City Gates church opens new building with ‘homecoming’ ceremony in Ilford
- Credit: Archant
A church unveiled its brand new building at an opening ceremony after seven years of worshipping at a cinema.
More than a 1,000 people attended the City Gates opening in Clements Road, Ilford, to celebrate the completion of the £9million project.
The church is now finally able to move from Cineworld, in the same street, to its new state-of-the-art building – funded completely by the church and the congregation.
Guests, including Redbridge Mayor Cllr Gurdial Bhamra, enjoyed services and performances before a meal and an evening celebration.
“This is indeed a great achievement,” said Cllr Bhamra, addressing the congregation. “What is more remarkable is your dedication, hard work and generosity to raise over £9m to rebuild the church.
“In front of me I see a family of people who are passionate about their faith and want to do everything to enrich the community.”
Speaking after the event Pastor Rev Stephen Derbyshire said he had an “amazing time”.
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“It was fantastic, the mayor was really taken aback with it,” he said. “It’s the nicest building in Ilford – it has the nicest auditorium, with everything from the sound and the lighting – it’s like a theatre.”
The project suffered a major setback four years ago, when the initial building collapsed.
“It’s been a long journey,” added Mr Derbyshire. “Just to get in our own building again and have our sense of identity as a church is great.
“Everyone’s made a sacrifice to get to where we are today.”
The new five-storey building boasts a large auditorium, office space, children’s facilities and its own coffee shop.
The pastor, who has written a book – Out of the Ruins – about the disaster, said it was an historic moment for the Elim Pentecostal church, which started about 90 years ago in a tin shack.
He added: “It feels like we’re coming home.”