Toby Crowe has been growing hope as rector of the CPAS patronage parish of Elmdon since 2012.
When he was appointed, his main priority was to turn around a pattern of gradual decline. Over many years this had resulted in an average Sunday attendance of just under 50 people. On closer inspection, Toby soon discovered that this West Midlands church was blessed with people who already had some of the key ingredients for growth;
'There's a good evangelical heritage here and I was quickly convinced that people are still committed to serving the community and sharing the gospel,
'We changed the services because we felt that the previous way of doing things was putting newcomers and children off. We wanted to make ourselves more accessible and welcoming.'
Known locally as 'Church in the Park', they are trying to make the most of their location by opening up their doors on Saturdays and other occasions when the park is busy, so they're seen as a place of welcome and fun.
'For example, the council organises an Easter egg hunt in the park on Good Friday, so for the past two years we've brought about 200 children and 300 adults through the doors.'
Three years down the line the annual count at services has nearly trebled, and Toby is looking forward to welcoming a training curate to Elmdon for the first time since the 1960s. These key signals indicate that the 'Church in the Park' can be confident about maintaining its renewed and hope-filled aspiration for growth.