A project to plant 16 new churches over six years has begun under a Bishop's Mission Order. A network of small churches is called the Antioch Network Manchester. The location of the churches will be based on existing relationships in the current churches, and opportunities that arise in suitable locations elsewhere.
The Antioch Network was launched in November 2018.
As well as Oldhams Church Bolton, which was added to the Antioch Network retrospectively, five churches have been planted in Longsight, Cheetham Hill, Rusholme, Gorton and, most recently, Deeplish (Rochdale). Plans are well advanced for further church plants in Radclife, Bolton and Wythenshawe.
Check out the latest from Antioch's estates ministry in this video. Oldhams Church was planted in Bolton roughly five years ago with help from St Paul's Astley Bridge, and is now helping plant another church on a different housing estate in Bolton.
For all the latest, please visit www.antiochnetwork.org.uk
"One of the notable features of the New Testament parables and stories is how God uses something small to be transformational", writes Bishop Mark Ashcroft.
"A small boy brings five barley loaves and two little fish to feed 5000 people; the mustard seed grows into a tree that provides shelter for all the birds of the air; a little leaven raises the whole loaf.
"That principle of small things making a big difference is our prayer for the small church plants that we want to see across Greater Manchester and Rossendale. The Church Commissioners are investing about 1 million from the Strategic Development Fund to support this work."
CHURCH PLANTING MANCHESTER STYLE
This is not about buildings - a church is a community of people centred upon Jesus Christ. We will begin (or plant) new churches in areas where the diocese is finding it hard to connect with the local community - typically in some of our most deprived areas.
That seems really strange when Jesus mission was about bringing good news to the poor. It is not saying that our parish churches and clergy are doing a bad job, rather that we need to do something extra, something new.
In some recent church plants we have seen God bless something new: the Oldhams Church in Bolton, which meets in a community centre, and the Trinity Community Church in Rusholme. What has been exciting is that in both churches, people have come to faith and been baptised, lives have been changed and transformed and the local community has been blessed!
The small church plants seek to build on these models where the numbers stay small, where the church is highly attuned to issues of poverty and where relationships are strong. When they grow to about 50 people, the idea is to plant out another church, rather than grow bigger.