THE Anglican Diocese of Leeds has announced it is going to create a £4.6 million church in an old nightclub in the centre of Bradford.

The church, which is described as a friendly Christian worship centre with its own café and gym, will be created in the West End area near City Park and will engage with the whole community.

The new church is planned for a former nightspot and will have its doors open to all – welcoming the large resident student and business population in particular, alongside those who call the city centre their home.

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The exact venue for the new church has not yet been revealed.

The project has been developed by the Bradford Episcopal Area of the Church of England Diocese of Leeds, supported by £3.1m from the national Church Commissioners’ Strategic Investment Board and £1.5m of local money.

The funding will be spread over the next six years and pay for necessary building works, plus the establishment of a strong, energetic church team who will develop a centre of real influence.

Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev Toby Howarth, said: “This is a wonderful leap forward in growing the spiritual identity of Bradford.

“The reasons behind this new Resource Church are obvious: Bradford is a significant city nationally and internationally and while we have a thriving Cathedral, there is currently no other Anglican presence in the heart of the city centre.

“It will have a strong Bradford identity: young, entrepreneurial, ethnically and culturally diverse and confident about holding out a clear religious offer and call in the public space.

“It will have a mandate from the start to grow and send folk out to plant new churches and revitalise existing congregations around the area.”

Bishop Toby praised Bradford Council for promoting significant improvements to central area: “The city has made huge strides in redeveloping and reprofiling itself, with milestones including the opening of the new Broadway shopping centre, the creation of City Park, with its award-winning mirror pool, surrounded by City Hall, the National Science and Media Museum, the Alhambra Theatre and the restored St George’s Hall venue.

“Plus plans to bring the Odeon back to life are also underway.

“The Church of England Diocese of Leeds and its Bradford Episcopal Area believe strongly in a vision for this new church after a broad process of consultation, prayer and discussion with local churches, Anglican and ecumenical partners, as well as leaders in the city, including those of different faiths.

“During two years of prayer and planning we have been overwhelmed by the generous, enthusiastic response from people who love Bradford and who are willing to embrace both opportunities and risks - in particular, keen Anglican parish churches in the Bradford district who have offered to send people to help plant this new church.

“The church’s ministry and outreach will be particular geared to those aged under 40, addressing the young and diverse demographic of the city and with particular outreach to the university and college communities lying just behind it and the workplaces around the city centre.

“Its worship will offer quality contemporary music led by a worship band, as well as quiet contemplation, and the church will also explore South Asian and other culturally relevant expressions of worship."

The Leader of the new church will be the Rev Linda Maslen, who was born and bred in Bradford and currently runs a new type of outreach church in Halifax, The Saturday Gathering.

“I am really excited to be returning to my home city and the place where I decided that I would follow Jesus,” Linda said.

“I love what I am seeing with the city centre renewal and am excited to be a part of what God is already doing in Bradford.

“I also anticipate seeing God create something new in this unique and diverse place, not only within the new church team, but also in the surrounding area as we commit to pray and work for the prosperity of our city.

“I look forward to reconnecting with the business community, as I formerly headed-up call centres for HMRC and we had a Bradford location I liked particularly.

“I also look forward to working with Bradford Council to find out how our church can support them with their priorities, the student community, those of other faiths and those for whom life is a challenge,” Linda said.

The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, said: “This carefully targeted funding will lift our presence and engagement in an exciting city centre.

“I am delighted the vision and hard work of clergy and lay people who prepared this funding bid has been recognised and rewarded.

“An exciting vision and commitment lie at the heart of it.”

Bradford Council leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said: “It's great to see the Anglican Church making such a significant investment in the city. Like us, they have faith in the city and what we are creating here. This new investment further enriches the spaces for faith in the city centre and we gladly welcome it.”