Kingswinford with Wall Heath and St John in Halesowen are the first churches to have national funding released following the decision of the Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (SMMIB) to invest in principle in seven churches in Dudley and Redditch.
These ‘renewal churches’ are a key part of our priority to ensure that each major area of population has at least one church with 150 people attending weekly. The money invested in the churches will enable them to develop and grow, supporting other churches in their local areas. The benefice of Kingswinford (which includes St Mary’s, Kingswinford and The Church of the Ascension, Wall Heath) and St John the Baptist in Halesowen both submitted detailed plans to the national church investment board in Autumn which were then approved, meaning the funding for the churches has now been released.
Renewal projects are about bringing new life to existing congregations and making new disciples. The churches that have been encouraged to apply for this funding are some that are in a great position to reach out to new communities or make the most of new local partnerships. They will use the funding to access new resources, renovate their buildings and/or bring in new staff to help them build on their existing strengths.
Kingswinford and Wall Heath
The churches in Kingswinford and Wall Heath have plans to reach out to people living in the ‘urban villages’ on the edge of the Diocese between Dudley and Wolverhampton with the appointment of a new pioneer priest. The money has also enabled the appointment of Children and Families Worker Sian Morgan, who is working closely with local schools, uniformed organisations, and community groups to make discipleship and worship accessible and engaging for children and young people.
Their other plans include establishing a charismatic Mass service, rejuvenating ‘Jigsaw’ their all age worship community, looking at how their Mainly Music and Singing Angels groups can become New Worshipping Communities and looking to open their medieval crypt for education and possibly worship purposes.
Fr Adam said:
“In Kingswinford and Wall Heath we are really excited to be part of the diocesan renewals project and all that it can help achieve in this part of the vineyard. We are the two oldest churches in our area, and our desire is to make sure that people are still worshipping God and becoming disciples through our churches for centuries to come. Like Mary, our patron saint, we want to say yes to God. This funding will help us realise everything we want to achieve and support us in our response of saying yes to God.”
St John the Baptist, Halesowen
Part of the Halas group, St John the Baptist has a great location in the middle of Halesowen town centre with hundreds of families passing every day on their way to school and nursery. Halesowen is one of the largest parishes in the country with a population of 48,000. It is a deprived area with high unemployment and many families struggling. Hazel and her team (including her Cocker-Spaniel Benson) are already well-recognised members of the local community, listening to what the community needs and responding. They have good partnerships in place and were able to host their first Christmas tree festival recently with the help of these partners, attracting many visitors to the church and receiving excellent feedback.
Thanks to the funding the church has been able to launch a Ladies group in a craft shop in the town centre as well, offering coffee, tea, cake and a weekly craft to help reach out to local women. Many of these women are marginalised and lonely or don't know anyone else because they are widowed or staying in the women’s refuge.
Funding will also be used to install toilets at St John the Baptist, to make more of the church and start a New Worshipping Community. They will shortly be looking at recruiting two new members of staff including a Children and Young People worker. Hazel is also in discussions with a popular local café about starting a friendship or discussion group.
Canon Hazel Charlton said:
“We are honoured and delighted to have been supported by the national church in being given this funding and look forward to being able to explore with our communities what the love of God can do, especially here in Halesowen.”