HOPE REFORMED BAPTIST CHURCH
A major renovation project has recently been undertaken at the chapel, and we asked the church officers to write a report giving details of the progress to date:
"It has proved hard to summarise in a short report all the events in these past four years save to say that at crucial times the GBTC have encouraged our church by their responsible oversight, prayer, advice and support. The provision of the building condition survey commission by the Corporation in 2004 gave us an invaluable tool. Zoar Chapel is a grade 2 listed building of local historic interest and in April 2006 a conditional grant was offered by Gravesham Council. As with many complex repairs to old buildings estimates had doubled by December 2006, when a timely invitation to apply for a grant was received the day before members were invited to approve the new costs!
"We were delighted to see scaffolding go up just after Easter 2007, and to be encouraged in the knowledge that GBTC had made a generous grant to help with the increased costs. During the next few months, blessed with dry weather, we were able to see the dangerous cornices made safe and reformed to match the original Victorian design. Work was suspended during the winter but we look forward to completing all works when spring weather permits in 2008."
2008 update: In October the church held a Welcome and Induction Service for the new pastor, Stephen Lloyd. The church also reports:
"We have gradually moved forward this year and scaffolding which has been around the building most of this summer has just been removed. The work was not part of the original restoration plan but resulted from damage caused at Easter 2007 by lead theft. The theft was mainly along a Party Wall we share with our Sikh neighbours who run a day centre and have a store room with pitched roof against our Sunday School wall. Their asbestos roof was also damaged and rendering had to be replaced along the whole of our wall. This took all of 2007 to resolve by which time work was postponed until summer as the whole roof had to be removed from our neighbour's store. It has been a good exercise in patience and prayer and we have had lots of contact with our neighbours, including storing some of their equipment.
"A subsequent upgrade to our neighbour's roof ensures that it is strong enough for us to gain access to our Sunday School roof for any future repairs. In addition we have also had the opportunity to reverse the fall of a gutter and improve any future maintenance by eliminating a complex of rainwater pipes at the back of the building which were almost impossible to reach. In the spring, when installing anti-pigeon deterrents, a significant crack was noticed along the joint where the high level cornices were repaired in 2007; we await further repairs by our builder.
The third aspect of the 2007 restoration project is to restore the Victorian sash windows. The cost of this stage - although considerably higher than when estimated in 2005/2006 - was approved by Hope Church Members in May 2008 but has had to be put on hold until we are clear what proportion of the final costs of the theft damage will be met by insurers. The window repairs will also involve complete re-decoration to protect exposed wood so the work will probably not be possible until spring 2009 when we are clear of winter storms."