Keys secured as 'Goliath' £1.2m needed to restore burned down church
- Credit: Lucy Gordon
A burned-down church that has sat unused for over a decade has been bought by a determined community set on raising £1.2million to bring it back to its former glory.
The Ark of the Lord church community raised £174,000 in one month and has now completed the purchase of St Michael’s Church, in Upper Orwell Street, and the community centre.
The Victorian church was founded in the 1880s but was burnt down in March 2011 in a suspected arson attack.
The Ark in Ipswich community has set a goal to raise £1.2million to be able to fully renovate the church and leaders say they have faith it can be achieved.
Penny Gordon, the pastor of the Ark in Ipswich, said: “‘We realise that we have a Goliath challenge on our hands to complete the restoration of the church, with initial estimates coming in for the repairs of £1,000,000, but just as the young shepherd boy, King David, defeated Goliath, with a little faith and a huge amount of community love and partnership, anything is possible if we only believe."
It comes after supporters from across the church community helped the Ark secure £174,000 in one month, allowing them to take ownership on July 1.
The pastor said: "We did have a deadline to let the vendors know, so we asked for funds to be in by 30th of November, 2021.
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"Part of the funds are a no interest loan from one of our sister churches TLAC, short for the Lighthouse Apostolic Church, and we would like to acknowledge and thank bishop Kenneth Moraldo and the TLAC church family for this."
Before purchasing the church, the community leased a building in the Nacton area for ten years.
Pastor Gordon said: "When our lease came to an end in August last year, we didn't know where to go.
“The lady at the council, Jacqueline Clark, called me one day and said, Penny, 'I found the perfect place for you', and it was St Michael’s Church and the hall.
“When our lease came to an end, we moved into the hall and we've been using it for our services since then, but we also wanted to purchase a permanent place.
“I fell in love with the church when I saw it last July, as it was so broken like our lives at times, but we have faith that it can be restored as our lives can.”
Ms Gordon added: “Raising that much money was really overwhelming. We got the donations mostly from our Christian friends, other churches and family members.
“We would also like to thank Luke Cain, a lawyer Barker Gotelee for his support during the purchase process.”
Among the needed renovations includes the installation of a new roof.
The pastor said: "We've put a project management team together. We've got a civil engineer from one of our churches in London, who is a part of this team and we are now going to be applying for grands and also fundraising at the same time.
"We would like to thank pastors Peter and Carris Nembhard and the trustees of the Arc church in London for their kind donation, Colin Glen our civil engineer, also a trustee of the Arc in London, for his invaluable advice and support and Mike Taylor of IBC from the conservation dept who met our team on site to give us helpful and supportive advice."
The gospel church organises, among others, youth club, children's church ministry, parenting classes and marriage preparation courses.
The church’s charity supports many vulnerable families and communities in Ipswich.
Ms Gordon revealed the community’s future plans, as they are going to open homework and music clubs for children.
The Ark in Ipswich is currently looking for volunteers who would want to help the community with the clubs for young, vulnerable people.
All interested to help can call the pastor on 07748726596 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations for the renovation of St Michael’s Church can be made online.