A £1.5m plan to transform the parish of Preston – including upgrades to the Minster and a new Vicar of Preston – have been announced today.Advertisement
Blackburn Diocese has secured the funding from the Church of England’s Strategic Development Fund (SDF) to create a ‘resourcing parish’ to reach out to new communities and people with no current links to the church.
The plans include developing the Minster to become a multi-purpose space with improved catering facilities.
The new Vicar of Preston will lead the parish ministry team which will learn about ‘church planting’ techniques (starting new churches) before seeking to plant churches on Preston’s housing estates or even further afield.
The new Vicar of Preston will also be joined by a full-time Anglo-Catholic priest who will be based at St George’s.
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Archdeacon Michael, who held the reins as Vicar of Preston for a year after the retirement of Fr Timothy Lipscomb, said: “The news that we have secured the funding to begin this revitalisation work is a significant moment for Church in the county of Lancashire, as well as being a huge vote of confidence in the City of Preston.
“Our position at the heart of civic life, as we move forward with these plans across church traditions, make this one of the most exciting projects in the Church of England today.”
The new Resourcing Parish will build on the legacy of Fr Timothy Lipscomb and the interim ministry of Archdeacon Michael in their role as Vicar of Preston.
The ministry team will have specific remits to reach out to under 25s, the local student population and people with no church connections.
The Diocesan Bishop Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, said: “Thanks be to God for this next step in a very exciting adventure of faith.
“I pray that the work in the coming months and years will create a lasting impact in Preston and more widely around the diocese. I would like to thank all who have been involved in making this generous provision from the national church possible.”
The concept of a Resourcing Parish in Preston was first mooted in March 2016 following a visit to the county by Rt Rev. Ric Thorpe, Bishop of Islington, who also has a national remit for church planting.
A small team led by Rt Rev. Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, went on to spend two years developing the concept into a full-blown application for Strategic Development Funding (SDF).
In December 2018 Blackburn Diocese learned it had been approved for £1.5m SDF to create the Preston Resourcing Parish.
Building works are expected to be completed (subject to formal building approvals) over the coming months and ahead of a formal launch of the project in late September 2019.
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Bishop Philip, who led the development team, added: “I’m really excited by the prospect of a Resourcing Parish in Preston serving people from across church traditions, as well as people who have no connection to the church at all.
“The hard work to get to this stage has been amazing and we now stand at the threshold of an even greater period in the history of the Parish of Preston. I look forward to seeing what God has in store for us as we prayerfully move forward.”
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