18 November 2021
St. Mark’s Crescent Methodist Church’s Community Focussed Building Project.
That’s the name of the St. Mark’s Crescent Methodist Church's community focussed building project.
It had a grand ring to it and really helped us to focus on turning our dreams into reality. Of course it now has a different significance!
It all started with a leaky flat roof which led us to ponder how we would raise the money to pay for it. Then someone suggested that while we were considering this we should perhaps also consider what else we could do to improve the premises, bringing us into the 21st century and fitting it for the next generation. We wanted to do this to serve our local community in west Maidenhead which already relied heavily on the premises for local groups of all ages.
We felt strongly led by God to take up this challenge which then saw the estimate of the project rise about 400% as we decided to completely redo the kitchen and toilets, create a new entrance foyer which could be used to host lunches and so forth, create a new entrance to our hall and remodel another room making a meeting space which could also serve as a small worship space.
This was a very exciting project and we sought the support of our congregation and community user groups who were very encouraging. However £600K was a huge sum to raise in 6 years without any special merit for the building (rather unprepossessing) and knowing it would not be an immediately popular destination for donations.
So we took a leap of faith; we believed God was in the project and we could best serve our community and give us the opportunity to extend our service and demonstrate God’s love.We launched on a programme of activities to raise funds including quizzes, bazaars, Treasure Hunts, Barn Dances, Concerts, Pantomime, lunches, social afternoons, and the Great Smartie challenge,
We sought grants and/or donations from a wide variety of sources.
It was very challenging and it was unsurprising that some doubted we could do it; but we kept on praying and money kept coming in and all this despite the circuit presbyterial team being short staffed due to illness.
But God found solutions for us which gave us renewed energy to carry on and turn our 2020Vision into reality.
In 2019 building work started and we were ecstatic. We knew we had interest free personal loans to pay off but we felt so excited to go into 2020 with wonderful new premises and so many opportunities to extend our ministry.
We took the keys of the building at the end of November 2019, celebrated Christmas, staged our biennial pantomime in early February and had plans in place for our official opening in March -- Well you know what happened then; there we were, about to show everyone our 2020Vision and suddenly everyone’s plans and visions for 2020 spiralled away.
We were now faced with trying to raise money without being able to use the building or meet together. – none of those bazaars or concerts and more importantly perhaps, no longer able to host the community user groups which included Girl Guides and Brownies, WEA classes, Pilates, Dance, Drama groups, Choir, ACSABE Lunch Club, Talking Newspaper, Townswomen’s Guild; only the Nursery School continued to run on the premises from July.
God is in this project however and so some of us took a Great Virtual Journey to Bethlehem (about 3000 miles on foot/bicycle/toddling) and raised a goodly sum for our project and also for our annual charity, the local branch of Parkinson’s UK. One or our members in his 80s climbed Mount Snowdon and was well rewarded for his efforts!
Since Covid restrictions have eased and we have returned to Sunday worship, Allsorts drama, which was meeting on Zoom, returned to the premises and we have opened a Seniors Coffee House, moving an online Thursday coffee morning into the building and that will soon be offering lunches once or twice a month. We had started a weekly Take Time session on line and that too will shortly be face to face. Messy Church will soon be back and other alternative worship will follow soon.
Other initiatives are being planned to address the need for the company of others in different settings. The weekly Lunch Club run by Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East in partnership with St. Mark’s is planning to return soon. We will be offering regular lunches after the Seniors’ Coffee House. Other meeting points for carers and toddlers are also planned. There is such a desire to make everything we wanted to happen immediately and yet knowing we can’t do everything at once!
We have learned a great deal about ourselves both individually and as a church family, about how we can support each other and use our talents to complement each others. We thank God for all He has done and continues to do in our neighbourhood and pray that we will continue to be a church at the heart of the community, with the community at its heart.
This could not have been achieved without the generous help of grants from a number of providers including The Allchurches Trust, Louis Baylis Charitable Trust, Beatrice Laing Trust, Garfield Weston Charitable Foundation, The Joseph Rank Trust, Lions Club (Maidenhead), Methodist Circuit, District and Connexional funds, Persimmons Homes, Prince Philip Trust, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, the Shanly Foundation, and the TMCP.
We are also deeply grateful for the generous support of other churches across the Thames Valley Circuit and for members and friends who have supported our many fundraising events and raised money with small initiatives of their own. Every single penny helps.
We hope they will continue to help us put the FUN into FUNdraising for a little while yet!
Written by Eileen Chislet, Church Steward and 2020Vision Fundraising Co-ordinator