A CHURCH that was closed for 65 years after it was damaged by bombing during the Second World War opened its doors for services again at the end of September.
St Nicholas’s, Bristol, closed after it was hit by a bomb during the Bristol Blitz of 1940. It was leased to Bristol City Council and rebuilt as a museum, before housing council offices. It has now been reopened as a “resourcing” church, funded by £1.5-million Strategic Development Funding from the Church Commissioners (News, 26 January).
It is led by the Revd Toby Flint, a former Assistant Curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton, in London (HTB). St Nicholas’s will serve the growing young population of the university city: 60 per cent of people who live in Bristol’s city centre are aged between 15 and 29.
The Bishop of Swindon, Dr Lee Rayfield, said that the reopening of St Nicholas’s was a response to this generation, and to some of the challenges of urban living.
“As Bristol becomes younger and more diverse, we are looking to make a difference to the city which will last and spread out,” he said. “We are confident that St Nicholas will affect people’s lives for the better and contribute to social transformation.
“St Nicholas is a significant example of the way in which we are developing our commitment to introduce more people to the Christian faith, engage younger generations, and connect with the communities of our changing city.”
Another large new “resourcing” church will open in Swindon by Christmas. The Pattern Church will open in a former railway-works building, with the aim of attracting people aged under 40 who have no connection with the Church. It will also be led by an assistant curate from HTB, the Revd Joel Sales (News, 10 August).
Dr Rayfield has led the project to buy the old Pattern Building and refurbish it, which he described as a “strategic investment” by the diocese.
“We believe it will help resource all other churches around it and begin the social transformation of the town. There is real feeling of new things happening around Swindon that the Church is part of — we are also opening a new church academy for secondary-school pupils, which will be amazing.”