At the First Steps event in May 2017, Bishop Michael launched four Mission Projects.
The aim is to explore different approaches to encouraging and supporting engagement in mission in the different expressions of Church in the diocese - Parishes, Schools, Chaplaincies and Fresh Expressions. The projects are:
- 4 Rural Youth in the Salop Episcopal Area
- Church and Church School Together in Worship and Mission in the Stafford Episcopal Area
- Walsall Heathlands Mission in the Wolverhampton Episcopal Area and
- A Diocese-wide Missional Chaplaincy project.
4 Rural Youth
Rural churches have a particular struggle to engage and disciple young people. Children may find few if any others in their age group at Sunday worship. Teenagers usually have to travel to local towns for secondary schools, hindering their ability to be a presence in the local church and community. Small parishes working together can be the source of something greater than the sum of their parts.
This project is experimenting with different ways to grow young disciples and provide fellowship in sparsely populated areas - initially in the deaneries of Hodnet, Oswestry and Wrockwardine - and considering ways to foster rural disciples when they transition to secondary schools with a chaplaincy project in Holy Trinity Academy, Priorslee, Telford.
Church and Church School Together in Worship and Mission
There are over 200 Church schools in our Diocese. This project seeks to develop links between these schools and churches in the Stafford Episcopal Area in three ways.
The Wow Factor in Worship offers 24-hour retreats for staff and students from church schools who are joined by local clergy. Set at diocesan retreat centre Dovedale House in stunning Peak District surroundings, pupils from mixed backgrounds explore awe and wonder. The Lighthouse Project in Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, is a pioneering partnership between Kingsland CE Academy and a local church. The school's former Children's Centre is being developed to provide a range of services in a deprived area with few local resources. Connect 2 is a small missional community which meets in St Anne's CE Primary School in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Walsall Heathlands Mission
Blakenall Heath is in an area with the highest poverty and crime rates in Walsall borough. This project is a unique partnership between the local parish, Diocese and Latimer Minster - a missional Anglican church operating outside the parish system. The idea is to move the parish, which has struggled to recruit a Team Vicar, onto a 'mission footing' and enable growth. 'Sanctuary, Refectory, Road' is a guiding theme - calling people to worship and prayer; community and eating together; and openness and engagement with the wider community.
Chaplaincy At Work
Exciting new and existing initiatives are breathing fresh life into chaplaincy. Two different chaplaincy projects, covering both 'white' and 'blue' collar workers, are being brought together to provide a focus for support and learning in our diocese.
Ministry At Work focuses on the faith of executives and others in positions of responsibility. It is helping these professionals navigate their Monday-Saturday life of faith, often in the context of difficult decision-making. Black Country Urban Industrial Mission (BCUIM) is a well-established local partnership providing chaplaincy to manufacturers, retail centres, council offices, fire stations, bus garages and many others. Many of the chaplains are lay volunteers, fitting in well with our role as a pilot diocese for Setting God's People Free.