St. Thomas' is a beautiful Grade II listed building, reflecting the largesse of those who originally built the church. However the parish is currently among the 2% most deprived parishes in the country.
We are planning multiple changes to the church building to enable the community to make greater use of the building. The plans have now been approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee. We hope to receive the Faculty before the end of September 2017. And we need to raise over £200,000.
The changes will involve:
- replacing the seating with flexible chairs;
- replacing the church heating with a modern, efficient, working system;
- providing an access ramp for people in wheelchairs and buggies;
- upgrading the toilet so that it can be used by those in wheelchairs, and with baby changing; and
- putting a kitchen into the North side-aisle.
We have been careful to ensure that the most significant elements of the building are not affected by the changes. So, for example, we intend to remove the pews, which came from another church, and were only installed in the early 1970s. We intend to put a kitchen in the N. side aisle, but we are going to be careful not to obscure any of the stained glass windows. The wonderful sanctuary, windows, porch, and baptistery will not be affected.
We were pleased to hear that Historic England had no objection to our plans, given the recent installation of the pews, they were satisfied that our alterations would not adversely affect the special historical character of the building.
- Turning part of the church grounds into an Community Orchard, working in partnership with an organisation like The Orchard Project
We hope that these changes will improve the fabric of the building, and preserve the beauty of its heritage. However, we also hope that the changes will enable the church building better to become a place of learning, growth and support for all people, whatever their age, culture, or religious affiliation - offering accredited courses as well as informal activities for families and children.
We aim to work with St. Thomas Werneth CE Primary School in delivering some of these services. However what we offer to the community will not be limited to those associated with that school, but for everyone.
As a church we want to be the catalyst for enabling a range of different activities that help all members of the local community to reach their full potential.
These changes will breathe new life into the worshipping community and also the wider community, as we seek to fulfil part of our Christian mission: working for justice, and ensuring that all are able to flourish - in our community and beyond.
We seek to create a "mixed economy" around St. Thomas', and indeed St. Paul's church as well, initiating some activity ourselves, but also playing host to partners who are also seeking the good of the community.
We as the parent forum of St. Thomas CE Primary School . . . are writing to inform you about the idea of making the Church . . . into a Multipurpose Community Centre. This would be for a diverse range of people and age groups with equal rights for everyone. . . . This idea will help bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together to learn, exercise, talk and meet new people by having various classes including cooking, sewing and yoga etc. This may eventually lead to group trips. Many other ideas have been discussed such as ICT, Reading and English classes which can benefit the whole community. Other programmes which are to do with health e.g. to reduce Cholesterol, depression, feeling alone and diabetes through exercise or by diet . . . These ideas have been outlined by parents from the local area.