A New Beacon of Hope in Handsworth, by Mandisa Gordon, BBC WM Reporter (Monday, 14 December, 2009)
A beacon of hope has arrived in one of the poorest and most troubled areas of Birmingham.
On Saturday, 12 December 2009 The New Testament Church of God in Handsworth opened its doors to a new multi-million pound state of the art building for the first time. The community church complex is located in the heart of where the 2005 disturbances took place that left two men dead.Thousands attended the opening. The £5.2 million all purpose building has been erected in this inner city area thanks to the determination and shear hard work of members of the church, its supporters and the local community.
An iconic building
“The building stands as a beacon of hope and a light-house in the community. The building is already engaging people of the wider Christian community, the local community, non Christians and other faith institutions. We are already participating in discussions and conversations on how we can engage, and that’s a powerful example of togetherness in that community”.The head of the church, Bishop Derek Webley believes this new iconic building will have a profound impact on the local community, help uplift the area and create harmony. Speaking to Joe Aldred on BBC WM, he said:
You can’t help but be impressed by this 1,100 capacity church as you drive along Lozells road. It has striking and beautiful architectural structure that sets it apart from any other building gracing the skyline of Handsworth.
At its launch the church was packed out with people excited and eager to see what it had to offer, and they were not disappointed as inside was equally striking, with a fantastic auditorium, stage, musical and multimedia facilities, that would be the envy of many other venues in the city.
The New Testament Church of God aims for its new building to have multi-purpose use, and will be encouraging local business and organisations to consider using its facilities. However, the church’s enterprising arm to sustain itself still does not drown out questions of whether in a time of recession it needed to spend millions on its new home.
Bishop Webley responded:
“The church has a right to determine its future, and the money has come from members and friends of the community, and will be paid for by friends and members of the community”.
He also commented on the state of the original building:
“On that site was a building, that could no longer house and accommodate worship, and people from the community”.
Legacy of hope
“Buildings are also iconic statements. The building will stand as legacy of hope to a community.Bishop Webley admitted that when they embarked on the building construction, they never thought it would escalate to £5.2 million, but that this was the reality that they had to deal with. However, he was more focused on the work that needs to done now the church was complete. He said:
“We want what takes place in that building to be about the transformation of people’s lives.
“For me and the ministry team at church and excited about the building, we’re even more excited that resident in the building is the power of the holy spirit, that will help us be engaged in relevant ministry to people”.
Visit the New Testament Church of God Handsworth website to read more about the history of the church and see pictures of the renovation journey.