There was once a time when a church was the centre of daily life; a place of gathering and commerce; of learning and sanctuary. It was in many ways the soul of a community.
Times have changed however and for most the church is now little more than a museum attraction or the venue for a Sunday-only leisure pursuit. In relegating the church to its margins many would say that society has lost something of the glue that holds it together, perhaps even its ‘soul’.
The vision for the St Andrew’s Centre has been simple; to provide more and better space for the church’s growing activities (particularly with children and young people), and to re-establish that connection with the wider community. Our old hall was coming to the end of its shelf-life, and as a congregation we were outgrowing it. For over ten years, plans have existed to rebuild the hall and we have spent many years asking God for his vision for this project.
We came to believe that God was calling us to create a safe space devoted to well-being, wholeness and reconciliation. Creating the St Andrew's Centre has been an enormous act of faith involving enormous amounts of money, but underpinning it is the sincere belief that, as William Temple once said: The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members’. In other words, the Church is not a ghetto but an agent both of good news and good actions.
The old church hall The St Andrew's Centre
The St Andrew's Centre has been created by extending, altering and refurbishing the old Parish Hall. The Centre consists of a range of meeting rooms, including a one-to-one counselling room, rooms for larger groups and a multi-purpose hall with kitchen facilities, an art/utility room and disabled toilet.
There are three discreet entrances, two accessed through the churchyard and one through a new link from the church itself so that each user group can be assured of a degree of security and confidentiality.
The Centre has also been designed for easy access for all, and with as low a carbon footprint as possible. It is tucked away behind the Church on St Andrew's Street; this we believe allows for a degree of privacy.
You can see pictures of the building project here.