We had the pleasure of attending the launch for Phase 1 of St Luke’s Gas Street last night. It was incredible to see the building finally in use, and enjoyed by its new occupants.

 

The building had previously sat empty until the Church of England purchased the site to realise their vision for a new resourcing church as the ‘light of the city’. The Church had identified that although Birmingham has one of the youngest populations in Europe, the demographics of its own congregations did not reflect this. The Church saw the Gas Retort House’s location next to Birmingham’s thriving club scene as the ideal home for a resourcing church to attract young people and students. The Revd Tim Hughes, formally Director of Worship at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, moved to Birmingham with his wife Rachel and family to lead this new venture as Priest-in-Charge of the parish of St Luke’s. Working with the existing parish congregation and a talented team of colleagues, they launched ‘St Luke’s Gas Street’ in various temporary venues whilst the building was being redeveloped.

 

The already 300-strong congregation of St Luke’s Gas Street have now moved from their temporary venue at Jongleurs Comedy Club to their new home in the Gas Retort House. The event, attended by over 400 people, brought together church leaders from different denominations across the country, the St Luke’s congregations, the design and construction team, and numerous other well-wishers to experience the new atmosphere for worshipping brought to the city by the Church of England – Birmingham, the Hughes’ and their team.

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart officially launched the new building:

“This is a brilliant moment in the life of the Church of England in Birmingham. We have prayed, discussed, given, supported and prayed some more for all that has gone on to bring St Luke’s Gas Street to this launch date. But this is only the beginning.”

 

What has been completed so far is just the first phase in a multi-phase redevelopment of the site. The next phase, already under development, is the expansion of the worship area into the next vacant section of the building complex; the Coal House, with its impressive queen post timber truss roof, and the previous Retort House extension. This expansion will allow multiple events to happen concurrently, allowing the children and youth groups to operate more comfortably alongside the adult worship. Capacity of the venue will be increased up to 850 people, allowing the congregation to expand as the church becomes more embedded into the local community. Further phases will bring enhancements to some of the spaces already created, with movable partitions being installed to increase flexibility, a greater number of toilet and family changing facilities, and a new cafe and mezzanine seating area.

 

Read more about the project here.

Images copyright of Philip King / Church of England Birmingham