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Church Conference Boosts Confidence With Help of ATL Gift

June 2015

A gift from Allchurches Trust Limited (ATL) was turned into a confidence boosting event for church people in the Newcastle area.

An ATL grant to the Diocese of Newcastle was used to pay for a quality venue chosen for an important conference, attracting 100 people from within the diocese.

The event was organised especially for people who have a role in their local church, but who aren’t ordained.

Research done by diocesan officers showed that lay people lacked confidence to get involved in and speak up during important decision making church meetings, whether they were at local or national level. The conference was organised to address that.

One of the conference organisers, Carol Wolstenholme, is responsible for supporting the work of lay people in the Diocese of Newcastle. She initiated the research and said the conference was key to giving lay people encouragement:

“The views and opinions of lay people are crucial to CofE governance. So to discover they weren’t fully expressing those views, or getting fully involved in voting and debating, was of concern here in Newcastle.

The conference was set up to explain how much lay people matter, and give them a confidence boost to really encourage them to have their say in the way the Church of England is run.”

As well has inviting many speakers from regional and national leadership positions in the Church of England, Carol said an opera singer was also invited to help break the ice and get the delegates singing and even dancing together.

“It was brilliant fun and the evaluation of the day was overwhelmingly positive,” she added.

Lynne Craggs, from St Cuthbert’s church in Blyth, was among the delegates and said: “It was such a positive day and there was a real buzz at the end. I know that after the conference lots of people put themselves forward for more involvement in church leadership meetings. I’ve volunteered for election to the diocesan Synod, which debates and takes votes on things that affect church life right across Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside.”

ATL’s Relations and Grants Manager Philip Arundel added: “Grants given to dioceses of the Church of England are used in all sorts of ways to pay for the support that diocesan staff offer to parishes, so over the years many churches benefit. The Newcastle conference is a great example of how diocesan support can have a significant and positive impact on church life.”

To see more pictures and videos of the conference, visit the Diocese of Newcastle’s website.

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