Grants Awarded 2018/19

Ablewell Advice Services, Methodist advice network

Ablewell Advice Walsall is a money and debt advice service and has been in existence since 2012. It was set up in Walsall, as a project of Methodist Central Hall to fill a gap in existing advice provision.

Ablewell’s aims and general activities can be summarised as: ‘Helping overcome poverty in Walsall by providing free, independent, confidential and impartial advice about money and benefits through a service that is fully accessible by anyone’. Ablewell supports clients with advice, benefit checks, debt consolidation, court appearances and other similar types of work that bring about the positive change in circumstances that they are seeking. There are no time limits for clients and support remains available to them to offer advice if they feel they are unable to cope or they have a change in their circumstances.

2017-18 saw an increase in the work of the project in all areas, i.e. advice, job club, foodbank and computer suite.

  • Advice: casework is increasing. The Local Authority no longer provides advice and are referring clients .
  • Job Club: The number of clients has increased.
  • Computer suite: A computer course is now run on a Friday afternoon. A pathway approach is used where clients start at different points depending on their computer skills and work their way through modules at their own pace.
  • Foodbank: There is a team of 12 volunteers for the Saturday foodbank who work on a rota basis.
  • Wednesday Lunch Club: This was a new initiative in the summer holidays, for families who might be struggling without free school meals. 
  • Volunteers: Increased number of volunteers for both the foodbank and to help with administration, including a number of people on 8-week placements organised through the Department for Work & Pensions. 

The aim of the ‘Methodist Advice Network’ is to offer assistance and advice to other Methodist churches who would like to set up similar projects. Ablewell can:

  • demonstrate that it is possible to build up (with sufficient funding) capacity to deal with multiple aspects of debt management
  • show that targeted, professional projects can be established independently; it would be helpful to find ways of disseminating this experience more widely as it could be an important learning resource for other churches running or considering debt advice services.

This project aims to build on the experience of Ablewell and the skill set it has, to be a central resource for other debt advice services, in terms of model policies and procedures, training and consultancy.

Grant awarded: £100,000


Borderlands Agricultural Chaplaincy

Borderlands Chaplaincy, Borderlands Agricultural Chaplaincy 

For the last five years we have run the Agricultural chaplaincy with one full time Chaplaincy post and as at last year we had fourteen volunteer Lay Chaplains supporting him. With a further twelve people supporting in other lay support posts conducting admin, specialist trainers, communication/marketing, ‘gofers helping strategic planning and assistants at Butty Van events, which will be explained later.

The Agricultural Chaplaincy is renowned not only for its positive impact upon the communities it engages with but also for its established working relationships with a range of organisations including, Farming Crisis Networks, National Farmers Union, Trading Standards, RSPCA, local councils, police, GP’s, the Hospice movement and dementia specialists. It is through both building these relationships, developing their individual skills and working collectively that the chaplaincy has earned the reputation is has as the first port of call for farmers and their families in times of distress. Indeed, there have been times when in the absence of a relevant person in post, BRC has been approached by local government to assist.

Grant Awarded: £66,000

Bramhall and Wythenshawe circuit CAP debt centre

With a new staff team we are pursuing goals originally behind the merger of the Bramhall and Wythenshawe Circuits which were about Bramhall partnering the struggling Wythenshawe Circuit in Mission. The CAP Debt Centre is key to this.

A community survey we did in Benchill identified toxic debt as one of the area’s biggest problems. Our MP is very supportive of a CAP Debt centre and says that debt is behind nearly every situation coming to his surgeries. We know Methodist grants have supported other CAP Debt Centres and agree with Martin Lewis on their effectiveness in helping people out of debt, we also believe in them as a proven way of growing the Church and serving the community.

Grant awarded: £44,950

Charity Maintenance Service, Methodist Action (North West) Ltd

Charity Maintenance Service, Methodist Action (North West) Ltd 

Methodist Action is an award winning charity created in 2010.  The Charity continues the social action work with the homeless in 1978 through the congregation of Central Methodist Church, Preston.  Our work currently covers the areas of Preston, South Ribble, Lancaster, Morecambe & Blackburn – located in the Methodist Lancashire District.  The Charity is focussed on helping to tackle multiple disadvantage - homelessness, poor housing, poor health, worklessness and poverty.  Our Vision is ‘to provide those in need with access to safe, secure and sustainable places to live and thrive’, expressed through our three social objectives:

  • to LIVE: provide good quality, affordable places to live
  • to STAY: provide support to enable people to regard these places as their homes
  • to GROW: provide wider services that use this foundation to develop a person’s skills, confidence & independence

This is currently delivered through an empty property renovation programme; a supported accommodation scheme and a social lettings service, which meet the first two of these social objectives and have enabled us to currently house over 400 people in affordable homes, some with direct support.

Through the generosity of a previous Connexional grant we have been able develop our accommodation provision through the appointment to new roles, helping us build capacity.  This is focussing on our empty property work and tenancy support.  This work is progressing well and has helped us not only to seek our own service development, but also develop strong partnership arrangements with other charities.  Many of these partnerships focus on specific areas of need, such as youth homelessness (16-25) and asylum seeker/refugee accommodation.

As this work continues, particularly on the delivery of tenancy support, we have highlighted another role which will help us develop the link between the ‘to STAY’ and ‘to GROW’ objectives.  All our maintenance is currently provided by outside contractors – at great cost to the charity.  We see the provision of a Property Repairs & Tenancy Sustainment Service as a way of undertaking repair work in house, but also providing a vital support focussed role to the tenants to enable them to sustain their tenancies and gain valuable skills.

Grant Awarded: £47,735 

Children and Families Worker Post, Stoke-on-Trent North Circuit

In the applicant’s own words - Stoke-on-Trent North Circuit intend to employ a full time Children and Families Worker for a period of 5 years commencing summer 2019. This person will develop and lead an established Messy Church in Tunstall which now has 100 people attending. They will also set up and lead a permanent Messy Church at Fegg Hayes, which has been successfully piloted and will play a role in developing similar work in Norton where the circuit has merged two congregations and purchased a former community centre in the middle of the estate as a new base for our work in the area. 

New work will also be developed with the congregation in Milton and as the initial activities become established the worker will work with churches within the circuit to explore and develop new areas of ministry.

This is part of a repositioning of the circuit’s whole work which has seen it work with others to create and support foodbanks within the city. The Circuit also led a shared piece of work with Stoke Mission circuit to establish a Night shelter in the city which now works in collaboration with the city council and other agencies to deliver a 7 night/week service over the winter and on-going support for individuals throughout the year.

Fegg Hayes has a Big Lottery funded community hub building (alongside the refurbished chapel building), built in 2016 and now providing a base for good community work in an area in the lowest 1% in the country in terms of indices of multiple deprivation (this work is led by a separate charity established by the church but there is a strong partnership between the two organisations).

It has long been hard to bring ordained ministers to this part of the city and this post is designed to sustain our more contemporary work should we lose one of our ordained staff and enhance our provision if we don’t.

As a circuit we have good reserves financially due to some significant bequests and proceeds of sale of buildings but are seeking to make these work for as long as possible and in as many places as possible. Working in a poor city, which will probably get poorer as EU funding drops out of projects, makes replacing money more difficult so we are seeking to be good stewards of all we have.

