Looking to the future...
Here at St Thomas', we have the best location in Newcastle, a wonderful, small but committed, congregation, and a large amount of hope and prayer. We believe our building could be used by many more people, for the greater good of the whole community.
The first part of this was completed in May 2014: We have re-furbished the room, now re-named "The Herman Schier Vestry", which is available for letting out to groups. Please do ask - good rates are available. If we let this space out at a commercial rate, we can use the profits, after expenses, to help community groups use the space which they otherwise couldn't afford. We already host Alcoholics Anonymous, AlAnon, Tyneside Claimants Union, asylum seeker groups, Movement 4 change, and "Make Poverty History" as well as numerous one-off events.
The next stage was the heating. In February 2014 the boiler gave out. We needed a replacement and after consultation opted for a wood pellet boiler, which reduces our carbon footprint significantly. We believe we are the first building in the centre of Newcastle to do this. It is very exciting, and we're convinced it's the right thing to do - but the initial financial outlay is considerably more. Some of our radiators are 100 years old - new ones are much more efficient.
In November 2015 we heard that we had been given a "first round pass" Heritage Lottery Fund award. This means we can now begin to carry out more substantial repairs and new developments: on the roof and the toilet facilities.
Hopefully this will open the door to other funders: we are applying to the National Churches Trust, and have already been promised "the final £5,000" of our project; but there is much more to raise.
St Thomas' will remain first and foremost a church - but we are restoring the church to its place at the centre of the community - a facility which everyone can use. We have a great reputation in this city for being an inclusive church - open to all - strong on social justice, and hosting discussion. We welcome interfaith dialogue, and people from all parts of the Christian spectrum to speak and debate here.
Now in October 2016, we have all the necessary permissions ("faculty") to start the work. We are going ahead with some of the smaller works: building a rail around the new boiler house, widening the tarmac at the east end of the church, and planning to do major repairs and alterations next spring. By this time next year, who knows? We may have a) a watertight building; and b) proper toilets, including accessible toilet. I am now looking at possible liturgies for a service of Blessing an Accessible Toilet...
Please support us in the next stage of our mission
(Donations always welcome: payable to "St Thomas the Martyr Trust" which is the Building Fund - so the money won't go on general church expenses)
For God, for the city, for the future