Exciting plans are underway at St Thomas’ Newcastle as works begin on transforming the building into a Resource Church Hub for mission and ministry in the diocese.
The stunning church, which sits in the heart of Newcastle at Barras Bridge near Haymarket, is undergoing an extensive reordering project which will see its ground floor and first floor completely redeveloped.
In 2019, St Thomas’ was launched as a Resource Church as a key part of the diocese’s growing church bringing hope vision.
Led by Revd Ben Doolan and Lee Kirkby, St Thomas’ is already making progress in resourcing mission and ministry around the diocese. Just in the last month it was announced that a team from St Thomas’ will be moving to Byker to plant an Eden Team to support and complement the ministry of the Mission Initiative Newcastle East (MINE) churches.
St Thomas’ has also hosted an online Alpha course in the past few weeks for nine churches in the diocese and a number of new people have made professions of faith and joined local churches as a result.
The building project will help catalyse more resourcing in the future.
Ben said: “The role of a Resource Church is to catalyse mission and ministry in Newcastle and the rest of the diocese and to join in with all the amazing things God is already doing. Since our launch we’ve seen our church family quickly grow here at St Thomas’ and it has been a huge privilege to support other churches in the diocese. The building project will further enable us to do this - to grow church and bring hope!”
Plans for the ground floor include the creation of space for 400 movable seats, a feature baptistry allowing for full immersion, a glass screen under the organ gallery offering an open view from the street into the church, a kiosk serving drinks and snacks in a new welcome area, two new meeting areas, as well as a lift, a new kitchen and toilet facilities, all of which will be accessible.
On the first floor, a multi-purpose room will be created for various activities to take place such as children and young people’s groups, conferencing and teaching, a large open-plan space will run across the first floor to the balcony level, and each of the five arches overlooking the mezzanine level will be glazed.
The current shop at St Thomas’ is to remain in the same place but will undergo complete renovation to offer flexibility within the space.
Built in the late 1820s by celebrated architect John Dobson, the building has undergone extensive work in the past including the installation of additional pews during the Victorian period.
Doonan Architects, the company behind the new plans for St Thomas’, have taken a careful and considered approach, with many of the design features paying homage to how the building was originally imagined by John Dobson.
Ben added: “At the heart of John Dobson’s original vision for St Thomas’ was for it to be at the centre of the community. This very much remains at the heart of our vision today.
“The building project will enable growth in the city centre through sharing the good news of Jesus, being a hub for social action and will be a hub for leadership development, church planting and mission for the diocese.”
It is hoped the works will be complete by Autumn 2021 with a relaunch planned shortly after.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, most services are currently being livestreamed, however once lockdown restrictions are lifted St Hilda’s Church in Jesmond will be the temporary home for St Thomas’ services and meet-ups.
To see the progress of the building work at St Thomas’, visit its website or follow the church on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Please join us in praying for the building works and for St Thomas’. We look forward to seeing you at the re-launch.