Connect Church UK was established in 1940 and throughout its existence has resided in a number of buildings, the most recent of which was in a very poor state – people no longer felt safe to meet and there was a strong desire to sell up and relocate.
An old cinema in Small Heath, owned by the church, was chosen to be the new home, but with the discovery of asbestos, the cinema had to be demolished and as there were no further funds available, the site has laid dormant ever since.
For a while the idea of a new building was shelved, but as the church continued to grow it became clear a fit-for-purpose home was needed and designs for a new ‘Home and Hub’ at Small Heath were made. The church then sold the old building and has been meeting at St Andrew’s Football Stadium, adjacent to the new site and home to Birmingham City Football Club, ever since.
Building work kicked off and a water-tight shell was constructed, however due to unforeseeable issues the church has been forced to start from scratch with new contractors to finish the interior work.
Although there have been many hurdles along the way, a recent Benefact Trust grant of £56,500 has boosted the morale of the church and congregation, with the next phase of work due to start in Autumn 2021.
Once the Home and Hub is completed, the lives of both the congregation and the residents of Small Heath will be spiritually, socially, economically and physically enriched by their interactions and through the educational and social programmes available, leading to an improvement in social cohesion.
Paul Playford, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “Connect Church UK has been on a long journey to find a suitable home, but with hope and perseverance the end is in sight and they will soon have a dedicated space to grow and thrive.
“We’re delighted that our funding has lifted their spirits and will help to finish this amazing new building. We can’t wait to visit and see the finished church and community hub in all its glory.”