Parish Centre

Our new parish centre – the journey so far… 

[Go straight to making a donation]

Our ‘Case for Support brochure’ sets out the vision for our new Parish Centre in more detail (Click on the grey circle in the centre for a full page view; if you are having problems reading this [or prefer it], we have a PDF version available):Our architect’s computer generated images below give an indication of the new Parish Centre, designed to benefit St John’s and all Southdown residents. 


New Parish Centre: Cafe render

Making a donation

If you would like to make a donation to the project, our fund raising pledge forms are available online:

Fundraising over lockdown

As a result of lockdown and with social distancing measures in place, our planned fundraising events for the new Parish Centre have sadly been on hold. However, to keep us connected and to keep our brain cells ticking over, we have run two very successful on-line quizzes via Zoom.

Our first quiz on Sunday 21st June saw 40 participants in eight teams Zooming in to take part. Paul Bedding was our Quiz Master, and host James Brown kept us on track. A good time was had by all. After a closely fought contest, team ‘Don’t forget the Wine!’ took the (virtual) trophy.

Our second quiz took place on Saturday 21st November and was another fun and festive evening. 65 people in eleven teams joined in to test their knowledge against five more rounds of questions from Paul. This time the closely-fought contest and coveted virtual trophy was won by ‘Pick ‘n’ Mix’, with three teams tying for second place. Many thanks to everyone who joined in and to Paul Bedding, Neil Middleton and Liz Sergeant for organising the event.  

Our ‘Across the British Isles’ and Christmas 2020 lockdown written quizzes also kept people pondering with a series of questions (some deviously cryptic) where the answers were towns and cities in the British Isles and Christmas respectively.  

In total the three quizzes raised over £900 for our new Parish Centre.  

In early May 2020, one of our congregation, Di Borthwick, began to make fabric facemasks to keep us safe out and about.  There has been a huge demand as they are both comfortable and colourful. As a result she has generously donated £1,500 to the Parish Centre project. Our grateful thanks go to Di for this amazing effort.  

First significant milestone achieved

We are delighted to report that we have reached our first significant milestone in our fundraising for the new Parish Centre. Our fund raising programme was officially launched on Saturday 29th February 2020, when we shared our vision for the new Parish centre with the congregation, local residents and community groups in the company of the Bishop of St Albans and the Town Mayor of Harpenden. Following this and presentations and prayers in church in early March, we are pleased to announce that our total funding and pledges (including Gift Aid) currently stands at £500,000

This is a fantastic start to our fundraising campaign. We are very grateful to the PCC and members of the congregation who have already made their pledges. The fundraising campaign will continue over five years, with a target of £1.6m. To have reached such a large portion of the target in the first year is a significant step, and we are very grateful to our team of ambassadors and our generous supporters. Particular thanks go to the project team whose energy and enthusiasm have enabled us to reach this milestone.  

Now our attention is focussed on helping our community manage the existing challenges and stay connected. The pandemic has made us all rethink our ways of being, working and relating to each other. We hope our new Parish Centre will help us to continue to adapt to and support the needs of our community.  

Fundraising will resume when it is safe to meet together again in person.

Background

Our church hall is reaching the end of its life in its current form, and we are excited by the opportunity this offers to make a real difference to our ministry and mission in the parish. In November 2016, following several months of consultation with existing hall users, representatives from the local council and the church advisory body, together with extensive research into the experiences of other local churches and investigations into possible sources of funding, a small steering group presented their findings to the Standing Committee and then the PCC.  This detailed report outlined a number of possible options for consideration.  After weighing all the factors carefully, there was overall agreement that the most appropriate option at this point in time, and the one that is in line with our Mission Action Plan, is to replace our old church hall with a brand new Parish Centre.

Parish Centre Plan; click for PDF version (note: 4Mb)(A PDF version is available)

This is an ambitious undertaking for our church and for our community, yet it is an inspiring project which will enable us to support each other more effectively in the coming years. 

Timeline 

In February 2017, we commissioned MEB Design Ltd to work with us on the first stage in the process, developing a feasibility study. A small technical team worked with MEB over the spring and summer months to develop a number of options to meet the brief. 

In June 2017, Mark Eddison, our architect, presented an overview of the process to date, together with the details of eight options, and two short-listed options, A & B; one single storey, one two storey building, both connecting into the church near the pulpit. The presentation was followed by a three-week consultation period. 

In September 2017, with a new project name symbolising regeneration and renewal, the Parish Centre, aka Project Phoenix, completed its first major milestone, as MEB delivered the feasibility study.  This was then submitted to the PCC by the technical team with their recommendations.  

In October 2017, the PCC endorsed the technical team’s recommendation to progress option A - the two-storey option - based on cost, practicality and reduced impact on the external space.

In October 2018, we engaged the services of Joel Burden of Craigmyle Fundraising Consultancy to provide us with advice on raising the funds for the project. We commissioned a Feasibility Study, which assessed the congregation's support for the project and our capacity to raise the funds. The results were presented to the PCC in December, and they agreed we should apply for planning permission

In November 2018, we held a public consultation session.

in January 2019, we submitted our planning application to St Albans District Council.

In July 2019, we developed our Case for Support brochure with local designer Sara Chapman. This is a key document conveying the reasons behind the project and why it is worthy of your support.

In September 2019, St Albans District Council granted planning permission for the building of our new Parish Centre. 

In October 2019, we invited a number of Project Ambassadors to commit to the project, help share the vision and encourage other members of the  congregation to donate.

In February 2020, we held the Launch Party for our fund raising programme in the company of the Bishop of St Albans and the Harpenden Town Mayor.

In April 2020, we achieved our first fundraising milestone - £500,000.