Bishop Paul Reid, leader of Grace Tabernacle – a church founded in 1970 by his late father, Bishop Joseph Reid – is looking forward to his congregation holding worship services in their recently bought church.
Situated in the heart of Croydon, Bishop Reid is overseeing the renovation of Charis House, Grace Tabernacle’s new church home.
The building, bought for £1.85m last year, has a 300-seater hall, and rooms that can host community activities.
Major building renovation has been financed by a loan from the Pentecostal Credit Union, and a £1.1m loan from Unity Trust Bank, which has enabled the church to pay off a bridging loan that carried a crippling rate of interest.
Bishop Reid said: “Due to some reports, people believe we received a £1m grant. That is not the case. We have a loan for which we are grateful, as it greatly reduced our monthly payments, but we still need to pay it off.”
The church had applied to and were turned down for a loan by several banks. The Unity Trust Bank approved their application. Bishop Reid said: “Unity Bank stated, ‘We like the community aspect of your work.’”
Prior to moving into their current building, the GT congregation worshipped at Harris Academy. However, they were unable to run the community services for which they were renowned, as they had done at their previous premises, Parchmore Road Community Centre in Thornton Heath.
Bishop Reid explained: “The church has always been community-facing. During the holidays, we put on summer camp; in February/March, we put on revision classes for children facing exams, and also ran a Saturday school.”
After buying Charis House, Grace Tabernacle had to overcome opposition from the locals, who weren’t happy about a Black Pentecostal church moving into the area. Bishop Reid had to attend a council meeting to fight for the church’s right to worship in the building. The council found in their favour.
During lockdown, GT held online services, and they were able to run a socially distanced summer camp for 45 children and teenagers.
The church aims to resume normal services soon, and have applied to be a contact centre, where parents, who don’t live with their children, can spend time with them.
The journey to buying and moving into the church has not been easy. However, Bishop Reid says he has learnt a valuable spiritual lesson: “There’s no guarantee that, just because you are fulfilling God’s purpose, it doesn’t mean that it will be an easy process.”