Young people the focus in Hereford post lockdown
Young people the central focus for plans to turn St Peter’s Hereford into a beacon of hope post lockdown.
The Diocese of Hereford (Church of England in Hereford) has agreed plans to establish a City Centre Hub Church with a focus on young people and young adults, supporting mental health and wellbeing.St Peter’s Church, has been awarded a local Church of England investment of £325,000 as part of a new project in the city centre.
The project will reimagine how the church works in the city centre, focusing on supporting students across the city and working alongside skilled youth workers. The investment will see the creation of a dedicated safe place to support young people as well as offering new worship gatherings for younger people.
The encouragement to focus on new Christian communities in areas including housing estates, city centres and market towns was established by the Church of England in 2018 as part of its Renewal and Reform programme..
Although not eligible for national funding, the local plan was backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby when he visited Hereford last October. The Diocese in partnership with the existing congregation of St Peter and St James’ churches in Hereford, decided to press ahead with plans. The Church of England in Herefordshire is seeking to be faithful to God and to serve the growing community in the city.
The Rt Revd Richard Jackson who was installed in his role as the Bishop of Hereford, just before lockdown said:
“This is an exciting time for the Church of England in Hereford. Recent research from Tearfund UK, highlighted that at least 25% of young people have engaged with online worship during lockdown.
“As society begins to return to work, we felt now was the time to invest to welcome the young people of our city.We are passionate about proclaiming the good news of Jesus through our words and our actions. I’m thrilled with our plans for Hereford city centre.They demonstrate our commitment to the heart of need in the city, recognising the massive potential we offer to support young people and children.
“This project is an example of how church is adapting and remaining faithful to God – and faithful to the community we serve in love and mission. This new investment signals that The Church of England committed to innovation even in rural locations. We want to make the message of Jesus Christ connect with peoples' questions, showing its relevance to those struggling with mental health or unsure of faith.”
The decision coincides with lockdown measures across England easing and is a positive sign of hope for the future of the City.
Revd Andy Morgan, Team Vicar from St Peter’s Church said: “Despite our church buildings remaining mainly closed at present, we know that they will offer an important part of recovery.Hereford has an estimated 25 thousand young people living and studying in the City, with the pressures they face we believe the Church has a vital role to play in offering support and forming new communities based on the transforming power of God’s love.We hope this project will create a new worshipping community in the heart of the city as well as providing a hands on learning and training environment to equip more people as Christian leaders at all levels for the 21 Century.”
Local stakeholders welcomed the decision by the Church of England.
A spokesperson from NMITE said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with St Peter’s church as a contributor to the comprehensive support services that we will be offering at NMITE. As a start-up institute we have a lean staff. So to have a dedicated person in post through St Peter’s from the beginning who can help us to shape our new chaplaincy service will be hugely beneficial.”
The project will see, a modern contemporary-style church and it is hoped that the new worshipping community will attract students and young people.
As well as providing essential learning and training for other churches in the city, the project will also enable extra support for children and families of St James primary school and St Thomas Cantilupe primary school, through a dedicated Children and Families worker.
Peter Strevens, Church Warden from St Peter’s Church, Hereford said:“This is a very exciting and ambitious project for St Peter’s.Many of us have attended the Church for many years and have talked about how we grow.Now we have a plan.We are pleased to work in partnership with the Diocese (The Church of England in Herefordshire) and make this project a reality.”
The Mayor of Hereford, Councillor Kath Hey said: “We really welcome this significant investment by the Church of England in Hereford City, especially as the focus of my term has been on young people and their mental health. This project also complements Council plans that are being developed as part of the Stronger Towns Fund investment from Central Government. Plans that will renew the heart and soul of our city.”
Ben Lea, Manager, from Close House said:“Close House has been providing drop-in Youth Services from the buildings attached to St Peter’s for 15 years. We are extremely grateful for the good relationship we have with St Peter’s made possible by the grace and support of individuals from the worshipping community there. We will be very interested to have a dedicated Youth Worker from St Peter’s.Someone who understands Youth culture but is also a conduit to the work of St Peter’s to enable these two disparate communities to come together, to learn from each other and grow together.”