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Blackburn: sports ministry launch at Preston North End FC

A brand new sporting initiative for the County has been launched by Blackburn Diocese at an event in Deepdale Stadium – the home of Preston North End Football Club ...

A brand new sporting initiative for the County has been launched by Blackburn Diocese at an event in Deepdale Stadium – the home of Preston North End Football Club ...

The ‘Ministry of Sport’ was created in 2015 by Bishop Tony Porter (who is the Archbishops’ Adviser on Sport) and it has been rolling out across Church of England Dioceses ever since – with Blackburn Diocese being the latest to get involved.

Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson, is fully supportive of the initiative and attended the launch, which took place in the Players’ Lounge at Deepdale, along with people from across the County who were interested in getting involved.

The main aim of Ministry of Sport is simple … to encourage Christians participating in sport and sports chaplaincy to use it as part of outreach work of the local church.

Speaking at the Deepdale launch event Bishop Julian, who is a keen sports fan (he took part in sports including rugby, tennis and athletics when he was younger) said: “So many people in Lancashire engage in sport. As part of our work for Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities I want to see us maximise opportunities sport presents to us for meeting and serving people while sharing something of the Gospel of Christ through sporting activity at the same time.”

Several of the driving forces behind the launch of the Ministry of Sport initiative in Lancashire were at the event including Rev Canon David Banbury, Leader of the Diocesan Parish Mission Support Department; Keith McIntosh, who is an active member of St Andrew’s Church in Leyland and a longstanding voluntary supporter/member of the ‘Christians in Sport’ organisation and Rev Chris Nelson, Vicar of Penwortham St Mary’s Church and Chaplain for Preston North End.

David is a keen runner and has enjoyed playing football and American football in the past. He said: “Ministry of Sport is about being a positive Christian presence in our communities, enjoying and promoting sport as a way of engaging people with the Gospel message.

“We are excited to be joining this growing initiative and are promoting it to our parishes and encouraging them to get involved. I look forward to hearing about many success stories.”

Keith added: “The positive aspects of sport can benefit everyone – specifically those aspects aligned to integrity, honesty and fairness, which are the basis of the Christian gospel.

“The coordination team working for and with the Diocese is fully supported by Bishop Julian and is here to resource parishes. Team members – including me – are available to visit parishes and explain more about how they can use sporting activities in their mission work.”

And Rev Chris Nelson said: “This is a fantastic initiative and the great thing is it doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact it can be as easy as showing a World Cup game on a big screen, having a short faith talk at half time and giving out some of our quality Ministry of Sport literature.”

For more information on Ministry of Sport in Blackburn Diocese and to enquire about booking speakers email

PHOTOS: Top: Keith McIntosh from Leyland gets ready to launch the Ministry of Sport at Deepdale Stadium
Next: Some of the people from across Lancashire who attended the launch at Deepdale Stadium, pictured in the Players’ Lounge
Above: Deepdale Duck joins Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn, in supporting the launch of the Ministry of Sport at Deepdale Stadium

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