After almost 2 years of searching and 1 year of negotiations and patiently waiting, the congregation of St Augustine’s Church, Canterbury have had their offer to purchase a former Methodist Chapel in the village of Painters Forstal, just outside Canterbury, finally accepted.

On Ascension Day, 25th May, Bishop Damien Mead received confirmation that Kingdom Bank, a Christian Bank, had agreed a mortgage in principle to enable the congregation to buy the building.

The current home for St Augustine’s is a former Brethren Meeting House / Chapel, in central Canterbury, which the congregation has leased for the past 10 years at a commercial rent.

Commenting on the news, Bishop Mead said, a combination of increasing parking charges in the City car parks, the high rent and a need for better stewardship of our resources, strongly indicated to us the need to find a new home. Bishop Mead went on to explain how things developed. ?When we began to look, we originally confined ourselves to other rented properties. Although our income is relatively generous and has created stability for us in Canterbury, we lacked the money necessary to put towards a commercial deposit. With property in SE England among the highest priced in the UK, we didn’t think we would ever save enough. However in 2015 I received a letter from a Solicitor acting as the executors of an estate in which St Augustine’s had been left a legacy.

We are so grateful that somehow our faithful witness to the Faith of Christ was recognised by this lady and she decided to help us. This money enabled us to look in earnest and widen our search to include property for sale.

A chance email to the Methodist Church in London asking if they had any Churches or Chapels for sale in Kent resulted in a member of staff responding that he was personally aware of a Chapel near Canterbury that was coming up for sale. I made local inquiries and discovered that the Chapel, although indeed for sale, was to be purchased by the local community for continued use as a village hall, which the Methodists had allowed for many years. Worship having stopped 8 years ago in the building. I therefore reluctantly withdrew because I didn’t want to undermine local community efforts.

A year later I discovered that the money the Local Community had been able to raise fell short of the asking price and the building was once again available. Unfortunately our first offer was not accepted and the Methodist Church determined to maximise the financial return on the building by Auction – in accordance with their obligations to both the Church and the Charity Commissioners regulations. One of our fears had been that we could not compete with interest from property developers! I therefore increased our offer to the maximum we could afford … and offered a lot of prayers! Amazingly they reversed their decision and accepted our offer. The Mortgage proved a little difficult until Kingdom Bank came to the rescue!

But why a Pro-Cathedral ??

Apparently some people locally have over the years delighted in mocking our referring to our little shoe-box sized Church in the city centre as a cathedral. Of course a cathedral is so named because it houses a bishops cathedra (his throne or seat).

A pro-cathedral is simply any church used as a cathedral by a bishop until a more permanent or suitable church is built. Its rights and privileges are identical with those of a cathedral. Thank you for your continued prayers.

The Future…

The congregation hope to complete the purchase in September and relocate their services before Christmas.

Crucially their offer has had an impact on the money they had earmarked for the redecoration and refurbishment of the building. They now need to raise money for new heating, lighting and carpeting.