"It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” - Mark 4:31-32 New Revised Standard Version
Diocese of York is using its recurrent grant from Benefact Trust from 2019 to 2021 to pilot its exciting new Mustard Seed Programme.
For many people, life is tough, trying to do the best for themselves and their families whilst struggling to make ends meet. In the Diocese of York, this is particularly pertinent in disadvantaged areas in Hull, Middlesbrough and its coastal communities. It is the vision of the diocese that Mustard Seed will enable churches to support these communities through the ups and downs of life, providing a place of welcome and creating opportunities for more people to discover their faith.
Benefact Trust funding has supported the appointment of a programme leader to lay down the roots of the Mustard Seed Programme and focus on three main areas:
- Stepping Up – providing the opportunity for lay people to come together with those from other parishes to grow together in faith and confidence to share their learnings with their communities.
- Community hubs – places of welcome and support for local people facing challenges in their life. They can be set up in churches or community buildings and offer a space for prayer, understanding and advice.
- Ambassadors – people from across the diocese who have the drive and ambition to support mission work in the poorest communities. They will help to make positive change within the diocese, helping to change the culture, providing vital community support, and encouraging giving.
The programme will boost the confidence of individuals and parishes in the lowest income communities and the diocese is already seeing people coming forward to engage in a commitment to discipleship and church growth.
“I am very quiet, I always have been. Through Stepping Up, what I hope to gain is more confidence. I hope to learn more about my faith and about the bible and where I am at with my journey with God. I want to have more confidence in myself that I can do this. I know I can learn and I want to grab every opportunity to learn as much as I can. I hope that in the future I could be more involved in the church and in the community. Maybe doing tea mornings for the adults and teaching children in the community more about the bible and what God did for us.”- programme participant
In 2021, Diocese of York expects to see its first cohort of Stepping Up participants complete their training and some to be identified as potential community hub leaders. Despite the challenges of COVID, the programme is up and running and ready to make a real impact, not only in York but as a blueprint for other dioceses wanting to make positive change.
Andrew Bass, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “We’re delighted that our recurrent funding is giving Diocese of York the support it needs to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged communities. Mustard Seed will give people opportunities they haven’t had before, and will enable them to make small changes within their own communities, leading to bigger change across the diocese.”