Latest progress at Westloats Lane Centre — Grace Church bows out
by Jan Cosgrove, Editor
A Meeting of 7 potential new trustees to take over from the existing 4 of the Bognor Regis Youth and Community Centre in Westloats Lane was held on Friday, they and others met with one of the existing trustees and there is to be further meetings to carry this through.
[See recent Herald story below]
Westloats Lane Community Centre could become a Church — local concerns raised, answers needed
by Jan Cosgrove, Editor
There will be a statement on behalf of those people in due course and the Herald is respecting their wishes on this. The progress means that handover to Grace Church and registration as a church will not proceed, one reason being that the Church’s representative confirmed to me that it would not hire to a Gay Pride organisation should one seek to use its facilities.
Grace Church response
In correspondence Grace Church issued a formal statement to The Herald:
Grace Church has used the centre over a number of years both for our parent and toddlers’ group and also other community activities. It remains our desire to do whatever we can to serve the whole community irrespective of whether or not the management of the building comes our way. In fact, we never sought to take on the building in the first instance but were given the opportunity to raise a proposal to transfer it from the BRYCC trust when we understood that Chris and the trustees intended to step down and close the centre. Given that we have similar aims to make a difference in the community, we felt it was better to raise a proposal for the adoption of the centre for church and community, rather than see it closed and the land sold for redevelopment. Whilst, like BRYCC we are a community-focussed organisation we recognise that there are important differences between the current charitable objectives in our respective governing documents and therefore it is not a simple process of the trust handing the building over to Grace Church as-is. For example, in addition to serving the community with the many activities which we would run alongside other users, we would need to get the building registered as a place of worship.
We are therefore very content with the possibility that there may be other organisations or community-focussed individuals who are able to run the community centre as BRYCC under the existing charitable objects. If that is the case then we shall be pleased that the work of the centre will carry on and we would simply ask to continue to use the building in the same way that we always have done. However, if under the circumstances, there is no other organisation willing or able to take on the building, then we believe that we can provide the resources not only to serve the wider Bognor Regis community, but also to invest in the building and make considerable, and somewhat necessary improvements.
Grace Church welcomes anyone irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, political view or sexual orientation to be involved in or run a whole range of community activities. At the same time, as with any organisation, we do have guidelines as to what we would actively promote or be associated with. We hold to traditional Christian teaching in regard to marriage being between a man and a woman, as such any weddings and activities held at our premises would need to be in line with those values. In common with this position, we are unable to support LGBTQ+ events, such as Pride.
We recognise that many in society do not take the same stance as us and for that reason we are more than happy for another organisation to take on the ownership and management of the community centre. However, if we are asked by the trust to pursue the management of the centre, we would seek a way of doing so within the Charity Commission’s guidelines and through the use of appropriate charitable objects, but we would not compromise our core beliefs and values to do so. As we have said before, obtaining the building is not an ‘at all costs’ project for Grace Church.
Most importantly, we share a community desire to see the Bognor Regis Youth and Community Centre continue with the aims with which it was set up all those years ago, to be of benefit to the youth of the community, and to help support those from various backgrounds and needs. In the difficult financial climate today, we can only see community support needs increasing, and it’s our hope that these needs are able to be met by the various charitable organisations in the area seeking to make a difference.
I have also researched the Church and I provide these links:
Grace Church is part of the Newfrontiers family of churches
Grace Church is part of a worldwide family of churches, known as Newfrontiers. The Newfrontiers movement of churches…
Shepherding movement - Wikipedia
The Shepherding movement (sometimes called the "Discipleship movement") was an influential and controversial movement…
From its latest accounts:
“Grace Church finished this year with a general fund balance of f595,507. The Building Fund stands at f42,941. These remaining building funds will be designated towards the development and continued renovation ofthe Grace Centre and or other owned assets associated with our building. The Trustees and Elders are therefore pleased to report that the financial performance of the church is steady this year and are confident that the church operates good financial controls.
The day to day work of the charity is managed by the Eldership team and all decision-making authority is delegated to this team. The Eldership team meets with the Trustees at least quarterly and will report on progress, issues, finances and any other relevant items. The Trustees are available to the Eldership for discussion by telephone, email or face to face between Trustee meetings if needed.”
Elders are, as I understand it, male, certainly those currently at Chichester Grace Church are:
Meet the Team
A dynamic Christian church serving the community in Chichester, Bognor Regis and Havant. All are welcome.
A source has informed me that they have made appeals for money which include tithing at10%, securing pension income, house equity, wills, endowments and loans.
The Herald will report further on progress with the new Trustees and plans to involve the community.