The Heart of the Community project
The Heart of the Community project is an amazing, ambitious piece of work, which is absolutely central to our life as a church. It’s an audacious plan to take our vision of living to make a difference to a whole new level. And everyone is invited to play a part in making it happen.
Four key ambitions
The Heart of the Community project has four specific aims, which can all enable our lives to make even more of a difference.
Create a spacious modern meeting place in the centre of the community
Restore our historic church building for generations to come
Upgrade our existing community rooms
Fund outreach and anti-poverty projects locally, nationally and internationally
Each of these four ambitions is included to help us fulfil our vision of living to make a difference, through discipleship, outreach and serving the community.
How far we’ve come
The project was officially launched in May 2012 with the initial fundraising target of £5.8m. Members of St Michael’s Church responded to the call to give generously and sacrificially. On a single Sunday £2m was given or pledged over five years to get the project off to an incredible start.
This short video was produced after that amazing first gift day.
Since that first amazing gift day, even more people have chosen to support the project financially, and we continue to host an annual gift day, enabling each of us to review our regular giving and one-off donations.
To date (figures from April 2018) worshippers at St Michael’s have given more than £3.55m (including Gift Aid contributions from the government) to support the four ambitions of the Heart of the Community project. Those gifts, combined with a number of charitable loans from supportive organisations and individuals, have enabled us to press on with the work of the project.
Building work on the new St Michael’s Church Centre began in July 2013.
Derelict farm buildings in the heart of Stoke Gifford were transformed into our new church centre.
In September 2014 the shell of the new building was dedicated and the project was blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. By April 2015 the first phase was completed at a total cost of £4.51m – of which £2.04m was borrowed.
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, visits and blesses the new building in September 2014.
Work to fit and furnish the first phase of the new church centre continued, with our reception and downstairs office areas, storage, toilets, a small kitchen, three meeting rooms and the ground floor of the auditorium (300 seats) ready to open by May 2015.
A church gathering on the ground floor of the new auditorium shortly after it opened in 2015.
Making a difference around the world
Of all the financial gifts made to the project, we’ve committed 10% to support our mission and outreach partners elsewhere in the UK and around the world.
More than £120,00 has so far been given to building and development projects that are making a real difference to the lives of people in the UK, Moldova, India, Zimbabwe and Brazil.
Children overcoming the effects of HIV and AIDS at the Faith Home in Adoni, southern India. Heart of the Community funding has enabled new dormitories, a kitchen and dining hall to be completed.
There are more details about these projects in the mission pages of this website.
In 2019, following a meeting to discuss distribution of accumulated Heart of the Community tithe funds, a decision was made to invite applications for capital or operating costs from current mission partners and from local churches that have a close connection with St Michael’s. Bids were considered by a subgroup of MAG, a PCC representative and ‘link people’ for the mission partners. Five projects were approved in March 2019 and a further project was approved in May.
More info of that can be seen here
There’s much to celebrate, new opportunities to grow, serve and reach out, and plenty more fundraising and hard work ahead for the Heart of the Community project.
The Old School Rooms
The project has funded a new tiled floor throughout the foyer of the Old School Rooms. Our coffee shop, kitchen and the various meeting spaces in the Old School Rooms are used more than ever for church and community activities.
The church tower
£75,000 of Heart of the Community funds have now been allocated to the preservation of the church tower. The need for tower repairs is now an immediate priority, and protecting the medieval church building as a place of worship for generations to come has always been central to the vision of the project.
The auditorium balcony
Seating for another 160 people was added to the auditorium in the new church centre in the spring of 2018, with the completion of the balcony. This has accommodated further growth in numbers and enabled us to host more larger regional and national events, beginning with the Diocese of Bristol Connections Conference at the end of April.
Between autumn 2016 and spring 2017 we funded the mechanical and electrical work to provide heating and cabling for lighting, power and data connections to the arched barns area and the upstairs of the new centre. That means everything is in place to complete the remaining rooms as further funds become available.
Everyone is invited to play their part in the Heart of the Community project. That means hundreds of us committing to pray, to support in practical ways, and to consider carefully what level of sacrificial giving we could add to the growing total of funds raised.
At every stage of the project we’ve had to trust God as we’ve taken bold steps towards these audacious ambitions. We’re certain that God guides us and encourages us to continue towards that vision. And this faith-stretching challenge goes on.
What can I give?
We host a gift day for the Heart of the Community project once a year, and we have been amazed by God’s generosity and the faithfulness of his people again and again. But we can choose to make a one-off gift, or commit to a regular monthly donation at any time.
If you would like to make a donation, or to arrange a standing order for direct debit contributions, please contact the church office who will be happy to provide the simple forms you need to complete.
Tax-payers can also fill in a Gift Aid form which instructs the government to contribute another 25% on top of your donation, at no cost to you or the project.
We’re also delighted when groups or individuals choose to organise a fundraising activity for the Heart of the Community project. Dozens of different events have been staged over the last few years, and it’s not too late for you to add yours.
Be part of it
Some say that community spirit is a thing of the past. Our vision says the opposite. We live to restore relationships, re-build community and enable more people to come together and discover the difference our lives can make.
We invite everyone to enjoy the new facilities, spread the word and to consider supporting the project. Together we can all play a part in making this vision a reality, completing every element of the project and really living to make a difference at the heart of the community.
The official name of the Heart of the Community project charity is St Michael’s Church Centre Limited.
Registered Charity No.1149601