Kennett Road Dental Practice in Headington, Oxford is almost completed!
Click here to find out more about the project.
…I write now to convey our strong objection to the proposed reordering, which would constitute far too heavy-handed an intervention into what is a remarkably intact and characterful nineteenth century interior…
The privilege of ‘ecclesiastical exemption’ from listed building consent extends to five church denominations in the UK. Secular planning authorities are deemed not to have sufficient understanding of church liturgy so, provided there are stringent procedures implemented by the respective denominations, they are permitted to determine applications for changes to the fabric of listed church buildings.
On the streets of Reading lives are being transformed; God is at work. Over the last few weeks, thousands of people have come to faith in Jesus and as word of this spreads, Christians are travelling to Reading from across the UK to find out what the church there is doing, getting involved and taking lessons learned back to their home churches.
Architecture has a profound capability of influencing our sense of wellbeing, it provides for down to earth, practical needs such as warmth and shelter, space for functions and activities, be that sitting on a sofa in front of a comforting fire or chasing a shuttlecock, racquet in hand. It can affect our mood; spaces can engender so many emotions, trigger memories or associations. Our built environment can be oppressive or uplifting, eerie or joyful and so much more.
In my last blog I challenged churches to think about what sort of building projects they should be taking on and the primary motivation behind the dream. In this blog, I want to provide just a few basic pointers based on an assumption that meeting Sunday needs remains an important element of the building project and a primary driver. This is not to contradict myself but to give some practical guidance, benchmarking against other Church building projects.
This was the subject of an interesting conversation I had with our pastor a year or so ago. The Church was planted 17 years ago, since then we have met in homes and moved around from venue to venue in our market town, renting all sorts of spaces: Costa for our Alpha courses, the youth centre for our parent & toddler group, school halls, Town Hall, gyms, conference centres and dance studios for our larger gatherings; we’ve tried everything and as we grow are running out of options. Each venue has its limitations, each has benefits. We don’t have the liability of our own building with the burden of the associated running costs and management needs, on the other hand, we don’t have the benefit of a resource and a hub we can call our own from which to serve our community.
I woke with a heavy heart this morning having heard yesterday about the pending sale of a building that has been a resource for telling people about Jesus for the last 50 years. Bulstrode Park, home to WEC, an international mission agency is a magnificent country estate in Bucks which has resourced the work of WEC as a UK hub. In that time it has been home to many families and individuals as they have gone about their God-given call to preach the good news of Jesus across the nations of the world and provided a resource base for all sorts of mission activities.
Today's BBC headline 'Should buildings be a priority for the Church?' is a topical question - particularly as I begin a new business venture focused on buildings for Churches!
'Of course they should' would be the answer expected of a Church architect. Actually I care little for church architecture in itself - a shocking revelation maybe. In many cases they are a wonderful and important heritage in the UK but to what extent do our church buildings truly help the Church's mission to make disciples of all peoples? Too often they are more of a hindrance, draining money, sucking resource, sending out the wrong message to contemporary society and, importantly, often providing wholly inappropriate accommodation for the activities the Church should be engaging in.