Dorchester Community Church… is the first and (so far) only Church on Poundbury, Prince Charles’ initiative of 25 years ago. Initially with no plans for any Church it is quite remarkable to find ourselves where we are now, and with HRH opening our new building back in November 2018. We can now officially claim, “As seen on TV!”
The Church was birthed as ‘Acland Hall’ back in 1897, and for over 100 years operated out of an ever-dilapidated building in Acland Road, behind Waitrose in the centre of Dorchester. Don’t bother trying to find it because it was quickly demolished and turned into extra car parking no sooner than we’d moved geographically a mile up the road to Poundbury. How insightful for the Trustees back in 1904 to build in that possibility that, if it was ever felt right, the Church could relocate up to a radius of 2 miles! “Without a vision people…?!”
It was in 2004 that the Church of 48 strong appointed their first ever Pastor, Roger Frapwell, and soon after a mission statement was established, “Celebrating and Sharing the Love of God”, drawn from Jesus’ greatest commandment and his great commission and it was this community thrust that saw the Church beginning to re-think their purpose and especially their engaging with the local community.
Now with a Membership of around 150 and in a brand-new building more than double the size of the previous one, this really is an exciting time. We have tried to re-think Church and have developed what we call a variety of ‘menu options’ over a weekend. We have three ‘main courses’ which means that each week there are 3 different styles of Church looking at the same theme.
The shop window for the Church is our brand-new Cafe facility. We take part in what’s called ‘Food Share’, run a befriending scheme called ‘Dorchester Friends in Deed’, host ‘Boomerang Bags’, and have a Puppets team, as well as some of the usual ministries such as Toddler Group, games afternoons, senior citizens teas (FOCUS), youth club etc. We also have about 40 charities that use our building. Oh… and in case this sounds like the perfect Church we are also pretty real… so we aren’t happy with the prayer life of the Church, there are too few in our LIFE Groups, not enough volunteers to open the Cafe more than 50% of the time, and lack of finance meant that we couldn’t renew the contract of our excellent Children & Families Worker. Then there are the various ‘people problems’… ok let’s not go there!! The Church is in great heart and we have felt very blessed by a very faithful God, but we are aware that this is just the beginning. The best I’m sure is yet to come.