A photo of St Mary's Church Centre, West MallingSt Mary’s Parochial Church Council (PCC) sold St Mary’s Church Centre in September 2016.

The sale followed a period of uncertainty with the departure of various tenants in 2014 and a subsequent exploration of future options.

What follows is a historical record of documentation in regard to the process the PCC followed as research was carried out and decisions were taken.

5 thoughts on “About St Mary’s Church Centre

  1. The Statement about the future of St Mary’s Church Centre, April 2014, recognises that it is “…a big issue”, “…that the Church Centre impacts our neighbours in Churchfields and is also an emotive and important building for many West Malling people…” and “…there is a sense in which our Church and our Church Centre belong to us all.”

    A letter of September 10, further to our July meeting states: “… the Diocesan Advisory Council… Site Visit… is taking place on 22 September.” Also that “We hope to have the Feasibility Study from the Architects by then to show the DAC although, as yet, it has not come through to us….”, that “…three Churchfields residents have agreed to join our working group to represent your interests…” and that “We want to be as transparent as possible with you as we go forward.”

    In view of the above, and the clear advantages in timely information to any “…people who want to get stuck in and make things happen…” I’d like to ask why there doesn’t seem to have been any news in the 11 days since September 22?

  2. Hi Phil

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. If I may quote the same article that you have quoted, it does also say “Progress will also be slow.”

    We are dealing with a number of stakeholders and systems that take time for their wheels to turn and we will need to be patient while that happens. Please believe me when I say that it is a frustration to us, as much as it may be to local residents.

    That said, I have put up a new post on the website today that outlines what happened with the DAC site visit, the rough timescale for their response and also details of when the PCC and PCC Sub-Group will next be meeting.

    Best wishes

    David Green
    Priest-in-Charge, St Mary’s.

  3. Hi David and all,

    David, thanks very much for your reply to my last post. As it’s now around 6 months on, I hope you won’t mind some further questions, thoughts and feelings. (I’ll do this in 2 posts to avoid excesive length)

    The Statement about the future of St Mary’s Church Centre, April 2014, in discussing options for the future, includes…

    “That’s going to take a lot of fund-raising,…”
    “Community facilities in West Malling and the surrounding area are sometimes in short supply … it could be a very valuable space for the future.”
    “…all the sorts of community activities listed earlier could happen in such a new hall…”
    “… and is also an emotive and important building for many West Malling people who either went to Pre-School there or, prior to that, remember the building when it was West Malling Primary. All that needs to be taken into account.

    I’m always interested to hear what people think; there is a sense in which our Church and our Church Centre belong to us all. I’m also interested to hear from people who want to get stuck in and make things happen. Please contact us if you would like to be involved in doing the work. Much work lies ahead but there is opportunity and potential in all that too and that is potentially very exciting.”

    and your October update includes: “… that the list of requirements for the church’s new facilities or extension needs to be considered in more depth and detail”

    In view of the above my questions are: (Is there some way in which consideration could be given to)

    1. changing the name and so / also the formally acknowledged purpose of the centre to something like “St Mary’s Church and Community Centre”?
    2. actively outreaching to the wider community of West Malling and perhaps even to surrounding villages to develop a whole-community-supported vision for the “potentially very exciting” future of this “very valuable” community facility?
    3. formally involving representatives from the wider of community of West Malling, in the day to day running of the centre?

