Church in Strood celebrates end of major reordering project

First published on: 24th May 2024

Overhead view of the church with people sat on floor and chairs

Photo: Removing the pews at St Nicholas Church, Strood has created a more accessible and flexible space.

St Nicholas Church in Strood has long been a cornerstone of the community, and on Sunday, 12 May,  it marked a significant milestone: the celebration of a major reordering of the worship space, a vision over 20 years in the making.

The retired vicar, Rev David Green, who played a pivotal role in steering this ambitious project, returned to witness the transformation for the first time since his final sermon on New Year's Eve last year.

A vision realised 
Their journey began with a clear goal: to transform the church into a welcoming community space.

The initial focus was on improving the exterior, enhancing the grounds, entrances, parking, pathways, and adding outdoor benches to create a more inviting atmosphere.

For the Rev Sue Vallente-Kerr, who is now in place as Pioneer Minister across the churches in Strood, these efforts laid the groundwork for the comprehensive interior renovations completed over the past 12 months. 

"It's been really hard work, there's been lots of up and lots of downs, but it's been so wonderful to see so many groups coming together to be able to access this building who couldn't before

For instance, to be able to welcome people in wheelchairs who have special needs, and for them to find this a really safe and comfortable place full of the joy of Jesus."

The interior makeover, designed by architects Thomas Ford & Partners,  was extensive. Key areas such as the vestries, toilet facilities, windows, and flooring were upgraded to enhance accessibility.

A tea station has been introduced at the west end of the church to allow refreshments to be served in the Nave.

The fixed pews were removed and new wooden flooring and seating were installed, aligning with the vision of creating an open, welcoming space for all, and to enable the parish to set the church out for different styles of worship.

The work was made possible through generous legacies and strong support from the diocese, particularly through the Missional Property Fund.

This financial backing was crucial in turning the long-held dream into reality, ensuring that St Nicholas Church could continue to serve as a central hub for the community. 

Font at St Nicholas Church
Photo: The baptismal font at St Nicholas, Strood

A Hub for Community Life 
Today, the reordered church worship space is also a vibrant community hub, hosting various groups and events that bring people together.

The first baptism in the newly renovated church took place on May 5, symbolising a fresh beginning for St Nicholas Church as a beacon of community and faith in Strood. 

"It's been great to have our first baptism in our new font that's been in place, and to celebrate somebody who turned 60 making a commitment to Christ, and to welcome our schools back into this space."

Rev Sue Vallente-Kerr

Looking Ahead 
As St Nicholas Church embarks on this new chapter, it stands as a testament to the dedication and vision of its community.

The renovations not only preserve the church's historical significance but also enhance its role as a modern, accessible space for worship and community activities.

Rev Sue Vallent-Kerr (centre) stands with other members of the church team. The church's stained glass window behind them

Photo: The Rev Sue Vallente-Kerr (centre) with members of the church team

The celebration on May 12 was not just about the physical transformation of the church but also about renewing its mission to serve and unite the people of Strood.

"On behalf of the PCC and the staff team here at St Nick's, we would like to thank Reverend David Green for his vision and determination, to the DAC and to the Diocese for donating this money from the Missional Property Fund

"Also to our congregation who've been so faithful through all the changes and through the work."

Rev Sue Vallente-Kerr

With its doors open wide in the centre of Strood, St Nicholas Church is poised to continue its legacy of faith, fellowship, and community service for many years to come.

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