Heart of the Community project updates

Project finance

The shell of the new church and community centre, which is due to be completed in mid-July is expected to cost £2.5m, which combined with an estimated £2.1m to fit out the new building, takes the total cost to £4.6m. 

The project Steering Group has been considering various options of securing non-commercial loans to cover an immediate shortfall of £300k and the cost (approximately £700k) of installing mechanical and electrical fittings. This would avoid the substantial costs associated with the contractors leaving the site between phases and enable us to use the additional space as soon as possible. 

Any such loans would be secured with very favourable repayment terms and/or rates of interest, and represent a low risk. The DCC (church council) econsidered this issue at their meeting on 10th March and agreed unanimously (subject to auditors’ review and legal advice) that loans costing up to £1.6m (including cost of interest and repayments) be sought. This represents the maximum amount that can realistically and feasibly be repaid over 10-15 years. As well as covering the M&Es, it will contribute to the cost of fit out, but will not enable full completion of the building. 

Further funding

The DCC also approved a recommendation from the Heart of the Community Steering Group to seek grant funding from four extra sources, “Grants for Places of Worship”, “Our Heritage”, “Awards for All” and “Reaching Communities”, through the National Lottery. The DCC has had to recognise that this is the means by which the Government now funds many cultural, community and heritage projects and that funding from non-congregational sources has been less than anticipated. 

The House of Bishops Policy states: “Sometimes the Church resists proposed changes in our society, but when the decision is made we have to live with it. In this instance we recognise that the Government has made it clear that the Lottery is the way it will increasingly fund heritage and charitable and other matters. The decision whether or not to apply for such help is a matter for the responsible body in each case.” 

During discussions at DCC it was acknowledged that: “ i) all money is God’s money; ii) God can redeem all things, including money some of us might see as tainted; iii) we would rather National Lottery money be used for projects which have the explicit aim of advancing the Kingdom. We believe that the good that can be done with the funding outweighs the potential negative elements.” 

Heart of the Community applications would focus on grants from the Heritage Fund to repair and refurbish the existing church building. The DCC and Heart of the Community steering group were agreed that this is a “fall back” option should there be no miraculous intervention for funding needed. Even if “reaching communities” funding is granted, the funds allocated do not have to be accepted if the funding has come from else- where in the meantime. The recommendation was approved by a majority vote (15 for; 1 against; 1 abstention).