Religious centre planned for town

By Mark HeathA MAJOR new religious centre in the heart of a town should be officially opened at Easter next year, it has been revealed.Delegates at the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocesan synod were told on Saturday work should start shortly on the St Nicholas Church Centre project in Ipswich.

By Mark Heath

A MAJOR new religious centre in the heart of a town should be officially opened at Easter next year, it has been revealed.

Delegates at the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich diocesan synod were told on Saturday work should start shortly on the St Nicholas Church Centre project in Ipswich.

The £800,000 development will see a new resource and conference centre created in Franciscan Way.


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Nick Clarke, diocesan communications director, said the building work was estimated to take 30 weeks, with a provisional opening date of Easter 2005.

"It's a hugely exciting project. We are going to have a church centre which is still a church, as well as being a huge resource and space for concerts and exhibitions," he added.

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"We also hope it will be a resource for Ipswich and Suffolk as a whole - we plan to offer it to commercial enterprises who want a space in the centre of Ipswich for conferences and things along those lines.

"All the money we need to build it will be found through income generation, savings and investment, so the cost of the centre will make no demand whatsoever on the parish share - that is very good news."

Meanwhile, the man tasked with helping the church raise money, Canon Jim Pendorf, made his first presentation to the synod.

In his role as parish resources adviser, Canon Pendorf delivered a speech, entitled Mapping our Christian Faith, in which he addressed giving in the context of believing.

Mr Clarke said: "He will be working alongside parishes at local level to put into context the role of money within faith.

"It's about giving back to God and saying thank you for all the things that you have given to us - one of the ways we can do that is by giving money to the church.

"There's no getting away from the fact that money continues to be an issue for the church and Canon Pendorf's role will be vital in helping parishes to maximise their giving to the church, both centrally and locally."

The synod, which met in Debenham, also received a report from the General Synod of the Church of England covering issues on human sexuality.

Mr Clarke said the report called for tolerance for gay and bisexual members of congregations and added: "As far as the clergy goes, it remains as is in that gay priests should not be in an active relationship if they want to be priests. Not a huge amount has changed - it's just a recognition that the issue is live."

The report will now go out to parishes for discussion before being debated at the synod's next meeting on June 12 at Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge.

mark.heath@eadt.co.uk

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