An exciting ecumenical partnership in Eastbourne (between Central and Greenfield Methodist Churches and St Andrew’s and Upperton United Reformed Churches) has given rise to the new Emmanuel Church, with a building and re-imagined vision of unity to serve the people of Eastbourne for the next hundred years.
The four churches had shared close ties for many years, but when their respective Victorian buildings had reached the end of their useful purpose, they arrived at a creative solution. The congregations decided to sell three of the churches (two are sold to date) and demolish the fourth in order to clear a site for their new Emmanuel Church building.
The new building, part funded by a significant Methodist Grants programme grant, is only part of the transformation that’s been progressing strongly over the past few years. The four congregations have been coming together regularly for worship, prayer and Vision Days. They’re growing together as one church family through this interim phase and reaching new understandings about how they want to do church in the 21st Century, with a particular emphasis on welcome, hospitality and outreach.
New church building to meet the needs of the community
The outward-facing direction sought by Emmanuel Church has given rise to a real commitment to better know and consult its local community. The church is determined to serve and support its area and to meet the needs that exist; the new building has been designed to facilitate this.
The building will provide:
- Room and roof garden space for Emmanuel’s church-led and owned Jenny Wren Nursery and Little Wrens toddler group
- Space for Junior Church and Messy Church, which will develop in frequency and format
- Good quality facilities for those in need in the community. The semi-industrial kitchen and hall will be used for community lunches, school holiday programmes and the Eastbourne night shelter group (and shower, laundry and full access facilities are included)
- A sanctuary that seats up to 250 people for worship and community concerts or conferences, along with smaller spaces for community use
Rev’d Paul Tabraham is one of the team ministers at Emmanuel. It’s Paul’s first appointment as a Methodist Minister, having previously worked in social work. He feels nothing but gratitude and excitement about the building of the new Emmanuel Church and the way that the four congregations and community have come together in such a unified and supportive manner:
"As a church we’ve been blessed by great support from a range of sources. The significant Methodist Grants programme funding is an incredible boost towards the creation and success of the new Emmanuel building. We’re very keen to be a worshipping, serving community, witnessing to God's love in Eastbourne for generations to come - and it’s wonderful to be helped to do this."