The Diocese of York has secured funding to implement its plan for ‘growing disciples in places where life is tough.’

The Church Commissioners, who administer the historic endowments of the Church of England, have approved funding of £1.369m for the Diocese of York’s ‘Mustard Seed’ programme, alongside other grants for a variety of growth initiatives across the national church.

The Mustard Seed programme is all about growing worshipping communities of local people, who are followers of Jesus, with a vision to see these develop as places of welcome, hospitality and support for people in the challenges they face.

Based in a church or other community building, these communities will offer opportunities for prayer, experiencing the love of God, exploring faith, and encountering Jesus Christ.

Mustard Seed has grown from careful listening to more than a hundred lay people and clergy in the poorest communities in the Diocese of York, and responds to a growing awareness that the church needs to grow local leaders in places where life is tough.

The new funding will enable the roll-out of ‘Stepping Up,’ nurturing learning communities to bring people together who are involved in the mission activity of their local church.

Participants will grow in their own faith and become more confident and effective in reaching out, sharing that faith and making new disciples.

Each person will support growth in their own parish church, and some will go on to pioneer new worshipping communities from its existing mission.

Stepping Up will begin in Middlesbrough and Hull from September 2020, and Scarborough, Bridlington and Redcar & Cleveland in 2021.

The Mustard Seed programme will be appointing a number of Associate Programme Leaders to help develop and roll out ‘Stepping Up.’

The grant is from the Church of England’s Strategic Development Fund, which is part of the Renewal and Reform programme aimed at creating a growing church for all people and for all places.

Mustard Seed Sponsor, Bishop of Hull the Rt Revd Alison White (lower picture) said, “We are so full of thanks to God that our national Church has caught our vision for unlocking the potential of local disciples and leaders in communities where life is tough.

“So many people have worked and prayed to bring us to this point. Mustard seeds are being planted and now we will all need to nurture them and watch them grow!”

Heather Black (upper picture) was appointed Mustard Seed Programme Leader early in 2020 to head up the project developed as part of the Diocese of York’s strategic goal to ‘reach people we currently don’t.’

She has been involved with a team in shaping the final stages of the bid process that has now secured Church Commissioners’ funding: “This is the best news for Mustard Seed, but better still for those communities where we will be able to invest time and resources into local people who want to share God’s love within their own communities.

“I am excited to see how the small seeds of hope we are planting, through prayer will grow and flourish.”