St John’s is falling over: Help us to save our church

st-johnsSt John the Evangelist Church in the London suburb of Crystal Palace has a long and rich history; but to have a future, the building needs extensive and urgent repair work.

In a nut-shell, St John’s is falling over.  It has subsidence on an epic scale with cracks in its walls and a constant movement of foundations, which makes the building fragile and vulnerable. Unlike our homes, this trouble is uninsurable despite our fight to convince the insurance company to the contrary. It is now time for us to secure the foundations of the church building so that it can continue to fulfil its role and build on its rich and long tradition as a hub serving the needs of our community through worship, festivals, music, architecture and mission.

St John’s has subsidence on an epic scale with cracks in its walls and a

constant movement of foundations, which makes the building fragile and vulnerable

The history of St John’s:

From an iron ‘church in the woods’ in 1871, the church of St John the Evangelist grew into one of the most significant church buildings in England. Its architect was John Loughborough Pearson who said of his most famous creation, Truro Cathedral: ‘I would build a church in which on entering a man would feel impelled to fall upon his knees.’ With the same end he built St John’s, completed in 1887 it was described as a ‘cathedral’ based in one of London’s smallest parishes.

Its history mirrors that of the area itself, which expanded in size and stature as visitors from all over the world were drawn to admire Joseph Paxton’s monumental glasshouse, The Crystal Palace, after which the area is now named, when it arrived here from Hyde Park in 1854.

15-11-13Alongside its architectural heritage is its musical tradition…. yet, the story of St John’s is one of a place which has been an inspiration and an anchor in its local community – a community drawn from many nations – which makes this church stand out and which we want to ensure for generations to come.

Historically, local residents all gave something to pay for the building of St John’s and locals have supported it as it has supported them through the everyday trials and celebrations of life; not to mention the events of history, and two World Wars.  St John’s opened its doors to local officers during the first world war, loaned an altar and as important, the use of the vicarage bath!  In times of hardship, in particular following its partial destruction during the Blitz, the community came together to unite and raise funds to save this building.

Our church community today:

Today our church community is very similar to the one that began in the woods almost 150 years ago. You can expect to meet anyone and everyone at St John’s – all are welcome, and all have a place for them here.   The Church community continues to play an important role in encouraging others, and in supporting the needs of its local people, visiting dementia patients at the nearby Lakeside Centre, working with the young people at the YMCA, offering up its meadow garden to Crystal Palace Transition Town so that all can learn the skill of growing food.  Musicians from all over the world come here to record and perform in the space which belongs to the people, and which is for the people of this parish. We support food banks, show films as part of the Crystal Palace International Film Festival and bring together people of all social backgrounds, young and old in worship, spiritual direction and prayer, all of us sharing in life and community.

Fundraising so far:

We need £750,000 to save St John’s from falling over. The Heritage Lottery Fund has offered us £63,000 towards the first phase development for the underpinning of the church.  With Phase II support funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, together with other financial support we hover just over the £500,000 mark in our fundraising.  We have set ourselves a target of raising £35,000 in the community.  So far we have raised around £20,000 of this through a sponsored bike ride, night walk and other community fundraising activities.

Technical surveys, investigations and works have already been completed. We will go to tender for the works this year and works are scheduled to begin in April/May 2016

Once the work is complete we will continue to develop our vision for the church as an intergenerational community hub with a wide programme  of events.

Our vision of St John’s: As intergenerational hub for our community:

This is a place for you and for our community!  The church is already unsafe, with the cracks and floors moving and now existing at different levels (that’s not normal). If we do not act soon the continuing damage to the church might become unrepairable and in turn the church may become unfit for use.
At a time when community spaces in our neighbourhood are being hit by the forces of the market and of austerity, and many churches, pubs and other assets are closing down, we want St John’s to remains standing and continue to grow. The energy of the local community has seen this church through many ups and downs and with your help it will continue to do so.

How you can help:

Please donate here to help save St John’s from falling down.

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