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Story 80 - First Stages of Pioneering in West Sussex

By Neil Attewell 09/02/21
 
Story80Pic1Neil Attewell is a Pioneer Minister, appointed in August 2019 by Rev Ali Boulton, then SCBA Pioneer Mission Enabler, to outreach in a quite unusual context. Over a decade ago Westbourne Baptist Church, ceased formal worship meetings in their Victorian chapel, however, the managing trustees and the regional association had the foresight to maintain the building as a pioneering project and it has benefitted from the input of a succession of gifted members of the Baptist family.  Despite the four walls, the mission has always been very outward focussed and a strong message has always been conveyed that the building is there for the whole community, Baptist or not. This was typified in 2012 when, after a consultation with the village, the name of the building was changed to ‘The Meeting Place’. 
After a period of discernment, Neil and wife Jenny were called as there seemed to be a good fit from both sides, an added bonus being Neil’s secular employment background in building management and refurbishment as the trustees had applied for and received a considerable grant to improve the facilities.   Whilst lockdown still came as a huge challenge, the sudden closing of the building allowed Neil to focus on these works and he discerned an opportunity to provide much needed work to local tradespeople, further enabling the project to be viewed in a positive light in the village. This has resulted in the pretty 19th century chapel being completely redecorated inside with new flooring, eco-friendly lighting, extra insulation, and new windows, all in keeping with the original charm of the building to ensure it will still be well received in the village. By completing this work early on, the building has been able to be used, not only for very necessary income purposes, but also as a welcoming place in the community for various groups.  Work has also been going on behind the scenes, with help from the BU and others, to achieve Charitable Incorporated Organisation status for the project - a firm foundation with which to build the community’s future.











 
 
 
 
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