Programme Chronology

1994 – 2024: The Church of England exists in a climate of 30 years of decline. In the diocese of Liverpool, there is a 55% decline in attendance between 1989 – 2019. In the COVID-19 Pandemic, the diocese experienced 10 years of decline in 2, standing in 2024 with a 65% decline in attendance compared to 1989. We also have a 38% reduction in clergy, but retain 94% of our buildings.

2014: The Right Rev Paul Bayes joins the Diocese of Liverpool as our eighth bishop. He sets our vision to ask God for a bigger church to make a bigger difference with more people knowing Jesus and more justice in the world.

2015: Projects like the Joshua Centre and Transforming Wigan begin, leading to growth in smaller, lay led worshipping communities. 

2019: The diocese formally adopts Leading Your Church Into Growth as a partner. National Church funding enables five resource churches to be created to lead in revitalising/planting churches.

2020: The Covid-19 Pandemic begins, and continues the downward decline of church attendance across the church of England, including our diocese. In 2024 this is yet to reach pre-COVID attendance levels.

2021: With the backdrop of decades of decline, church and diocese leaders begin praying and working together to discern a missional response to grow and sustain our churches for the future. This begins with a vision of four missional priorities: introducing more people to Jesus, working for more justice, deepening discipleship and developing Christian leaders. From here, with listening and collaboration, a strategy is developed to turn the priorities from words into actions. This becomes the missional response of becoming ‘Fit for Mission’.

2022: ‘Cohort 1’, the deaneries of St Helens and West Derby begin their ‘acting as if phase’ of the Fit for Mission journey, to work out what working together could look like for them. 

2023: The Right Rev Doctor John Perumbalath becomes the ninth bishop of Liverpool, following Bishop Paul’s retirement in 2022. He reaffirms the vision of a bigger church to make a bigger difference and affirms Fit for Mission as the right missional response to do this.

2023: ‘Cohort 1’ continues and ‘Cohort 2’, the deaneries of Ormskirk, Warrington, Liverpool South and Toxteth and Wavertree begin their 'acting as if' stage. 

2024: Church St Helens, the larger parish in the deanery of St Helens becomes a legal parish Cohort 3 deaneries of Huyton, Liverpool North and Walton, North Meols, Sefton North, Sefton South, Widnes and Winwick begin the engage phase journey.

2025: The cohort 3 deaneries will decide on whether to begin their Fit for Mission ‘acting as if’ phase.  

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