Fresh Expressions of Church in Southwark
As part of an ongoing national programme of research, Church Army has recently published a report on fresh expressions of church in the Diocese of Southwark which suggests real gains in this area over the past 10 years.
Canon Dr George Lings’ report notes that Southwark Diocese opened 34 new fresh expressions of church between 2006 and 2014. Six of them began in 2014, that’s more than five times as many as in the previous six years. This is a big increase on the numbers which began in the preceding years as only thirteen new fresh expressions of church were created in the Diocese between 1992 and 2005, showing the Diocese of Southwark’s increasing commitment to new ways of being church. Ranging from traditional church plants and neo-monastic communities to Messy Churches and Café Churches, the new fresh expressions of church serve a wide range of areas and diverse congregations, and show an encouraging desire to grow and engage culturally. Overall, diocesan attendance at fresh expressions of church has increased by 6 per cent.
The Diocese recognises the positive impact of fresh expressions of church and we are planning significant investment in all our young churches, both new and existing. The recent appointment of a leading practitioner in the field as Dean of Fresh Expressions, Canon Will Cookson, and the setting up of a Diocesan Fund to materially increase numbers of fresh expressions of church, indicate our commitment. We have already seen the impact of this, with Southwark hosting a major national Anglican fresh expressions conference last November and a number of new fresh expressions of church launched or in the planning phase.
The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun says: “The Diocese looks forward to a significant increase in fresh expressions of church in the coming few years, which we expect will contribute to church growth across all traditions”.
The Report can be found at:www.churcharmy.org.uk/fxcResearch