The managing trustees of Central Methodist Church York have voted to pursue a future where the Grade 2* listed building is transformed into a community centre. The alternative scenario for the church to choose from was to close the church building and cease to meet for worship; this was rejected. This key milestone took place on Thursday 10th December.
For the last two years research has been underway to discover how to conserve and adapt the city centre church and its ancillary buildings for the continuing benefit and welfare of the community of the city and its visitors. The congregation sees the building as a precious asset to be shared with the community at large, but has previously struggled to meet the costs of maintenance for the 22,500 sq ft building.
The Church hopes that the transformation will incorporate:
- Well-equipped halls and meeting rooms in a range of sizes
- Office space aimed at organisations working with vulnerable people
- Full disabled access
- A welcoming reception
- Protection and enhancement of the space used by Carecent
- Improvements to the streetscape
- Community café aimed at families incorporating soft play space.
The Transforming Central project has run for nearly two years researching the condition of the building and the possibilities for commercial and community room bookings. An important part of the research was a survey of the needs of the local community which received over 850 responses. This discovery phase was co-ordinated by a professional project manager, Richard Ramsden.
So far the Methodist district has invested £105,000 preparing for the project, and the local church has spent over £25,000 on improvements to the buildings. The total costs are expected to be over £3m. The development is likely to be done in partnership with other organisations, and the next 12 months will be spent developing those relationships and advancing the plans.
In the meantime a range of organisations will continue to rent the existing office space and halls, the lettings for which have increased over the last few months as more people discover the availability of the unique city centre building. Current users of the premises include the Kyra women’s group, Carecent, York Chocolate Story, Salvation Army early intervention project, York Musical Society, York Philharmonic Choir, Prima Vocal choir, lots of visiting school groups and many others.
The church congregation will continue to meet on Sundays, and aspires to become a seven day a week church, to be a place of acceptance, a place of equal opportunity, a place where diversity is celebrated and where anyone and everyone can be at home in the love of God.
The church will host a free ‘Sing Along Carol Concert’ at 3:30pm on the 22nd December to which all are welcome. It will be preceded by a café from 1:30pm; presenting the perfect opportunity to visit for anyone interested in seeing inside the premises.