We are called to put into deep water and let down the nets: to tell the Christian story with love and hope and confidence. Not every new initiative to put out into deep water needs funding to get going, but some do. Parishes, benefices and deaneries can now bid for grants from the Development Fund to enable missional creativity and support local Christ-like Church projects.
This page contains everything you need to know about the fund, including the eligibility criteria and application forms. As with any grant application process, there is a lot of information at first glance. We suggest reading sections 1 – 4 in order and click the [+] buttons to expand the information panels you are interested to explore.
1. About the Development Fund
The amount of money available to parishes and benefices in the Diocese of Oxford is c. £1m each year over the next three years.
Grant applications to the Development Fund must support local projects that are missionally creative, reflect where God is at work in the community and encourage wider learning across the Diocese.
The Development Fund is open to all, but it is likely to be most helpful to parishes that have limited financial resources to invest in missional activity. The fund aims to be particularly helpful to those parishes which, after paying their Parish Share and other essential running costs, have very little financial resources to invest in missional activity. We know that even modest grants can make a significant difference in such parishes.
2. Are there limitations on what we can apply for ?
Two types of grant are available to support missional activity by any parish, benefice, deanery or chaplaincy in the Diocese of Oxford. Find out more:
Tier 1 - grants up to £2,500
Short term, one-off grants are available to parishes and benefices to support an event or to kick start a new initiative. Grant applications will range from small modest sums up to £2,500. Deaneries may apply for a Mission Development Grant to distribute themselves to local parishes.
Tier 2 - grants over £2,500/employing staff
Grants are available for larger initiatives and long-term programmes that require substantial sums. An organisation may only make one Tier 2 application per year and, if successful, may not reapply to the fund for at least 2 years after the last (successful) submission deadline date.
Grant applications in this tier will range from £2,500 to many thousands, though Development Fund grants will not normally exceed £80k in a single grant, or £200k over a maximum 5 years.
Further information about applying for a Tier 2 Grant can be found in Guidelines for Applicants, available to download from section 4 of this page.
Who can apply
Any parish, benefice, deanery or chaplaincy in the Diocese of Oxford may apply. Applications linked to schools should be made through the relevant parish (or deanery). In most cases we expect applications to be signed by the parish incumbent (or for a deanery, the Area Dean or Lay Chair) and any grants paid to a PCC (or Deanery) account.
There are three submission deadlines per year for Tier 1 and Tier 2 Grant applications. The deadline dates for applications are midnight on:
30 September 2019 31 January 2020 31 May 2020 30 September 2020 31 January 2021 31 May 2021 30 September 2021 31 January 2022
Fund scope and restrictions
The Development Fund is open to supporting a wide range of missional activity. This includes (but is not restricted to) supporting initiatives which align with our seven areas of focus. Please note that applications for grants to support Fresh Expressions of church and New Congregations, and work to develop School Chaplaincy or Parish-School relationships should be made through the Development Fund as this avoids the need for separate funding mechanisms.
Limitations and restrictions
There are some things which the Development Fund is not intended to support, such as routine repairs to buildings, payment of regular running costs (utility bills, insurance, parish share etc.) and activity which is already deemed to be funded by current financial arrangements. Since grant requests may exceed the available funds, the Diocese may look less favourably on applications for work where other grant sources are available.
3. Priorities for the Development Fund
The aim of the Development Fund is to encourage church communities in five areas. Click the [+] buttons below for a detailed description of each:
1. To become a more Christ-like Church
We are called to be a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world: contemplative, compassionate and courageous. The list below touches on each of these three marks of a Christ-like Church. You’ll find further information in the guidance document Signs of a more Christ-like Church, available to download in section 4 of this page.
Other resources are available too: Four study guides written by Bishop Steven explore what this means for us, our families and the wider Church; and the new Parish Planning Tool will help your church recognise where God is already at work in your community, and how you can best join in.
According to the gospels, Jesus often withdrew to spend time apart with God (Mark 1.35; Luke 5.16). Jesus calls the twelve disciples to be with him before they are sent out (Mark 3.14). In the great image of the vine, Jesus calls his disciples to abide in him so that God’s life may bear fruit in our lives.
