For a church that has no building, the community at St Luke’s Boscoppa have enviable energy and enthusiasm. You only need to have a look at their Facebook page to see how they have just completed a 10k in 10 days challenge to start to raise £160,000 for their hoped-for Prayer Hut (subject to planning permission).

Like everything at St Luke’s, the Prayer Hut started with prayer. Prayer is everything for this community. Yes, they have high energy and a go-getting attitude, but nothing is done, reached or aimed for without a bedrock of prayer.

“Prayer is all we have,” says Revd Jules Williams. “We certainly don’t have any money, so if the Prayer Hut costs £1k or £160K, the only way we’re going to be able to build it is through prayer.”

Why a Prayer Hut?

Based in Bishop Bronescombe C of E Primary School, St Luke’s have nowhere to go during term time for their all-essential prayer times. The school is bursting at the seams and it’s hard to find any discrete spaces during the school day for added support for children who are struggling, prayer ministry for staff or the mentoring programme run by Emma Antoniou. Emma is churchwarden and school chaplain; for a fuller picture of what she does, including running Kidsmatter and the mentoring scheme, read the article here. The Prayer Hut will be a purpose-built hut, in the grounds of the school, set apart from daily school activities but still very much part of the community.

“We really want people to have a sense of God’s presence when they walk into the hut,” says Jules. “It will be soaked in prayer and be a restful, calm space where children can go for their mentoring sessions, or teachers can call in to be prayed for. If it became an over-spill staff room, classroom or time-out space for misbehaviour, the associations wouldn’t always be positive. It’s really important that the Prayer Hut is a Holy space, a space within but away from the everyday.”

“We really want people to have a sense of God’s presence when they walk into the Prayer Hut,” says Jules…Its really important that the Prayer Hut is a Holy space, a space within but away from the everyday.

Enticing youth to a cool looking hut is easier than to a school hall

The team also want to be able to run youth projects from the Prayer Hut. Bishop Bronescombe is surrounded by housing estates that have suffered over the years from a lack of grassroots provision and community spaces. There is nowhere to meet, apart from the school, which has limited appeal for young people. It would be far easier to encourage them to join a youth project from a cool looking hut, than (probably) their old primary school hall.

And the provisional designs for the Prayer Hut are very cool. The team were blessed with an amazing offer from ISO Spaces. In exchange for waiting a little longer as a new person would be working on the designs, they could have the designs for free. To ensure a genuine sense of ownership by the wider community, views and opinions are being taken into account from local residents and families at Bishop Bronescombe – what are their hopes for how it will look and be used. So far the designs are coming up to the mark, “They are so good, really well thought through – we are so pleased with them!” You can see the full plans here

Having the plans for free was one thing but getting planning permission is expensive, often costing more than a thousand pounds. On a zoom call six week ago, Emma and Jules explained they weren’t sure how they were going to raise the funds, “Who wants to give money to process an application?” Quite a lot of people it seems.

Give a Little, and help raise £10k in 10 days 

Raising 10k

Team effort to raise £10k in 10 days for the Prayer Hut

Hence the 10k in 10 days. At the time of writing the weather is hot, not ideal for so much sporting activity, but they’re on their way. Their community ran, cycled, swam over 10 days for sponsorship and so far have raised £3660.60.

For donations for this project, and more generally, St Luke’s Boscoppa are using a great scheme called Give a Little. Treasurer Andrew Keast arranged it through the Parish Buying facility, with help from the Diocesan Stewardship team and the Atlantic Coast Cluster. He says, “It was pretty easy to set up, using a video provided by Parish Buying. It allows people to Gift-Aid and it’s really simple to get the information needed for HMRC.”

All pretty impressive for a church that has no church and no money – everything they have left over at the end of each year they have given away. But what they do have is prayer and hopefully, they will soon have a hut to nurture and grow that prayer even more.

If you want to help this praying community to have the Prayer Hut they really need, please follow the link to make a donation. Give a Little