Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Bristol opens youth-focused church for its city center

Closed after being damaged during the Second World War, St Nicholas will serve the city’s under-30 population

The Church of England has reopened a church in the center of Bristol to cater to the neighborhood’s under 30 majority population. Closed following a bombing raid during the Second World War, St Nicholas Church held its first Sunday service on 30 September 2018. The new vicar, the Rev. Topy Flint, served his curacy at Holy Trinity Brompton in the Diocese of London and for the past six years has been the parish’s lead pastor for Alpha Ministries.

St Nicholas was damaged during the war and was closed by the Diocese of Bristol. It was leased to Bristol City Council and reopened as a museum. After the museum closed it served as a Tourist Information Center and then as city offices. The cost to refurbish St Nicholas is estimated to be £3.8m. A Strategic Development Funding grant of £1.5m from the Church of England has been awarded to support the project.

The Diocese hopes St Nicholas will be a “resourcing” church, reaching out to those with no connection to the Church of England. “We’re really excited to have been invited to reopen and restore St Nicholas Church to its original purpose, demonstrating the love of God,” Mr. Flint said.

“We want to build on the deep foundations of faith in the city, to reimagine church for a new generation and play our part in meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged in Bristol,” he said in a statement released by the diocese.

“Over the past few years, there’s been a huge influx of students and young professionals into the city centre, but there are also real social challenges, such as homelessness, drug addiction and mental health issues.

“Many young people are exploring questions about their meaning and purpose but don’t have a place to discuss them. We’d love St Nicholas to be a pressure-free space where people can explore faith for themselves.”

The Rt. Rev. Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon said: “As Bristol becomes younger and more diverse, we are looking to make a difference to the city which will last and spread out. We are confident that St Nicholas will affect people’s lives for the better and contribute to social transformation.

“St Nicholas is a significant example of the way in which we are developing our commitment to introduce more people to the Christian faith, engage younger generations and connect with the communities of our changing city.”

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