Innovative Approach in the use of Property & Partnerships

04 March 2021

The structure and mission of the Methodist churches in central Poole was reviewed over 10 years ago. There were five churches within 2-3 miles of each other, some with congregations of 40-60; others smaller. Congregations generally had an elderly age range. While churches were undertaking local activities, the profile of the Methodist Church in Poole was relatively low.

Discussion across the circuit over several years resulted in a decision to go for radical change. Congregations were to come together in one of the churches, located on the central shopping street in Poole, which had a small congregation (c. 25) and required substantial refurbishment. The other four churches were to close, with resources from the sale used to support (with other funds raised) a substantial rebuild of the central church, costing over £4m. (The project might have been self-financing through church sales, but the financial crash of 2008 reduced land prices in the area).

Redevelopment of the central church was favoured for various reasons, including:

  • its potential for mission, given the substantial numbers of people passing the church each day, and its central position in the town;
  • · the potential to become a community hub serving the needs of the local area, which included the most deprived areas of Poole, in partnership with the voluntary sector;
  • the greater likelihood that a site with high footfall would create a self-financing hub; and
  • the opportunity to enhance the profile and impact of the Methodist Church in the life of Poole.

The plans were initially developed by a large redevelopment group, which was then tightened up and split into three streams, each with a project leader – building (the physical development); finance (fund raising); and people (including building partnerships with the third sector). The voluntary sector were involved from the start of the project; working with the Council for Voluntary Services in Poole, the particularly pressing needs of the local area were identified and formal partnerships established with community groups who might use the building.  Click here to read more.