Rev Archie Coates, vicar of St Peter’s, Brighton, describes how a team from HTB rescued the city’s ”˜unofficial cathedral’ in 2005. They now welcome over 1000 people into the church for weekend worship services.
‘St Peter’s is one of Brighton’s iconic buildings, so when it was due to close there was a huge public outcry and 6,500 people signed the petition to keep it open.
The building is incredible, but it’s also a nightmare because it’s crumbling. I remember giving sermons wearing hard hats. We didn’t have any heating for four winters, so people used to come to church in a hat carrying a hot-water bottle.
I think this is a visual aid for the wider work. The local churches all said that when the building looks like it’s closed and dying on its feet, that sends out the message to Brighton that that’s what God is like as well. But equally if you could do the opposite ”“ open it up, fix it up ”“ then that would send out the message: ”˜Wow, the Church is alive and God is on the move.’
When we began, we were about 30, including children: our family and about three other families. If you’re going to attract other people to come, there needs to be a certain group for them to come into, and it’s quite hard to do that with less than 30.