The Diocese of Oxford has awarded £160,000 to support eight community and church projects in Berkshire, Buckingham and Oxfordshire through its Development Fund grant scheme.
The sixth round of Development Fund grants will provide funding for vital projects to support a range of church and local community needs, including an after-school club and a well-being cafe for young people. The scheme is also supporting a new church building, a chaplaincy partnership with local schools, printing equipment, updating church furniture, and an internet café to help tackle digital poverty.
The Development Fund enables churches across the Diocese of Oxford to provide vital support for their communities and meet the needs of the growing population across the region.
At St Andrew’s, High Wycombe, the church has identified a need for a safe and supportive space for young people to meet and take time out of their busy lives. The Tier 1 grant (up to £2,500) will support the launch of a new ‘Renew Cafe’ for young people at a local secondary school, inspired by an existing wellbeing cafe model used by churches across the country, and adapted for young people in High Wycombe.
Youth Pastor, Kathryn Aboud, shared the background to the project: “In the last 10 years, young people have become increasingly busy and have little time to look after their spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Our Renew Cafe offers a space for young people to rest and be, to vocalise how they are feeling, to find pastoral support and explore prayer and mindfulness in creative ways.”
Another grant was awarded to Trinity at Four Church in Henley-on-Thames to support the start-up of an after-school club. The project aims to support families of primary-school-aged children, providing vital childcare and evangelistic opportunities for the church to engage with families in the local community.
Peter Greenman, Children’s Ministry Leader, shared his hopes for the project: “We want to offer a relaxed space for local parents to meet with other families and develop deeper relationships beyond the school gates. Parents can spend time getting to know each other whilst their children play and learn from the Bible each week. In just a few weeks of running the group, we have already seen that parents are appreciating the time to chat and catch up. It is our hope that families will be encouraged to find support and friendship in one another, and that Christ will be using these relationships to draw people to himself.”
In the Benefice of Colnbrook and Datchet, Slough, a five-year grant will enable the recruitment of a Chaplain and Youth Worker to run a Chaplaincy partnership with the local secondary and primary schools. The chaplaincy service will provide long term pastoral support and guidance for children and young people.
The Revd Darcy Chesterfield-Terry, Vicar of the Benefice, said: “There is a need for neutral and approachable support for our children and young people to talk about their worries and work through their problems, particularly as the country moves out of the pandemic. The grant funding will help us to achieve our aim of establishing a sustainable and mutually beneficial chaplaincy model where the local church and schools work together in partnership to support the flourishing of young people.”
The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, on the impact of the Development Fund: “It is really exciting to see churches across the Diocese of Oxford creating real positive change in their communities through these projects. The Development Fund provides the opportunity for important mission activity, both large and small, which would not otherwise be possible. These projects offer parishes the chance to help local people in need and share the transforming good news of Jesus Christ. I would encourage all those who have new as well as ongoing plans for mission in their parishes to find out more and apply for the next round of funding”.
The Development Fund was launched in 2019 to enable missional creativity and assist churches in the Diocese of Oxford with their visions to become more Christ-like and support their local communities. Since its launch, the fund has donated almost £2 million to more than 100 local church projects across the Diocese of Oxford.
The Development Fund aims to encourage churches to explore and engage with their local contexts in five key areas: to be a more Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world, to discern where God is at work in their communities, to be missionally creative in response to local challenges, to learn together and from one another, and to be sustainable in their approach to mission initiatives.
The fund is open to all parishes and benefices in the Diocese of Oxford and especially those with limited financial resources to invest in missional activity. Applications are now open for the next round of funding and close on 31 October 2021. Find out more and apply on the Development Fund page of the Diocese of Oxford’s website.