Members of a 175-year-old church will walk 60 miles so they can complete its stake in an ambitious £8million eight-storey development with affordable flats and a community centre.
The congregation of the Bear Church in Deptford is in a race against the clock to collect the last £32,000 of the £756,000 cost of redeveloping its 1950s building in Frankham Street, Deptford by December 12.
The bulldozed building will be replaced with a new one that has a church, community, exhibition, archive, café and office space on the first two floors. The upper storeys will have flats rented out at London affordable rates.
A group from the church including members of its leadership team – Paul Adlington, Bex Keer and Iain Jones – will make their way on foot from Herne Bay to Deptford over three days beginning on Thursday November 28, and will be joined along the way by local residents and families.
The church’s umbrella arm – The Deptford Ragged Trust – dates back to 1844 when eight Christian men and women from Deptford opened on of London’s first ‘ragged schools’ in a loft above a cowshed on Deptford High Street.
The 60-mile walk will begin at Herne Bay because the seaside town was a favourite destination for day trips for the children from the Deptford Ragged School.
Paul Adlington, who leads The Bear Church, said: “We are proud of the rich history our church has had over 175 years serving south-east London and helping some of our community’s most vulnerable and marginalised people. We really believe in the ambitious plans we have for our building project and are so thankful for the generosity we’ve seen so far from our members and the wider community.
“The Bear Walk is one of a number of fundraising initiatives members of our church have undertaken because we are so excited about what this project could mean for Deptford. We’re looking forward to the 60-mile challenge and the opportunity to celebrate our past, as well as look forward to our exciting future.”
The total project cost of £8 million is to be secured from a number of grants and a mortgage from an ethical bank.
Members and friends of the church have already raised £118,000. Another £604,800 has come in the form of a grant from a trust, which wishes to remain anonymous.
To find out more about The Bear Building Project and sponsor the walk, visit: http://www.thebear.tv/#/bear-building-project/