The idea for refurbishing the church came in the 1990s. However, no progress was made until 2011 when during a period of pastoral vacancy, Rick Owen, a long-standing member of the church was asked to talk with a local architect, Cliff Patten to draw up plans for the refurbishment.
It was then decided to wait for a new minister to discover God’s will for the proposal. On Andrew Picton’s arrival in September 2013, the church continued to discuss, pray and seek God’s vision and eventually in May 2014, the decision was made to go ahead with the plans.
This was a huge step of faith for the church as the finances weren’t yet in place for this £1 million building works. During this time there was a mixture of emotions; excitement for where God was leading us and the possibilities that came from creating a flexible but beautiful space that could help us engage with our wider community, but also sadness as objects that held many dear memories were removed, such as the organ and pulpit.
The refurbishment was paid in part by two legacies from church members which many believed was confirmation of God’s will regarding the redvelopment. The rest came from fundraising, from the congregation and other churches, as well as from the Baptist Union and the Eastern Baptist Association.
In August 2015, the building work started and lasted just over a year. Unable to use the church building we gathered in other locations, from services on Westcliff cliff tops and the beach, to joining with other local churches to learn and seek inspiration from them.
As the refurbishment drew to a close, the church hosted a number of events to showcase the building. This included concerts, a lecture and circus acts, concluding with a street party with our neighbours St Helen’s Catholic Church.
We believe the redevelopment has created a building that provides a flexible space to engage with the local community but also a beautiful one in which to worship God.
We do hope you enjoy seeing the story of Avenue’s transformation through the words and pictures below.
Proposed changes……… A new extended front communal meeting area- also providing an improved view into the refurbished Church. A larger raised platform, allowing for interactive services and a more flexible space. A modernised cross shaped baptistery with new improved heating and lighting installation. New floor area with comfortable, moveable seating allowing flexible use of the area. An updated balcony with glass balustrades and new tiered comfortable seating. Along with a new AV system the control area will be relocated into the balcony. There will be two new spiral staircases allowing easy access to and from the ground floor with an additional entrance into the church with wheelchair access to allow segregation of activities when required.
A new chapter……….
Service of Celebration 4th September 2016
This video describes the thinking behind some of the artistic elements of the building:
So, we end this chapter of the life of Avenue with a call to prayer. That the building would be used to glorify God and bless our wider community. That the church would grow in numbers and passion for God and that the spiritual growth seen in the people of Avenue would continue in the months and years ahead.