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Let community ideas inspire your church growth

An exciting future lays ahead for a church near Henley on Thames after the completion of an eight-year refurbishment project. 

St James Church in Bix has been transformed into a community hub, thanks in part to a grant from the Development Fund. The scheme was split into two phases, to build an extension for toilet and kitchen facilities and then remove fixed pews and upgrade the heating and lighting. 

Project manager Kathryn Goodson has shared what she learned during the building works, to encourage more churches to take the plunge. 

She said: “You have to strike a balance in the planning stage leaving space for the church as well as space for the public to come and enjoy a warm welcoming space. We are doing this to bring the community together. People get so busy in their daily lives, others are lonely living on their own but when you have occasions which bring them together they enjoy being together and we want to support that.

“If you’re setting out on this journey you need your permissions in place first and then you need to look for your money and then you need to find you builders and architects and draw your plans together. 

“Do not expect immediate results when applying for funding. Our first application was refused and that set us back a whole year while we rejigged our development plans. When you’re planning your project, make it a community thing, not just a church thing so everyone wants to use it. Look outside the church and ask your community.”

In some ways the work has just begun for St James. They are now busy recruiting a team of volunteers to help manage the community hub and they recently held an open evening to show local residents the transformation.

Kathryn added: “We want it to be a community-based thing, with everyone involved. We have lots of ideas flowing and we’re confident it’s going to do well.”

Visit the Development Fund web page to discover the kinds of projects which could receive funding.

Page last updated: Friday 16th February 2024 6:08 PM
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