First grants from new Development Fund to help local churches

The Development Fund panel discuss grant applications

The Development Fund panel discuss grant applications


First grants made from new £3m Development Fund to help churches become more Christ-like.

Mission projects in churches across the Diocese of Oxford are set to benefit from £3m worth of grants over three years. The first round of grant-making saw 60 applications from parishes, benefices and deaneries from across the Diocese of Oxford. The amount of money requested was for £1.6m, far exceeding the initial funding pot.

The cash is from the diocese’s Development Fund, launched earlier this year to enable missional creativity and help churches with practical ways to become more Christ-like. The Development Fund is a grassroots approach that asks local churches to discern God’s call in their area.

Projects awarded in the first round of grants include establishing and developing Café and Messy Church, strengthening links with church schools, encouraging baptisms, staging a ‘Narnia’ exhibition, new loos and kitchenettes in churches, a shower and washing machines for homeless people, help for areas where there has been substantial population growth and much more. With a number of grants supporting or match funding larger schemes, the Development Fund monies of £295,000 represent an overall investment towards local church projects with a total value of £5m

John Sykes, Diocesan Synod Lay Chair and Chair of the Development Fund Review Panel said, “Not every new initiative to become more Christ-like needs funding to get going, but some do. The Panel had the challenging but rewarding task of deciding which projects would be successful in their bids for the first round of funding. We were delighted by the high standard and thoughtful nature of the applications we received.”

Janet Rogers, programme manager for the fund, said: “Some projects may not have been given a grant, but we’re supporting them in other ways. For example, parishes who were looking for help with their websites and social media will be invited to training workshops to form a learning community.”

Other parishes will receive support and advice for youth and children’s initiatives and help to set up new congregations.

“It’s been about much more than just the funding,” added Janet. “We’ve been able to help parishes with creative and practical approaches to their projects and we’re excited to see what the second round of funding applications will bring.”

The deadline for the next round of applications is 31 January 2020. Information about the Development Fund together with guidance for applicants is available online at:

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Notes for editors

Images of the Development Fund panel meeting to discuss and agree the first round of applications are available here (credit: Jo Duckles/Diocese of Oxford)

Specific grants awarded

• St Mary’s Church, Chesterton – helping the Café church to run for a second year
• Ivinghoe with Pitstone – extra resources for Messy Church
• Loddon Reach Benefice – funds to extend the parish magazine to reach out to the new housing in the area.
• St Luke’s, Maidenhead – creative resources for baptism families
• Dorchester Abbey – support for the acclaimed ‘Narnia’ exhibition, returning in 2020
• North Bucks Deaneries – provision of the “Rest-a-While” marquee for visitors at the Bucks County Show for three years
• St Mary’s, Bloxham – tables for Care Church and help for Messy Church
• Ladygrove in Didcot – funding for welcome activities for people from two new housing estates with 2,500 new homes
• St Clement’s, Oxford – set-up costs for new monthly “Shared Space” event
• St Joseph’s, Newton Leys – a laptop for a small but fast-growing church
• St Michael’s, Horton – establish and stock a community food cupboard to help people in the community
• Benson – A ‘Stations of the Cross’ sculpture exhibition in the churchyard with links to the Thames Pilgrim Path
• Reading St Luke with St Bartholomew – Extend the parish garden project with a new greenhouse to enable activities to run all year round
• St John’s Stone – new toilets and an improved kitchen to allow greater community use of the church
• Wallingford Deanery – A conference for all churches in the deanery to develop joint mission initiatives for the new housing in the area.
• Emmanuel Church, Woodley – Neighbourhood Centre building project to increase support for community outreach
• St Mary’s, Ashbury – toilet and kitchenette facilities to make the church more welcoming and hospitable to visitors
• St Mary’s Cogges – an associate minister to develop Cogges as a resourcing hub for the Witney area
• North Leigh – to build and develop links between churches and schools in Witney and Woodstock
• St Andrew’s, Dean Court, Oxford – Redeveloping a wooden 1960s building to reach out and serve the community in new ways
• St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford – an additional part-time minister for three years to establish the future mission and growth in city centre ministry
• St Barnabas, Jericho – funding for a youth and children’s community choir
• All Saints’ Sutton Courtenay – key contribution to upgrade church facilities
• Eton Wick – work with families and the school to serve new unchurched families
• All Saints, Dedworth – a shower and washroom with washing machines for the homeless
• St Michael’s, Sandhurst – to extend the existing family worker’s remit to the local school and the new housing close to the church
• The Claydons – improve the visitor facilities for the church and graveyard