Great things are happening in the village of Gamblesby, East of Penrith, with the completion of phase two of the redevelopment of Gamblesby Methodist - the maintenance and enhancement of the Victorian chapel. The first phase of the transformation involved the refurbishment and modernisation of the schoolroom.
With help from funders such as Benefact Trust and spurred on by the ecumenical Mission Community and strong community support, the church embarked upon a major restoration of the building to develop outreach work particularly amongst children and older residents.
The existing chapel was built in 1864 and the 150th Anniversary was celebrated in 2014. Since then, the local community have expressed a desire to maintain and improve what is the last remaining place of worship in the village. The church was encouraged by the support of young mothers, many of whom bring their children to the ‘Creative Children’s Christian club’ affectionately known as Little Acorns. The aim of the sessions is to reach out to young people and offer a safe and welcoming space for activities, and nurture their growth and development as Christians. The redevelopment of the schoolroom and chapel will help the Little Acorns group to expand, as well as proving space to establish a new group for teenagers to explore their faith and learn new skills.
Covid lockdowns meant Little Acorns and services had to be held online and the weekly coffee mornings suspended. However, the church has learnt to innovate and adapt whilst continuing to raise further funds. Following a successful ‘Drive-In’ Harvest Festival in September, the annual community carol service was broadcast and streamed live with the help of Edenfm achieving 1,000 views on their Facebook page.
£127,000 was spent on securing the external fabric and refurbishment of the schoolroom to provide modern facilities including a new kitchen and disabled toilet.
A further £95,000 was then secured to complete refurbishment works to the chapel this spring including re-roofing, re-pointing, replacement of damp plasterwork, re-leading of the East stained-glass window, secondary glazing, new heating, a multi-media system, new soft furnishings and re-decoration.
As the chapel sits at the geographic centre of the ecumenical East of Eden Mission Community, it will also become a ‘Beacon of Hope’ as the local Church of England and Methodist congregations determine a sustainable future for ministry, service and outreach across the valley.
Claire Slee, Worship Leader, said: “We are very grateful to the Benefact Trust for their generous support towards the £225,000 refurbishment of our rural chapel. Our ‘Little Acorns’ Creative Christian Club continues to expand with two new families recently joining us and as these children transfer to secondary school, we hope to start a youth group for teenage children this autumn”.