A Lancashire clergywoman who has been overseeing the growth of a new congregation in the Blackburn Diocese has been profiled in publicity about a national Church of England initiative which provided £5.6 million in funding for additional clergy posts across the country.

From rural areas to inner cities, roles including Team Vicar, Associate Priest and pioneer posts will be paid for from the grant as part of a five-year arrangement to ensure that no suitably qualified curate is left without a post.

The money will fund the equivalent of 36.5 clergy posts, including several in Lancashire; each working in parishes, housing estates, school chaplaincy, in church plants, youth congregations and worshipping communities in deprived areas.

Rev Kat Gregory-Witham is one of those funded as Associate Priest at St Matthew’s Church in Burnley, where she has been Curate for the past three years. The Cranmer Hall-trained priest has overseen the growth of a new congregation at the church; a Monday afternoon church gathering made up mainly of young families.

The gathering now attracts between up to 55 people regularly for activities and worship and has inspired a new Wednesday morning Bible study group for people hoping to explore their faith further.

Speaking today, Kat said: “My primary focus is the new congregation on Monday afternoons (which is called Fun Church) and is made up of a fabulous bunch of people who have previously had little contact with the Church and the Christian faith.

“Some members of our Fun Church family have taken the decision to be baptised and confirmed which is fantastic.

“We now also have a Wednesday morning Bible study group for people to explore their faith further. I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue with this work.”

Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Blackburn-designate, commented today: “We are grateful to the national church for this funding which will be well used in this diocese to catalyse existing creativity and growth, in places such as where Rev. Kat is based.

“We are continuing to seek to grow new congregations across Lancashire. Fun Church in Burnley is an exciting example of this work and of how fresh ways of engaging with local communities can bring real results and can make a tangible difference in the lives of people of all ages.”