A Commitment to Move the Work of God Forward at this Time, in this Place

13 October 2022

Trinity Methodist Church is small village chapel in Broad Oak, East Sussex, part of the Hastings, Bexhill & Rye Circuit.  The church is a listed building and has a graveyard with about 500 plots that are still in used for interment of ashes.  Click here to read a brief history of their heritage story.  The church was looking 'weary worn and sad' - a shabby exterior with a collapsing notice board, a dreary vestibule, a shabby, poorly lit church with hard pews, crumbling rear extensions, lack of disabled facilities, only cold water, etc.  It did not give the feeling of a caring, lively community.  The managing trustees decided that if the current Society can’t keep the premises going, it would have become a burden on the Circuit as it would have not been suitable for sale or development.  


Thus, the managing trustees decided to update the building.  Some of the updates include:

  • The heating and lighting systems were replaced
  • The building has been decorated throughout
  • New kitchen was fitted
  • Smart new exterior notice board was erected
  • New projector and sound system, including a hearing loop, has been fitted in the worship area
  • Pew cushions have improved the comfort and ambiance
  • Storage room has been cleared and made into a very nice additional meeting room
  • The side entrance and rear sections, which cantilever over graves, have been replaced and double glazing added
  • Access ramps are available in the both the front and side entrance and within the building, all areas are on a single level with an accessible toilet


Glass panels have been fitted between the front vestibule and the church.  This has made a huge difference to the feeling of light and space.  The church can now worship with the front doors open to the passing world.  

During the renovation, Covid played a significant problem in terms of supplies, availability of trades and costs.  All trades have been incredibly busy since life has opened up again.  The cost of many materials, particularly timber, which we have used lot, has shot up.  However, the church was respectful of the listing requirements and continued to use traditional and sympathetic materials.  It was not an easy time to do a multifaceted project like this, but the church excellent progress. 


Not surprisingly, the congregation is loving the improvements and we have had many favourable comments from the community.  An exciting development is that we have our first lettings for about 20 years, and that’s for meetings of the Parish Council.  Apart from the Council themselves (all well connected members of the community), that brings in members of the public and raises our profile.  The District WI will hold its annual Christmas service with us.


A few years ago, much of our churchyard was developed into a wildlife garden.  That still going well, though the upkeep takes a lot of time.  There are regular visitors including the local primary school and recently members of the local WI.  It all helps!   

Apart from visiting our wildlife garden, but we were delighted recently that a class from the primary school was brought into the church to see our harvest decorations and took back our harvest loaf to share with others.  We hope they will join us at Christmas.

We have also started to provide a full range of Post Office services for one session a week.  At the same time, we have a Bookswap with about 450 books available, as well as a craft and social group. These activities are beginning to have an impact with a number of people not previous associated with the church calling in regularly for one of the activities, or just coffee and chat. The building was previously never used at all mid-week and we are delighted that our efforts have been recognised through the Parish Council’s Community Spirit Award. 


We are communicating through a new website, the village Facebook pages, the Parish Council and Circuit magazines. Our new logo is used wherever possible. In due course we shall advertise our building and grounds for day meetings and retreats. It’s in a lovely position in an area of outstanding natural beauty. We’re offering good facilities and use of the wildlife garden.

The story has been simply a deep, on-going commitment to achieve something for our church, our community and the circuit. There is plenty more to do.  For the building, we need to stop the damp and investigate signs of dry rot.  Some of the flooring needs to be replaced.  More importantly we will continue to work on bringing people to know God as shown to us in Jesus.  The building has taken a lot of resources, but it has given us a good base for both worship and service.

There is nothing very radical about our approach.  Just a commitment to move the work of God forward at this time, in this place. 

Click here to learn more.

In terms of funding, the church was careful to claim Gift Aid when possible and reclaim VAT through the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme and for the accessible toilet and ramp. Funding for the project included:

  • £27,000 - Church funds
  • £40,000 - Circuit grant
  • £30,000 - District grant
  • £20,000 - Connexional grant