The Development Fund has awarded grants to nine churches, across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire, to support a range of local church and community projects including a live nativity procession, Parish Nurse, and toddler group for adoptive and foster families.
The eleventh round of the awards will fund a feasibility study to install essential running water, a kitchen, and a WC in Black Bourton, a new children and families worker in Thame, a live nativity procession in Kidlington, an AV system to provide more inclusive worship in Cuddington, a Parish Nurse at Reading Gateway Church, a new Messy Church group at New Hope Community in Reading, a parent-toddler group for local adoptive and foster families in Thatcham, and the refurbishment of kitchen and toilets at St Nicolas 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.
A new Parish Nurse will join the Reading Gateway Church in January as part of a partnership with Parish Nursing Ministries UK, the local council, churches, and signposting organisations. The non-clinical nursing role will involve working with local GPs and health professionals to support the health and wellbeing of the parish community, provide spiritual care, and help reduce the pressure on hospitals by treating residents in their homes.
The Revd Nick Hill, Rector of Reading Gateway Church, said:
“We are really excited to be able to appoint a Parish Nurse as part of our mission and ministry to around 22,000 local residents. The service is a great practical way to share God's love to our community and make a real difference to the lives of our neighbours.”
At the St Mary and St Barnabas churches in Thatcham, a monthly parent-toddler group for local adoptive and foster families, called ‘The Nest’, will launch in the new year. The new group aims to provide a space for these parents with their babies and young children in Thatcham, Newbury, and the surrounding area to meet together and play in a welcoming space.
The Revd Angela Brennan, Curate at St Mary and St Barnabas Church, said:
“We are delighted to receive a grant from the Development Fund enabling us to launch this new group for adoptive and foster parents and fills a gap in local provision for this group of parents. We want the Nest to create a sense of home and community, offering a space where parents and their children can meet and share good coffee, cake and the common experiences that unite them.”
In Kidlington, a live nativity procession event, ‘Follow that Star’, will take place in December. The community event brings alive the Christmas story. A procession through the high street to St Mary’s Church is led by three camels and features a recreation of the Bethlehem stable with other live animals.
The Ven David Meara has been leading the planning for the live nativity and said:
"It is great to share with people in Kidlington the sight of camels walking down the street, and seeing the animals in the straw in church, and to experience something of the wonder and mystery of Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus."