3. developing support for long stay families who have children of school age.
  4. providing support for European nationals wishing to apply for long term residence or British Citizenship [Learning Plus].
  5. provide regular contact with people working in local shops, restaurants and hotels [ Deacon Maggie Patchett, St Mary’s Church chaplaincy to local shops and businesses and Learning Plus will work together]
  6. circulating our new community information folders in English, Polish, Czech, Spanish and Hungarian [Learning Plus]
  7. developing our new Buddy support system for new arrivals and others who have little English [Learning Plus]
  8. developing a range of ways for praying for the project, [involving members of our local Methodist and Anglican congregations and Ambleside Churches Together] and encouraging church members to pray for the venture on a regular basis NEW
  9. Designing occasional innovative informal worship sessions for migrant workers and members of our local congregations

Grant award £35,847

Taketime Global Missional Project

Taketime Global Missional Project, Redhill & East Grinstead Circuit

Taketime is a project that reaches beyond the Church, providing meditations that facilitate an encounter with Jesus.

Taketime.org.uk is the website on which these meditations may be found, along with guidance for those wanting to know more about the Christian Faith.

The website also allows users to find local Taketime Together Groups.  These groups use and expand upon the meditations in ways which enable those with or without a faith background to feel welcomed and valued.  They have been described by attendees as non-directive, experiential, therapeutic and a transformational spiritual reality.

Taketime Together is run by local Churches and by a variety of Chaplaincies.

The project has been taken to, or is appearing at, the Methodist Spirituality Consultation 2016, The Mental Health Matters Conference 2017, 3Generate 2017, various synods and probably the Superintendent’s Conferences 2018.  Some of the Learning Network Regions have asked to be trained in order that they can train Churches in their areas.

The project has been founded and developed by Rev Clive McKie who is the minister of Reigate Methodist Church and a Prison Chaplain.  It is felt that the growth of interest in this project and its potential warrant Clive’s full-time effort and that he should be freed up to enable the vision of facilitating encounter to those beyond the Church to be realised.

The application for the Connexional grant is for funding a three-year programme of development of the third phase of the Taketime project by releasing Rev Clive McKie from his Circuit responsibilities and appoint him in the role of a dedicated Circuit Missioner for developing and delivering the project. The Taketime project intends to provide unlimited opportunities to get to know Christ by widening the reach of the Taketime website and associated tools and equipping followers to find Christ through meditation. It also plans to develop an army of trainers who can run Taketime “face to face” sessions in all corners of the world. Given that the use of the internet is now taken as the common currency of modern-day communications, Taketime Project plans to tap into the constructive potential of the world wide web to spread the name of Jesus by experiencing his presence personally through meditation. It is undoubtedly one of the most powerful Fresh Expression mission we have come across. We strongly believe that God is calling us to commit our energies to delivering Taketime that has the potential to reach millions of followers and non-followers. 

Grant awarded: £138,000

 

The ARC Project

The ARC Project, West Pennine Moors Circuit

The Asylum and Refugee Community, (ARC) is a Project of the Methodist Church, and has supported asylum seekers and refugees (AS&R) in Blackburn with Darwen (BwD) since 2004. Operating from Wesley Hall’s premises in the centre of Blackburn, the project developed into a partnership between the Children’s Society, Blackburn Cathedral and Wesley Hall Methodist Church. Due to Blackburn Cathedral’s budget restrictions, in 2012 the partnership with them came to end, and the West Pennine Moors Methodist Circuit (WPMC) took the lead by funding a paid employee to coordinate ARC and its activities. In 2013, ARC was able to increase its capacity as Cornerstone Healthcare secured funding for a full-time caseworker to work within the project. This gave ARC additional support to better respond to the needs of AS&R. ARC continued to provide support alongside the Children’s Society until their funding to work with AS&R families came to an end in 2016. Since this time, ARC has become the lead provider of support for the Borough’s AS&R. In 2014 the ARC office provided casework support to an average of 63 individuals per month. This jumped to 90 individuals per month during 2016.

In 2016, following consultation with ARC staff and volunteers, service users and partner organisations, the managing trustees of WPMC agreed to fund the appointment of an English Club Coordinator, to develop the existing English language classes. Also recognised as a result of the consultation, were the significant obstacles that refugees face in accessing employment. There was a clear need for a job Club to address the unique challenges faced by refugees, and to help them navigate the job market. The establishment of a Job Club was identified as a medium-term goal.

At present ARC operates with two full-time staff members, one-part time staff member and a long standing, experienced volunteer who gives 24 hours per week. The project is headed by the Project Manager, funded jointly by the West Pennine Moors Circuit and the Lancashire Methodist District. This funding stream comes to an end in March 2018. The Project Manager is supported by the full-time caseworker funded by Cornerstones Healthcare until March 2019.

