A project that aims to change the face of the church in Falmouth has received major backing from the Church Commissioners and the Diocese of Truro.

The diocese and the Strategic Investment Board of the Archbishops’ Council will between them fund the £1.9 million, five-year plan that will see the way church is ‘done’ transformed in the town, with particular emphasis on reaching the ‘missing generations’ of families and young people.

The church will start to actively reach out to students with a new student ministry based in the café at King Charles the Martyr Church, which will be fitted out for the purpose. All Saints Parish Church will become a ‘resource church’, with a new Pioneer Priest and team, including a Student Minister and a Children and Families’ Worker, leading the current congregation and developing new work at All Saints and across the Falmouth area.

The Diocese of Truro applied for help with funding for the project from the Strategic Investment Board, which came up trumps and has offered a £1.2 million grant.

The Bishop of Truro, the Right Revd Tim Thornton, said: “This funding enables us to shape and resource the church differently in Falmouth.  We pray and hope that this will lead to a transformation of parochial life and we will be able to learn from this project so we can encourage other areas of the diocese to flourish and grow.

“There is a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm and already many people are working together and are ambitious and excited for the future.”

The church has set itself clear targets in terms of the numbers of worshippers it hopes to attract to its new and existing services. The Pioneer Priest will investigate new ways of reaching out to people and explore ways in which worship can be built into the lives of young people, instead of expecting them to engage with traditional church services.

It is also hoped that by making church more relevant to young people’s lives the church will be able to identify and nurture future candidates for ordination.

The aim is to invest in and work on the project in Falmouth, and then use its key successes and learnings to provide a template to be rolled out in other Cornish towns in the future.

The Archdeacon of Cornwall, the Ven Bill Stuart-White, said: “I hope this will prove a pivotal moment for us in the Diocese of Truro. We have tried many ways of doing church differently over recent years, with varying degrees of success. But to a degree they have been about adding things to a traditional church model.

“This project really is new and exciting. Our Pioneer Priest will go into the community without preconceptions of how it ‘should be’, but instead will reach out to and work with the community – and especially the student community – to see how the lives of a new generation can best encompass a belief in God, the celebration of His word and a demonstration of confidence in the Gospel.

“The Pioneer Minister will become an integral part of the university chaplaincy team.

“We believe it can become self-supporting within the five-year scope of the project,” said Archdeacon Bill.

“We are grateful to the Strategic Investment Board of the Archbishops’ Council which has agreed this grant, and I would also like to pass on my thanks to the team here in Cornwall that has worked so hard on these plans for the future. We all look forward to them becoming a reality soon.” 

The Strategic Investment Board is a relatively new way of the Church Commissioners allocating resources across the country. It has bishops and other representatives from across the church and aims to identify new initiatives which it hopes will help grow the church.