Grant awarded: £18,000

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in Aberkenfig

Christians Against Poverty in Aberkenfig, Tondu Methodist Church – known as The Wesley Centre

We are applying for a grant so that the Christians Against Poverty (CAP) project running in this deprived area of Wales may employ a second paid worker to better support the overwhelming numbers of people asking for help in order to get out of dept. 

This is an Ecumenical project of which the Methodist Church, known as The Wesley Centre, Tondu plays a major role. The project comes under the title of ‘Aberkenfig Ministries’ as it includes all churches in the area of Aberkenfig and is a registered charity. We have been running a Debt Centre for the last 3 years and it has been funded from the proceeds of a charity shop, which is in the village of Aberkenfig, South Wales.  The shop has a paid part-time manager and many volunteer staff drawn from all the local churches and plays a specific witness in the area. Until now the profit from the shop has been sufficient to cover the costs of the CAP project, which also requires a paid manager. However, the project has been under pressure to expand as it is finding difficulties in coping with the number of people needing help through debt counselling. The shop was making a loss earlier this year and a complete review took place, including the employment of a new manager. This has already created a positive change in its income, which has now risen to £600 per week.

The region we cover is from the M4 corridor north of Bridgend junction 36, covering postcodes CF32 and 34. This area is a deprived, ex-mining community where there is high unemployment, mental health issues and where substance misuse is common. Many households are in debt and struggling to find money for basic essentials such as food and utilities. Part of the area is 6th on the Welsh index of multiple deprivation.  There are several Community First areas in the locality namely, Sarn, Bettws, Llangeinor, Blackmill and Pant-yr-awel.

At present the Debt Centre is supported by The Wesley Centre, Tondu, The Church in Wales, The Church of God, Aberkenfig, Community Church Aberkenfig, and Nazareth Baptist Church. People who live in the local community volunteer in the Charity shop and it is a place where they can develop their evangelism and speak about God. Some have then developed their skills to accompany the debt centre manager to visit people in their homes and offer on-going support as clients work to clear their debts.

As a development with a second employed person, we would like to offer a Jobs Club as a drop-in facility where people could feel comfortable to ask questions and gain support while working to clear their debts and indeed discuss life after their debts are clear and look for work. This would include completing a Money Course that teaches a number of skills on how to budget and an Eat Well, Spend Less course that covers nutrition, basic cooking and planning. The drop in would also teach Life Skills such as reading and writing.

In the last 3 years the CAP centre has helped 54 families become debt free, which is the maximum number that CAP allow us to work with. Analysing the figures nearly 78% of those needing to clear debt have used the Insolvency Service. The criteria for applying for a Debt Relief Order is that when CAP look at incomes verses outgoings for priority debt, individuals must have less than £50 a month disposable income to be able to clear secondary debt.

Grant Awarded: £37,900

Community Centre Manager, Gravesend Methodist Church & Community Centre

Community Centre Manager, Gravesend Methodist Church & Community Centre 

Quietly getting on with God’s mission of working in the community has for many years been central to the ethos of this church.  Over the years this has taken many forms as we have risen to the challenges of that time. e.g.  helping Eastern European refugees arriving on our doorstep as they escaped from the troubles in Eastern Russia in the 1980’s. 

As a Church we sought God’s guidance as to our future through reflection and consultation. The outcome from whether we ended our association here at Gravesend in its present form or by sharing with others resulted in the decision to give it 5 years to carry out our plans to make major changes to the building. Key decisions made at the time were to divide the building scheme into three phases therefore enabling us to achieve something in the near future at the rear of the Church rather than wait to complete the whole.

The creation of a Community Centre with a Reception Area at the rear had an enormous impact on the community and congregation as interest in the use of the facilities increased and a mixture of volunteers with faith and no faith came forward to serve in the Centre. The installation of a shower with laundry facilities was another in which the church grew by meeting the needs of the homeless. A meeting to bring Churches together in Gravesham to discuss the need to provide assistance to homeless led to Gravesend Methodist Church unanimously agreeing to the use of the premises as a night shelter, now well known in the area as The Sanctuary. The Circuit employed a very able Lay Worker to manage the workload which was done efficiently until he moved to another post.

Our building is also used by community groups who provide activities for people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. These include English lessons for new immigrants as well as language lessons for children of migrant communities who are recent settlers to our town. We welcome community groups who offer drop in sessions for people who need a safe space to meet with friends or make new friends.

The Circuit in conjunction with the church appointed a Centre Manager from the local Community, who was one of the volunteers previously unknown to us, with the knowledge and managerial capability beyond our expectations. The Centre Manager oversees the input of statistics, the volunteers, the showers, laundry and clothes bank and food and drinks for our guests making sure they find and receive a warm welcome and genuine hospitality. The position is a post within the Circuit and the time is approaching when the cost of employment with pass to the church. The manager takes care of the health and safety of all the people who use the building on a daily basis. This means managing the hire of rooms as well as meeting the needs of those guests who require more specific help. The manager makes sure that volunteers are able to meet the immediate needs of homeless guests as well as ensuring these guests and anyone else needing help are signposted to appropriate agencies as necessary. To ensure that this post continues to exist to meet the needs of our local community we are applying for a grant to contribute to the salary of our Centre Manager for the coming five years.

Grant Awarded: £40,000

Community Intergenerational Project, Liverpool North Central Circuit

Community Intergenerational Project 2019 to 2022, Liverpool North Central Circuit 

Working in the deprived communities of inner city North Liverpool we see the physical and spiritual needs of many disadvantaged people on a daily basis.  People and community are at the heart of the vision of the Circuit and we are passionate to develop our mission to those living most local to us. We wish to act now and offer what we can to make a difference to the communities in which we reside and live.

After careful planning and assessment of impact and risks we have developed a Community Intergenerational project for the three years 2019 to 2022 which we believe can best achieve our mission objectives and service our communities.

This project will work in some of the most deprived areas of North Liverpool from the existing church bases at County (Kirkdale), Kensington and West Derby.  The project will support two part time lay employee posts of 20 hours per week each; being a Children and Family Worker (CFW) and a Community and Church Liaison Officer with responsibility for older and isolated people (CCLO).  These workers will support the existing ministry team under the supervision of the Superintendent Minister.  The project will build and develop on the successes of the existing CFW post commenced in 2016, and due to end in 2019, when current funding stops. 

The project will involve a variety of activities for children and families and for lonely and isolated people in various deprived communities in North Liverpool.  Activities will be open to all, free at point of use and take place in the safety of our church premises.  They will be led by workers and volunteers with a passion for community service and outreach.  A number of activities will work closely with other church, community and charitable groups either directly or through sharing of volunteers or provision of resources.  The project will seek opportunities for intergenerational working enabling all ages to be engaged by each other.

It is hoped that, through the delivery of this community intergenerational project, marginalised communities will feel that the Church identifies with them; local disadvantaged people see the Church in a new light and volunteers, new to Church, may start to explore spirituality and be drawn into the Church community.

