‘We need a radically thought out church building which seeks to call both the gathered Christian community within its walls and the non-christian community outside to a new awareness of God’s love.’
St Paul’s Walk
J G Davies, in his book The Secular Use of Church Buildings, used Paul’s Walk (in the old St Paul’s Cathedral) as an example of the use of church as the principal venue for gathering of the wider community, in this case of London high society. Before the Great Fire St Paul’s was the definitive place to see and be seen.
St Paul’s Church, Hills Road, Cambridge
This listed church underwent an imaginative alteration scheme in the 1990s including a new first floor created three distinct venues along with smaller meeting rooms. The building is now heavily used by all manner of community groups, and the building has a very low ‘threshold to entry.’ The worship space at St Paul’s is used by the congregation on Sundays, Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings. At other times, it’s a versatile and flexible space that accommodates a variety of activities from lindy hop dancing to salsa, Music for Little People, EFL examinations, public meetings, U3A choir and many more. However because of this very success the congregation now feels that it lacks a distinct consecrated space, and a project is underway to create a separate small chapel.
St Leonard’s Church, Yarpole, Hereford
After the village lost its shop, a community shop was set up in temporary accommodation before the creation of the current village shop and post office in the rear portion of the nave. Above the shop is a meeting space, open to the rest of the nave. The project included other significant improvement
St Giles’ Church Shipbourne, Kent
Another example of community uses within an old church, St Giles has a thriving farmer’s market. Edward I granted Shipbourne the right to hold a market back in 1285 and in 2003 local people asserted that right once more. In 2005, the farmers’ market was voted the best in Kent. Space is used outside in the churchyard, and within the church itself boards are placed over the pews, creating a ‘market street’ down the nave.