OVERALL church attendances in New Zealand are declining, but officials at one Invercargill church say they do not match that trend and are planning a bold new $8.6 million development.
Reverend Peter Dunn, of Windsor Community Church, acknowledged there was a perception that “churches are dying”.
However, he said the Windsor Community Church congregation was holding and had the potential to grow. He felt the planned multimillion-dollar development was important for both its congregation and the Windsor community in general.
The $8.6m development idea was first floated when the previous church building, built in 1927, was demolished in 2016 because of the risk of it collapsing.
Since then, the congregation had met in the neighbouring Jubilee Hall.
After a series of “cup of tea meetings” with members, it was decided to proceed with a plan to build a new church complex.
The Jubilee Hall would remain as part of the proposed project, but would need some structural work done on it.
All the surrounding buildings on the site would be pulled down to make way for the rest of the rebuild.
The planned complex would include a 450-seat auditorium, 80 to 100-seat chapel, offices and parking spaces.
The quest now was to try to pull together the required $8.6m with former long-serving MP and current Environment Southland councillor Eric Roy at the helm.
Logic Group had been enlisted as the project manager.
Mr Roy, who has been a member of the Windsor Community Church for seven years, said the first task was to determine how much the members and associate members were prepared to personally put towards the development.
The target was to raise a total of $3m in pledges from the almost 250 members and associate members attached to the Windsor Community Church.
“It is a big figure. We need to determine if we can proceed to the next stage,” Mr Roy said.
The commitment from members so far was “very encouraging”, Mr Roy said.
That member appeal was expected to be completed by the end of the month.
After determining the level of financial commitment, the Windsor Community Church would then work through other funding options.
Included would be an application to the Presbyterian Synod of Otago and Southland. That allocation of funding would be determined by the amount the Windsor Community Church members put in, Mr Roy said.
If they reached the desired $3m mark from its members, it was expected funding from the Synod would push the tally to close to half of the $8.6m required.
In regard to community funding, the various organisations have set cycles for funding applications and decisions.
Reverend Dunn expected it would take until the end of 2019 to apply and hear back from those various community funders.
The Church had already put $104,000 towards the project through doing its due diligence.
A group of members also formed the Bourke Street Consortium to buy a $280,000 property in Bourke St which neighbours the Windsor Community Church.
The plan was that the house on the property would eventually be removed to make way for car parking as part of the new complex.
Reverend Dunn said the project was “scaredly exciting”.
“A well-designed building will be eye-catching, inviting, and well used by the community. That is our aim.”
News of the Windsor Community Church fundraising effort has come soon after the St John’s Anglican Church buildings and grounds, in the centre of Invercargill, has been sold.
The Southern Institute of Technology has bought the church building and plans to spend $14 million to $15 million in upgrading it and turning into a “Creative Centre”.