November 2015

As a church we have several frustrations amongst us not least that we don’t reach huge sections of our community with the love of God, especially the younger generations

We continue with several initiatives – Friday Night Outreach, Messy Church, Youth Café, Centrepoint – and they have been successful to a point but we would love to develop them further, but we struggle with space and resources.

A couple of years ago, along came the Coffee House vision and it rang bells for a lot of us, it resonated with many and the PCC & DCC’s were unanimous in support. By the end of our meeting we had a big vision to do more in our community.

We formed a group to explore – we researched, we talked, we prayed –– we looked at several building options – we prayer-walked the village a few times and each time found ourselves drawn back to the Studley Youth Centre, as it still was then. Then we heard last summer the decision to close it which means that young people now have nowhere to go to meet and to be in a safe place.

A group of us went to visit the Centre and we began to say to each other “what if?”

Since then we have had a long drawn out process and we have tried to keep you all up to date with that and asking for prayer a key points. Ideally, we would have liked to rent the building (and perhaps look to buy it in the future), but unfortunately we no longer have that option.

Things changed have changed and the Warwickshire County Council have now invited community groups to make a bid to buy it and they have valued it at £250,000. Those bids have to be in by April 2016 and the bid has to be properly structured with a proper and robust business plan and with all the financial elements in place. We concluded that there needs to be a significant sum over and above the buying price to do the necessary renovations to convert it into a welcoming and attractive space.

We found that raising such a sum in such a short space of time is impossible and we were forced to think the unthinkable…our only asset is the Parish Centre

We began discussing our options in the Ministry Leadership Team at the beginning of the Summer. We talked and prayed for a few months – and we began to say “what if?” What if this gave us the opportunity to transform our mission opportunities? What if it gave us the chance to do all the things in our vision for our young people? What if this meant that we could bring God’s love right to the heart of the village? What if it was our chance to be more visible and active in the village?

We were forced to ask ourselves, given that we now have no other funding options open to us, whether there was any possibility that we could use the asset of the Parish Centre site to acquire the Studley Centre? We had to do a little initial investigation and we contacted the diocesan property department. Ben and Richard Spray met with a diocesan appointed surveyor who knew the site well to give some sense of its value. There was no point going any further if some basic questions weren’t answered positively and we weren’t going to open what we always knew was going to be a really difficult debate if it was going to fall at the first fence.

We all knew this would be difficult, the parish centre has been such an important place for a lot of people, but it is limited in size – and limited in what we can do there – for a start you can only have one group in there at a time – there are issues about acoustics in the hall and difficulties in keeping it warm – it a building where no-one walks past the front door – it is not visible from the main road. we could go on…

We decided that the only way we can find out what is possible is to take the next step. This is too important not to try to see what could be done – too important not contemplate making the sacrifice. So this week, as we all know, the DCC and PCC’s have been asked whether we can take the next steps to explore what might be possible. The DCC voted overwhelmingly in favour and the PCC were unanimous.

This does not mean this is a done deal – all thorough the motion passed by the Church Councils is the concern that we do due diligence. Is it even possible that we might be able use the Parish Centre as an asset? Would it raise enough money to buy and renovate the Studley Centre? Is the Studley Centre worth it?

Ultimately, of course, the WCC may not favour our bid anyway. But the members of our MLT, DCC and PCC believe that this is an opportunity that may not come again, it is too important not to try, our young people and the coming generations, are too important not to try- even if it means we might have to sacrifice of the Parish Centre site. It is a real step of faith to explore whether we can, with God’s help, make this happen? Please pray as we seek to take things forward.

David Silvester