Harpenden Salvation Army ready to serve town in new building

published on 21 Oct 2019

Harpenden new building

The fully accessible and versatile church and community centre features compelling stained-glass window designed by local school student.

The redeveloped Harpenden Salvation Army on Leyton Green has officially opened following a £1.1 million building project funded through donations from Salvation Army members, the public, legacies, grants, trust funds and fundraising events.

Colonels Lee and Debbie Graves, senior leaders for The Salvation Army in the UK and Republic of Ireland, led a dedication ceremony on Saturday 12 October and worship on Sunday 13 October. On the evening of Saturday 12 October, the church and community centre opened its doors for a musical festival featuring Harpenden Salvation Army’s brass bands and choirs.

Key features of the fully accessible and versatile building include:

  • Two multi-purpose rooms, one with a kitchenette, the other with access to a commercial kitchen;
  • Two meeting rooms, which are already being used by Harpenden Citizen’s Advice Bureau on Mondays and Thursdays;
  • A vaulted worship hall, featuring a stained-glass window, suitable for services and concerts.

Captain Kenneth Guest from Harpenden Salvation Army said:

“Everyone who has seen the building so far has loved that it is modern, accessible, bright, light and airy. We are extremely fortunate and blessed.

“This is the culmination of a huge amount of work by many people, both within our church and in the community. People have been incredibly generous and supportive. 

“We must say a special thank you to our neighbours. The building works have been unavoidably disruptive and they have seen it through with grace. 

“This building will give us the opportunity to give something back to the people of Harpenden and be there for the people who need us.”

Fundraising highlights include Captain Kenneth’s sky dive in April 2018. He raised £4,000 for the commercial kitchen that now sits at the heart of the new centre.

Captain Kenneth added:

“Our previous building was so tired, inaccessible and awkwardly laid out. 

“Christmas Day was especially difficult as we had to help our guests negotiate the stairs when many of them are older people with mobility issues. We also had to transport a hundred hot roast dinners, cooked in a tiny kitchen, from one end of the building to the other. This year, we will be able to offer a more welcoming and relaxing experience to scores of people who may otherwise spend Christmas Day alone.”

Major contributors to the project include Harpenden Trust, Harpenden Helping Hand, Mainrock Harpenden and The Bradbury Trust.

While a number of programmes are currently in the final stages of development, Harpenden Salvation Army has already been able to launch new partnerships. Citizen’s Advice Bureau is now offering a drop-in and appointment service every Monday and Thursday between 10am and 1pm at The Salvation Army.

Harpenden Salvation Army hopes its new building will become a community hub bustling with facilities and programmes that offer practical, emotional and spiritual support. 

Programmes in development include:

  • A community restaurant
  • A toddler café
  • Lego Club
  • Who Let the Dad’s Out? – a space for dads, father figures and their children to have fun together
  • A craft and coffee group

Anyone looking to donate, volunteer or engage with any programmes can contact harpenden@salvationarmy.org.uk and 01582 469399 or find The Salvation Army Harpenden on Facebook.

School student’s stained-glass window provides striking visual centrepiece

Each year, St George’s School in Harpenden runs an inter-house art competition. In 2017, the brief was to design a stained-glass window for The Salvation Army’s new worship hall.

Felicity White, a year 12 student at the time, won the competition. Over the past two years, Felicity has worked closely with The Salvation Army and Reading Stained Glass to see her design realised.

This month, Felicity, now aged 18, will start studying for a history degree at the University of Cambridge. Before she left home, she was given a preview of the finished window.

She said:

“I’m really pleased with how it came out. It’s been a really collaborative project. It’s been such a privilege.”

Felicity researched the beliefs and work of The Salvation Army for inspiration for the window. Central to her design is a representation of the Trinity: a dove for the Holy Spirit, a cross for Jesus and a hand for God the Father.

Felicity explained:

“The work of The Salvation Army is so inspirational and in the design I think the hand of God is a subtle nod to their work. The Salvation Army can be seen as an outreach of God’s love as they try to lift up and help people in need.”

Bethany Community Church made a significant contribution to the cost of the window.

Neil Chitty, lead elder from Bethany Community Church, said:

“We don’t have a building ourselves – we are looking for and raising money for our own building – but at the same time we want to sow into other church building projects. There’s one Church – we’re part of the same family.”

There is a strong partnership between churches in Harpenden. Church leaders meet every month to pray together and explore how they can support each other and serve the town.

Neil added:

“It’s a real blessing to see Kenneth’s vision and courage. He’s a great guy and we’re thrilled for him.”