In February 2017, ARC was approached by BwD Borough Council, and invited to submit a proposal for the provision of an enhanced English Club programme, and a new Job Club, with a view to these services being funded by the Local Authority from a central government pot. ARC has recently been informed that the bid was successful, this funding stream is expected to start in the autumn of 2017.

Whilst a proportion of the activity within the Job Club will be given over to Job Searches, it is proposed that the service will also provide:

  • IT Courses to equip clients with essential IT skills.
  • Work with partner organisations to access training and learning opportunities.
  • Work with local businesses to develop employment and work experience opportunities.
  • Partner with local organisations to develop volunteer opportunities.
  • To create a directory of services, educational and training courses.

The continuing development of ARC and the growth of its services, makes it essential that the funding stream for the ARC manager is renewed from March 2018. It is also essential to appoint a further full-time case worker to maintain capacity while enabling the ARC Manager to focus on managing the project. This application is being made funding to cover part of the overall operating costs of ARC over the next 2 years, during this exciting period of the project’s development.

Grant awarded: £50,000

The Gift of Years Rugby

The Gift of Years Rugby, Hillmorton Paddox Church

The Gift of Years Rugby is an ecumenical chaplaincy which seeks to witness to God’s love in Rugby’s residential care homes for older people. It aims to get alongside residents, staff and their families as a clear Christian presence through the provision of pastoral and spiritual care.

The long term vision is for there to be a volunteer chaplain working in each of the 25 care homes in Rugby for a minimum of half a day per week. Their role will be the pastoral and spiritual care of the residents, relatives and staff. Due to the scale of this chaplaincy, we need to employ a full time lead chaplain and part time administrator. This application is asking for 5 years financial support to help The Gift of Years Rugby work towards becoming self-sustainable.  The lead chaplain will build relationships with managers of the care homes and care providers in order to set up a chaplaincy service. They will recruit, coordinate, train and supervise the volunteer team and work with church leaders and lay people from across the denominations to deliver this service.

It has been decided that the project will be linked to the Gift of Years national network. The Gift of Years Rugby is a ecumenical project with the Methodist Church taking the lead role. In the future it may become a charity in its own right, but at present it is being held within Hillmorton Paddox Methodist Church and the lead chaplain will be employed by the Methodist Church.

Grant awarded: £49,500

The Terminus Initiative

The Terminus Initiative grew out of a vision shared by local churches in the S8 area of Sheffield: to be the Church in the community, listening to people, finding out about their needs and working with them to address some of them.  We began in 2002 with a shop unit, opened as a community café and charity shop, because one of the pressing needs was ‘somewhere for people to meet.’   From the beginning we wanted to work with other people, like the Community Forum and the Council, and we worked hard to form relationships and build partnerships.  Prayer has always been at the heart of what we do, and we have taken on new areas of work as we responded to unfolding needs and as we felt God was leading us.  Some projects had limited success and came to an end after a period of time: Credit Union outpost and Youth Café evening.  Others have become firmly established and meet clear needs: the Women’s Conversation Club and the Community Wellbeing programme (for which we are the Council’s partner for delivering health improvement work).

The Initiative was initially headed by a Methodist minister, allocated by the Circuit to work in the community.  As the work grew and administrative and compliance functions became more onerous, it became necessary to appoint a manager. This role became even more crucial when the presbyter moved on to other areas of ministry.

The manager retired in August 2017, but the role is still essential for the Initiative’s continuing mission.  After 16 years, this will be a good time for a fresh person to reassess current needs and continuing challenges.  We are requesting support for this role.

The founding partner churches are: St Peter’s Greenhill (CofE), The Michael URC, South Sheffield Evangelical, Greenhill Methodist.

Grant award £50,000

The Welcome Directory

The Welcome Directory, The Welcome Directory CIO

The Welcome Directory is creating a database of faith communities in England and Wales who have committed themselves to welcome and support people leaving prison. Faith communities go through a process of training, each community then carefully considers the ways in which they can prepare to welcome people leaving prison into their fellowship. The community then decides whether they will register and be listed in a geographical and faith/denomination based search. Our long-term vision is to work with every prison in England and Wales and to add 2000 new faith communities to the directory every year.

The grant will enable The Welcome Directory to have a strong financial basis upon which to expand the work across England and Wales and to partner with several Methodist Districts to enable churches and circuits to build relationships with their local prisons. In this way, attitudinal change can happen locally, regionally and nationally and a strong partnership with The Methodist Church would accelerate engagement at each level.

