WE RESTORED OUR CHURCH BUILDINGS FROM A DERELICT STATE WHEN NO ONE WANTED THEM OVER 30 YEARS AGO.
NOW OUR LANDLORDS WANT TO KICK US OUT.
CAN YOU HELP US SAVE OUR HOME? Even the smallest amount will help.
Our church, Christ Apostolic Church (Bethel) UK – Registered Charity 274154, has occupied the St Columba church buildings in Kingsland Road, E2 8AN since the 1980s. The complex consists of a mixture of Grade I & Grade II listed buildings.
All of the buildings were in a totally derelict state when we obtained the leases in the 1980s. The church building had been deconsecrated and had been vacated by the Church of England years earlier due to falling congregation attendance numbers and the inability of the parish to manage its upkeep. When St Columba came onto the market, it had already spent a number of years empty. Large parts of the church building and the rest of the premises were covered in inches of dung, were without floors, doors or ceilings and were in a state of extreme disrepair. We have worked extremely hard over the decades to restore the entire premises to a well functioning, habitable, warm and productive environment. These works have ranged from vast grant-aided phased works, e.g. to the church building roof, to literal blood, sweat and tears work by committed congregants over the decades. The physical, personal and financial cost over the years cannot be overstated.
The buildings now house a vibrant church with service to the community at its heart. Apart from the normal weekly church services and activities, we feed the homeless at least three times a week with scheduled lunch and breakfast sessions whilst providing other much needed provisions; we run Hackney Community Gospel Choir, a weekly community choir open to anybody from any faith, persuasion or background; we run periodic programmes assisting young people, women and men on various social issues ranging from health and well-being to employment, aspirations and development; and we have an award winning choir, The Reapers Choir, that has performed in several venues including 10 Downing Street, Kensington Palace, The Royal Albert Hall and The Royal Festival Hall.
We were in the middle of negotiating a renewal of the lease to the church building when our landlords, the London Diocesan Fund, suddenly informed us that we were expected to undertake £9 million worth of repairs (later inexplicably reduced to £6 million) to the building. We asked them for a meeting so that we can chart the way forward and work together, emphasising the need to renew the lease to assist us with applying for funding for the repairs. Instead of meeting with us, they served us with an eviction notice.
They then set us the impossible task of completing £6million work in two months knowing full well that this is impossible. Now they insist on doing the work themselves, charging it to us and still kicking us out. All the while, they have tried to pressure us to walk away from all of the buildings, including the ones with years left to run on the lease. Does this seem fair to you?
Despite all the work we have done over the years, our landlords ignorantly or willfully wrongly claim that the building had "significantly deteriorated" since being leased to us and that we have not maintained the premises. We consider this accusation to be demonstrably untrue, ignorant and, frankly, insulting. How can buildings that are now well functioning, habitable and productive to the community be worse than they were when they were derelict? Naturally and with the passage of time, further repair works are required – in particular structural works – and we were acting in good faith to resolve these with assistance of our landlords but have been bitterly disappointed, outraged and hurt by their response.
We're asking for your help to raise money so that we can undertake the repairs. All funds will to go the repairs of the church.
We’re also in the process of defending our right to renew the lease.
*The complex is the “St Columba Building” designed by architect James Brooks in 1869. The complex consists of a mixture of Grade I & Grade II* listed buildings with an internal courtyard.
Visit our website for more information - www.cacbethel.org