The current lounge building was constructed in 1949 and opened in 1950. This was the beginning of a new building phase for the Parish of St Paul’s to accommodate the various Sunday School classes, Bible Classes and social groups in the parish. In 1953 the parish hall and administration complex, which then incorporated the lounge was constructed. This gave the Parish more room for its activities.
Instead of relying on other venues, such as the RSA hall, then in Langdons Road, parish events could now be held in its own buildings.
Over the years many Parish activities beside Sunday School were held here, such as Youth Group, Mainly Music, Parish Dinners, monthly breakfasts, and women’s groups. It was used for functions after funerals and weddings and other church events. After the earthquakes the lounge became the place of regular worship while the Church was repaired. Community groups have long used the hall. For many years the Rotary Club and Toastmasters were regular users. Today the building is also very important to LOOP, the youth centre. Other regular users include the Fijian Church (CMFI), St Alban’s Community Choir, Karate Club, Youth Space, St John Youth Division, and dance clubs. That’s not the whole list! At times this is quite a busy place. These days community groups certainly make greater use of the facilities than parish groups.
The hall complex forms part of the outreach and ministry of the parish to the community. Unfortunately there is often little interaction between users and the parish.
After all these years, there is also a need for some major maintenance. The hall roof was replaced in recent years, but the current flat roof over the front part of the complex has major issues and needs to be replaced, preferably with a roof that’s not flat. Other urgent refurbishment is also required. In reality, the Parish does not have the finances for such refurbishments. To preserve options for future generations, we need to retain the viability of the building.
I think that it is therefore important to consider working together with Te Papanui Trust, the property trust of the Youth Centre. It is prepared to expand the partnership with our Parish by taking some long-term interest in the building (such as a long-term lease). It could take over management and maintenance of more of the facilities, while integrating church offices into the centre and allowing church functions to continue.
TPT have access to grants and funding that we as a church could never access. The Trust is working on
concepts and is considering seeking funds to turn the current hall and lounge complex into a facility that could cater to the community. The new building and cooperation could allow St Paul’s to work alongside a proven partner to expand community work, also reducing capital and maintenance costs. I think at the
current time this is a good opportunity to widen our ministry through the building and providing options for the future.