There have been some recent developments around our various buildings which I wanted to update you all on. It is a little bit lengthy but please persevere as there is some important and exciting news to share.
Having taken out a 5 year lease on the warehouse we were previously renting for just Sundays in Windsor we have finished repainting of all the walls, putting in new flooring, putting up external signage and installing TVs in the kids rooms. I was there on Sunday and it's looking really good - I encourage you to visit on a Sunday and see it if you haven't already.
The final thing we want to do with this first phase of redeveloping the space is to install heating in the small warehouse where the children meet and the large warehouse where the adults are. The good news is that we have enough money to do the kids space and that installation will begin at the start of November. The not so good news is that the new heating is more expensive than we had anticipated and we need around another £100,000 to install heating in the adult space and upgrade the insulation on the building.
£100,000 is a lot to spend on a building on which we only have a 5 year lease, but we really need to sort the heating as otherwise the cold will be a barrier to people engaging with God both on Sunday and midweek. We have therefore gone back to the letting agent and negotiated a 10 year lease on the building, dependent on us installing new heating. We may of course have far more than 10 years in the warehouse (my background prayer is that in time we will be able to buy both the warehouse we are in and the adjoining one!) but even 10 years feels like long enough that spending this sort of amount of money to create a space where people will be able to fully engage with God makes sense.
It would be a stretch for Windsor alone to raise the required money so I am asking all of us across all of our sites whether we would pray about giving to get the heating sorted. We are going to have gift days on the 24th and 31st October, but if you would like to give before then you can do already (go here and select the Windsor Refurbishment Fund) - thank you so much. My hope is that once the heating is sorted we will have done all the major work required on the warehouse and future projects can be funded by gift days within the Kerith Windsor community.
The good news in Farnborough is that work is progressing well to allow us to meet there on a Sunday. The floor in the auditorium area has been levelled, working parties are going in every week to paint the children's rooms and other areas, the drains and toilets have been sorted (smelly but essential), the heating has been tested (and amazingly after 7 years of not being used still works), work is about to begin on rewiring the building and the installation of all the audio-visual equipment and the drapes for the auditorium will start soon.
The other good news is that our gift days earlier this year gave us all the money we need to complete this first phase of the redevelopment of the building. I never cease to be amazed by the generosity of our community - a huge thank you to everyone who has given. Next year we will be presenting plans for the redevelopment of the rest of the building but for now we have all we need financially.
The not so good news is that the planners have requested a traffic survey to demonstrate that we have sufficient car parking for both Sunday and midweek activities. We are confident we have, and our planning consultants have assured us that this request for a traffic survey is normal and not something to worry about, but it does mean that the earliest we could get change of us to allow us to meet on a Sunday is early December. Please can we all be praying that this is the final hurdle to cross and we get the change of use asap.
I want to encourage everyone in Kerith Farnborough to keep pressing into community. It is a pain not being able to gather on a Sunday but keep investing in community through small groups, keep signing up for the working parties, keep attending other Kerith sites on a Sunday or watching online and keep praying for the rapid opening of a facility which we believe God is going to use to not only bless us but the whole of the Blackwater Valley area.
Through lockdown a whole load of projects have been completed on the Bracknell site. These have included:
- Installing two Portakabins behind K2 to allow us to move all the Foodbank food storage onsite so we no longer have to pay for external storage
- Turning the backstage area in the K2 main hall into a packing area for Foodbank
- Installing a new audio-visual system in the K2 main hall
- Building a walkway from the college car park through to our site to shorten the walk and reduce the risk from children having to walk next to the dual carriageway (which has always scared me)
- Renovating the house behind K2 which we bought from the College to be a hub for our Revive social justice ministries, including office space, a shower, meeting rooms and a kitchen where people can learn to cook as part of our Life Skills programme
I have one final reflection on Bracknell which somebody shared with me recently and which I thought was powerful. Part of the reason we were able to buy the Farnborough building was that we could secure the mortgage we needed to buy it against the Kerith Centre in Bracknell. Thus the generosity of everyone who gave to the building of the Kerith Centre over 30 years ago now has not only blessed Bracknell and all who use the building, but has now also blessed Farnborough and allowed us to do things we couldn't have done otherwise. That is what happens when we invest our finances in God's Kingdom - the payback keeps rolling on into eternity.
There are no new developments to report in West Wight, other than that we are running our Cafe and Life Skills course in the local Methodist Church building, thus benefitting from the generosity of everyone who must have given to that project many years ago.
What I will say is that West Wight your day will come. Our heart has always been that each of our sites would be blessed with their own facilities and I do believe that in time we will be talking about the building(s) we have acquired on the island and all we are doing in them. Keep believing and praying for that, but in the interim let's keep building God's Kingdom in the spaces we have.
Thank you and well done if you have got this far! Hopefully this has been a helpful recap of where we are at. If any of this has raised questions for you please ask - questions are so helpful to me as it helps to identify things we might have missed and lets me know what we need to communicate more clearly. You can email me at email@example.com if you do have any questions or suggestions.
One final suggestion - if you want to keep updated on what is happening on each of our sites you can sign up to our site pastors blogs. I am signed up to all four and they are a great way to keep abreast of what is happening across Kerith.