Over the summer the Church Commissioners announced their significant funding support for a major diocesan project. The Transforming Wigan project will see a raft of measures and interventions designed to stimulate church growth in the Wigan Deanery. This, we hope, will result in a framework for the future growth of the church in our diocese as we seek to learn lessons from our growth agenda and the national church research programme From Anecdote to Evidence
Transforming Wigan has two broad aims.
The first is to turn around the mission and financial strength of the strategically most vulnerable part of our diocese enabling it to become a missional powerhouse. The second will be to see what we can learn there and what we can transfer to the wider church.
The project has been shaped with a great deal of support from the Wigan clergy and lay figures. Overseen by Bishop Cyril Ashton and Archdeacon Peter, and fully supported by Margaret Sherwin the Area Dean, and the Wigan Chapter, , the Transforming Wigan Implementation Group has been analysing the deanery’s strengths and weaknesses to build the shape of a programme that can address some critical areas.
Having a strategy for church buildings, organisational structures and returns on investments
Using the stipendiary clergy as a key resource but encouraging them to embrace and deliver change and explore transitional and interim ministry
Encouraging church planting and missional leadership
Developing an extensive package of training for clergy and missional leaders.
The Church Commissioners money will be used to support those packages and fund a Project Leader post, a quasi-Archdeacon post appointed with the skills, vision and experience to discern the future for the region.
Bishop Cyril Ashton said “this is fantastic news and a strong indication of the trust and support the Church Commissioners have in our diocese’s ability to deliver significant change. There will be many challenges ahead but if we are to grow, develop and serve our communities we need to rethink how we use our resources and work to reimagine the church in Wigan Deanery”.
Archdeacon Peter Bradley added “Transforming Wigan is possibly the most important challenge to tackle in the next seven years. It has taken much consultation to get us to this point and I have been encouraged by the positive way that the clergy and laity in this Deanery have approached this. I am also delighted by the tireless work carried out by the Transforming Wigan Implementation Group. This project has already received notice in our diocese and I believe that if we get it right we will transform not just this deanery but the whole approach to church in our diocese.”
Next week we will look in more detail at the project itself and talk to the Area Dean, Rev Canon Margaret Sherwin about what this means for the Deanery itself. We also set out the qualities we are looking for in the person to lead this ground breaking project over the next seven years.