Grant Awarded: £48,900

Connect@TiviotDale, Stockport

The Bridge Centre, Connect@TiviotDale, Tiviot Dale Methodist Church 

Tiviot Dale is located right in the centre of Stockport, in one of the 2% most deprived communities in the country.  The circuit has long had a vision to serve the most marginalised people in Stockport through Tiviot Dale, most recently through a homeless shelter, which proved to be abortive because of the restrictive conditions imposed by the council in respect of the planning application.

Since that abortive scheme the former church council agreed to hand the building over to a new set of managing trustees by the appointment of a new church council.  The new church plant, known as Connect@TiviotDale began its ministry in April 2018 and is already growing rapidly.  The church is now ready to partner with various organisations in the Stockport area (Christians Against Poverty, Fare Shares and others) to operate a debt centre and foodbank ministry.  However, to do this there is a need to employ a suitably qualified member of staff to work with the team of dedicated volunteers from the church and, we hope, circuit.

This is a very young church, with an impressive record.  Not only has the church enabled worship and discipleship development to grow quickly, it also has an impressive record of financial giving.  In order to begin worship a significant amount of work was needed in the building and this was undertaken by the members of the church, with some professional support, and involved significant financial contributions too.  The average offertory is currently running at over £10 per member per week and that is expected to be maintained into the long-term future, but with a growing membership.  Nevertheless, despite significant generosity form largely low paid young adults, they are not currently able to support the ordained ministry and building running costs plus the cost of a poverty centre project manager.  Hence the application for significant MAPJ funding.

Grant Awarded: £74,000

Connect International, Stockport (church plant)

The project began in April 2018, with a pilot phase supported by a Mission in Britain grant and is now in its first full year, also supported by a Mission in Britain grant.  Already the Church is significantly exceeding the expectations that we had a year ago, in terms of the number of people attending worship, number of Methodist members and range of activities. 

The pilot phase is now complete, and is well into the first full year. The Church has proved to be more fruitful than could have been imagined.  The worshipping congregation is now over 80 adults a week and youth and children’s work are flourishing.  Social media promotion has been particularly successful in drawing people from across South Manchester and street evangelism has drawn people from the local community of Stockport.  It is now essential that progress is made towards the church becoming self-sustaining in terms of its leadership and finances.  Connect is on course to become self-sustaining by September 2023, just five years after planting the Church.  However, further grant funding is needed, on a diminishing basis.

During year three of the life of the Church, 2020/21 the plan is to launch a second Connect Church by taking a group of about a dozen members of Connect@TiviotDale to plant elsewhere in the Manchester & Stockport District.  This will have the effect of reducing the income for the Church from direct giving in that year and thus it may take an additional year before self-sufficiency for Connect@Tiviot Dale is achieved. 

The vision for the project arises from the work of Rev. Luiz Cardoso in East Oldham.  Here, Luiz had planted a new congregation that is bilingual (English and Portuguese).  However, it is noticeable that the congregation, which had grown from scratch to about 60 in approximately 18 months, was made up of people from a wide variety of national backgrounds and speaking, as their first language, several different languages. 

During summer 2017 Luiz was challenging 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 with effect from the Sunday after Easter 2018 to allow the new church to be planted.  At the same time the East Oldham congregation were challenged to find 12 people to form the basis of a new church in Stockport – to be the planting team and new Church Council.

From April 2018 there has been a new Methodist Church in Tiviot Dale, fully part of the Stockport Circuit, but known as Connect@TiviotDale!  The development of the project is now in its first full year but has already grown from a worshipping congregation averaging about 40 in the first month to a regular average now of about 80 and often more than 100. Over the next five years the congregation anticipates growing by about 20 members a year, and after five years expects to be self-financing and self-led.  Further, as noted above, around the end of year 3 (Summer 2021) the intention will be to plant another new church in another part of the Manchester and Stockport District.  This will lead to a short-term dip in the finances of Connect, hence the grant needed for that year is higher than it otherwise would be.

A short video of the church can be found here.

Grant awarded: £58,249

Creative Conversations, All Faiths and None

Creative Conversations, All Faiths and None [AFAN] 

This project is based on preparatory research around Luton, Ealing and Barnet, which are rich in diversity of faiths, cultures and ethnicities, but contain high proportions of deprived people.  Each of them shares the need to ensure that this diversity is nurtured and celebrated in order to counter racial and religious prejudice and to contribute to reducing the recent steep rise in hate speech and crime. The project will target young people and adults, especially those coming from deprived backgrounds, who can find it difficult to articulate their views and feelings in words, but are more comfortable making and doing things with others.                                                             

The activities will bring together members of Methodist congregations with people from faith and no-faith backgrounds in Creative Conversations – in workshop formats to engage in open conversations on key topics, challenging prejudice and fear and discovering shared values. Participants will explore and share their own and families’ stories of migration, growing up and living in UK, with the aim of developing a greater sense both of belonging together and of their own identities.   Each will be followed by creative sessions to one or more pieces of creative art created by participants working together in groups to transform their ideas into video/film, photography, painting or design. These outputs will be available for discussion by groups in Methodist Churches and other faith communities in these and surrounding areas and beyond, facilitated by AFAN tutors if required.                                                                                              

The methods, which have been pilot tested by AFAN earlier this year and illustrated recently by the artist Grayson Perry on television, also lead to less tangible outcomes: improving mutual understanding among people of faith and no faith, creating cross-cultural friendships, building participants’ confidence, including in tackling prejudice and hatred, and providing skills for life and work. The grant would fund all project costs: staff costs (including film technical support), project co-ordination and delivery, project resources (facilities/venue hire).       

Grant Awarded: £40,000

Eco Church Development, A Rocha UK

Eco Church Development, A Rocha UK 

Eco Church is the only national ecumenical scheme that exists to help churches engage with environmental issues. Eco Church is an online award scheme that supports and inspires churches to learn more about the environmental implications of their Christian faith and take action. The programme provides a suite of resources for use in churches and by individuals in the congregation. These provide sound theological teaching on caring for the environment.

The recent updating of the Eco Church survey has made the Eco Church programme more accessible to smaller churches with less resources and therefore more inclusive. Eco Church supports the shared calling of Methodism by creating a toolkit for the Methodist Church. Eco Church equips and supports Methodist churches to take action to care for the environment by living more simply, more sustainably, in solidarity with the poor, and those affected by climate change and loss of access to abundant nature. We now seek to develop the scheme further to inspire and equip many more churches to act on the imperative to take care of the environment.

The existing web platform has served the scheme well, but it needs redeveloping if we are to build communities of churches and make effective use of the data that it holds. Importantly we wish to share more information with our partners and denominational leaderships about how churches are engaging with Eco Church in order to help inform their strategic approach to environmental care.

Following several successful conferences in the first 3 years of Eco Church (two of them hosted in Methodist churches ), we will run a series of annual conferences at both regional and national level. These gatherings will provide opportunities for people involved in creation care in their own churches to learn from each other and from experts in the field, while receiving the encouragement they need to persevere in their efforts. We also want to participate regularly in Methodist fora (including Conferences) and retreats for people involved in leading on caring for creation in their own church.

The A Rocha UK team is now providing updates and stories for the connexion magazine and we hope to expand this activity. We will also continue to publicize the scheme widely through our own efforts, including our growing church speakers’ network, media contacts, events and other channels as appropriate.

