URC celebrates 25 years of Community Project Awards

Recipients of the 2023 Community Project Awards, standing behind and sitting on a bench in the grassy grounds of The Hayes Conference Centre, with Andy Jackson, Head of Communications who wears a pink shirt.

Last Updated on 4 July 2023 by Ann-Marie Nye

At its 2023 General Assembly, the United Reformed Church celebrated 25 years of its Community Project Awards.

The awards recognise outstanding community projects taking place in churches – projects that don’t get the recognition they deserve, but which demonstrate the mission of the Church by reaching out in many different ways to the local communities which they serve.

The scheme was founded by the Revd David Lawrence in 1998, and for the past 14 years has been sponsored by Congregational. In total, 66 projects have won awards, winning prizes totalling £125,000.

  • Causeway Community Garden, at St John’s United Reformed Church, Warrington, Cheshire, a garden that offers space for the community to enjoy and to support mental health;
  • Darwen Asylum Refugee Enterprise (DARE), at Central United Reformed Church, Darwen, Lancashire, is a drop-in service for the local refugee and asylum seeker community;
  • Wooler Warm Welcome, at Wooler United Reformed Church, Northumberland, provides a warm, safe and comfortable place for people to meet informally.

At the meeting held at The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, the Revd Fiona Bennett, General Assembly Moderator 2022-2023 introduced Martin Cox, UK CEO of Integra Insurance Solutions, the parent company of Congregational Insurance.

This was the first time that Martin has been able to represent the company at the Awards and he shared how grateful he was to be present.

“The involvement with the Community Project Awards over the past 14 years means much to the organisation,” he said. “We take great pride in our association with the URC, particularly as it supports local communities. It really is an inspiration.”

Martin went on to say how much he looks forward to another 25 years of partnership with the denomination and then expressed “thanks to all the worthy winners for all that they do”.

Both Martin and Fiona expressed a huge amount of gratitude to Margaret Slater, the former Head of Marketing for Congregational and member of the Community Project Awards judging panel of 14 years, who has now retired.

Margaret sent best wishes to Assembly which showed its appreciation for all her work with resounding applause.

Learn more about 25 years of the Community Project Awards.