The Bishops of Bolton and Middleton awarded nine Church for Different World awards in recognition of churches that are reaching out to their communities in new and innovative ways.
This is the first time that the Church for a Different World awards, now in their sixth year, have had a digital focus.
Over the past two years there has been a digital revolution in our churches. As a result of the pandemic we have seen the growth of online worship and new ways of keeping in touch with people to offer pastoral support and tackle the issue of social isolation. Discipleship groups have met online and churches have reached out to their communities via Facebook, deepening relationships and showing that the church is there for everyone.
The Bishop of Bolton, Mark Ashcroft, said: “We have been hugely impressed by the innovation shown by many of our churches over the past two years as they have found new ways to support their communities, offer different forms of worship online and deepen relationships with people using a variety of technologies.”
The Bishop of Middleton, Mark Davies, said: “We are proud of the way churches have adapted and developed new skills, while remaining true to their priorities of growing, nurturing and serving. We hope that by sharing their ideas with one another our churches will be encouraged to try new things that have been shown to work well in different contexts.”
The award-winning projects for 2022 are:
St James Daisy Hill
Developed their page on the national website, A Church Near You, to include video tours, online jigsaws and links to community groups.
St Mary Elllenbrook & St Andrew Boothtown
Since the end of lockdown, they have worked hard to offer both online and in-person worship, maintaining a virtual livestreamed service so that all members are catered for. The result is that people bring church into their home, they pray more intentionally for each other, and pray for people they wouldn't normally meet.
Christ Church Healey
Established livestream capability during lockdown using OBS for editing and Twitch.tv for hosting. They continue to invest in different technologies and are keen to share their learning with other churches.
St Edmund Whalley Range and St James, Moss Side
Set up systems and trained young people to deliver livestreams on YouTube. Have engaged younger people in this important ministry and also developed their social media channels.
St Martin, Norris Bank
They have a very visual church website and use Canva to create graphics. Their weekly enews to church contacts uses MailChimp and now takes on four guises per month to engage the congregation.
Antioch has an excellent website that showcases the various church plants, rather than each church having its own website. It also offers the REAP church planting course online which attracts an international audience.
St Andrew, Over Hulton
Set up a Youth Group that met over Zoom and included lots of fun and creative ideas. Strong, supportive relationships were formed during a period that focused a great deal on young people.
Holy Trinity Platt
Prospects – for people with learning disabilities – met online each month. This had to be carefully crafted to be accessible to people with learning disabilities and to meet their needs for community and support. There were separate Zoom meetings for leaders and to support parents/carers.
St Anne, Turton
Set up a Tech drop-in offering help and support with technology and an opportunity to learn new skills and improve connectivity. People appreciate this safe space to get help without any sales pressure, and to form links with other community groups.
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