Church unveils ambitious plan for dozens of new Christian communities in county
PUBLISHED: 08:03 14 May 2019
The Bishop of Chelmsford has unveiled a plan to establish more than 100 new church communities in Essex within the next five years.
The plan was revealed to churchwardens at St Mary's Parish Church, in Saffron Walden, on May 8, with Right Reverned Stephen Cottrell sharing details of the plan being launched by the Diocese of Chelmsford, which covers Uttlesford.
In it, Bishop Stephen said: "It is a big challenge, but there is also a big need. We see new housing estates growing up all around us. The Church of England has an historic vocation to be the church for everyone, so we need to develop a Christian presence in and for every community.
"To achieve this, we will have to work together. We must build teams. But hasn't this always been the case? The gospel of Jesus Christ is too important and too precious for any of us to think we can go it alone.
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"Churchwardens will be a vital part of this strategic development. I look forward to thanking you for your commitment to the life and witness of the local church, and to share with you how we might grow some new ones."
The diocese hopes to have launched 101 new communities by 2025 and Rev Canon Dave Wade, head of development for growing Christian communities, said he would be visiting each deanery in Uttlesford to help with developing a plan.
After the service, Bishop Stephen said: "I was hugely impressed by the commitment of the churchwardens who attended the service in Saffron Walden and their willingness to think creatively about how we can establish new Christian communities. With so many divisions in our world, and even in our own communities, we need Christ's message of peace and reconciliation more than ever."
As well as discussing plans for the new communities, the service at St Mary's also saw the Archdeacon of Stansted, the Venerable Robin King, admit some 200 churchwardens, from the deaneries of Braintree, Dunmow and Stansted, Hinckford and Saffron Walden, to their positions.
The existing churchwardens made a declaration that they had carried out their responsibilities to the best of their skill and knowledge. The continuing and new churchwardens then made a declaration that they would faithfully and diligently discharge their duties, upon which the archdeacon admitted them to the office of churchwarden to serve in their respective parishes.