Appeal for new church building

As you know, our Community of the Holy Fathers has committed itself to building a modern version of the ruined 7th century church of the Koimesis (Dormition) in Iznik, ancient Nicea, which had remained in use as a Christian Church throughout the centuries of the Ottoman Empire, but which was destroyed in 1923 after the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. Our purpose in doing this is not only to provide a church with all the facilities necessary for the foreseeable future, but also to give back to Orthodoxy something that it had lost. 

Our Community is dedicated to the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea. 2025 will be the 1700th anniversary of the Council, and an international commemoration of the Council is being planned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Roman Catholic Church. This will attract worldwide attention. Now is the time for our Community to capitalise on this by carrying out a ten-year plan to fundraise for and build the new church on the future Waitrose/Percy Throwers site across the Oteley Road from our present church. His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios has graciously consented to become a Patron of the Appeal, and we have also written to His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomeos. Our letter to the Patriarch is currently being translated into Greek; it will then be sent to Constantinople by Archbishop Gregorios together with his wholehearted endorsement. 

We have set up an Appeal Foundation Trust to oversee the work of 

the former Appeal Committee, now renamed the Appeal Project Team, in fundraising approximately £1.3m for the building of the new church proper and then for the sums required for interior 

decoration, other necessary facilities and landscaping. The Appeal Foundation will supply governance to the project; secure the funds raised; send annual reports to, and liaise with, the Charity Commission; and satisfy all legal requirements. Its members are: Nicholas Moore (Chairman), Aleks Stojanovic (Treasurer), Larissa Butler, David Lewis and Yianna Vanezi. As President of the Board I shall be an ex-officio member, and Fr Stephen will also attend its meetings. 

The Appeal Project Team will be directed by the Appeal Foundation trustees. The team’s members are: Fr Stephen, Fr Panteleimon, Liz Asser, Phoebe Cartwright, John Tierney and me. Preparatory work will be completed by October, and in the meantime regular reports will be given to the Community. 

Now for some very good news indeed. An anonymous donation of perhaps up to c£90,000 is being made by a member of the Community. The donation will be unfettered; that is, we can spend it as we wish (within reason!) but we hope that the Board will agree that this sum should be set aside towards the purchase of the site for the new church. This most generous donation will not only give us a flying start in our fundraising Appeal, but will also show folk outside our Community that we are doing something for ourselves and not relying solely on external support. 

As for the community hall, which is planned for the site and which we would wish to use, an agreement has been signed by Shropshire Council and the developers. A £400,000 development contribution has been agreed towards the cost of building the hall. Land Improvement Holdings, the developers of the site, have submitted a plan identifying two possible locations for the community hall and church, and will inform us in which location, east or west of the retail outlet, land will be identified. The Project Team feels that land on the western side of the retail development of the new Waitrose and Percy Throwers, though not quite as attractive as the eastern (residential) side, will be suitable for a church, as well as considerably cheaper to purchase. A final feasibility study and business plan for the community hall will be produced by the end of March 2016 by the South Shrewsbury community centre working group, and we shall be closely involved in this process. 

Negotiations with the developers for the purchase of the land will be the responsibility of Fr Panteleimon and me. The following actions will be completed over the summer in advance of our purchasing the land and launching the Appeal: 

1. drawing up list of key contacts to build our database; 

2. Participating in the tendering process for feasibility study for Community Centre; 

3. Settling on a working full final cost figure for the entire Appeal, and consider how it should be phased; 

4. Website: obtaining tenders, choosing firm to set up and manage website; and 

5. Brochure design template for a suite of future brochures, starting with a general appeal brochure. 

What we need from all of you at this moment are your prayers; but over the summer we shall also be calling upon your active support and expertise, particularly from those of you who have real computer skills! 

Michael Asser, June 2015

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