New church to serve incoming Bordon residents
The Rev Dom Clarke, outside Mustang's in Bordon, where the fledgling church is now meeting
CHRISTIANS are joining forces to create a brand new church in the heart of Bordon, to serve an influx of 10,000 people.
Worshippers from local churches want to support newcomers who will move into the 3,500 new homes planned as part of a huge regeneration of the town.
The town is set to almost double in size over the next 15 years, as part of the development of its former army barracks. The regeneration also includes two new schools, a new town centre, green space and a new bypass.
And right in the heart of that regeneration will be this group of churchgoers, who have already started meeting and praying regularly for their new neighbours.
They have called themselves ‘Beacon’ and aim to be ready to offer help as the first new families move in from this summer. They’ll be offering to host social events and family activities so the new residents can get to know each other.
The Rev Dom Clarke, vicar of Blackmoor, Whitehill and Greatham, has been seconded to work for a day a week to lead this fledgling church.
He said: “The area is largely wasteland at the moment, but by 2019-20, the first phase of housing and the town centre will be finished. We wanted to be ready for that moment, and so a group of us are meeting fortnightly, worshipping and working out how best to serve this new community.
“We really fortunate to be meeting in Mustang’s, which is the old army social club. It’s right next to what will be the new town centre, and the building is being redeveloped, so we can be ready for whatever is built around it.
“We are calling ourselves ‘Beacon’ because we want to be a beacon at the centre of the new town, offering light to the local community. We want it to be something different from the churches that are already in Bordon, serving those who’ll be working in the new town centre or going to the new schools and youth hub which will be across the road from us. So a café-style ministry seems like one likely avenue.
“We suspect that the new families are likely to be younger, on average, than the existing population, so we want to appeal to that age group. It’s a dream for a vicar to be able to create a brand new church in a new community, and I know I’m going to enjoy it!”
Bordon had been a garrison town since the 1920s, with three sets of barracks in and around the town. The army started to move out several years ago, and the barracks have been empty since 2015.
The Whitehill and Bordon Regeneration Company was appointed to develop all three sites, using three different building companies. They are now two years into a 15-year project which will transform the town. As well as the new homes, there will be 80 new shops with underground parking, a cinema, a health centre, and primary and secondary schools.
The town is in the parish of St Mark’s Church, Bordon, in Guildford diocese. Because Dom Clarke was already studying for a Masters in pioneer ministry, it made sense for him to take the lead in pioneering new ways to offer mission and ministry. It has meant co-operation between the Church of England dioceses of Portsmouth and Guildford, as Dom’s existing parishes are actually in Portsmouth diocese.
Dom is leading a church planting group of around 15, which includes worshippers from Anglican churches in Liphook, Bordon and Blackmoor, as well as some Methodists, Presbyterians, and some from the nearby Acorn Christian Healing Centre.