£1m mission project to create small worshipping communities across Manchester

The Bishop of Manchester (c) is establishing a new network of small worshipping communities in the first diocese-wide Bishop's Mission Order(Photo: Facebook/Diocese of Manchester)

The Church of England is investing £1m into the pioneering of small worshipping communities across Manchester.

The Antioch Network is being launched on Thursday with the mission of bringing more young people to faith.

The new mission drive will see 16 worship communities established in mostly economically deprived areas in Manchester that also currently have the lowest church attendance.

The project is to benefit from a £1m cash injection from the Church of England's Strategic Development Fund.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Dr David Walker, said: 'This is a very welcome venture, which will help us to live out the love of Jesus Christ in places and communities that the Church has historically struggled to reach.'

Heading up the network is the Rev John Brett, former curate at Trinity Community Church, Rusholme, and the Rev Ben Woodfield, currently pioneer curate at St Paul's, Astley Bridge.

Both men have experience in building small church communities and will be licensed by the Bishop of Manchester at a service on Thursday.

The Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Rev Mark Ashcroft, who is overseeing the setup of the Antioch Network, said it would complement the work of the city's traditional parish churches.

'I believe we are seeing a move of God's Spirit that will revitalise our Church and communities,' he said.

Other parts of the Church of England are also investing in new church-planting initiatives.

The Diocese of London recently announced the creation of 19 'resource churches' that will act as centres for growth and church-planting across the capital.

The resource churches will be used to train up a 'planting curate' for three years, before releasing them to either plant their own new worship community or help to revitalise an existing church.