The Hope Church gives former Odeon cinema new name
PUBLISHED: 13:07 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:43 18 September 2020
Work to convert the former Ipswich Odeon cinema into a new church has reached a significant stage with its new name appearing on the side of the building that has been empty for 15 years.
Signs saying Hope Church have appeared as the congregation prepares to move from its current home at the bottom of Bishop’s Hill to its new centre within the next few months.
The Hope Church bought the former cinema to turn into a church, offices, and community centre two years ago and has been working to complete the transformation since then – stripping out cinema screens and building new facilities including a baptism pool.
The work has taken longer than originally planned – although the building was in good condition considering it had been unoccupied since 2005 - as there were building challenges faced by the team converting it to a new use.
Work on all building projects was delayed during the lockdown earlier this year – but now it is continuing.
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The centre will have a 700-seat auditorium, a smaller 175-seat auditorium which would function as a multi-use room, several smaller multi-use rooms and several offices for Hope Church staff and others.
Some of the former ground floor cinema screens are being converted into facilities for younger members of the church and the community as a whole.
The centre will also have a cafe which will be open to the general public.
The purchase and conversion of the church has been funded from donations from members of the congregation.
The move to the new building is expected to be completed within the next few months. Ipswich Borough Council has bought back the lease on the church’s current site but has leased it back to Hope Church until December 2021 to enable it to complete the move.
When the church has moved to the former cinema, its existing site is due to be flattened and used to build between 25 and 30 council homes.
They are expected to be built by the borough’s Handford Homes housing company to help boost the overall number of council homes within walking distance of the town centre, and are expected to be brand new, not a conversion of the existing building on the site.
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