The ‘Mission Impossible’ was: to get away to London for a design training course, to leave three teenagers about to go back to school, sixth form and art foundation, plus one dog and a husband. Technically, this should have been doable. But this was no easy task, and in the office work was piling in as I’d just come back from a much needed annual break. All our groups were coming back into Church and there were requests coming thick and fast with Heritage Day too. I boarded a train to London on Monday 11th September rather frazzled and stressed!
The trip was immensely enlightening and I feel truly blessed to have been offered this opportunity. Not only did the course open our eyes to the amazing architectural possibilities, it enabled us to broaden our perspective on ‘looking outwards’, considering the greater needs of ‘community’. Two of the churches we visited were servicing the needs of the wider community and their approach was radically different. These places were ‘open’ churches, where the public could access the spaces at almost any time.
“I urge you to take your colleagues down to the Bromley by Bow Centre and let them see what has emerged from nothing. It is one of the most impressive displays of social entrepreneurship anywhere in Europe.”
- Lord Brian Mawhinney
St Paul’s Old Ford (www.stpauloldford.com) was also really radical in the fact that they had a pod type space constructed within the church sanctuary called “The Ark”. This serviced the needs of the community including a gym on the top floor designed for those with disabilities. Their motto states: “Seeking to serve God by transforming lives and helping community flourish”.
Most importantly, our church community, in all its wonderful diversity, will be encouraged to get involved via expressing their own ideas for our future. We look forward to sharing our experiences and the work we did on the course including mind mapping and a scale model of Cemetery Road Baptist Church. We encourage our community to look out for further details coming soon explaining how they can help!
Mark 4: 30-32
Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
Lizzy Levy is Church Administrator at Cemetery Road Baptist Church, an ethnically diverse and vibrant place of worship in the Sharrow area of Sheffield. The church is a Grade II listed building with a distinctive two-spire facade and forms part of a large complex of faith and community spaces owned and run by the church. Five members of Cemetery Road Baptist Church attended the Design Training course held by the Empowering Design Practices project in London from 12-13 September 2017 to help build their design skills, knowledge and confidence and explore ideas for improving their building.
A version of this post was originally shared in their Church newsletter.