    Some of my reasons for asking these questions (next post to follow)

  4. Some of my reasons for asking these questions (in my previous posting, and as far as I can see none of which really depend on a particular choice from the 3 options identified)

    1. I’m passionate about community energy. I’d just love there to be a community energy project up and running in West Malling. Whatever the outcome (from the 3 options) isn’t there a brilliant oppportunity here to consider incorporating a community energy scheme in whatever outcome is chosen. There could be many advantages to this, but may include:
    a) an income stream
    b) a ‘whole community’ focal point for fundraising and encouraging a sense of the sharing of (the burden of) stewardship
    c) as you probably know, “The Church is committed to a carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050, with an interim target of 42% by 2020.” http://www.churchcare.co.uk/shrinking-the-footprint/about-shrinking-the-footprint

    If you’re in any slight way interested in this sort of thing, please take a peek at the following video from Pure Leapfrog, it’s less than 5 mins. (I have no financial connection whatsoever with them or their associates! plus there are many other source of help, this is just an example): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lt_6XvktoG4

    2. As I’m sure you’re aware doing more outreach to a wider community, to develop a whole community supported vision isn’t necessarily anything particularly onerus or costly. It could involve just asking more via eg the Church magazine, local press eg Downs Mail maybe very sympathetic, and actively seeking the involvement, views, ideas and inspiration of the broader Malling area’s community and voluntary groups, and of course creatively using social media. The Church centre could itself be used for some sort of community visioning event, which I’d be happy to co-facilitate if that be helpful.

    3. Over recent years the Church has very kindly hosted many, many arts events. There’s of course Music at Malling, West Malling Community Choir concerts, jazz concerts and probably a whole load of other events I’ve missed. To build on this burgeoning tradition wouldn’t it be a brilliant legacy, if the Church centre, in whatever form it endures, doubles up also as some sort of community arts venue or support facility?
    In an ideal world I’d also love to see a future centre host something like a ‘Men in Sheds’ group, which could be so useful to older men, something like a tool library, a small green/eco/sustainability library or green centre, and even a small cafe, even if only part time.

    You end in April 2014 with “Much work lies ahead but there is opportunity and potential…”
    Irrespective of the outcome re the 3 options, and bearing in mind being on committees is not everyone’s thing (yet many people may still have much to offer), what more could those of us from the wider community who are really, genuinely, passionately interested be doing to help, either now or in the future?

    Kind regards, Phil Green

  5. Dear Phil

    Thanks ever so much for your comments. I am sorry for my delay in responding to them.

    I’m delighted to read about your passion for community energy. It’s always good to be getting people together and working together in a locality and it’s a belief and a desire that I hope you know I share. The opportunity to bring people together who often have very little in common except their geography is a powerful demonstration for me of God’s activity in the world and it is a notion that lies at the heart of the parish model and the way that the Church of England understands itself. As you rightly note, St Mary’s has been a host to community activities in recent years and Music at Malling and the other things you mention are just a few of the ways in which the wider community, not just the faith community, is able to make use of the church in ways that are wholly in keeping with its purpose and which build community in West Malling.

    For the PCC at St Mary’s, however, who have responsibility for the Church Centre, financial concerns are becoming extremely pressing. As you may be able to divine from the most recent documents placed online, the building is a financial drain on the church’s resources. Next month, we will host our Annual Meeting for the church. The official documents to publish at that meeting and lodge with the Charity Commission will show the extent of our deficit in 2014. While the PCC has yet to formally decide on the building’s future, you might note sentences in the PCC minutes like (from January 2015): “several members were frustrated by the financial drain of the Church Centre on our reserves particularly when it is not fit for very many purposes at the present time.”

    For it to become a community space, as the Option Appraisal makes clear, several hundred thousand pounds would need to be found for its renovation let alone a business plan produced and not only funded but adequately staffed. It’s money and people that we don’t have. It is my understanding that Charity Law would prevent us from giving it away as we have to prove we’ve sought ‘best value’ for the assets we own if and when we dispose of them, and we couldn’t afford to do that anyway given our other needs. At the same time, I don’t really think the PCC can afford to keep funding the losses on the building indefinitely while a Community Group finds not only the funds to buy it but then also the funds to renovate it.

    I would be delighted to meet with you and discuss all this in more depth. I will email you privately about that. Regardless of the future of the Church Centre building, encouraging community in our local area remains close to my heart and I hope that St Mary’s will always make it a priority to facilitate a building up of our locality and human flourishing within that locality.

    Regards, David.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *