The church has been building
The simple and well used church building was constructed in the 1950's. Plans came and went over the decades, but over the last 10 years we have been able to add extensively to the building. We now have a lovely church home, and a great place to serve the local neighbourhood.
In 2009 we doubled the size of the church buildings. We use the main room in the new part of the building for our worship services and a host of other church activities. We use the lounge area as a place for our 'Open house' drop in centre and many smaller meetings.
In 2011 we refurbished the original part of the church building. We now use this for children's activities, meals and are able to hire this out to others for children's parties and some other events and activities.
In 2013 we created a new kitchen with excellent facilities to cook meals for a substantial number of people.
In 2020 we celebrated and looked back at the amazing way that God provided and guided us. We also celebrated what has happened in the building in 10 years.
Main building project: The history
The description below gives an outline of the building programme. It was taken from our building leaflet written in 2009. The new building work has been completed, with the exception of a few relatively minor issues to finalised. The building is a testament to God's ability to provide for a relatively small group of people with limited income. So we left this archive here to point to what God can do with ordinary people. It has been a wonderful journey of faith for us. God has provided for us and led us to give generously to the building work. We are grateful to other local churches and individual Christians who have given substantially to help.
Why do we want to build?
We believe that God has been building us into a community of people to make a substantial long-term difference in South Oxhey and beyond. We have grown and made progress in recent years, but the current building is severely restricting us. The extended building will give us the size and flexibility that we need to develop what we have and explore new opportunities. We believe that God is calling us to build:
• A beacon that testifies to the transforming power of God.
• A demonstration that God is active and has not overlooked the people of South Oxhey.
• An attractive meeting place and centre for activity where the people of South Oxhey can feel welcome.
• A 'home from home' that helps us to be a welcoming community of people with Jesus Christ at the centre.
What are the restrictions of the current building?
1. We are unable to house any of the Sunday morning children's groups on site. Currently, three groups use rooms at a former local primary school, Little Furze, and a fourth group uses the lounge of Catharine House, a nearby sheltered housing residence. Not only does this split up the church and involve taking some of the children across a road, but since the school's closure the condition of the building has deteriorated and our use of it is under threat.
2. Our kitchen is unusable for any cooking and the building is not helpful for hospitality generally.
3. We have recently installed disabled toilet facilities but need to improve the toilets further.
4. The main worship area is limited, especially for special services. There are no quiet places to pray and the location of the crèche is inadequate from a noise point of view.
Current Site Plan
There are other issues such as a lack of office and storage space, and limited versatility for the large number of midweek activities that we already run. The building itself is set well back from the road, and because the main entrance is on the side, the church is easily missed - even by people who are looking for it!
What will the new building allow us to do?
To provide a home for the following:
• A worship area for 150 people.
• A multi-purpose room for larger weekday activities, such as toddler groups, children's and youth clubs, meetings and special events.
• Rooms to house 4 children's and young people's groups at a time, plus a crèche. This will give the groups a greater sense of belonging and help them feel valued and included.
• A small hall (expandable with a flexible partition) for hospitality - usable as a dining room or social area for smaller gatherings.
• An 'open house' where we can provide a comfortable place for people to come during the week to chat, talk through issues, share activities and common interests or find space to be quiet and/or pray.
• A kitchen to provide meals for the 'open house' and for a range of other events.
Currently approved plans
• A venue that can be used by external groups for activities consistent with our Christian ethos. We already host an ASCEND craft class and have had children's parties. We temporarily housed a pre-school group, and have been approached about a similar possibility in the new building.
• Other facilities, including an office, toilets, storage, baby changing area and tea point.
What else has been considered in planning?
Building on the front and the side of the existing hall will give us a more visible presence. More low-level windows and a front-facing door should contribute to the openness that we want to convey. We are seeking to construct a welcoming and approachable building that gives us flexibility of use but clearly shows that Jesus is at the centre. We know that we need to be good stewards of the resources that God gives us, so we are aiming to be cost-effective. We are also exploring innovative eco-friendly design features.
This extension will more than double the existing area of the building. It is a major project for us and a big step of faith, and we are aware that we cannot complete it without help. We have been encouraged in many ways already.
What has happened so far?
SOBC has been through previous times of growth and the desire to build, and various plans have even been around before. Yet we are convinced that now is the time for that hope to become a reality.
Building the church
Though we still face many challenges, the church is growing in many ways: there is greater expectancy of what God will do here. This puts us in a position to make good use of a new building. In the last 5 years we have seen several people come to faith in Jesus, a steady growth in membership and an increase in the number of people who have some connection with the church. We have doubled the number of housegroups and Sunday children's and young people's groups. We have an additional midweek toddler group and youth work has developed significantly. More people are taking leadership and serving roles within the life of the church, and we have reduced our financial support from the Baptist Union Home Mission Fund from 40% of the minister's stipend (wages) to zero.
Finances and Dates for the Church Building
For several years members of the church have been giving substantially to our building fund. We are also grateful to Oxhey Village chapel, Croxley Green Baptist Church, the people of Bushey Baptist and other friends of the church for their help. Over £400,000 has been received in total.
We now have detailed construction plans, planning permission, project management and building team in place. We have chosen builders with a good track record of high quality work of this scale.
We have identified, with our builders, a three phase approach. Phase 1 will involve completing the shell of the new-build part. We have the finances for this. Phase 2 will be the completion of the new-build part at an additional cost of around £200,000. Phase 3 will be the refurbishment of the current building and will be a smaller project. Ideally we will be able to progress without delay through the 3 phases.
The building work has started and we moved into phase 2 in the autumn of 2009.
We have financed up to half of the phase 2 cost with a loan from the Baptist Building Fund, and the £50,000 of the remaining money ourselved. However we still need an additional £50,000. This £50,000 is our immediate financial target as we move towards the greater goal of having a building that serves the people of South Oxhey in a way that honours God and makes him known.
'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.' Hebrews 11:1.
Home from home
The concept of building a 'home from home' speaks of us developing a place to do things together and be as inclusive as possible. It is a step in sharing our lives with one another rather than just 'attending the same church'. The church is described in the Bible as a family, and for many of us this has been our experience. The church building can be, in a way, like the family home. We know that families aren't perfect and home is not always a good place for everyone, but our aim is that the home from home is a place where we feel comfortable, 'at home', and have a sense of belonging. It can be a place where we are able to welcome friends and neighbours in and provide hospitality. In practical terms this has already included us using the current building for variety shows, world-cup football, film and games evenings, 'jamming' sessions and more. The new building will give us much greater flexibility in what we can do.