AN award-winning parish magazine with a circulation that’s risen from 1,000 to 6,000 in a rapidly expanding area is benefitting from a £2,500 Diocesan Development Fund grant.

The Loddon Reach Magazine is distributed to homes, businesses and libraries across the Loddon Reach Benefice in Berkshire.

The 80-page magazine came second in the A5 category of the 2018 National Magazine Awards, scooping first place for Best Content.

It currently serves a community of just over 6,000 people, but new housing developments mean the population of the benefice is likely to rise to 10,000 in the next few years.

“As people arrive we try to deliver a welcome pack from the church, including a magazine,” says the Revd Paul Willis, Team Rector. This has led to doorstep conversations about pastoral issues, opportunities for prayer and requests for baptism.

Paul says: “We are grateful to the Diocesan Development Fund. It’s great to know that we are being supported by the Diocese. The grant has helped us to get more support from other organisations too.

“We weren’t sure if we would get a grant, but we found the advice we got from the Diocese was really helpful. The application process helps you to become more focused on thinking about what it is you are trying to do.

“The recognition that the magazine is really successful helps us to build bridges into the community in all sorts of directions. We rely heavily on the volunteers involved in delivering it, and not just church people. It’s run by the churches, but it’s full of information from organisations across the benefice.”

The grant has helped the magazine, which has been going for 11 years,  to continue, as the former printers are no longer in business and the cost of production has increased.

A volunteer with professional marketing experience has come forward to help develop the digital side of the magazine. The benefice hopes to develop an online version, using social media, and even video advertising screens in commercial outlets.

Paul says the aim is to keep the Church conspicuous through the magazine, raising the consciousness of what God is doing in the community.

“We do this always looking for the Christ-like in the other, building relationships that will be lasting and ultimately drawing people into the house of faith,” he says.

Find out how and why you should apply for a Development Fund Grant.