The 'Jesus Army Charitable Trust' (JACT) which recently became a fully fledged - tax exempt charity, has been formed to oversee the development and running of the Jesus Fellowship's forthcoming 'Jesus Centres'. The Fellowship plan to create Jesus Centres in towns and cities scattered around the country.
The first to fully open is in Coventry, officially opened in April 2002. In Northampton a pilot Jesus Centre project opened within a small shop premises in 2001, as a forerunner to the much larger centre under construction in a derelict cinema nearby.
The multi-million pound funding for the projects, is being raised by donations to JACT's 'Heartcry Appeal'. The centres are planned as Worship Centre's for the fellowship and Day Centre's for the needy. They are also aimed to be used as conference centres and meeting halls and to be let out for use by local community groups.
Jesus Centre website : www.jesuscentre.org.uk
Charity Commision : Jesus Army Charitable Trust registration
With weeks to go until the opening of the second of the Jesus Fellowship's 'Jesus Centres' in Northampton, plans are already under way for the groups third Jesus Centre, this time in a prime location in Central London.
All Saints House, at 82 Margaret Street, London (W1) is currently being pursued by the fellowship for purchase and conversion. The building already has a long religious history, having been used for over a hundred years by the parish of the nearby All Saints Church (opposite the building) for various religious groups, gatherings and administrative work.
All Saints Church currently lease the property from the owners, the St Andrews Holborn Church Foundation. And having been alerted by the trustees of the foundation in June 2004 that they intended to sell the property for £2.4 million to the Jesus Army, the parish of All Saints launched a campaign to raise funds to be able to secure the building for themselves in order to continue the work of the Parish at All Saints House.
Within the two weeks available to them, by the beginning of July, the Parish of All Saints managed to secure the required £2.4 million in order to put in an equivalent bid for the property, money was raised by means of pledges, donations and bank loans.
At the trustees meeting at the beginning of July, when a decision was expected to be made as to who would purchase the building, the trustees decided to defer their decision to a later date, and have not yet decided which of the two prospective purchasers to sell the building to.
Meanwhile, members of the Parish of All Saints continue to pray that the building will remain with them, as a focal point of their work, whilst Jesus Fellowship members have been encouraged to pray that the building will become theirs for a future Jesus Centre. Whether the future of the building will be decided by prayer, or by competitive bidding, only the trustees know.
The first fellowship run Jesus Centre opened in Coventry in early 2002. Based in a converted garage near to Coventry city centre, the building is not just a place of worship for the group, but also provides other facilities. The centre is staffed by two paid fellowship members, whilst the rest of the staff work as unpaid volunteers.
'The Bridge drop-in centre' is run by the fellowship within the building to help the homeless and other members of the community. Providing washing, showering and laundry facilities to those that need them. A café within the centre provides subsidised food for visitors with breakfasts available for as little as 50p. Other facilities within the building include a meeting hall, available for hire by community groups and IT equipment donated by BT's Community Connection scheme
During the first six months of opening, the centre received hundreds of visitors. Served over two and a half thousand breakfasts, and have had more than 50 visitors to the centre attend Jesus Fellowship meetings. The success of the centre in helping to recruit new members into the fellowship within Coventry has no doubt contributed to the set-up of another community household within the city.
Recent visitors to the centre have included The Mayor of the city, and a thief who stole collection money!
Coventry Jesus Centre Community Website
Upper Springs Website : Profile of Coventry Jesus Centre
Michael Partridge Architect : Coventry Jesus Centre
Photographs taken at : The Bridge Drop-in
ICCoventry 07/07/2004 : Centre brought me back from the brink
Michael Partridge Architect, Newspaper Clipping 02/01/2003 : Praise For Conversion
Coventry Evening Telegraph 27/10/2001 : Would-be helpers need help
01/07/2002 : COMPUTER BOOST FOR COMMUNITY CONNECTION WINNERS
27/06/2002 : BACON, EGGS AND FRIENDSHIP
29/04/2002 : DROP-IN CENTRE SET TO OPEN
02/02/2002 : ALL ARE WELCOME AT CHURCH'S NEW CENTRE
29/10/2001 : WOULD BE HELPERS NEEDED
In Northampton, the derelict Cannon Cinema (previously called the Savoy) situated on Abington Square in the town centre has been purchased by the group to become a Jesus Centre.
The Cinema had not been used since is closure in 1995. It is a Grade II Art Deco Listed building, with a protected balcony. It is also one of only a handful of buildings remaining in the country which contained an operational rising organ on a platform in front of the stage. The organ has since been removed, but the raising mechanism is still in place. Planning permission has been granted on the condition that the platform mechanism is kept in place. Other conditions include the restoration of parts of the building, and keeping the projection room and equipment intact.
After months of wrangling over planning permission, and listed building consent. Work has now begun to convert the building into Northampton Jesus Centre, AKA 'Northampton Community Theatre & Conference Centre' AKA 'The Deco'. One of the foyers within the building is already being used for fellowship meetings some Sundays.
The plans for the conversion include treatment areas, offices, computer rooms, cafe, kitchen/servery, and a laundry. The main auditorium is large enough to be used for gatherings of around 900 people. Further rooms include the 150 seat 'Sheffield Suite', the 400 capacity 'London Lounge' an open floor area suitable for conference, wedding reception, concerts and discos. Also the smaller 'Birmingham Room' a seminar room suitable for upto 20 people.