The grant will enable The Welcome Directory to continue to employ their part time development coordinator as well as invest in core fundraising and communication activities and grow the national team by employing a prison relationships manager and a community relationships manager to develop the essential aspects of the work which makes the directory possible.

There are about 120 prisons across England and Wales with a population of around 86,000 prisoners. Approximately 15% of the prison population worships with the chaplaincy every year. Approximately 80,000 people are released from prison every year, of which about 12,000 have faith or belief of some kind. At the end of 2016 there were 236 prisoners in England and Wales registered as Methodist. Methodist Chaplains currently make up approximately 20% of all Chaplains from Free Churches traditions. Most prisoners do not make a connection with a local faith community post release.

Research has shown the strong impact that a welcoming and supportive faith community can have upon reducing reoffending. Presently, in cases not involving serious or sexual offenders, chaplains use the internet to find faith communities to recommend to prisoners unless they personally know of a suitable faith community. The Welcome Directory changes all of that and creates the possibility that the majority of those 12,000 prisoners will easily be able to find a community that can help them create a new and better life and see an overall reduction in reoffending across the country.

The Welcome Directory works with multi faith prison chaplaincy teams to invite local faith communities to participate in the three Welcome Directory sessions and then register. We encourage each chaplaincy to invite 15 new faith communities per year to work towards registering.

The three regions we will work with over the coming four years are the North East, East Midlands and London/South East. The Methodist Connexional Team via the Chaplaincy Forum have shown a strong commitment to support the development of The Welcome Directory in relation to the seven districts which fall within the three focus areas which cluster around active resettlement prisons.

Every Methodist District in England and Wales has the opportunity to become involved in the work in the years ahead and the process can scale given time and resources to cover every district in England and Wales.

Grant awarded: £140,000

The Youth Work 360, Youthscape

Over the last two years, Youthscape has supported churches in our town to do youth work where it had dried up over the past decade. We learnt some important lessons. The most important is how fundamental is finding volunteers to take on the task and giving them the confidence and skills to do the work. The people doing the youth work are the most fundamental asset to what is being done. It’s not a huge leap, therefore, to realise that how we recruit, train and equip volunteers to do youth work is crucial. In the past, courses like ‘Spectrum’ have been invaluable in the church. But there is no comprehensive and up-to-date programme available today. This realisation has led us to focus on how best to train volunteer youth workers - and begin a discussion with the Methodist Church.

We considered different approaches to training. What emerged was the value of putting people together in the same room. We also learnt that training needs to be deep enough to be worth coming to but simple enough not be overwhelming; and realistic about time commitment. We also learnt that inviting people into training sessions is a highly effective recruitment tool – those who ruled themselves out, but were persuaded to attend an evening, came back again and again and discovered a calling to serve young people. As a result, we made a decision to focus on monthly training evenings, where volunteers can meet together and learn from each other.

Deciding on what content to cover is more challenging that might at first appear. As a result, we developed a simple list of thirty key topics:

  • Ten insights into the lives of young people today – a window into their world
  • Ten skills that help any youth work volunteer run a session or activity
  • Ten aspects of a volunteer youth work’s own life, faith and character that shape their ministry with young people

This simple breakdown of topics was the breakthrough we needed. It’s immediately easy to grasp by people and that there’s an end to the course! Between 2016 and 2017, we carried out a feasibility project, running ten evening sessions for volunteers. The impact was immediate. It has given volunteers fresh impetus to what they are doing. It has also worked equally well for churches with just a small handful of young people, and those with larger more established youth groups.

After a year of this feasibility project, we feel the concept has been tested and proven – now we need to develop the content and run a more substantial pilot. What is also emerging is a longer-term vision for a national resource. A course that Districts and Circuits can deliver up and down the country – and one that can be offered to other denominations, picking up on the wider connexional aspirations of this grant-making programme. One that’s rooted in thorough development and testing and closely linked to the core skills being considered for development in the church to complement the existing core skills for children’s and family work.

We are not yet ready to offer anything nationally. But this proposal asks you to fund the next stage of the project: developing the content in much more detail and delivering the training course across the whole Circuit as an official pilot over the next two years. If, as we expect, the course is effective, the opportunity to expand access to it across all Districts would follow in future years. The work done so far has been something of a ‘labour of love’ of two people on the Youthscape staff who feel especially zealous about this area of ministry. The sheer scale of what we want to achieve means that we feel we have got as far as possible with this work running as a side line to our normal work. It now needs taking on properly - and someone with the right skills is urgently needed to do so.

