Street theatre evangelism heading for Wisbech as part of �100,000 award by Church of England

STREET theatre evangelism is heading for Wisbech as part of a �100,000 successful bid “to seek to form a creative bridge between town and parish church life.”

That was how Father Paul West summed up the award given to St Peter and St Paul’s by the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners.

Parish priest Father West and his team were successful with their bid for ‘Developing Church Growth in Deprived Areas’.

He said: “We are delighted with this generous gift and encouragement from the national Church. We acknowledge that authentic Christian mission involves a long process of gentle transformation.

“Through the exciting interface of the arts and the Faith, we seek to form a creative bridge between the town and parish church life: to make disciples but continue to love those who walk away. We feel humbled by the award.”

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Primary use of the funds will be to employ a director of arts-focused evangelisation and to develop an international centre for artist in residencies in the former curate’s cottage and garden.

Visiting painters, sculptors, illustrators and filmmakers will continue to take up residence, and work with local schools and community groups, often in conversation with visiting theologians and religious.

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Father West developing street theatre evangelism and story-telling festival events for families was part of the project as well as responding to Scripture, the lives of the Saints, and the social justice heritage of Wisbech – birthplace of Thomas Clarkson and Octavia Hill.

He also hopes to develop a gap year internship programme in arts evangelisation for young adults from the Church of England.

* Last year MP Steve Barclay helped to set up a working group of two head teaches and community leaders to promote an artist scheme similar to that run by Father West in his native Australia.

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