Bid to make churches stronger

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Steps are being taken to ensure churches continue to play a strong part in the Blackpool community.

A fresh approach will see ‘missioners’ appointed to plug the gaps where traditional places of worship are no longer available.

In May this year St Wilfrid’s Church on Mereside closed after the congregation fell to single figures.

Church leaders say they are working hard to ensure a christian presence in all areas of the town despite such setbacks.

Rev Canon Dr Simon Cox, Area Dean of Blackpool, said: “A missioner is someone who is not always ordained but will help small churches open up.

“These could include ‘house’ churches depending on what is decided by small groups of worshippers and enables a church planting operation without having to look at a very expensive building.

“At Grange Park, the vicar of St Mark’s in Layton plans to put a different kind of missioner in place to bring extra pastoral care to that area.

“A number of churches, including All Hallows in Bispham, are also seeking to put family and youth workers in place. There are a number of initiatives either in an advanced or medium stage where we are seeing some fruition.”

Currently the Church of England in Lancashire is working towards its Vision 2026 whose aim is to help all church communities in the county grow stronger.

One of the pledges of Vision 2026 is to create or plant 50 new congregations before the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of Blackburn – in 2026.

Rev Cox said: “The contribution of the churches adds up to many thousands of hours of social work in the town.

“A lot of the clergy are working their socks off and the congregations are in good heart and can see we have a vision and a future.

“The Church of England has a 10-year vision for Lancashire designed to take the diocese beyond the current bishop’s term of office.

“He wants people to be energised into doing and continuing the work they have traditionally done and done well.”