Lancashire one of 'magnificant seven' pilot dioceses for national Church of England Sports Mission scheme

Smiles for the camera before the 2018 Ministry of Sport sponsored mass Zumbathon at Blackburn Cathedral in aid of Children in Need gets underway  Pictures: Sara Cuff for Blackburn Diocese
Smiles for the camera before the 2018 Ministry of Sport sponsored mass Zumbathon at Blackburn Cathedral in aid of Children in Need gets underway Pictures: Sara Cuff for Blackburn Diocese

The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) has announced it is one of seven ‘pilot dioceses’ across the country to include sport and wellbeing in its mission.

Sports and fitness activities are to be championed as part of plans to reach more people with the message of the Christian faith and promote the wellbeing of communities.

The dioceses hope to provide a range of different activities from personal fitness classes to sports quizzes.

Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, the Bishop of Lancaster, oversees the diocesan team in Lancashire.

Bishop Jill said: “I am delighted our Diocese has been chosen as one of these magnificent seven pilot Dioceses! As part of our Vision 2026 we are committed to healthy churches transforming communities and our Ministry of Sport team has been, and will continue to be, a vital part of our mission to the people of Lancashire.

“Lancashire churches were the birthplace of many of our football teams and sporting activities in the 19th century, so it is fitting that sport is ‘coming home’.”

Lancashire has already been leading the way in sports mission thanks to its commitment to its Ministry of Sport initiative which was launched in March 2017 and has been championed by Keith McIntosh from St Andrew’s Church in Leyland, who is the sports ministry ambassador for Lancashire.

Since then, activities have included large-scale county events like a mass Zumbathon, which has taken place for the past two years running at Blackburn Cathedral.

The group has also encouraged parish-based activities, such as a ‘Ministry of Sport Clubhouse’ at St Andrew’s in Leyland (providing advice and training) and workshops for sports mission at St Cuthbert’s in Fulwood.

Part of the benefit of being a pilot diocese will be new training for lay and ordained leaders in sports and wellbeing ministry, which is being provided as part of the programme by Ridley Hall, the Anglican theological college in Cambridge.

The work will be carried out in partnership with groups such as Christians in Sport.