A total of £249,530 has been awarded to The Church of England in Lancashire to invest in a major new ‘Choir Church’ project on a scale never before attempted; in news being announced both regionally, via this release from our Diocese, and also nationally.
The new three-year initiative will seek to ‘plant’ (or start) up to 24 new, original, congregations (eight per year) across the County in parishes and working alongside local schools.
The aim for each congregation is for at least 25 children, along with their families to become part of each Choir Church; the children being taught hymns and anthems from the choral tradition.
Lancashire’s Choir Churches will include regular worship and will be formed on the back of similar successful projects in East London parishes and schools; inspired by outreach work from St Paul’s Cathedral led by Tom Daggett. a musician of St Paul’s Cathedral and associate of the Choir Church Foundation.
Tom is a local lad and has already returned to the County to support the aims of the nascent Choir Church project in our Diocese to parishes interested in getting involved and in advance of the funding being announced.
A former Blackburn Cathedral Chorister; Tom is a former pupil of St Wilfrid’s CofE Academy in Blackburn and son of the recently retired Editor of the Burnley Express, Chris Daggett.
He will continue to be involved in the Lancashire Choir Churches on a consultancy basis.
The project is being run working closely with Blackburn Cathedral. Leading it day-to-day for the Diocese is John Robinson, Director of Music at the Cathedral alongside a (still to be appointed) ‘Choir Church Coordinator’ who will also be based at the Cathedral.
The Coordinator role is now being advertised and you can access the job via the embedded Facebook post below.
Meanwhile, a delighted Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North, is ‘Project Sponsor’.
Bishop Philip said today: "We are so grateful to the national church for this funding. I came to faith through the choral tradition myself and it is wonderful news that a new generation will be able to benefit from the many ways that music lifts the human soul."
Now the money has been announced, the Diocese is moving forward to work intensively in year one with the first cohort of eight parishes and schools; all shortly to be identified.
As part of its bid for the monies from the national church, the Diocese has made it clear it feels Christian choral tradition is a powerful tool for evangelism among children and their families.
It now aims to test how the choral tradition and its grounding in sacramental worship can be adapted to a ‘planting context’; with awareness given to the ‘faith, home, school’ triangle while learning excellent music with the Gospel at the heart.
Each new Choir Church congregation will have the opportunity to pray and worship together; children, parents, teachers and the wider community. It will also be encouraged to further the cause of social justice in their areas in a variety of ways; working in close cooperation with parish clergy and volunteers from the parish to do so.
Once a month the choir will participate in the eucharist along with family members from the school and community; thereby building up a midweek congregation.
Bishop Philip added: “This is a fantastic initiative; we are delighted to be pioneering Choir Church in our Diocese on a scale never before attempted.
“With our Choir Church Project we aim to connect home, church and school in a fresh approach to outreach; providing opportunities in places where they may not be available otherwise.”
Interested in getting involved and starting a Choir Church? Please drop a line to Joy Rushton, our Being Witnesses Manager, who is coordinating expressions of interest. Her email is email@example.com
Ronnie Semley, 20/07/2022 and further updates since