Formerly a manufacturing/engineering town and also a military base until the end of national service, Warrington is designated a new town and now has the third fastest growing economy in the country. The town is situated at the heart of a regional motorway network, which has been a key factor in making Warrington an important distribution hub, readily accessible to the wider catchment via excellent road connections, two train stations and an extensive bus network. Major employers in scientific and technical sectors have led to significant employment and thousands of new-build new houses.
Warrington Borough Council is currently in the process of redeveloping the town centre. A £107 million mixed-use development is to revitalise the traditional retail and leisure heart of Warrington town centre. On completion in 2019, the scheme will create a family-friendly shopping area with restaurants and leisure facilities. There are also plans for a new purpose-built £6m Youth Zone to be built in the town centre.
Right at the centre of all this development is Holy Trinity. The church has a small congregation who are open to new possibilities. Currently the building is open every day and offers (alongside traditional Sunday worship) mid-week church services, a morning coffee bar, a regular meeting place for various agencies including bereavement services and an alternative, neutral meeting place for others, for example Pathways to Recovery (Warrington Addiction Treatment Centre). It is also home to the Latvian Church in Warrington, and Holy Trinity also hosts free Saturday lunchtime concerts for WACIDOM (Warrington Arts Council Initiative for the Development of Music).
Street Pastors were introduced to the town centre in September 2016 and they have their base at Holy Trinity. They meet at 10.30pm each Friday, going out into the town centre to engage with the night-time economy until 5am when the clubs close. In its first six months the local police have reported a 26% reduction in antisocial behaviour in the town centre. The Street Pastors return to Holy Trinity for their break at some point during the patrol but there is a strong desire to see the building as offering more – for instance a safe place to wait.
Change is also happening across the deanery which has tilled the ground for new possibilities and transformation. The majority of the clergy chapter have come in the last three years and are starting to lead the development for mission using the learning from Transforming Wigan. Exciting conversations are beginning to look at where resources, both lay and ordained, might be deployed outside of traditional parish boundaries so as to have a greater impact. A new 0.5 appointment has been made for a Warrington deanery lead for discipleship and churches are actively looking at possible new worshiping communities. There is a willingness to try new and different things in order to take mission forward.