The Development Fund has awarded grants to eight churches, across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire, to support a range of local church and community projects including employing a counsellor for a homeless project, a new children and families worker, and new equipment for Minecraft Church services.
The tenth round of the Development Fund will support projects including the recruitment of a Children and Families worker at St Mary’s Marlow Bottom, employing a Counsellor at the Gatehouse homeless project in Oxford, the purchase of new digital equipment for Minecraft church in Woodley, structural repairs at the pastoral centre in Woodburn, re-ordering of St Mary’s Church in Fawley for expanded community use, and a Black History Month project in Abingdon.
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 to be missionally creative and sustainable in response to local challenges.
At Lantern Community Church in Marlow Bottom, a grant will enable the recruitment of a new Children and Families worker to grow church engagement with the younger age groups and families in the local area.
The Revd Graham Watts shares more:
“Our hope for this new role is that we can develop our children and families ministry by growing the connections we already have with the local Primary School, pre-school and Baden Powell groups. At the same time, we are excited to begin engaging in new and creative ways with families in Marlow Bottom and help make the church known as a place where people are welcome.”
The Gatehouse project in Oxford has been running its Counselling Service, in partnership with St Giles Church, for more than two years. A three-year grant from the Development Fund will aid the project in expanding the psychological and emotional wellbeing and support more of its clients into longer-term independent living with the appointment of a new Counsellor.
Katrina, Project Director at the Gatehouse, shared about the impact of the project:
“I’m delighted that through this grant, in collaboration with St Giles, we can offer longer term counselling and security to the vulnerable clients we work with. Counselling is a crucial part of the support offered at the Gatehouse and it makes a significant difference to the lives of our clients who we are seeing consistently engaging with therapy and working hard to better their mental health.”
Emmanuel Church in Woodley is using Minecraft to reach out to more young people and engage them with church and faith through re-imagining Bible stories and themes in the digital game. The Development Fund grant will enable the church to purchase digital devices and equipment to support the growing Minecraft group.
Tracy Baker, who is part of the group and leads the project, said:
“Our Minecraft church group is a brilliant and creative way to engage young people with church and in a way that is different from how we often expect them to engage. Through the group we have helped neuro diverse young people to engage with church in a way that works for them and have reached young people and their families who don’t usually go to church.”
BBC Radio Berkshire visited the Minecraft group and spoke to some of the young people and youth leader at the church, listen here:
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 vision to become more Christ-like and support their local communities. Since its launch, the fund has donated over £2.9 million to more than 155 local church projects worth £7.3 million across the Diocese of Oxford.
Apply for a grant
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 31 January 2023. Find out more and apply.