AN Oxfordshire church is to be pulled down and rebuilt, leading to fresh opportunities for outreach in the area and service to the community.
St Andrew’s, Dean Court, near Botley on the western edge of Oxford, has exciting plans for a new church – because the present one is falling down. Over the last few years, roof beams have had to be repaired as they buckled and cracked and now the window frames, which are part of the structure, are rotting, though the church is safe to use at present. The planned new church will provide more space for both church and community activities, as well as being energy-saving and disabled friendly.
Services and children’s activities were started in Dean Court in the 1950s by the team from St Michael’s Cumnor, supported by several local churches, as outreach to a new council estate. The social club was used at first, but in 1961 local residents worked in their spare time to create a church out of prefabricated wooden panels from a redundant utility building.
Since then many new houses have been built around St Andrew’s. The church building is used throughout the week for a variety of activities, such as classes in upholstery, art and dance, choral singing, an Indian Christian fellowship, a coffee club for older people and a playgroup. On Sundays, the JOY Place provides a monthly service for adults with learning disabilities, the only one of its kind in Oxford.
Now the process is starting again; planning permission was granted in January. The new church will offer more flexible accommodation – a larger main hall, additional rooms for children’s and youth groups, and a properly equipped kitchen. A smaller building next to the church will be incorporated, and the church’s popular multi-use games area will remain a public facility. The cost will be around £750,000.
The vision is for the new church to be a centre of practical and spiritual help for the community, showing the continuing relevance and importance today of the good news of Jesus Christ.
The vicar of Cumnor, Revd Jonathan Widdess, says: “Dean Court is an area where there has been lots of new housing over the past decades, and as we reach out with God’s love from these new facilities I am really excited by the mission opportunities that the rebuilt St Andrew’s will make possible.”