We will continue to develop resources to equip and empower Methodist churches to care for the environment / progress through the Eco Church scheme including both general and Methodist specific resources. We anticipate funding from specific sources to develop a carbon footprint calculator for churches in conjunction with one of our funding organisations. We would make any resulting carbon footprint data available to Methodist Church House.

The A Rocha UK team have been working with Steve Hucklesby on the development of Eco Circuit and are waiting for a launch date to be set. The A Rocha UK team will be working with Winchester, Eastleigh and Romsey Circuit initially to work through the new programme.

Grant Awarded: £75,000

Family Worker (Phase 2), The King’s Cross Church Hexthorpe, Doncaster

In the church’s own words - The work of the Methodist Church in Hexthorpe (The King’s Cross Church) continues to expand and new people are coming into the broader work as well as into the congregation and membership which has grown to 93. With assistance from Connexional Grants Committee we recruited a full time Family Worker in 2017. Since then there has been a very significant increase in our outreach for our fractured community. We have seen faith and hope discovered and nurtured in parents, carers, young people and children. We have new volunteers and many more activities. However, we really need an extra three years of concentrated full time ministry to ensure this foothold is not lost, programmes get established and volunteers equipped to take the work forward.

The King’s Cross Church’s motto is ‘Making Jesus Known’ and it seeks to do so by word and deed: declaring and serving. The community is extremely mixed. There are 30 languages spoken by the children at the local Primary Academy and, over recent times, have been as many as 18 birth nationalities in the worshipping congregations. The new church building (worship upstairs and hall, kitchen etc downstairs) was opened in 2013 and all the space is well used as is the newly renovated old Wesleyan church / hall on the same site named ‘The Crossing’.

The church has operated its excellent community project, named The Junction, for 25 years and it is now situated in the redeveloped premises that were an old pub. A number of Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Conference have visited it.

Worship on TKCC site is held in three languages. An English speaking congregation meets Sunday mornings and evenings; a Farsi speaking one meets Sunday afternoons and a Roma/Gypsy church meets Saturday afternoons. The Farsi speaking one is part of TKCC. The Roma / Gypsy one is new to us and has developed out of some local evangelism done by leaders from Rotherham and our own minister. We hope ever closer relationships will ensue. This is a very exciting time in the history of this church.

The Job Description for The Family Worker stresses that the appointee would not lead all the work but would oversee everything and be part of a team when not the leader. The work she heads includes: Minicruz club for 5-7s running at the local school; XYZ club for teenagers for faith building and fun, youth club, various outings for families by coach or by camping; visits to homes of families for practical and spiritual support; crafts in The Junction coffee and cakes sessions there too.

The work where she is a team member includes: megacruz club for 7-11s,  Sara Group (parents and toddlers) Engine Room (messy church +) held monthly that attracts an attendance of up to 90; sessions in The Junction for children (mostly Roma) of practical work and Bible-based fun and celebration; All Age Worship; Junior Church; Youth For Christ work with Roma young people using the football cage; plans for a big event with other Doncaster churches and youth leaders with The Message Trust; and special summer activities at the park for families; Holiday Clubs and collective worship. Enthusiasm still is sparking new ideas from the Worker and the body of the church. We believe the work is very important and it is bearing a wide range of social and spiritual fruit.

Grant awarded: £42,000

Farnborough CAP Debt Centre

Farnborough CAP Debt Centre, North Camp Methodist Church 

North Camp Methodist Church is partnering with Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to open a Debt Centre to provide local support to those struggling with debt. The different routes out of debt are inherently complex, but CAP places an emphasis on making sure the advice given is clear and easy to understand. The role of the local Debt Centre is to provide face-to-face support throughout the process. CAP’s services meet people where they are. In the midst of their situation CAP offers non-judgemental help, holistic support and always hope. In Matthew 25:34-40, we are called to live out Jesus’ mission to bring good news to the poor and serve them practically. A CAP Debt Centre will enable our church to live out this mission by reaching out to the poor in our communities and sharing with them the Good News.

Grant Awarded: £15,000

Food for the Way, Lerwick

Food for the Way, Lerwick and Walls Methodist Circuit 

We want to develop a fellowship of care for people in Shetland who are struggling with life for a variety of reasons including poor mental health, drug and alcohol problems, and offenders seeking rehabilitation.

Based on a model which has been piloted over the past 18 months by the local Salvation Army, we want to offer support through meals-based hospitality. Inspired by the example of Abraham (Genesis 18:1-15) the intention will be to help participants to go on their way (Genesis 18:5, NIV). As well as offering regular meal-based events, this will involve listening to participants, acting as an advocate for them in some cases, and working with statutory and other bodies to help them on their way.  Engagement with the Christian faith will not be required, however we will provide opportunities for participants to explore the Way of Jesus within a fellowship of mutual care. 

To develop this project we need to employ a Pioneer worker to reach out to those in need and help to coordinate a team of volunteers who will run the fellowship events. The majority of the funding for this project relates to the employment of the Pioneer worker. 

Grant Awarded: £50,000

Free Church Chaplain, University of Bristol, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Circuit

In the words of the 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. The Free Church Chaplain has been a significant contributor to the chaplaincy team’s work at the University of Bristol for over 30 years, and in the past decade this collaboration has involved working closely and creatively with chaplains of both other Christian denominations and other faith traditions.

The Free Church Chaplain is one of two Christian Chaplains paid to spend the majority of their ministry in the University of Bristol Multifaith Chaplaincy team (the other being the Anglican and Coordinating Chaplain). These two chaplains, as well as a full-time Chaplaincy Assistant, form the “core team” of the Multifaith Chaplaincy.

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

Grant awarded: £45,733

Full Time Community Outreach Worker, Priory Place

Full Time Community Outreach Worker, Priory Place, Doncaster 

Priory Place is the town centre Methodist Church for Doncaster (population 300.000). Whilst the church remains active in its social outreach to those loitering in town because they have nowhere else to be, the majority of our congregation are past retirement age. We have reflected hard and deep over the last year on whether we should continue as a church and in what form. We have emerged united in the belief that we are still called to minister and bring good news to the town centre population, 10,000 of whom pass our door each day, and that to do so effectively we will need to make radical changes to our programme of worship and other activities. Our plan for renewal is centred around outreach, nuture anf in-reach. early signs since we started making changes have been encouraging, but we need a community outreach worker if we are to fulfil our missional potential and meet the pressing needs of the people around us.

Grant Awarded: £50,000

Hinkley Chaplaincy, Plymouth & Exeter District

Hinkley Chaplaincy, Plymouth & Exeter District  

In September 2016 the Government confirmed its intention to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.  It soon became clear that this was to be the biggest engineering project ever seen in Europe and that - at one stage - over 10,000 people will be employed on the building site. Conversation amongst the church leaders in Somerset led to an agreement that we should seek to employ a full-time chaplain during the construction phase of the new plant.  The church Leaders made a visit to the site in 2017 and agreement was sought and given for the placing of a chaplain on the site.  It was also agreed that a team of volunteer chaplains would be recruited so that extensive cover could be offered throughout each day of construction and that a paid, full-time Co-ordinating Chaplain would be needed to lead the Chaplaincy and co-ordinate the ministry being offered.

