Last updated 19th January 2021
Thanks to £1.5m of Strategic Development Funding (SDF) from the Church of England an exciting new era for The Church of England in Lancashire began in the City of Preston with the launch of the Preston Resourcing Parish in September 2019
Bishop Philip led the team that pulled together the SDF application, which was developed in partnership with Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) home of the well-known ‘Alpha’ Christianity discovery course.
The new resourcing parish of people from two different Anglican traditions will underpin the work of sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Preston through words and deeds and it will also be a resource for churches across the city and County.
The fresh focus includes specific remits for the congregations of the Minster and St George’s to reach out to those with no current church connection, including the local student population, utilising a combination of an outward-looking focus, sacrificial generosity, excellence, boldness, hospitality and creativity.
We are also grateful for the regular financial contribution from the Allchurches Trust towards some of the diocesan costs not covered by the SDF grant.
The team were able to hold a socially-distanced Freshers' week for UCLan and Cardinal Newman students with over 40 signing up for Alpha during the autumn term.
Some of the regular attendees at St George's completed the START course.
The parish was instrumental in securing funding of more than £22,000 to benefit their own and 10 other urban churches serving deprived areas across Lancashire with food/seasonal treats parcels at Christmas as reported in the news section here
Before the Covid crisis meant the physical closure of the two buildings, there had been great progress in building a new worshipping community at the Minster and consolidation of the congregation at St George's.
Two Alpha courses have reached almost a hundred people, many of whom were either de-churched or had no church experience.
During the Covid crisis the Resourcing Parish has come together, with the support of the 'Love Your Neighbour' initiative, to help hundreds of people in the city with their practical needs.
The centre of the church has been racked out as a food bank and the kitchens have been used to cook meals prior to distribution to people including many students from the Indian Sub-Continent stranded when the University of Central Lancashire closed.
Some of the national church's financial investment has been used to develop the Minster building as a welcoming multi-purpose space with expanded catering facilities. These building works were completed over the summer months with great collaboration by the contractor, Singleton and Smart Ltd of Blackpool and architects IWA Associates of Clitheroe.
Meanwhile appointments of the senior clerical team (Rev. Sam Haigh and Father David Craven; read a profile of the two men here) also took place over the summer.
New Assistant Vicars, Rev. Tim Roberts and Rev. Jason Gardner, are also now in place and support staff such as a worship leader; children and family worker as well as operational and administrative support have all been appointed since the initial investment announcement.
At the civic launch service Rev. Sam Haigh said: “Preston Minster holds a special place in the life of Preston and we are delighted to be able to open the doors to our partners from the city and around the County on this historic occasion.
“As a church we are passionate about seeing Preston continue to develop and prosper. We believe that Jesus is good news for every person in Preston and we are also looking forward to throwing open the doors to the people of Preston this Sunday, September 29, and every Sunday after that, to welcome them.”
Father David Craven added: “I'm really excited about the launch of Preston Resourcing Parish. A lot of hard work has gone into making this a reality and it's fantastic to see something new being birthed in the city centre.
"It's my prayer that, with the Minster in partnership with St George's, we may be able to reach out with the love of Christ and see lives changed and the Preston transformed.”
“Above all I give thanks to God for his grace and provision as we stand on the edge of a bold new era; an exciting adventure of faith in this city and beyond.
"It is my prayer that our work at Preston Resourcing Parish in the coming months and years will create a lasting impact here and more widely across the Diocese, as part of our Diocesan Vision 2026.”