SIX innovative projects aimed at getting new people involved in church went head to head in a Dragon’s Den-style show this week.
Bishop’s Den saw community groups from across Cornwall pitch their ideas before a panel of judges in a packed hall at Truro College.
The six groups were shortlisted from more than 40 who entered the competition to win cash from a pot of funds collected from the sale of church land.
The entertaining event, thought to be the first of its kind in the country, was organised by the Bishop of Truro, Bishop Tim Thornton, under the banner ‘Doing Church Differently’.
Around 200 people watched as each of the projects, from Penzance to Callington, put on a show to demonstrate how they would use the funds to attract people to their church.
The shortlisted groups were:
* SHEDS of Hope, from St Columb Minor
* Fusion Bus Project, from The Lizard
* Community Shop, from South Petherwin
* Pioneer Youth, from Truro
* eWaves, from the Penlee cluster of churches
*Kick Start 4 Youth, from Callington
SHEDS was keen to build sheds in their area to bring together all sections of the community in a gardening project.
Fusion wanted to buy a bus to help reach isolated communities across The Lizard and take the church to them.
The Community Shop was keen to set up a shop in the church at South Petherwin, to attract different people into the building.
Pioneer Youth was keen to establish groups around interests, such as video games and sports, rather than religion.
eWaves wanted to use technology, such as apps, to make the church more attractive to different community groups in west Cornwall.
Kick Start hoped to use the funds for a youth worker and youth church to help disaffected young people in Callington.
The event was hosted by Alan Dedicoat, the voice of the National Lottery, nicknamed ‘Voice of the Balls’.
Bishop Tim; BBC Radio Cornwall’s Daphne Skinnard; Dean of Exeter Jonathan Draper; Volunteer Cornwall Chief Executive Ian Jones; and Catherine Mead, director of Lynher Dairies, made up the panel.
After much deliberation, the panel agreed to fund up to £100,000 each to the South Petherwin Community Shop and eWaves and work with them to bring the projects to fruition.
Bishop Tim said: “I hope this project has been a catalyst to do church differently. I come away from this really encouraged by the strength and health of the churches in this Diocese.
“Lots of good ideas will come out of this and the spirit will be flowing in lots of different directions.”