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Bishops from The Church of England in Lancashire make up a third of the main speakers at a major national conference on church planting, taking place over two days and in two locations, this week.

Rt Rev Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster, were invited to speak at the ecumenical event by the Bishop of Islington, Rt Rev Ric Thorpe and The Centre for Church Planting and Growth. 

Both of our Bishops provided videos in advance to help promote the event. These videos are also available on our Diocesan YouTube channel.  

Bishop Philip recently helped to launch a strategy that includes an aspiration to have a thriving, growing, loving church on every significant estate in the country.

In his pre-conference video message, he says: “Recently the General Synod of The Church of England voted unanimously to establish a Christian presence on every single significantly-sized social housing estate in the country.

“That was a massive moment because we were committing ourselves publicly to renew the church, starting on the edges in our most deprived communities and amongst the poor.

“If we are going to achieve that goal church planting is absolutely essential so I am looking forward to being at the conference and reflecting together on how we can plant onto our social housing estates.”

Bishop Jill, the Bishop of Lancaster, is passionate about planting new congregations and creating confident witnesses for Jesus Christ who become ‘beacons’ in their communities.

Holding the brief for church planting across the Diocese of Blackburn, the Bishop’s aim is to raise the level of intercession in Lancashire so that by 2026 planting is normal across all traditions, demographics and geographies.

In her pre-conference video, Bishop Jill, whose talk will be entitled ‘Spirit Break Out: Waking the Sleeping Army’, said: “I’m speaking to you from Whalley Abbey, which is an ancient seat of prayer in the heart of the Ribble Valley.

“This is an exciting time in our country; there is a change of wind direction across our nation and some of these ancient roots are bubbling up. For me church planting is a way God seems to be using, across our world and increasingly across our nation, for people to encounter Jesus.

“In Lancashire there are many beacon sites across the hills so my prayer is that, spiritually, we will also see beacons being fanned into flame. By this I mean people of all ages who are on fire with the love of Jesus and who naturally form church communities so people can hear the Gospel.”

Bishop Ric Thorpe today added: "I am delighted to welcome Bishop Philip and Bishop Jill to our national church planting conference. I spoke myself on church planting in Blackburn Diocese back in 2015. That was a great day where around 100 key people from across Lancashire came together at St Thomas' Lancaster to think more deeply about how they can reach out beyond the walls of their churches and to consider how they can start new worshipping communities.

"Since then it has been exciting to see the creativity and momentum building as part of your Vision 2026 Healthy Churches Transforming Communities. 

"You have some fantastic churches and great church leaders, alongside your Bishops and senior leadership team, who are encouraging actively all that might be possible with God's help."

To ensure the national Church Planting Conference is accessible to as many as possible it will run across two days this Wednesday, June 19, and Thursday, June 20, in London and Leeds.

Venue for the London event is Emmanuel Centre, Westminster and in Leeds it will be St George’s Church. Bishop Philip and Bishop Jill will be speaking in person at both venues.

A similar event last year saw hundreds of people gather to talk about church planting and growth. For more information about the conference, visit this page on the Centre for Church Planting and Growth website.

  • Church planting is a process that results in a new Christian church being established. 
  • The Centre for Church Planting and Growth supports the work of the Bishop of Islington, one of the suffragan Bishops of the London Diocese of The Church of England. Bishop Ric was consecrated in September 2015 to support the London Diocesan goal of creating new worshipping communities and is also available to the National Church to support church planting.
  • His team, based at St Edmund the King in London, help to run church planting training courses and church growth learning communities; to equip church planters through individual consultations and to develop resources for the wider Church.