The opportunity to create a genuinely ecumenical project has been warmly embraced by all.  The partner denominations are:

  • The Diocese of Bath & Wells (Church for England)
  • The Diocese of Clifton (Roman Catholic)
  • The Southwestern Synod of the United Reformed Church
  • The South West Baptist Association
  • The Severn and Somerset Division of the Salvation Army
  • The Plymouth & Exeter District of the Methodist Church

The partners have agreed to jointly finance the Hinkley Chaplaincy, initially for a period of five years, from March 2018.  The United Reformed Church has earmarked a manse at Cannington for the use of the Co-ordinating Chaplain.

Grant Awarded: £50,000

HOPE@TRINITY (HATCH), Trinity Methodist Church, Shettleston

Trinity Methodist Church, Shettleston, Glasgow 

Hope@Trinity is a community hub which encourages the growth of whole-persons (mind, body and spirit). Through a range of activities, workshops, referral processes and community partnerships Hope@Trinity provides a safe and welcoming place in which people can find a place and be encouraged to thrive. Built on a relational model and encouraging participation at all levels, Hope@Trinity will encourage the sharing of life, stories, experiences, skills, challenges and faith while offering practical support around food and nutrition through its community cafe and nutrition workshops. With an emphasis on food for the body, food for the mind, and food for the soul, staff, volunteers and local people will walk together on a journey of discovery.

Grant awarded: £26,700

Kent Estuary Youth, Kendal Circuit

In the KEY project's own words - The first three years of our activity has been made possible by funding from a number of grant-giving trusts, and from external church grants, along with some local church and community sources.  This has enabled us to build relationships with young people, to build up our activity and to build trust with the School and others in the communities.

Our input is mainly delivered through paid and professional youth work staff. Our emphasis is on an active programme of fun and engaging activities and projects which can be used to help young people further to develop their personal skills and their ability to make informed choices. The focus is on young people who are challenged and/or whose home circumstances are challenging.

It involves activity in Dallam School and in the community. In the School, it includes One to Ones for young people needing additional support; a lunch time “drop in” (providing a safe, creative, fun space for young people to engage and develop youth-led activities around issues relevant to them); Alternative Curriculum workshops and special projects.   The Alternative Curriculum workshops are timetabled into the school day for pupils identified as needing additional support and have focused on issues such as bullying and emotional well-being and resilience. The community activities include a Youth Café (currently one day per week in M:Hub); sports and/or fun sessions and trips and a weekly youth club in Arnside. In addition, we have developed a range of young people’s projects. We have also initiated a number of community and intergenerational activities – including the Milnthorpe May Day celebration and participation in Christmas on the Green; a day of action with random acts of kindness, an intergenerational arts project and engagement in a local care home. We participated in preparations for the walking Nativity in Milnthorpe, where our young people took part. We plan to develop similar initiatives again.

In 2016 we worked on a regular basis with 77 young people and reached an overall total of 185. In 2017 the equivalent figures were 134 and 348. (2018 figures will be produced for our annual report after 31 December.)

In order to develop this work further as outlined in the Strategic Review attached paper it is necessary for us to employ a second full time worker.

Grant awarded: £64,700

Milton Keynes Christian Foundation, Good Community Neighbours

The goal of Good Community Neighbours is to support local churches to participate in the growth and flourishing of individuals and local communities through the development of multiple-micro-social-enterprises, projects and community activities. The Christian Foundation currently operates eight social enterprises all of which started from small projects and activities with our local community. We have wanted for some time to explore how this approach might be developed to support local churches, but have struggled to identify the resources to take this forward. The possibility of partnering with our local Methodist District to develop and test a programme based on our model of mission is for us an exciting opportunity to develop our work in a wider context. We will work to create and implement a programme for supporting and working with churches that will hopefully benefit them and their engagement with their communities, their neighbourhoods and have the potential to be replicated in other areas across the Connexion.

The programme that we are proposing involves a series of processes and builds on our own experience of developing social enterprises within our local communities. The key finding of the research has been that ‘increasing participation in practical everyday activities’ that benefit communities can ‘transform people’s lives and the neighbourhoods in which those people live’. The funding will be used to employ a worker to deliver, develop and refine the programme, taking this forward in partnership with local churches across the Northampton District. We will work with the District to identify the initial focus, though we imagine that early participants will be from those churches within areas where there are clusters of disadvantage. Fundamental to the programme is the belief that within our churches and communities there are skills, talents and untapped energy and resources that offer the best means of growing individuals and communities. Encouraging local people to take control and find ways forward with some of the pains and possibilities of their communities embeds greater creativity and resilience both in them and their neighbourhoods. Churches, as community resources, often have space, equipment and knowledge of processes which are especially valuable when incubating new activities.

‘Good Community Neighbours’ is based around five interrelated steps/processes. Following initial conversations with churches and their ecumenical partners to introduce and explain the programme, small groups who may be interested in joining in the programme will be formed. There will also be an exploration of the theology of mission, for which we develop a study pack, encouraging reflection on how the churches engage with their local communities. The programme processes are:

Engage: This first step will involve participants engaging with their communities. This need not require significant initial time or commitment; rather it is encouraging folk to have a stance of intentional listening whilst doing everyday things.

Gather: The members will be encouraged to share with each other the ‘pains and possibilities’ that are emerging from their listening, gathering the common messages that are becoming evident from their engagement.

Generate: The group will then look to join or bring together those with energy around particular issues. With the support of the worker they will generate ideas for simple, small, practical actions.

Deliver: Speedy delivery of the chosen action is another critical factor in the process. When nothing seems to be happening motivation can quickly drain away.

Grow: Some actions will have the potential and energy to be repeated, extended or developed. This could lead to a series of actions, a course or a more permanent activity. 

Grant awarded: £61,500

Mosaic Church Hull – The Next Chapter

Mosaic Church was planted in January 2015 as a result of a partnership between the Methodist Church and the Pioneer Network.  Now in its 5th year, Mosaic is modelling an innovative and faithful way of forming a new church community in an area of significant deprivation.  It is committed to being a place of ‘hope and help’ to local people offering practical and spiritual support.  

The Circuit, District, and Pioneer Network have all invested heavily in the first stages of this new church, but in order for Mosaic to continue to grow and see lasting fruit, further financial investment is now needed.  The Pioneer Network do not have the funds to invest from August 2019 and so we are seeking financial help from the Connexion.  

Firm foundations and good leadership are now in place, but this grant is vital to support both the next chapter of Mosaic itself but also to enable wider learning and sharing so that similar churches can be planted and thrive in the future. 

The grant will enable:  growing the range of local ministries available at Mosaic;  growing the number of new Christians; developing how all that is being learnt at Mosaic can be shared within the District and beyond to enable other new plants in estates and areas of deprivation to develop.