Within a few days of its purchase, the Jesus Army's characteristic 'red cross' logo had been painted high up at the front of the building making it obvious to passers by who the new owners were. The hand painted logo has since been whitewashed over, soon to be replaced by a large permanent cross as a centre piece of the façade. Graffiti has also plagued the building over recent years, with the fellowship under instruction from the council to ensure its removal.
The original application for the Cinema project had been rejected by Northampton Borough Councils planning committee. The committees concerns related to the current transport infrastructure surrounding the cinema, taking into consideration the number of Jesus Army busses likely to be within that area of town during services and meetings. An appeal by the group saw environment secretary John Prescott overturn the decision, saying that the building could be converted. Since then, various delays and unforeseen problems with the building have stretched the fellowships budget, leading to changes to the plans for the building being made, with further planning applications submitted.
The opening of Northampton Jesus Centre is scheduled for 30 October 2004.
Northampton Jesus Centre website, AKA :
Northampton Jesus Centre website, AKA : Northampton Community Theatre
Insulating the Cinema : a FoamSpray Case Study
University of Leicester : Archaeological Services survey of the Cannon Cinema (PDF format)
Northampton Chronicle and Echo 06/01/2004 : Around the curves
Gotch Saunders & Surridge 10/09/2003 : Former Cinema to Become Christian Centre
Northampton Chronicle and Echo 05/09/2003 : Builders all fired up for work on Cannon
BBC Northmptonshire News 31/05/2002: Future of Cinema Unveiled
14/09/2004 : LETTERS PAGE - LACK OF VENUES FOR AMATEUR DRAMA
26/06/2004 : JESUS CENTRE IS BACK ON TARGET
26/06/2004 : STAGE OF THE STONES AND THE BEATLES
14/06/2004 : AUTUMN OPENING FOR JESUS CENTRE
09/11/2002 : LETTERS PAGE - IT'S TIME TO BE MORE POSITIVE
04/11/2002 : THE NORTHAMPTON CHRONICLE AND ECHO SAYS...
04/11/2002 : CINEMA DISREPAIR IS A DISGRACE, 'ARMY' TOLD
01/11/2002 : DELAY AT OLD CINEMA
24/06/2002 : JESUS ARMY'S LAND OF MILK AND COFFEE...
05/06/2002 : JESUS ARMY INVITES PUBLIC IN TO NEW HQ
16/05/2002 : ARMY ON MARCH TO SEE CANON
31/11/2001 : CRACKS THWART JESUS ARMY'S CENTRE PLANS
22/02/2001 : CINEMA PLAN GETS GO AHEAD
16/02/2001 : REVEALED: JESUS ARMY'S VISION OF FORMER CINEMA
12/02/2001 : ARMY PLEDGES TO LEAVE CINEMA INTERIOR INTACT
02/02/2001 : CINEMA CONVERSION COULD BEGIN IN JUNE
17/10/2000 : JESUS ARMY PLAN FOR WORSHIP SITE
18/08/2000 : TALKS DELAY JESUS CENTRE PROJECT
07/07/2000 : CINEMA WILL BECOME A CENTRE FOR WORSHIP
09/06/2000 : ARCHITECTS OF MUSIC VENUE ARE HIRED BY JESUS ARMY
31/03/2000 : LETTERS PAGE - HERE'S WHY OLD CINEMA LAY DISUSED FOR SO LONG
30/03/2000 : MP CALLS FOR CHECKS ON CANNON PLAN
25/03/2000 : STRICT TIMETABLE NEEDED FOR CANON REFIT - MP
24/03/2000 : CINEMA BOUGHT BY SECT
18/03/2000 : LETTERS PAGE - BRING NEW LIFE TO TOWN, BUT NOT ANOTHER PUB
18/03/2000 : LETTERS PAGE - RETIRE GRACEFULLY
16/03/2000 : CINEMA PLAN FACES DELAY
26/01/2000 : SECT RECIEVES CINEMA SET-BACK IN PUB BID
25/01/2000 : LETTERS PAGE - CINEMA BUILDING SAVED
14/01/2000 : JESUS FELLOWSHIP WINS BID TO CONVERT CINEMA
14/01/2000 : CENTRE WILL HELP ELDERLY AND HOMELESS PEOPLE
24/11/1999 : LIB DEM BACKS JESUS ARMY BID
10/08/1999 : JESUS ARMY TO FIGHT FOR DAY CENTRE PLAN
13/07/1999 : JESUS ARMY HAS PLAN FOR CINEMA
Parking on land adjacent to the cinema has also been as issue.
30/07/2002 : END OF THE ROAD FOR PARKERS
21/06/2002 : PARKING LOOPHOLE CLOSED BY 'ARMY'
21/05/2002 : TOPPS-FREE ZONE IS EXEMPT FROM TICKETS
08/08/2001 : JESUS ARMY HAS TOPPS-FREE ZONE
A Jesus Centre Pilot project opened in 2001 within a small shop premises along side the Cannon cinema. The small shop premises, is the forerunner for the main Northampton Jesus Centre, offering refreshments, cheap food, haircuts, and internet access to visitors.
Northampton Chronicle and Echo 01/03/2004 :
Burglar looking for place to stay
23/07/2001 : SHOP WILL GIVE TASTE OF THINGS TO COME…