New initiative to promote church growth is piloted in Leeds

As part of a new ‘Resource Church’ initiative in the diocese, the Revd Mark Harlow (left), Curate at St George’s Leeds, will be licensed as priest-in-charge of St Paul’s Ireland Wood in North Leeds on Sunday 5 November.

St George’s was recently designated as a Resource Church, that is, “A church which intentionally resources mission across a city, by planting and revitalising churches, developing leaders and providing other resources for mission”.

45 members of St George’s, some of whom already live in Ireland Wood, have committed to go with Mark and his wife Kathryn (who will be Associate Priest) to be part of the congregation, where Sunday attendance is currently around 25. The plant to Ireland Wood is seen as a pilot for the Leeds Episcopal Area and the rest of the diocese.

Bishop Paul Slater says, “Resource Churches are about growing a church in order to give out – both people and resource – and developing a pipeline of leaders.

“The idea is that, as in the principle of  sowing and reaping, there’s a cascading effect, so our hope is that Ireland Wood will eventually become a Resource Church itself and will develop leaders who can help revitalise another church.“

The Revd Mark Harlow says, “I’m really excited to be joining the congregation at St Paul’s. I’m looking forward to loving and serving the areas around Ireland Wood and seeing a growing community shaped by Jesus.”

Rector of St George’s, the Revd Lizzy Woolf, who has considerable experience of church planting, says, “I am convinced that City Centre Resource Churches have a pivotal role to play in advancing the Kingdom of God in the UK and can help revitalize churches that are struggling, particularly in deprived areas”.

Archie Coates, who led a church plant from Holy Trinity Brompton to Brighton says, “Resource Churches raise the bar on the commitment of those left behind, encouraging them (and giving them more opportunity) to increase their involvement in church life. And it’s about planting strategically – not just kicking on open doors”.

Other churches in the diocese, initially in the Leeds Episcopal Area, are being considered as Resource Churches.

The Resource Churches programme is also taking place in other dioceses. The work is supported by the Church Commissioners’ Strategic Development Funding as part of Renewal & Reform, the Church of England’s initiative to promote growth in the church in every community in England.

Bishop Paul Slater will license the Revd Mark Harlow as priest in charge of St Paul's Ireland Wood on Sunday 5 November at 2.30pm  (note corrected time).


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