To be a contemplative Church means:
To be deeply rooted in Christ as a branch in the vine, through prayer and worship, word and sacrament
To be sustained in joy and hope in the midst of a suffering world
To seek the continual grace and renewal of the Holy Spirit in our lives
To value deep wisdom and offer meaning
To take our theology seriously as dialogue with God as well as talk about God
To live in healthy rhythms of prayer and rest and work and be fully human
To be good news in an over active and busy world
To offer the gift of silence, still places and moments of encounter with the living God
To listen deeply to ourselves, to the world in which we live and to one another
To discern God’s call to us as individuals and communities
To wrestle with God
To surrender our doing in order to make space for stillness and dwelling, that God might be free to do and act within us.
“Contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.” Rowan Williams
The compassion of Jesus is evident from beginning to end in the gospels. Jesus is deeply moved in his encounters with the sick and bereaved. His compassion shapes his priorities from beginning to end (Mark 1.41, John 11.33-35).
The Church is called to demonstrate this same compassion: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit those in prison (Matthew 25.37). Churches are called to be communities of kindness, gentleness and love.
To be a compassionate Church means:
To listen to the communities around us and to the wider world
To identify especially with the lost, the least and the last
To live out our faith as Christian disciples in acts of kindness and generosity
To act together to serve the poor, feed the hungry and welcome the stranger
To mourn for the suffering in the world and take that suffering seriously
To be tender and gentle with one another, bearing one another’s burdens
To find together a radical new Christian inclusion in the church
To provide places of hospitality and welcome for all in our church buildings
To offer to all, in love, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ
To nurture children in school communities marked by compassion
To steward and care for the earth
To take action for peace and for justice.
“Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life . . . the Church’s very credibility is shown in the way she shows mercy and compassionate love . . . Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” Pope Francis
Jesus walks towards difficulty and suffering and takes the way of the cross. He sets his face towards Jerusalem out of love for the world (Luke 9.51; John 11.14-15).
Jesus calls his disciples to follow in this way of the cross (Mark 8.34, Matthew 16.24). The Church is a community of missionary disciples, gathered and sent to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5.13-16). We are called to make a difference through courageous lives of love.
To be a courageous Church means:
To deepen our vision of what it means to be human, of a just and peaceful world: to dare to practise hope
To seek to live our lives to the glory of God
To make a difference in our local communities through seeking justice and working for peace
To seek reconciliation in the Church and in the world
To be bold and consistent in our evangelism and witness to our Christian faith
To bear the cost of our discipleship through the whole course of our lives
To imagine and bring to birth new Christian communities in many different places
To work in creative partnership with other Churches, faith communities and organisations
To teach the Christian faith clearly and with confidence to children, young people and adults
To invest the resources we have been given boldly for the sake of the kingdom of God not hoard them in fear
To reshape our buildings continually for the sake of God’s mission in the present and future
To seek to reverse the decline of the Church in this generation.
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.” C.S. Lewis
2. To encourage discernment
To encourage discernment: noticing where God is at work; distinguishing between good ideas and God ideas.
We want to encourage our ability to discern God at work in the world around us and in our own lives, and to respond by joining in with what God is already doing. Ways of thinking about discernment include:
What makes this a ‘God idea’ rather than a ‘good idea’?
In what way are you doing something different because you are listening to God?
The new Parish Planning Tool, created by the Diocese of Oxford is a great way to discern where God is at work in your community.
3. To be missionally creative
We want to encourage parishes, deaneries, schools and other Christian communities across the Diocese to be ‘missionally creative’ – finding imaginative solutions to missional challenges.
This does not require completely new ideas every time: being missionally creative might be about the way a congregation adapts an existing idea to their own parish or community. We take our definition of mission from the Anglican Communion’s ‘Five marks of Mission’:
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the Earth.
Missional creativity should shift our sense of what’s important: that may mean re-prioritising tasks and laying down some of what we already do.
