Exploring the wider community use of church buildings
Many of our churches are looking at how they can make better use of their building by involving other community groups and going into partnerships with other agencies and organisations. In many rural settings the church may be the only the only community building left that is still in use and it may be that the parish church is able to provide services that otherwise lacking.
St.Peter's church in Peterchurch is an outstanding example of partnership working. Opened January 2010 it now incorporates a Children's Centre for the delivery of all government and Local Authority services for families in the area and a brand new branch library, which replaces the once a week Mobile Library!. Church Services have restarted after building work finished. The new flexible space also includes kitchen and toilet.
Click here for full information on Peterchurch
St Leonard's church is situated in North Herefordshire close to Herefordshire/Shropshire border. Yarpole is not a large community and like so many small villages it could no longer sustain the village shop and it closed a few years ago. They worked with the church to secure a permanent home in the back of the church building. It stocks all the ranges you would expect from a village shop but with a particular emphasis on local produce from the surrounding area. This cost about £250,000 to build, of which the community raised no less than £35,000 through various fundraising schemes. Much of the day-to-day work is carried out by 45 unpaid volunteers. The shop area also houses the community post office.
This is the stunning interior of St.Andrew's church in Bridge Sollars. St.Andrew's is a Grade 1 listed building in one of five very small parishes in the Bishopstone group. The need for a community centre for the parishes in this isolated part of Herefordshire had been identified in the Parish Plan and after extensive public consultation St.Andrew's was felt to be the best location.
The newly completed conversion, now called the New Bridge Community Centre, involved taking out the fixed pews in order to use the nave as a community meeting space while the chancel and sanctuary have been left as they are for Sunday services. There is a kitchen, toilet and a small room for private meetings and consultations and all areas are accessible to the disabled. The conversion has been designed to make the building energy and waste efficient, to use local materials and suppliers, and to leave as small an environmental footprint as possible.