Grant awarded: £50,000

New Room Project 2019 - 2024
To seize to the full the opportunities provided by the new facilities at the New Room and engage in mission through heritage, using the story of the Wesleys to engage people in what it means to be a Christian and the interconnection between faith and social justice.
This involves widening and better training the volunteer base, engaging extensively with the local community as well as at the national and international level, developing a wide range of activities and events for diverse audiences of all ages, and ensuring there is a strong educational programme aimed at all levels and using the museum collection, archives, and library to best effect. It is also to further increase visitor numbers and achieve the long-term financial sustainability of the New Room, which is Methodism’s most historically important building, and Charles Wesley’s House.
Grant awarded: £140,000
Nigerian Methodist Fellowship

 In the past 5 years the Connexional grant has enabled the development of the Fellowship within the Connexion. It continues to expand beyond its initial programmes most especially within London.     

The on-going activities and strategy have included:

  1. Reaching out, mobilising and encouraging fellow Nigeria Methodists in and outside London and the UK who have not been worshiping in their local Methodist churches to return and do so.
  2. Promoting integration and assimilation of all Nigerian Methodist Church members into their local communities.
  3. Encouraging integration and education of the Youth to embrace and continue with their Methodist heritage.
  4. 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 previous Connexional grant has helped the NMC-UK to achieve and the current grant will enable consolidation of this pioneering work.

Grant awarded: £88,000


One Rock International - 100 Dreams

One Rock proposes working in partnership with the London District to empower over one hundred lay leaders to start over one hundred new missional projects in the next five years.

In recent years a growing area within missiology has been to talk of missionary entrepreneurs; pioneering leaders who start new initiatives to further the Kingdom. Often these take the form of church plants, missional communities, social enterprises, charities, arts collectives, businesses, and political campaigns.

The Minister as Entrepreneur gives the following definition of entrepreneur:

“A visionary who, in partnership with God and others, challenges the status quo by energetically creating and innovating in order to shape something of Kingdom value.” Mike Volland

Through One Hundred Dreams, 115 lay people, aged 20-40, from across the London District, will receive training and coaching in missional leadership, so they can each start a new missional venture. Fifteen leaders will join in the pilot year, and twenty-five each year after that. Over five years over one hundred new missional dreams will begin across the capital. These will be lay led innovative projects that will further the Kingdom and contribute to an understanding of 21st century church in a host of different ways.

If successful in London, this project will then be replicated in other Districts, to unleash new missional dreams through lay leaders in other towns and cities around the Connexion.

Grant awarded: £55,000


Part-time church worker (lay pastor), Chinese Fellowship, Huddersfield Mission

Part-time church worker (lay pastor*) for Chinese Fellowship at Huddersfield Mission, Huddersfield Methodist Circuit 

Globalization and migration, together with the current political, social and cultural climate in the UK has led to more Chinese/Chinese speaking migrants, students, scholars, workers and visitors to the UK. This country-wide phenomenon is also reflected in the increasing number of Chinese/ Chinese speaking people residing in and near Huddersfield. The University of Huddersfield also attracts over 1,000 Chinese/Chinese speaking students.

Over the years, such increase in the Chinese/Chinese speaking population has led to the emergence of Chinese faith organizations in the UK to cater for their spiritual, practical and cultural needs. There has been a growing number of Chinese churches and fellowships (of various denominations) up and down the country, especially in large cities such as London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield etc. However, there is no Chinese/Chinese speaking church or fellowship in Huddersfield. In fact, there is no Methodist Chinese church in the Yorkshire West District.

The Chinese Fellowship (CF) at the Huddersfield Mission was set up in March 2010 as there was a potential need for such ministry.  Since then, some 200 Chinese have come through the door of the CF, although most did not stay because of the transient nature of the congregation due to family/work/study situations.  Nevertheless, through preaching and fellowship, most became aware of God’s presence and love. Even though most moved on, gospel seeds were sown.  Some even accepted Jesus into their lives and wanted to follow Christ. There have been 2 adult baptisms, 2 became Methodist members and one is currently being trained as a local preacher.

The CF meets twice monthly on Sunday afternoons for worship in Putonghua (Mandarin) at the Huddersfield Mission. Its relatively young congregation is made up of local residents, university students and visiting scholars/relatives - All are ethnic Chinese origin coming mainly from  China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Macau. The average number of adult attendance is 15 - 20, mostly aged 20s – 40s. There is also a Sunday school with 5- 8 children (age 3- 14).  A ‘bible-in-English’ group is held weekly during term time for those who want to learn English through the Bible.

The past eight years have proved there is definitely a need for this ministry in Huddersfield. There is potential for further developing the CF – to hold a weekly Sunday service;  to further reach out to the Huddersfield community, especially to the Chinese residents with children and the Chinese  who are socially isolated because of language limitations.

The immediate challenge for the CF is the imminent retirement (1st  January 2019) of the Chinese speaking local preacher who has been leading the CF since its inception. A part time church worker, as a lay pastor, is urgently required to take up this leadership, preaching, pastoral and co-ordinating role if the CF is to continue and to further develop. The present grant application is for the employment of this part time church worker.

Grant Awarded: £50,000

Rugby Community Hub Pilot Project

Rugby Community Hub Pilot Project, Rugby Community Hub CIC  

Rugby Methodist Church Centre (RMCC) has instigated the formation of a Community Interest Company – The Rugby Community Hub CIC. This has been done in order to build on a series of projects which have strengthened our relationships with our neighbourhood over the past 6 years, mainly through the work with our local schools, the food bank and winter night shelter. The Rugby Community Hub CIC will engage with the community to provide a focal point for social activities, based on community volunteering and a time credits system centred around our café area, it will provide benefit to people of all ages irrespective of gender, ethnicity or cultural differences. We recognise that, while our vision is for the long term, an initial pilot project is required in order to prove the concept. This application is therefore for a pilot period of 2 years, initially.

A key feature of our proposal is the planned use of the Time Credit / Time Bank concept. This is being used successfully in Sheffield and other areas of Yorkshire to engender a sense of worth and dignity in volunteers from the local community. Church members are very familiar with the concept of volunteering, and when this scheme was discussed at the Rugby Health and Wellbeing forum it was received with great excitement particularly from the doctors who saw this as a positive thing they could recommend to their patients. We would like to explore the potential of this scheme and share our findings with Connexion.

Recognising the huge need in society to strengthen mental and social well-being, we will provide a welcoming environment where people of all ages can interact; We will be doing this by having things for specific groups, for example a Youth café, eat and meet group, craft and art groups, baking group and gardening group as well as a support group for parents and carers of children with mental health issues, space for mums with young children to meet, and young people’s business development group. Friendships will be strengthened and volunteers will be on hand to encourage local people to put some of their ideas into practice, thus empowering and enabling them to create lasting change for their community. There will also be opportunities for service users to come alongside existing volunteers to help with the projects already in existence, helping boost their confidence and social skills. We recognise that the provision of such an environment will require considerable input and, while we have identified some volunteers, we envisage the provision of the necessary facilities will require paid staff, in particular to manage and organise the operation of the café.

Grant Awarded: £25,300

Sheffield Higher Education Chaplaincy, Sheffield Methodist Circuit

In the Circuit's own words - The Sheffield Circuit aims to increase HE chaplaincy from one full time chaplain and part time intern to The University of Sheffield (TUoS) to one full time and one part time chaplain serving both TUoS and Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) and increasing the internship to a part time chaplaincy assistant.

The chaplaincy team will also lead and develop The Junction, a dynamic Methodist student and young adult congregation, support students worshipping in other Methodist churches across the city, and support development of other chaplaincies across the Circuit & District.

