Buildings for good

16 DEC 2020

An Allchurches annual grant to Diocese of Chester is supporting its parishes to make the most of their church buildings, creating dynamic spaces for ministry and mission.

Emily Allen is the Diocese of Chester’s Church Buildings Missioner, brought in as a fresh set of eyes to encourage the diocese to take full advantage of the fantastic buildings at their disposal.
In 2019, Emily’s post was funded, in part, by a recurrent grant from Allchurches Trust alongside funding from Historic England, and now, the Trust’s recurrent grant is fully funding her role. 
Since Emily joined, she has been busy getting stuck into projects across the diocese, working with parishes in considering the dynamic of places and spaces (church buildings and halls) and how they can be maximised to further church outreach. The support she provides includes capital fundraising for repairs and improvements, project management to think afresh about how buildings can work, heritage interpretation and specific missional projects. 
Parish support is offered on a 1:1 basis, as well as regular training programmes and many resources. From 2014 to 2020, more than 200 parishes have received 1:1 support and over 2,000 people have attended the 50 training courses and presentations.
Four of Emily’s recent projects have included:
• ‘Houses of Prayer’ – working with over 30 parishes to see how they can make the most of their buildings as places of divine encounter and making them more inviting for prayer.
• A church café group – establishing a group of over 20 parishes as a learning community for church building work.
• ‘Building God’s Kingdom’ - a research and development project mapping the landscape of diocesan church buildings and their opportunities and challenges.
During the pandemic, Emily’s remit has expanded to include COVID-19 response fundraising, and there are exciting opportunities to support more parish buildings in the coming year.
In addition to supporting the reimagining of the diocese’s heritage buildings, the Trust’s recurrent grant has been supporting the improvement of clergy housing.
Within the diocese, it strives to improve the quality of clergy housing in many ways; this can be as simple as a full window replacement scheme, where old rotten windows are replaced for new, more efficient ones, or the improvement of bathrooms and kitchens where existing appliances are beyond repair.
Chester’s aim is to move vicarages towards the Church of England’s “Green Guide” where possible and create comfortable spaces for the clergy who do an amazing job to support their communities.
Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Allchurches Trust, said: “We’re delighted that our funding is helping the Diocese of Chester to maximise the use of their church buildings and encourage parishes to think outside the box. It is also great to see that the funding is being used to support clergy housing in an environmentally friendly way, as well as many other great initiatives led by the diocese.” 
Alderley Edge
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