The 5-year plan for St Helens Parish Church to become an Urban Minster

MAJOR plans have been revealed for St Helens Parish Church to become an Urban Minster.

Reverend Rachel Shuttleworth,  vicar at the St Helens Church on Church Square announced that a five-year plan is in place to redesignate the Parish church as St Helens Minster.

The proposal follows the town’s regeneration plans and the church’s involvement in the St Helens Heritage Trail.

READ > St Helens Parish Church becomes third site for Heritage Trail plaque

St Helens Star: The church recently became the latest heritage site of St Helens Heritage TrailThe church recently became the latest heritage site of St Helens Heritage Trail (Image: Catrin Jones)

Reverend Shuttleworth revealed that a five-year plan is in place to redesignate the church as a Minster to offer a resource centre for the community.

Rev Shuttleworth said: “We’ve got quite ambitious plans here for the next five years.

“We hope to be a centre for the town to have different events here, to be able to offer our space to different organisations from around town, and for the art sector and voluntary sector, to be a real focal point for the people of St Helens.

“The aim is that by 2026 we will be able to redesignate as a St Helens Minster. In order to get to that stage, there’s some tweaking that needs doing with the building as we need to do some repairs and get the place ready for purpose, but a lot of it is simply starting to act like a Minster before we are a Minster.”

St Helens Star: The church hopes to welcome the whole community as it becomes an Urban MinsterThe church hopes to welcome the whole community as it becomes an Urban Minster (Image: Catrin Jones)

The St Helens vicar also explained that the church is hoping to be redesignated by 2026 to coincide with its 100th anniversary.

She added: “It seems like a beautiful time to redesignate and begin a new chapter in our history here.

“It will also hopefully coincide with some of the regeneration of the town centre coming into fruition and we hope that we will be part of that new life.”

What is an Urban Minster?

A Minster is a church seen with an important role in the community and is often described as acting as a ‘mother church’ or a ‘mini cathedral’.

Redesignating St Helens Parish Church as a Minster will allow the church to become a meeting point to discuss the community’s plans, as well as offering its premises as a resource centre.

The five-year plan

The vision to redesignate the church as a Minster was captured in 2019 by St Helens Deanery, the collected Church of England churches in the borough, in hopes of converting St Helens Parish Church into a focal point for the town.

Following the pandemic, these visions for the future of the church were revisited, with the aim to transform the historical building into a community-wide centre, a place of prayer, and a heritage site.

2022

The five-year plan commenced this year following ‘Dreaming Exercises’ last month, which saw six key elements of the plan unveiled to the entirety of St Helens Parish Church PCC and Deanery Synod.

2023

Next year, The Mission Plan will be presented to key stakeholders, including St Helens Borough Council and St Helens Chamber.

Renovations and modernisations to the lower and upper halls of the church will also take place to generate an income to help fund the mission.

The plan will also revitalise facilities and provide an all-day access to the Chapel.

2024

In 2024, the church’s status as a heritage site will become more prominent as signage and information materials will be updated, along with a clean up to choir stalls and reredos.

The early stages of larger building projects are planned to be processed this year and in 2025.

2025

The fourth year will see building projects take place, including the completion of the roof replacement, removal of pews, renewal of stone work at the front of the church, and rethinking of the entrance.

Plans for further events and bookings at the church will also be developed, along with a programme of activities to mark the building’s 100-year anniversary in 2026.

2026

The centenary year of St Helens Parish Church will aim to be the year it will redesignate as a Minster to coincide with the town’s regeneration plans which will be largely completed by 2025.

The year is promised to be full of events to celebrate the new chapter as St Helens Minster.

Key features of St Helens Minster 

A place for worship and discipleship – There will be a dedicated place for a prayer in the Chapel, a rhythm of prayer and worship gatherings, and opportunities to engage with courses and groups who study the bible and introduce the Christian Faith. 

A place for all people – The building will be open to the whole community as a place of worship and also as a venue for events such as art exhibitions.  

A place of hospitality – During Thinking Minster Vision Day, ‘the smell of coffee’ was mentioned by participants when asked about what they envisioned at the church. This led to the idea of introducing a cafe in the Minster to welcome people of all ages. 

A place of hope and safety – The Minster will be a safe space for those in need, with an up-to-date register of services available introduced and volunteers to be recruited. 

A place aiming for carbon neutrality – St Helens Minster will contribute to the collective aim of ‘Net Zero carbon’ by 2030. 

A place for civic identity – The Minster will welcome tourists and visitors with leaflets, and invite the community to the Civic Church for St Helens as a place of pride.