4. To learn together
To learn together, helped through a diversity of experimentation.
We want to encourage learning across the Diocese. Groups will learn as they discern and then carry out missionally creative work.
We want to encourage groups to:
reflect on what they have learned (this helps us recognise what we have learned and what we could do differently in the future) and
share what they have learned with other groups facing similar challenges elsewhere in the Diocese.
In sharing our learning and hearing what others have learned, we can better discern our next steps.
We also want to encourage diverse experimentation. Addressing missional challenges inevitably involves experimentation with new ideas: some will work, others will not. By supporting a variety of experimental ideas we will achieve a broad range of learning.
5. To support initiatives that are sustainable
To support initiatives that are sustainable and would not happen without the fund’s support.
We want to encourage sustainable initiatives, underpinned by:
Planning which seeks a balance between:
realistic levels of input (people, resources, time and money), and reasonable expectations of hoped-for outcomes;
short-term ‘quick wins’ and longer-term sustainability and viability
Flexible approaches which allow for adaptation along the way in the event of unexpected opportunities and challenges
Reasonable expectations of an ongoing legacy of benefits after the Development Fund grant(s) end.
Many parishes commit much of their income to Parish Share with little remaining for missional activity, so the Development Fund aims to encourage such parishes to undertake imaginative work that would not otherwise have taken place.
4. Guidance notes and application forms
Everything you need to make a grant application is available in the documentation and forms in the table below (click the [+] button to expand each panel).
Application forms are available in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF formats. While we encourage as many applicants as possible to complete and submit the form electronically, if you wish to complete your application in hard copy contact the Development Fund manager, Janet Rogers, for a pack of paper forms. She can be reached at: Church House Oxford, Langford Locks, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1GF or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidance: detailed guidelines for applications
It is essential that you read this document before completing your grant application form
The document Guidelines for Applicants provides detailed guidelines to accompany each application form.
An additional guidance document, Signs of a Christ-like Church will help you describe how any project supported by a successful grant application will help you to become a more Christ-like church for the sake of God’s world.
Tier 1 grants are available to parishes and benefices. They are are for short term, one-off grants to kick start a new initiative. Tier 1 grant applications will range from small modest sums up to £2,500.
Deaneries may apply for a Mission Development Grant to distribute themselves to local parishes. A separate form is available for Mission Development Grants.
Application form: Tier 2 Grant applications (over £2,500)
Tier 2 Grants are available for larger initiatives and long-term programmes that require substantial sums. Grant applications in this tier will range from £2,500 to many thousands, though Development Fund grants will not normally exceed £80k in a single grant, or £200k over a maximum 5 years.
For longer projects, we ask for monitoring feedback every six months, using the template set out in the End of Project Report. If you are required to send feedback every six months we will automatically send a reminder email to you when the report is due.
Monitoring form: End of project report
We ask all grant recipients to submit an End of Project Report. This helps you to reflect on the work you have done, recognise what you have learned and how you have become a more Christ-like church. It will also help us understand the impact of our Development Funding across the Diocese.
The Development Fund offers grant funding to support a wide range of parish and deanery-level projects. This privacy notice explains how personal data is handled during the grant administration process.
• 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
6. The development fund panel
John Sykes, Diocesan Lay Chair, chairs the panel of clergy and laity who review applications.
The panel will have a difficult task; it’s already clear that the first round of applications will exceed the money available. That’s just one sign of the creativity and commitment to becoming a more Christ-like Church that is very apparent across our Diocese.
Mr John Sykes (Chair)
Diocesan Lay Chair
Mr Andy Brockie
Lay member, St Andrew’s Oxford
Mrs Alison Eves
The Venerable Judy French
Archdeacon of Dorchester
Mr Mark Humphriss
The Revd Paul Oxley
St Mark’s, Milton Keynes
Mrs Lynne Philpot
Lay Chair, Deddington Deanery
The Revd Rickey Simpson-Gray
Team Vicar, The Claydons
Ms Janet Rogers
Common Vision Programme Manager (Secretary & adviser to the panel)
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