Chaplaincy is not a form of ministry which is done primarily to grow the church. It is not the same as evangelism, and neither is it income-generating or ever likely to become self-sufficient. Rather, it is a gift from the church to the local community or to specific institutions. It is an act of witness, offered because the church cares. Its immediate value comes not necessarily in increased membership or resources, but in increased opportunities for the church to share in Christ’s mission in the world. And because, unlike the dedicated service of Christians within their day-to-day lives, it is done explicitly in the name of the Church, it offers a unique opportunity explicitly to demonstrate God’s love within the secular sphere. The students and staff of TUoS and SHU represent 15% of the adult population of the city of Sheffield. For many of these people, HE chaplaincy is likely to represent the only context in which they will encounter the Church.

However, some contextual expertise is inevitably gained, through participation, for instance, in an interfaith team, a community of biblical studies scholarship, a body of young adults, and an interdisciplinary mental health team. This project has been structured to create opportunities for this experience and stories of God-at-work beyond our chapel walls to be relayed to the people called Methodists.

The Pervasive Presence model of chaplaincy cultivated by our circuit over the last decade at TUoS, and once considered normative, is in retreat across many institutions: a consequence of the marketisation of the higher education sector and shrinking institutional church. It is being replaced by the more restrictive Student Wellbeing model, already the norm within post-1994 institutions, whereby chaplaincy is subsumed within university line management structures and delivery models. This project aims to travel in an opposite direction in Sheffield: maintaining Pervasive Presence in TUoS and developing it, with permission, at SHU. We will share what we learn from this approach, and whether it could be repeatable elsewhere across the Connexion, through the Methodist Higher Education Chaplaincy co-ordinating group (MHEC), and ecumenically through the Churches Higher Education Liaison Group (CHELG) conference.

Proceeds from an earlier sale of a large chapel have allowed us to finance ten years of full time chaplaincy from model trust funds. We now need to fund continuation of HE chaplaincy from assessments on churches, and so need Connexional support if we are to seize this opportunity to participate in the missio dei with new people in new places through an expanded chaplaincy.

Grant awarded: £60,000

Social Isolation and Loneliness Project, Walsall Methodist Circuit

Social Isolation and Loneliness Project, Walsall Methodist Circuit 

Aldridge is situated in the Walsall Borough. Aldridge is the most affluent part of the borough, and life expectancy in Aldridge is ten years higher than in other parts of the borough. Its affluence contributes to isolation and loneliness in the Village:

  • 25% of the population is aged over 65, 50% higher than the average for England and Wales
  • Many people live alone in large properties. ‘One person’ households aged 65+ account for 15.2% of the population (England & Wales: 12.4%)
  • Children were well educated, left home to go to university and never returned to Aldridge, meaning that many older people do not have family close by
  • People have acted as carers for their partners and when their partners died, having been isolated through their caring role, they lost confidence and the ability to interact with others.

Aldridge Methodist Church is situated in the heart of the village. Within a mile of the church there are seven retirement homes and two nursing homes.

Social isolation and loneliness has been recognised as an issue across the whole borough of Walsall.

Four years ago, a pilot project was carried out by Age UK in Walsall. They received funding from the Clinical Commissioning Group to work alongside GPs. GPs had recognised that many patients booked regular appointments as it was their only social interaction during the week. The pilot project included GP surgeries in Aldridge. Patients were referred to Age UK. A working group was formed with Age UK and other interested voluntary groups, including Aldridge Methodist Church. Unfortunately funding for the Age UK project was not renewed. The staff at Age UK expressed great concern about the number of people they had come across who were lonely and who would not be followed up. As a church we tried to help as much as we could but realised we did not have the resources to make address the level of need. This led to a project being scoped called ‘Project Outreach’. This was presented to Church Council in February 2014 and Church Council agreed to set aside £60,000 to cover the costs of a part time project worker for three years.

Making Connections Walsall (MCW) provides older people in Walsall with an opportunity to explore their social needs and interests. It offers older people support to build their social networks and engage in community activities and provides the health community and social care professionals with a single route of referral into appropriate local community based social support networks. They are funded from late 2017 for two years. We have kept in close contact with the Making Connections Hub that covers Aldridge. We have been keen to ensure that our project does not compete with the work that Making Connections is doing.

We have decided to extend the project from three to five years and to seek grant funding. The role of the Project Worker will be to:

  • Set up a Place of Welcome on a Monday
  • Develop links with local GPs, social services and other agencies.
  • Further develop links with the local nursing homes, retirement homes and sheltered accommodation.
  • Set up a ‘Linking Lives UK Scheme’ and recruit volunteers.
  • Set up and run a ‘Holiday at Home Scheme’ during the summer holidays.

If we secure the additional grant funding needed we will advertise a 5-year part-time post, with an intended launch date of April 2019. 

Grant Awarded: £25,000

Southend CAP Debt Advice Centre

Southend CAP Debt Advice Centre

To see more people in the Borough of Southend and surrounding areas become debt free and, through our involvement with these clients and their families, share the gospel and give them hope in their lives.  Southend CAP Debt Advice Centre (SCDAC) wants to maintain and grow this ministry. In 2014 a group of Christian Churches in Southend-on-Sea established a Debt Advice Centre linked to Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in Bradford (Regulated by FCA). As we were a consortium of Christian Churches we had to establish a separate charity and became SCDAC.  The churches involved include Methodist, Baptist, Anglican and United Reform Churches and other Christian Groups (Southend Christian Fellowship, The Isaiah Project and Southend Vineyard) Our main source of income is from partner churches although we do get generous personal donations and do our own fundraising. We have been very successful so far and, following a review, we are planning an expansion of our service to cover Rochford, Hawkwell and possibly Rayleigh as well as increasing the capacity to our current area.

Grant Awarded: £25,000

St Philip's Centre, Confident Christianity in multi-faith Britain

The St Philip’s Centre exists to help people to learn how to live well together. It facilitates intra- and inter-faith encounters to enable the development of mutual understanding and trust that leads to cooperation on areas of social concern, working together for the good of all. The overall aim of the project is to equip Christians for confident engagement with people of other faiths through structured opportunities for encounter, dialogue and joint action, that is, for different types of missional engagement (understanding mission in its broadest sense). These will form the foundations on which understanding and trust can be built equipping people to work together for the good of all.

The project will undertake four types of activities:

First, facilitating engagement for District Synods and Circuit Meetings, developing the model of “Deanery interfaith roadshow” that has proved successful in an Anglican context (, developing the principle of the Anglican-Methodist covenant of working together wherever possible. We would travel to different Districts or Circuits, overcoming the problems of geographical distance, particularly targeting more mono-cultural areas that might be otherwise resistant to interfaith engagement. The focus could be general or specific (for example, a session on Diwali or a Festivals and Faith session. The expectation would be an initial offer of a general introduction, and then more bespoke engagement, for example a scriptural reasoning model, in-depth focus on a particular faith, or a whole day of training on interfaith engagement, as was delivered to Northampton District in March 2019. This methodology enables Methodists to both take first steps and also deepen their understanding and confidence in interfaith engagement. It provides a safe forum to ask challenging questions and develop the ability to talk naturally about faith. The intention is to engage with 480 Methodists per year in selected districts.

