Church Development Projects update

For the last ten years the church of the 318 Godbearing Fathers has been embarking on a project to expand the church to provide better facilities. The main issues the church faces are:

  1. the church is too small for the growing congregation;
  2. the church lacks basic amenity facilities such as a proper toilet, kitchen / serving area for after church fellowship / agape;
  3. the church has no space for fellowship after Sunday Divine Liturgy
  4. the church lacks spaces for teaching of children;

In 2019 the church acquired what we call ‘the Orchard’. This was an important step as it provide us with an alternative access to Dove Close, amenity space and space for temporary classroom spaces for children’s activities as well as some additional parking.

In 2020 the church appointed Donald Insalls Associates as its architects along with other members of a design team including structural engineers, landscape architects, mechanical and electrical engineers, heritage advisers, planning consultants and quantity surveyors. The architects, supported by the design team, are currently preparing options for an extension of the church to address at least some of the challenges that we face.

Aidan Hart (liturgical artist), Luke Thomas (project manager), Pavlos Kalaitzidis (structural engineer), Nicola Corfield (building surveyor) and Fr Dcn Panteleimon (whose secular job is a planning consultant) have been appointed by the Church Board as a working group to oversee the first phase of the project. If you have any questions about the project they would be happy to help.

The first phase of the project is to obtain planning and listed building permission for the works. The working group is currently working with the architects on the design brief and are expecting revised design options in the week commencing 18 October 2021. Once a design is prepared that is acceptable to the community this will be submitted (along with supporting information) to Shropshire Council for a pre-application. A pre-application is the first step in a planning and listed building application. As the name suggests, it takes place before the full applications are made and is a method of consulting with all relevant parties to reduce risks of a refusal of permission. It is a chance to meet and discuss the development with the key stakeholders who will influence the outcome of the planning and listed building applications (Historic England, Shropshire Council Conservation officers, archaeologist and planning officers and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings).

We hope to have some drawings to share with you in the weeks ahead and we would very much appreciate your input into ensuring that the designs meet our most urgent needs.

There is no doubt that extending our ancient church will be a highly challenging project. Any change to buildings of such heritage significance as our requires compelling justification. When we look back to 1994 when we saved the church from impending ruin (see photographs below of various states of disrepair in 20th Century) we had no idea of its significance. We now know from archaeology uncovered in 2013 that at one point in its history or small church would have been a very large and important church for the time. It was much larger than it currently is (18 metres larger to the west and 8 – 12 metres wider) but was contracted in the 13th Century and again in the 16th, and 18th centuries.

Our community has helped to reveal and live the importance of our church building now and for future generations. It is once again a regional centre of Christianity – it is a place where the Orthodox Christians living in Shropshire, Mid Wales, Herefordshire gather together as the people of God.

Photograph of Sutton Church from the northwest c. 1915

Interior of Sutton Church showing condition of roof and roof trusses, 1960 (Historic England)

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