The Development Fund has awarded 10 churches, across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, grants to support a range of local church and community projects including a community choir, a local arts project, and daytrips for low-income families.
The eighth round of the Development Fund will enable narrowboat trips in Broughton, new facilities to improve accessibility to the churchyard in Shippon, a Holiday Lunch club in Loudwater, a Church Community Choir in Kirtlington, essential toilet facilities in Leckhampstead, video recording facilities in Thatcham, a Jubilee open air service in Caversham, a community arts project in Oxford, a new Children and Families Minister in Marston, and building works in East Ilsley.
The Development Fund assists churches across the Diocese of Oxford to provide vital support for their communities and meet the needs of the growing population in the Thames Valley. Churches are encouraged to explore and engage with their local contexts to be¯a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world, to discern where God is at work in their communities and be missionally creative and sustainable in response to local challenges.
Out on the water
Broughton Church, in Aylesbury, were gifted a narrowboat in 2016 to restore and offer trips and retreat days for local people, clergy and school groups. Identifying an increasing number of local people in need and the heightening cost of living crisis, the church has refocused the vision for the narrowboat to offer day trips on the canal for low-income families and anyone struggling with life. The grant will support the maintenance of the boat enabling the trips to be provided free of charge.
The Revd Phil White, Vicar of Broughton Church, shares the new vision:
"Working with our connections at the local food bank, citizens advice, town centre chaplaincy and neighbouring churches, we want to 'bless those in our community who need a blessing' with canal boat trips offering a relaxing time and space away with their family.
"We hope that by demonstrating our faith in a practical way and showing that the church is there for the community, it offers new opportunities to explore Christianity and build long-term relationships with local people using the narrowboat."
Coming back to life again
At St Luke’s Oxford, a new community arts project aims to find new ways for the church to reach the and regather the community after the pandemic. A grant will support the work of the Artist in Residence, Daniel Balanescu, offering weekly art groups, a new stained glass art workshop with local artists Sarah Glover, for local adults to inspire the design of a new stained-glass window in the modern church building, and the creation of a church album of songs from the pandemic.
The Revd Jane Lees, Vicar at St Luke’s Church, said:
“The Coming Back to Life Again project brings together three strands of our creative multigenerational church – art, music and stained glass – and develops the spiritual context of art practice with our Artist in Residence.
“We hope to use creativity to breathe life back into church by giving the opportunity to ordinary people to express their own extraordinary and authentic experience of the pandemic through art and music.”
The Development Fund is open to all parishes and benefices in the Diocese of Oxford and especially those with limited financial resources to invest in missional activity. Applications are now open for the next round of funding and close on 30 April 2022, find out more and apply on the Development Fund page.
Notes to editors
For media enquiries, please contact Madeleine Hayden / 07880 716 761
About the Development Fund
The Development Fund was launched in 2019 to enable missional creativity and assist churches in the Diocese of Oxford with their visions to become more Christ-like and support their local communities. Since its launch, the fund has donated over £2.3 million to more than 130¯local church projects across the Diocese of Oxford.
About the Diocese of Oxford
The Diocese of Oxford is the Church of England in the Thames Valley region of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and¯Buckinghamshire.¯There are 808 churches in¯626 parishes,¯the largest number of churches of any diocese in the Church of England. The diocese is also home to almost schools and academies educating some 60,000 pupils.¯¯