Ceri's Blog

Ceri is the Chair of our redevelopment committee!

OCTOBER 25th 2020

‘Canton Uniting Church: Growing Together’
Our church poster says, ‘Canton Uniting Church: Growing Together’. For me this is at the heart of what we are trying to do.
We want to grow together as a church, but also grow together with the community - and our garden is a crucial part of this process.
In 2017, we turned a patch of unused land into a garden, and this was the start of something new. It has started to bring some additional colour and beauty into the street. It has been a place where people have stopped to chat to people working there. It gave the church a sense of new possibilities.
Gardens are very important. They are a green lung for the city, helping to clean the air. They provide a habitat for birds and insects. They produce fruit and vegetables for us to enjoy. There is more and more evidence coming that working in the garden, especially in a community garden with other people, can help to improve our mental and physical wellbeing.
The colour most associated with a garden is green. And being more ‘green’ is another of the things that we are trying to achieve for our site. We want it to look significantly greener, but also to be more sustainable. Climate Change is an emergency that is facing the whole world, but is having the biggest impact on the poorest communities. This is an important part of our stewardship of earth’s resources: we want to reduce our carbon footprint in the way we develop our site.
Just over a year ago now, we started to talk together and to our neighbours in Canton about how to develop the site. Over the years, we have explored various ideas, most of them focusing on the building. Having a church garden has given a new impetus to see how we could use the site in a different way. We want to upgrade the buildings, to make them into a welcoming community resource for the playgroups, choirs and other groups that regularly use the church. But we also now have a vision of how we can develop the garden so that it becomes more of a feature and brings even more colour and beauty to the locality.
During the consultation last year, we shared our thoughts and asked for ideas from the community. The general response was to welcome the idea of improving the site by developing not only the buildings but also the garden. Some people asked us to see how we could keep some of the original buildings that were there. Others wanted us to do something different and bold.
We took these ideas and made them part of a brief to find a design team that would work to develop the plans with us. Lockdown slowed our progress, as it has done so many other things. However, we remain hopeful for a future beyond Covid! We have taken the next step of appointing a design team who came to us with exciting ideas, fresh from working with the community on a gardens project in Grangetown. They are Caroe and Partners.
Their team have been out to visit the site and have been working with the small development group, which I chair, to translate our ideas into workable plans.
At the moment, it is difficult to have another face-to-face consultation event. However, I am very excited that we will shortly have some plans that we can share with people.
Please watch this space and keep an eye out for more information about our plans. We hope that you will be as excited as we are about the possibilities and hope that they will help to keep hope alive in our community!

NOVEMBER 26th ‘The light shines in the darkness’

Christmas is one of my favourite times – I love the music and the services we have in church; I love the visits with family and friends; I love the food!
These are all ways in which we light a candle against the dark. The nights have drawn in. The weather is often cold and rainy. In the face of this, we have a candlelit carol service. We meet indoors in the warmth and put fairy lights about the house. We give each other presents as a sign of our love.
These are just some of the ways in which we live out the truth of Christmas: that Christ, the light of the world, has come into our darkness - and the darkness is never able to put that light out!
2020 has been one of the darkest years in my living memory. Centre stage has been the Coronavirus pandemic. For much of the year, we have been in various stages of lockdown. We haven’t been able to meet as a church family or other friends and family as we love to do. We haven’t been able to mark the deaths of our dear friends and family as we would want to. We have experienced deep anxiety. Now we are faced with a Christmas where we have to keep our nerve, and continue to protect ourselves and each other rather than celebrating it together in the way we would like to do.
Now, more than ever, we need something to lighten our darkness!
For me, during this dark year, our church development project has provided a ray of hope. At this advent time, I want to give you an update, which I hope will share some hope and light. Our progress during the year has been a sign of our commitment that we will be together again: to enjoy our church home and to find new ways to be a light for the community.
The first important step forward, was that the church agreed to appoint Caroe and Partners as our design team. We passed on to them the ideas and hopes that had come out of the consultation with church members and the community. Central to this was our idea to develop our garden.
Gardens are very important. They are a green lung for the city, helping to clean the air. They provide a habitat for birds and insects. They produce fruit and vegetables for us to enjoy. There is more and more evidence coming that working in the garden, especially in a community garden with other people, can help to improve our mental and physical wellbeing.
The colour most associated with a garden is green. And being more ‘green’ is another of the things that we are trying to achieve for our site. We want it to look significantly greener, but also to be more sustainable. Climate Change is an emergency that is facing the whole world, but is having the biggest impact on the poorest communities. This is an important part of our stewardship of earth’s resources: we want to reduce our carbon footprint in the way we develop our site.
Since Caroe and Partners were appointed, you probably won’t have heard a lot about what has been happening, but they have been very busy!
They have been working with the small development group, which I chair, to translate our ideas into workable plans. They have been into the church and carried out a full survey so that they can develop accurate plans. They have come up with lots of exciting and interesting ideas.
I have to say, that this process has also been challenging – some of the things that we might most want to do may be too expensive for us! We have to balance our vision with what is realistically achievable. However, I hope that we will find creative ways forward. At the moment, we are trying to finalise some different ‘models’, outline plans, which we can bring to the church. These will help us to take our discussions on a stage further.
We hope to have these plans ready early in the New Year. The deacons will help us to make sure that all the church members can see a copy, either electronically or in hard copy. You will then have an opportunity to think about the plans and talk to each other in your buddy groups. Your lead deacons will want to know what you think and the development group will be setting some questions to help with these conversations.
We are all hoping that 2021 brings new hope. We hope that vaccines will soon be rolled out so that the risks of Coronavirus are minimised and we can start to gather together again. And we hope that we will be able to agree workable but exciting plans for the church site.
We will keep you updated. In the meantime, I hope that this will help light a candle of hope in our church and in our community!