Fernilee Methodist Church is a listed building with a graveyard and a small congregation; it is situated in the Peak District in a small hamlet on the outskirts of Whaley Bridge.
The church was in need of major repairs, as indicated in its quinquennial inspection. There is a strong local community which has kept the church going but rather than just trying to try to undertake the repairs they wanted to reconsider its direction and offering.
This culminated in a plan to remodel the building and make use of its location as a place for heritage, wellbeing, worship and creative art. The idea was to improve and refurbish the facilities for groups, provide disabled access, including toilets, use the lower floor as a commercially run holiday accommodation; and also have a Discovery Centre.
Rather than attempt to proceed with the whole of the refurbishment it was decided to complete the commercial holiday accommodation first as this would assist with bringing in revenues.
The main church area and additional external works are to follow.
Currently the commercial holiday accommodation has been completed and is fully booked.
In December 2018 TCC had been engaged to carry out a full church review of Bolton Methodist Mission, which resulted in the production of a Mission Strategy.
As a result of this, the church sought to engage a pioneer missioner to take advantage of their town centre location and reach out to support and share the gospel with the “unchurched” in the area. This was to be done by creating new ways for local people to worship, reaching out to their life situations, rather than expecting them to immediately walk into ours. In addition, the missioner would be mindful of the serious deprivation within the area and seek to be sensitive to those needs and tailor their offerings accordingly.
In order to fund the missioner for three years, TCC workers drafted the grant applications on behalf of Bolton Methodist Mission and were successful in securing the full amount needed to fund the worker.
Barnbygate Methodist and Hawtonville Methodist churches in Newark decided to come together and form one society. In preparation for this, TCC was commissioned to carry out a short review to enable them to prepare for the future.
After meeting with members of both churches on a number of occasions, surveying the membership, leadership, and investigating the characteristics of the local area, TCC produced a report to aid them in determining the direction of their future mission. This report included details of the demographics and needs of the local communities, the views of the members regarding the churches futures, and suggestions of potential partners that the church could work to maximise its potential.
TCC also then aided the church in setting up focus groups based around the four areas of “Our Calling” to refine their mission and take responsibility for actioning it.
In addition, TCC reviewed their governance procedures and financial procedures to ensure that their new society, “Hope Methodist Community Church” could begin its life with a firm, forward looking foundation.
High Peak Partnership are a group of 13 churches working together in Derbyshire, formed from the merger of two Methodist Circuits. They have a wide variety of Churches, and some Manses, that all need looking after. Many churches do not have a dedicated property steward and the Partnership leadership became aware that support for property work was needed, to keep churches maintained but also to develop innovative new Missional projects and redevelopment plans.
TCC were invited to design a package of support, so that all churches, large and small, would have access to information, advice and practical project management. This is co-ordinated through a regular Partnership property meeting, a Partnership grants programme and extensive work on the ground. The Partnership Property Committee also helps to set priorities for the year ahead and has a good overall view of property matters.
Over the past couple of years, we have renovated Manses and graveyards, sold a church and a Manse, helped churches with leases and legal work, as well as supporting funding projects, e.g. the Community Garden at Town End. We are regularly involved in supporting property repairs, seeking appropriate consents, sourcing contractors, and checking the work. A good example was the stained glass window repairs at St. John’s in Hayfield, which required a Conservation approach and consent from Connexion.
Larger projects also involve work on design and consultation, bringing in architects and other professionals as required.
The Partnership covers a wide area, with many small chapels that have limited resources and people, and naturally the Property support work of TCC has been of particular benefit. People know they can always pick up the phone or send an email, and one of the team will respond, as we all have different but complementary skills.
TCC have been recommissioned for this work and it is model that can be replicated in other areas.