Before the iPhone, SnapChat or the internet, there was Kings! Planted in the 80s, in the age of the Rubix Cube, Ceefax and the Commodore 64, Kings Church began in Old Town, in a house, with just eighteen people.
On 4th September 1988 we had our first meeting in Ratton School. We’ve since planted two new venues and in October 2017 we celebrated twenty years since we had our very first Sunday meeting at the Kings Centre.
↑ First meetings in Ratton School, 1988
Back then just 170 adults gave enough money to purchase the Kings Centre for £570,000. Even though we raised the money there were many obstacles to overcome, it was a roller coaster ride and against all the odds. But God came through and we secured the building.
We rattled around in this massive tin shack and set about converting an old carpet warehouse into something much more special. It was just the beginning!
We were driven by a vision. Our founding leader, Don, would regularly warn us that if we didn’t reach young people our church would die out within a generation.
We ran Evolution and brought the kids from the surrounding estates on double-decker buses. We ran Kids Klub and did ‘home visiting’. We ran Sports Klubs, Holiday Clubs and S.T.O.R.M. youth groups (‘Spiritual Teenagers On Radical Mission!’). All of this was week-in, week-out; slowly but surely seeing God work and transform lives. In this a whole host of young people have grown up at Kings, now in their twenties and thirties. Many have their own kids, are sold-out for Jesus and living lives where they’re making a difference in the world around them.
“we’re living downstream of the incredible generosity and vision of those that came before.”
We’ve seen amazing fruit over the last twenty years, and not just in the youth work. In fact, our whole church looks totally different. And while it’s involved the heart and soul of hundreds of amazing volunteers at Kings, over two decades (!), it was all made possible by the pioneers who purchased our first permanent base.
For the hundreds that have joined us since, we’re living downstream of the incredible generosity and vision of those that came before.
↑ 1990: Town Centre outreach and church picnic in Gildredge Park
Churches grow, visions grow
When we first moved into the Centre, it felt massive, and there was 40% of the building we didn’t think we would use. Ever. It’s amazing to think how much things have changed. Now every nook and cranny has been maxed out — the Centre has been a fantastic resource.
And yet we have an opportunity to do so much more with what we already have. With a thoughtful redesign and a change in the way we use the building, we could carve out a tool that will help us be much more effective in reaching Eastbourne.
Over the last twenty years we’ve used Kings as a conference centre, hiring out the rooms and facilities. Last year it contributed £121,000 to our income as a church. But while it’s been amazing in this respect, a conference centre is never going to change the face of Eastbourne. In fact, we increasingly feel it’s now inhibiting our focus.
“We have a big vision: to reach families and eradicate loneliness…”
Questions have been asked: should we move? Should we build a bigger venue, or look for an extra one? When we sought God in this he never spoke about going somewhere else. Our leaders took some time out to go on a retreat in 2016 and felt God speak:
“All that you have is in the house. I gave you the building, it’s now time to start using it in line with the vision.”
We know that right now we are meant to remain at the Kings Centre and pursue the vision here.
Using the building in line with the vision
We have a big vision: to reach families and eradicate loneliness, to give every teenager a second chance and every unborn child the chance of life. It’s time to transform the Centre into a bespoke building tailored to the purposes of God.
The decision has been made: we’re downgrading the conference centre and building a family centre instead. We’ll be taking back the space we’re currently renting out and using it for the mission of the church. On paper it’s a big risk but we know the safest place to be is right at the centre of God’s will — whatever that looks like. But it will require two things from all of us: courage and devotion — the same spirit that marked us out in the early days.
It’s time to upgrade!
The redesign and re-purposing of the building also makes good sense. While the Centre might look okay on the surface, behind the scenes there’s a lot of restoration that needs taking place. Leaking roofs, broken boilers, holes in the sports hall floor… the list is extensive. Everything in the building is at least twenty years old and has come to the end of its life.
So why just reinvest in like for like? People love to upgrade their technology, their houses and cars; and often for good reasons. Families grow, needs change. Now we need to upgrade our building! This is a great time to change gears, re-imagine and go full throttle into the next two decades with a building fully equipped to serve our town and reach people with the good news of Jesus.
The plans for the redevelopment of Kings are currently underway. Watch this space for more information soon!