Inaugural young ecumenist grants announced

The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund has made its first set of grants to enable ecumenical experiences abroad

Japan, Egypt, Switzerland and the Czech Republic are among the destinations for young adults who have successfully applied for grants in the first ‘cohort’ of The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund awards.

Six Christians, aged 18 to 35, from a range of our National Member Churches, will be undertaking ecumenical experiences abroad from January to April this year.

The Chair of Churches Together in England, Rowena Loverance, who convened the awards panel said: “This was the first time we had offered these grants so we were delighted to get such high-quality applications. It’s particularly pleasing that the six successful young adults come from a variety of ecumenical situations including chaplaincy, a regional Churches Together group, theological colleges and local ministry.

“We look forward to following the journeys of these young people and hope that their enthusiasm for church unity is further enriched by their upcoming experiences abroad.”

The first three successful applicants

Sam Rigby

Sam Rigby

Sam is from Merseyside and is studying at Emmanuel Theological College.

He is a member of the Churches Together in the Merseyside Region young adults group.

Sam will visit the Chemin Neuf Discipleship School at Hautecombe Abbey and the World Council of Churches.

He said: “I am really looking forward to spending some time with the World Council of Churches in Geneva to gain further experience in ecumenical work from a global perspective. This will hopefully complement my current studies of Missional Theology in a Global Context. I will then travel from Geneva to Hautecombe Abbey to spend a week with the Chemin Neuf Community and the Hautecombe Discipleship School for young adults from a range of denominations. This will hopefully inform my current research into the confluence of the charismatic and catholic traditions of Christian spirituality, as lived out by Chemin Neuf.” 

Sarah Crane

Sarah is a Baptist Minister and is the Head of Chaplaincy at Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Sarah will attend the European Network of Healthcare Chaplaincy Consultation (ENHCC) in April 2024.

Sarah said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded this funding to attend the ENHCC taking place in Prague. The consultation brings together chaplains from across Europe from many Christian denominations and it will be hugely valuable to my practice as a chaplain to hear from such a range of perspectives and traditions including chaplains from Roman Catholic, Orthodox and a broad range of Protestant denominations including, but not limited to, Lutheran, Calvinist, Reformed and Pentecostal traditions.

Sarah Crane
Joe Allen - Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund

Joe Allen

Joe is a pastoral assistant in the Parish of St Michael and All Angels, Croydon (Church of England).

He is going with their Young Vocations Group to the Benedictine Abbey of Chevetogne, Belgium in Lent 2024.

Joe said: “I am delighted to have received a grant in order to travel to Chevetogne Abbey in Belgium. As a Pastoral Assistant, one of the aims of my placement is to experience the wider church across the denominations. As such, I am very grateful to CTE that the Snelson Fund will allow me to develop my exposure to, and experience of, the Orthodox and Catholic traditions of monasticism at Chevetogne”.

We’ll introduce the other three young ecumenists, who are part of the first ‘cohort’, next month.

The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund was launched in October 2023 by Churches Together in England and the Snelson family. It is in memory of Bill Snelson, a dedicated ecumenist, who was General Secretary of Churches Together England from 1997 to 2008. Grants from the Fund allow young adults to experience ecumenism abroad. That experience can be study, pilgrimage, volunteering or any activity that promotes church unity.

The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund will next open to applications in early February 2024.

Download a brief guide to The Bill Snelson Young Ecumenists Fund and how to apply.

Photo credit: © Gabriella Clare Marino via Unsplash