Hundreds of people attended the first services to be held in the new St Michael’s Church and Community Centre at Stoke Gifford this weekend (25th/26th April).
Members of the congregation were able to use the centre, built on derelict land in North Road, for the first time for the annual Church Weekend and 10.30am and 6.30pm Sunday services.
For more than a decade, the 10.30am family service has had to be held in two separate locations – the 14th century church and the former village school, known as the Old School Rooms – as the church is no longer large enough to accommodate the growing membership.
The new building is a key element of the St Michael’s Heart of the Community project which also includes the refurbishment of the Old School Rooms, which are used for church and community activities, as well as the restoration and upgrading of the old church. The church, which has a Norman font and was mentioned in the Domesday Book is a familiar sight to passengers passing through Parkway Station.
The auditorium at the new centre is capable of seating 350 and facilities include room for a shop, a large reception area, church office, conference areas for schools and businesses, meeting rooms and accommodation for wedding receptions, birthdays and other celebrations.
Further meeting and community rooms will be provided during the final phase of building, including a large kitchen and an extra 220 seats in a balcony overlooking the auditorium.
The Reverend Simon Jones, Rector of St Michael’s, said:
“We bought the land 10 years ago, and after eight years of planning, four years of preparing and two years of building, the new St Michael’s Centre in Stoke Gifford is now open. It has been a long journey, but I am delighted that the new centre is now being used.”
“With more than 3,000 homes due to be built in the parish over the next decade, there will be a pressing need for local amenities. St Michael’s has a long history of serving the local community and we hope that the centre will benefit not only the local community, but also the wider region.”
“It’s been a challenge to secure the £4.2m needed to get to this stage, but the congregation have responded magnificently and we are now seeking to raise the£1.5m needed to finish the centre and complete the project.”
Anyone wanting to find out more about the project or make a donation can visit www.stmichaelsbristol.org/heart