Changing Market Towns


Significant investment for our market towns

The Changing Market Towns project has been awarded £2.13 million of Strategic Development Funding from the Church of England, which is being matched by the Diocese to bring the total investment over a five year period to £4.36 million.

The project  is focussed on the towns of: Wisbech, March, Chatteris, Littleport, Ramsey, Huntingdon, St Neots and Downham Market. The project is an expression of one of the Levers for Change within the Diocese of Ely's Ely 2025 Growth Strategy - Targeting Resources to Key Areas.

It focuses on enabling and sustaining church growth in small and medium-sized towns and will significantly enhance the Diocese's ability to realise its commitment to:

  • engage fully and courageously with the needs of our communities, locally and globally,
  • grow God's church by finding disciples and nurturing leaders, and
  • deepen our commitment to God through word, worship and prayer. It aims to work across whole towns, and not be constrained by some of the ancient parish boundaries.

The funding is enabling the Diocese to transform its engagement with Fenland town communities in the north of the region, bringing in new congregations and fresh expressions of church. It is supported by the organisational changes necessary to provide our church leaders with the freedom to focus on town ministry. It is also helping to pay for a network of community support workers with family, youth and other specialisms - leading the work of our churches in transforming their communities.

The Rt Revd Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, said: "I am delighted that this major project has received support from the Strategic Development Fund. We hope that, through it, very many more people will be enabled to join a journey of faith and share in God’s work of transforming their communities. It is far-reaching, complex and ambitious and an expression of our faith in the power of God”.

Canon Matthew Bradbury, the Lead Minister in the Church of England's Wisbech Market Town Mission, added: “I am absolutely delighted with the news of the grant. After more than a year in the planning, it will be great to start advertising for the additional support workers who together with the members of our congregations will be striving to take the Gospel to the heart of the community".

Strategic Development Funding

  • The Diocese of Ely submitted its 'Changing Market Towns' application for Strategic Development Funding in June 2018, the application can be viewed by clicking here.

Changing Market Towns Prayer

This is the Changing Market Towns prayer, written by Iain Osborne, Incumbent of Ramsey, and commended for use in every town.

God of hope, we pray for our market towns,
and the churches that serve them.
We thank you for your faithful care, that has made us who we are,
and we trust you for our future.
Unite us, give us heart and hope, and build up your kingdom
in the places we love.
We pray in the name of the carpenter of Nazareth,
Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Further Background on Market Towns

First published on: 21st December 2021

Further background on Market Towns, in which over a quarter of the people of the Diocese of Ely live in small towns. Outside the city of Cambridge, one third of the population live in communities of more than 7,000 people that are neither new towns nor part of the extended suburbs of Cambridge or Peterborough. For convenience, we refer to them as "market towns", since most have historically hosted a market.

CMT Workers and the CMT Leader

First published on: 4th January 2022

Across the Fenland towns, the Changing Market Towns project has appointed workers with a brief to reach out to their communities in new ways. There are various Changing Market Towns Workers in place and this page tells you more.

Market Towns Mid-Term Project Review

First published on: 21st December 2021

In 2021, the Changing Market Towns Project Board asked an external consult to undertake a mid-term review of the Project. John Truscott was appointed and in December (2021) the Project Board received his Report. This page summarises the key findings.

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