Second, establishing an alumni network and running tri-annual engagement meetings for Methodists interested in interfaith work, providing opportunities for deeper relationships between Methodists with a calling to this work and also space to grow in confidence and share best practice. Contact will be made with Touchstone and Faith in Leadership to recruit participants for this network and share ideas of best practice and innovative ways of working.

Third, developing deeper relationships between Christians and Muslims and Jews in the East Midlands, particularly utilising films to explore questions related to discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict. This will  involve a carefully moderated and facilitated discussion forum enabling local people to express different views while building local relationships. This will increase confidence in offering a Christian perspective on a complex and divisive issue.

Fourth, pioneering new bilateral groups with a national reach, focusing on engagement with the Hindu, Sikh and Pagan communities. This will increase confidence to develop relationships with groups where they are presently weak. As the religious makeup of the UK changes it is important to develop strong partnerships across faith and belief communities, especially in an increasingly fractious and divided society. Each group would involve at least two, and ideally four Methodists, from a diverse range of backgrounds, out of a total of eight Christian participants.

Grant awarded: £90,000

The Brick Chaplaincy

The Brick was born over 40 years ago as a social welfare project set up by a Methodist Minister. 30 years later, our inspirational Minister, Tim Hall relaunched the charity to focus on support for homeless and those coping with poverty.  Initially based in an old pub, The Bricklayers, the charity has become widely recognised as The Brick.

Our work is based on 3 core values:

  • Relief   In order to help anyone, we must first meet felt needs
  • Restoration Our aim is to help people back into independent, self-sustained lives
  • Reform  We are a force for social justice and a voice for the voiceless

Although we are proud of the progress we have made in providing practical support the Trustees are absolutely committed to developing chaplaincy across the charity at all of our venues. We want a person who can be an exceptional chaplain – providing the “traditional” one to one support but also capable of building and growing a team of volunteer chaplains to be available in all of our bases.   

We work every day with people who are damaged and demoralised by poverty and homelessness.  We believe that a chaplain will help to guide, shape and influence all of our work. 

Grant awarded: £29,000.

Walk Ministries, Staffing and Advocacy

Walk Ministries is already actively involved in ministry to men who have come out of prison and wish to live out their faith, find freedom and develop new life skills. Walk offers a range of pathways including a detox  centre (Liberty Farm), supported housing, training, volunteer/work placement schemes alongside nurturing, mentoring, Christian disciples and development programmes.

Walk has developed skills and tools which could benefit the wider church and encourage it to serve in this type of ministry. The work is also beneficial beyond church and faith-based organisations to impact rehabilitation projects and services across society.

This grant enables:

  • Packaging of what has been learned and employment of an advocate who will work to raise awareness and the profile of prison ministries. The advocate will share experience and best practice with the wider church community of all denominations, public and third sector organisations with a view to influence and impact policy and procedures. They will encourage and support communities to fulfil their mission and to partner with others from diverse sectors of society to better work to serve those who are vulnerable.
  • Employment of a training lead who will resource the wider church community and organisations interested in starting or developing a prison ministry/service. The training lead will also develop and deliver internal courses to all men, staff and volunteers within Walk. In addition, they will co-ordinate weekly worship, prayer and bible studies. The training lead will update, modify, and adapt the training material to meet the needs of the different external organisations.
  • Employment of a gardener and woodwork specialist who will mentor and teach skills that can lay a foundation for their re-integration into society. The specialists will help Liberty Farm create high quality products (jams, honey, planters, fruit and vegetables) that can be sold at events, giving a platform to share Walk’s work beyond the borders of the farm, into communities and spaces that may have little or no knowledge of the work being done by Christian charities in this area of society

This grant will fund the set up and operational costs for each of these roles, by the end of the three year funding period it is envisaged that these roles would be on the way to becoming self-sustainable through finance generated through the sale of products/services.

Grant awarded: £120,000

Wharfedale & Aireborough CAP debt centre

The Wharfedale & Aireborough Circuit is situated in the northernmost parts of Bradford and Leeds; to the north is North Yorkshire and the Dales.  It is not an area of acute poverty but we are becoming increasingly aware of people facing financial crisis in our communities.

One of the Circuit churches, Burley in Wharfedale MC, has strong links with the Bradford-based charity, Christians Against Poverty (CAP).  The church received a substantial legacy and this prompted their proposal that the Circuit open a CAP debt centre.  Our Circuit area is currently a significant gap in CAP’s debt centre provision.

The Circuit spent a year carefully considering the proposal and gauging support from the Circuit churches.  In 2018 we reached the point that, with Burley’s financial contribution and enthusiasm generated around the Circuit and beyond, we had the confidence to sign a partnership agreement with CAP and discover whether someone could be found to lead the project.  Following Methodist lay employment procedures, a debt centre manager was chosen. 

The budget for the debt centre is £20k p.a. and it is our intention to fund this from contributions from the Circuit churches and from grants from funding bodies.  CAP alerted us to this grant fund and we are therefore submitting this application in the hope that the Connexion will support our response to identified need in our communities.

Grant awarded: £27,500

Who Is Your Neighbour? Sheffield Methodist District

Who Is Your Neighbour? Sheffield Methodist District 

We have been working since 2010 to help people have conversations about things that are difficult to talk about – ethnicity, cultural differences, fear of those differences and of change.  For the last three years this work has been supported by a Methodist Connexional grant which has enabled us to work in new ways, trying new things and experimenting. 

Cultural and social division in this country is palpable and our work is more needed than ever; this is reflected in increased demand.  While we continue to do some work in our own right, an increasing amount of our work is in partnership, allowing us to increase the impact of what we do.  The list of partners and potential partners wanting us to work with them is growing.   These partners include some with a national presence so the impact of our work has the potential to develop outside South Yorkshire where we are based and to be used in different parts of the country.

The heart of what we do is that people can be heard about things that matter to them, be able to hear others even when it is difficult to do so, understand each other better and work out ways of living together with our differences. 

We are applying for further funding to be able to continue working with difficult things, at a time of increasing social and cultural complexity and of widening fractures in our society. 

Grant Awarded: £142,000

Youth Pastor, English and Chinese Methodist Churches, Gillingham

Youth Pastor, English and Chinese Methodist Churches, Gillingham, North Kent Methodist Circuit       

Over the past few years, Gillingham Methodist Church has hosted the Medway Chinese Methodist Congregation on its premises.  In a spirit of connexionalism, GMC and MCMC began exploring new ways of working together, particularly with the youth for whom the Chinese/English language barrier was not a problem.  One of these explorations involved GMC’s youth worker offering a Youth Alpha course to the young people of both congregations.

From this exploration grew the idea for the two congregations to employ a full-time youth pastor to work and support the youth and young adults from both congregations. It is an integrated missional project to share resources and knowledge in the diverse ethnicity and culture. If the model works, its principles and the knowledge and understanding gained can be shared with other ethnic fellowship/groups.   We are planning for a 5-year project in order to establish a sustainable model for youth ministry that the churches will be equipped to carry on if the outside funding ceases after 5 years.

Grant Awarded: £60,000

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