Waterfront churches come together

AS Ipswich Waterfront expands and more people move in, the spiritual element can sometimes be overlooked. That could all change with a new appointment due to be made by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

By Paul Geater

AS Ipswich Waterfront expands and more people move in, the spiritual element can sometimes be overlooked. That could all change with a new appointment due to be made by the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. PAUL GEATER looks at how the church is hoping to bridge the gap between town and gown.

IPSWICH Waterfront is an exciting and vibrant place to be right now - but in the middle of all the new flats, cafés and offices currently being built there is little talk of the church's role in the area.

When churches are mentioned, it tends to be in the context of finding new uses for the historic buildings that once defined the area.

But now things are changing.

The three Anglican churches that serve the area - St Luke's, St Helen's and Holy Trinity - have now come together to be known as Ipswich Waterfront Churches.

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And now the diocese has linked up with Suffolk College to appoint a chaplaincy team co-ordinator to work with young people in the area.

Rev Paul Daltry has been rector of the Waterfront Churches since last autumn, and is playing a lead role in trying to bring a spiritual element to the new development.

He has been slightly frustrated at the lack of a spiritual element in the development - but hopes that the appointment of a chaplaincy coordinator will improve matters.

“It does sometimes seem as if when major new developments are proposed, planning officials take into account things like services, shops, health centres, and schools, but there is no concern about the spiritual needs of the area,” he said.

“Having said that we do have very good relations with the council in many aspects of life and we do understand each other's role.”

Mr Daltry said the new appointment was aimed very much at ensuring there was no gap between students and other people who live in the Waterfront area.

Originally there was expected to be one appointment working with both students and other young people in the area. But now it had been decided that because there would be so many students, a full-time chaplain for the College and UCS would probably be needed.

Mr Daltry said: “We will probably end up with two of us working in the area, rather than just one person.

“The student chaplain will very much have a full-time job, but of course there will be some overlap.”

He hoped to carry on working with young people moving into the area. “It remains important to reach out to young people in the Waterfront,” he said.

One decision the chaplain will be involved in is whether the church should have a physical presence in the area.

There have been suggestions that St Clement's church could be re-consecrated as a place of worship and an administrative centre for the chaplaincy - but Mr Daltry said it was too early to make that decision.

“That is something that the new chaplaincy coordinator would have to be involved with. We don't want to tie their hands behind their back before they are even appointed.”

The Anglican Waterfront churches are working with the Orwell Church in the area to try to attract 25 to 30-year-olds.

“We already do quite a lot of work - and Suffolk College was one of the first further education colleges in the country to have its own chaplain,” said Mr Daltry.

“The important thing now is to maintain our presence and help to create a real community in the area.”

Weblinks:

www.waterfrontchurches.org

www.orwellchurch.co.uk

Churches in the Waterfront area are:

St Helen's - St Helen's Street.

St Luke's - Cliff Lane.

Holy Trinity - Back Hamlet.

Orwell Church is based in Fore Hamlet.

Former churches at the Waterfront:

St Peters - due to become a music centre with practice rooms and a performance area.

St Mary at the Quay times used for art exhibitions or theatre performances.

St Clements - in good repair but awaiting for a new use.

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