St John’s Church in Shildon, County Durham has been named as one of six finalists in a nationwide competition that sets out to recognise churches that have developed innovative ways to help their communities.
The competition run by Ecclesiastical Insurance received nearly four hundred entries from churches across the Church of England to their call for entrants to show how they were making a difference in their communities and how that could be easily replicated by other churches and bring the local community to the church.
St John’s application detailed the work they had been doing over many years, starting with the formation of a community garden, then a drop in centre ‘Shildon Alive’ acting as a town centre hub for: a food-bank; a credit union; counselling services; a drop-in centre for the community and access to wide range of service. In addition they demonstrated through their community engagement programs with children and young people and other specific age group initiatives how the church can be the centre of its community.
The Revd David Tomlinson, Vicar of St John’s Shildon said: “I am thrilled that all of our hard work has been recognised. It’s not just about the Church and its members being recognised, but the whole community working together for the betterment of everyone. We were one of only two churches in the Northern half of the country to be named as a finalist so that makes it especially rewarding.”
The Rt Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow said: “I want to add my own congratulations to the team at St John’s – their work over many years has been exceptional. I have often been along to see the progress of their efforts from the early days of the community garden.
“I am delighted that they will be going forward to the grand final – I am sure that they stand a very good chance of winning.”
St John’s are guaranteed a prize of at least £2,000 with the overall winner getting £10,000
The winner of the grand prize will be announced at an awards ceremony at St Martin-inthe-Fields church in London on 9 November 2016.
The six finalist were announced as:
- St John’s Church, Shildon, County Durham
- Bar Hill Church, Ely, Cambridgeshire
- St Stephen’s Church, Dulwich, London
- St John the Evangelist, Angell Town, London
- All Saints, Kilnwick, York
- All Saints’ Guildford, Guildford, Surrey