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Churches success in wake of Sussex CofE crisis
4:30pm Friday 12th October 2012 in News
Three years ago, St Peter’s Church in York Place, Brighton, was threatened with closure under the Diocese of Chichester’s management.
However, under the energetic leadership of Reverend Archie Coates the prominent church has become a thriving, active church attracting a large congregation of students and doing outstanding work for the city’s homeless.
Rev Coates said: “It’s a question of community and building a relationship with the community.
“The hardest thing is to get people who have misconceptions or preconceptions about church across the front door, but when they come in and meet a welcoming and diverse ward those barriers begin to break.
“We have an Alpha course, and currently 80 people attending, which is a practical introduction to Christianity for people who don’t go to church.
“It’s an easy forum for anyone to come in and discuss any issues. We also run a recovery course for people who struggle with addiction.
“It’s all about finding ways to be relevant to the local community.”
Sunday service attracts 1,200
While Church of England congregation numbers are predicted to fall by up to 90% over the next 50 years, some churches in the county are seeing attendances soar.
The Church of Christ the King has recently moved from the Shoreham Centre to Shoreham Academy to accommodate its increasing congregation.
The church regularly gets more than 1,200 people attending its Sunday services held in its church in New England Street, at Brighton racecourse and Shoreham Academy.
Two Sunday morning services are held at Shoreham including an informal café style service around tables and with coffee, pastries and fruit.
Matt Simmonds communications manager at Church of Christ the King, said: “I wouldn’t want to disparage what the Church of England do. They do a lot of work for the poor of the city.
“We want to get the message of Jesus Christ to reach modern day people. We want it to be real for people without changing the message.
“We try and go to speak to people where they are now and not try and preach in the style that churches have for hundreds of years.
“I’m sure there are things we can teach Church of England churches and I’m sure there are things we can learn from them.
“There are Church of England churches that are growing and reaching out to people.
“What we are doing in Shoreham is a little more relaxed and informal but what works here in Shoreham might not work in a village parish on the other side of the Downs.”
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