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Lighting up New Generations: Blackburn, Blackpool and across Lancashire

We are delighted to announce that the Church of England’s Strategic Investment Board has awarded the Diocese of Blackburn £3.5M strategic development funding (SDF) for our application entitled: Lighting up New Generations: Blackburn, Blackpool and across Lancashire. Nationally, this is the highest contribution in this year’s round of funding.

This focuses on planting two Resourcing Churches in Blackburn and Blackpool. These plants have emerged out of Preston Resourcing Parish (which itself has been undergoing revitalization following a successful 2018 SDF application overseen by Bishop Philip).

In Blackburn, a town of innovation, this offers opportunity to innovate with a multi-generational Youth Resourcing Church at St Luke’s, located next door to one of our vibrant Church of England Academies at St Wilfrid’s, in one of the youngest towns in Britain.

In Blackpool, a town founded as a health spa, this offers opportunity at a time of significant civic investment, to grow a town centre Resourcing Church at St John’s with a focus on life in all its fullness, in a location with national profile.

At this time of both challenge and opportunity, both are in areas of urban deprivation, with the mandate to grow leaders, lay and ordained, to catalyse renewal of churches in Blackburn, down the East Lancs corridor; Blackpool and along the Fylde Coast.

Rev Jason Gardner, St Luke’s Resourcing Church Leader, is originally from Lancashire and brings with him youth, evangelism and church planting expertise, particularly in multi-cultural areas. Rev Cath Brooks, who had a vision for St Luke’s as a Youth Resourcing Church back in 2014, continues as the Vicar of the Benefice. Jason will be licensed on 1st July.

Rev Andy Dykes, St John’s Resourcing Church Leader, is originally from just up the coast in Cumbria. Andy and his wife Nic have spent most of their lives in the North West pioneering planting of Christian communities in Carlisle and Liverpool. Andy is a keen drummer, worship leader, poet, videographer and graphic designer. Andy and Nic will be moving from Holy Trinity Brompton to be licensed in early October.

Bishop Jill, Chair of the Lighting Up New Generations project said: “In the Diocese of Blackburn, we are convinced of the importance of frontline parish ministry for reaching Lancashire with the gospel. This project is just a small part of our wider Vision 2026 strategy to normalise the growth of churches by normalising church renewal and planting with 200 New Local Congregations and 10 Strategic Church Plants by 2026, across all traditions, demographics, locations. It has been encouraging to work in partnership with the Church Commissioners Strategic Development Unit: their generous support is a testimony to this relationship. But the main investment needed is a visitation of the Holy Spirit on the people of Blackburn, Blackpool and Lancashire. We look to take this forward on our knees”.

Bishop Julian, Bishop of Blackburn, Chair of the SDF Programme Board said: “This application builds on and weaves in the fruit of earlier Strategic Development Funded Projects. Plant leaders are planting curates from Preston Resourcing Parish (Oct 2018); and the rich learning from our Outer Estates Leadership (Oct 2017), will feed into leadership development and youth innovation across the Diocese. It builds on the excellent work of our Youth Ministry team in the Board of Education. I am delighted that this enables the employment of Rachel Gardner, Partnerships Director of Youthscape as Youth Resourcing Lead part-time at St Luke’s. Rachel brings with her a national profile and expertise in youth work and as a conference speaker and author. My hope and prayer is that this project will be one of many sparks catalysing a reaching down the generations for the flourishing of healthy churches transforming communities across Lancashire.”

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