Need a doctor? Go to church!
Sunday 29 June 1997
Such is the weakening of the religious impulse that some communities feel they can fund expensive new church buildings only if these are put to additional uses such as health centres or sports halls.
In May the King's Centre, in Chessington, Surrey, opened, serving as a church on Sundays but incorporating for the rest of the week a 900- seat sports hall-cum-auditorium, a nursery, a room for adult-education classes and a cafe.
Recently a Methodist church in Wolverhampton was rebuilt to include a health centre, one in Birmingham is applying for lottery money to redevelop adjoining land into a football ground and tennis court, and one in Manchester functions as a nursery during the week.
Church of England spokesman Jonathan Jennings said similar projects were developing in the Anglican Church. "This is a new trend as people begin to view churches in a different light and see them as buildings that should be used by the whole community. The churches are being adapted for economic reasons, and built to fulfil the multi-purpose needs of society."
St George's Church and Centre in Tufnell Park, north London, was redeveloped last year to include a theatre, areas for dance classes and rooms for youth activities. Its curate, the Rev Rachel Montgomery, says: "Much of the work done here is secular; for example, none of the mums who attend our mother and toddler group is a church-goer. There was a large gap in the provision of activities for young people in the area, and our work has tried to fill it."
The pounds 2.5m initiative between the Chessington Evangelical Church and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames provides football training, badminton clubs, dance fitness classes and church youth groups among its many activities.
"This is the first venture of this size and I think it will be replicated across the country," said the church's Rev Trevor Archer. "There is certainly a great deal of interest in our project from all denominations."
The Methodist Church's property secretary, the Rev Kenneth Street, agrees. "As our membership declines we have to find ways in which to justify the building of new churches and the maintenance of older ones," he says. "We have to assess what government funds are available, and find projects which marry in with our own agenda."
The United Reformed Church in Bromley by Bow, east London, has been converted into a pounds 6m community centre, funded by the Church, local businesses, the Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Corporation of London. It hosts more than 100 activities and is visited by 1,500 people a week.
The Rev Andrew Mawley, Chief Executive of the renamed Bromley by Bow Centre, says: "We need to give back to the community the huge church buildings that have been left to us in run-down urban areas which would otherwise be redundant for much of the week."
The Bromley by Bow site includes a health centre, a three-acre park, housing for the over- forties and a 24-hour nursery.
Threat of 'catastrophic cascade of collisions' must be averted, warn scientists
Oxford is the least affordable city in the UK, where houses cost 11 times local salaries
Wellcome Image Awards: The most striking images from the world of science, including breast cancer cells under chemical attack and a photographer’s own kidney stone
Space debris orbiting Earth to be destroyed with giant lasers fired from Australia
Oscar Pistorius murder trial: Athlete repeatedly sick as court hears 'graphic details' of Reeva Steenkamp's post-mortem
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 2 Pakistan vs Paul Smith: Sandal-wearers bemused by famed British designer's attempts to sell traditional Peshawari chappal-style shoes for the distinctly untraditional sum of £300
- 3 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 4 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 5 Sharknado 2: Former WWE wrestler Kurt Angle to fight second wave of flying sharks
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a leading digital agency bu...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Charter Selection: Global leader in its respective ...
£130 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Do you have a qualificatio...
£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: The school is much la...