Church brings a new Hope to former Ipswich Odeon cinema
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY
Ipswich's largest new church has opened its doors to its members for its first Sunday services in its new home - the former Odeon cinema near Major's Corner.
More than 15 years after the last films were shown at the cinema, members of the Hope Church have turned the building into their new centre which includes meeting rooms, offices, and will have its own cafe and advice centre.
The work to create the Hope Centre has taken longer than expected because of the lockdowns and other problems that arose, but lead Pastor Tom Scrivens was delighted that after three years of work they were finally able to open the doors to their congregation.
"We actually got the keys to the building in September 2018, three years ago - it's taken a time to get here but we're very pleased with what we have."
The layout of the building will still be very familiar to anyone who remembers the old cinema - except for the upper floor. The two top screens were always the largest and they have been knocked together to form a large auditorium for the church's main services.
There are still a few finishing touches to be applied. The church's new seats have been delayed so they have had to borrow some from another congregation in Felixstowe.
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And there are a few small touches that have to be completed. Mr Scrivens said: "We will be launching our cafe during January and that will be open Monday to Friday for anyone to come and chill out and be welcomed and get the support they need as well.
"We've got Christian Advice Service that will be here quite regularly in the coming weeks and months which is a place where people can come to get support and advice - a bit like the Citizen's Advice Bureau."
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The church held a private prayer meeting at the end of last week to test out the new auditorium with 300 people turning up - but most Sundays it expects to attract 400-500 people.
For those nervous about being in a large crowd because of Covid, the services will be livestreamed to large screens in the mezzanine foyer.