St Clement’s Church on St Clement’s Road in Boscombe is to be relaunched by the same team that revitalised its historic sister church at St Swithun’s in 2014.
Founded in the 1870s, St Clement’s Church is a Grade 1 listed building and its iconic tower has watched over Boscombe for more than a century. In recent years though the church has deteriorated and attendance numbers have fallen, but the remaining faithful have strived to keep the fabric of the building intact and the site open for mission.
Over the last two years Revd Dr Tim Matthews and his team have achieved a transformation at St Swithun’s. Inspired by this and guided by the Bishop of Southampton the PCC and churchwardens of St Clement’s, Boscombe have entered into a new partnership with them to revitalise St Clement’s.
A major aspect of the planned relaunch of St Clement’s is to reach those in the local community who might not otherwise have any contact with the church. Research suggests that Boscombe may be the most deprived area in South West England, with life expectancy for Boscombe residents the worst across Bournemouth. With hundreds living in poverty, a considerable problem for the area is substance abuse and Rev Tim and his team are hoping to emulate in Boscombe the success they’ve had with their ‘Recovery Course’ at St Swithun’s. The course offers help to people struggling with addiction and since it started in February 2015 the programme has helped over 450 people from the area dealing with dependency.
The Rev Dr Tim Matthews said: “Boscombe has a challenging reputation but I’m full of hope for its future. We are simply joining in the great work already being done by many other churches and agencies in the area. The faith and courage shown by the existing congregation of St Clement’s to embrace change and reach out to the local community is inspiring.”
The team also intend to strengthen the relationship between St Clement’s and local schools. A group from St Swithun’s is already running a parenting class at Bethany CE School in Boscombe and are looking to increase the support on offer to parents and activities for children as the church’s presence in the area grows.
Speaking about his hopes for St Clement’s, Rev Tim said: “We love the Boscombe area as it buzzes with all walks of life. St Clement’s is a natural gathering point and can be a beacon of community, hope and life. Through new services in contemporary styles, Alpha and midweek ministries that meet specific local needs, we can share our faith. Many people in Boscombe have stopped going to church, but they haven’t rejected Jesus. Quite the opposite. I’m absolutely convinced that they need and deep down want him in their lives. We all do. God is love, truth and life. Who doesn’t want that?”
The Rt Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, said: “Tim and his team have led some remarkable developments at St Swithun’s, and it’s a blessing that they will now have the opportunity to share their vision and ministry at St Clement’s. I am excited about how Tim’s team will serve Boscombe, offering to the local community an opportunity to experience the transforming love of Jesus Christ in a new and compelling way.”
St Clement’s will be relaunched in the New Year.