Grant award £72,500

Under 5s Worker, Plymouth Central Hall

Under 5s Worker, Plymouth Central Hall

This project has two aims:

- to support ongoing work with the under 5 age group and their families by employing a part-time worker;

- to build a large soft play area, in the multipurpose hall already used by children’s groups to act as an attractive meeting space and eventually provide income to support the work.

The provision that we want to offer is sadly lacking within the city centre and will benefit large numbers of young families. It will fit well alongside Central Hall’s outreach project on the opposite side of the city centre, The Oasis Project (home to the Plymouth Foodbank and a debt advice initiative). Evidence from the results of the pilot year have demonstrated that this can be successful.

Grant awarded: £35,524

Woodgate Valley Community Worker

Woodgate Valley Community Worker, Birmingham Circuit

We wish to continue to grow and develop the work which we started on the South Woodgate Estate 8 ago. We have received 3 years (2015 to 2018) of funding from MAPJ (£10,000 p.a.), Birmingham Methodist Circuit and Grimmit Trust, which will end in August 2018. In our current bidding for funds we hope we will secure the funding that will enable us to implement a three-year plan towards building the capacity of the WVCA to initiate and develop projects in a more independent way.

The project is based in an outer city estate on the edge of Birmingham which is recognised as a deprived area. Our work so far has become a valuable community project which has birthed a viable residents’ association, the Woodgate Valley Community Association (WVCA), which we assist to make decisions about making a difference in their community and supporting them with training and research through an ever-evolving Committee. Through this local group, five key result areas were identified in the community, namely, a lack of community activities, community safety, education and employment, health, and fitness (including mental health) as well as the appearance and upkeep of the area. There has been an annual review of these community-defined priorities since the project started and the focus has been consistently and overwhelmingly on these areas.

We are developing training programmes for the estate with the aim of helping our volunteers and other residents unpack and understand their strengths and what they have to offer. This is a direct result of much success in this area, informally within our work, with several people who had been unemployed for many years getting back to work, and many others having spoken in depth of the difference our work has made.

In addition to this we continue to encourage and support several Christian people working alongside the volunteers, especially in our collaboration with the 3 local churches. Highlighting their work, but also creating space for conversation and dialogue about faith, as well as engaging meaningfully and respectfully with challenging or even controversial issues.

Grant awarded: £30,000

Connect International

This project aims to plant an entirely new congregation in the existing Methodist building in Tiviot Dale, in the centre of Stockport. The vision for the project arises from the work of Rev. Luiz Cardoso in East Oldham. Luiz planted a new congregation that is bilingual, worshipping in English and Portuguese.  However, it is noticeable that the congregation, which has grown from scratch to about 60 in approximately 18 months, is made up of people from a wide variety of national backgrounds and speaking, as their first language, several different languages.  It is the open and accessible style of worship that is lively and contemporary for younger adults that is the main attraction.  A short video of the church can be seen here: https://youtu.be/olYSOqxQtww

During the summer of 2017 Luiz was challenging the Methodist Church in the Manchester and Stockport District to give him the opportunity to plant further churches.  At the same time the District Mission Enabler, Rev. Rod Hill, was engaged in a major review of the Stockport Circuit, where it became clear that the Tiviot Dale Church, in its current form, was nearing the end of its life.  The treasurer was saying that if current trends were to continue as expected then in less than two years the church would run out of money. It seemed to Luiz and Rod that the building at Tiviot Dale is in a very good location for a new church that aims to gather people from a range of national and linguistic backgrounds from across South Manchester to form a new international church, worshipping in English and Portuguese. 

In the autumn of 2017 the Tiviot Dale Church Council took the bold decision to vacate the building to allow the new church to be planted.  At the same time the East Oldham congregation were challenged to find 12 people from the existing membership of the Church and part of the International congregation, to form the basis of a new church in Stockport – to be the planting team and new Church Council. From the end of April 2018 there will be a new Methodist Church in Tiviot Dale, fully part of the Stockport Circuit, but known as Connect@TiviotDale

The development of the project is anticipated to go through a pilot phase, from April to August 2018, with a formal review in June 2018,  and then to run for five years, by the end of which the church is expected to be self-governing, self-financing and self-led.  Further, around the end of year 3 the intention will be to plant another new Church in another part of the Manchester and Stockport District.  During the development phase minor adaptations will be made to the Tiviot Dale building to make it suitable for the early stages of the new church but during the first two years a major programme of adaptation and refurbishment of the building will be carried out so that the building is more useful for a larger congregation and its growing and varied ministries, with youth work in the basement and adult and children’s’ ministry upstairs.

Grant awarded: £75,750

 

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