the fishermen’s chapel:
diving into faith, surfing culture, fishing for justice
open and generous like the sea
respecting creation and its Creator
keeping an eye to God and an eye to the cultural horizon
providing calm amidst the storms of life
filling our sails with the breath of God
anchoring our hope in Jesus
praying that all will find their way safely home
inviting all to become fishers of women and men
In 2014 New Road Methodist Church was relaunched as The Fishermen’s Chapel, a music, arts and community-based mission initiative aiming to connect with the flourishing arts scene in the Leigh and Southend area.
The Fishermen’s Chapel is working towards providing:
* an intimate performance and exhibition venue
* a hub for local arts activities
* a unique events and meeting venue – for creative worship, day conferences, concerts, exhibitions, rehearsals, retreats, weddings and parties
* a space for contemplation, prayer and inspiration
• To provide a popular, affordable, safe and enjoyable arts and live music venue with facilities to provide quality refreshments.
• To provide an outlet and community-base for local talent, especially young start-up bands, musicians, choirs and artists.
• To establish relationships with numerous people through accessible events and activities and invite them to explore issues of life and faith.
• To connect people with existing congregations where appropriate but to also be open to the potential of establishing new faith communities at the venue.
• To continue proactive and positive relationships with the 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts offering a relevant pattern for helping them explore faith.
The opportunity is to help New Road Methodist Church transition from a faithful yet ageing and declining congregation to a new creative, mission-focussed initiative. The opportunity is for the faithful members of New Road to leave a legacy that might enable new generations of people to explore issues of life and faith.
The chapel already provides a unique, intimate performance and rehearsal space. Paul Collier, director of the Leigh Folk Festival says: “The Leigh Folk Festival has staged a number of one-off concerts at the Fishermen’s Chapel …It has also fast become established as one of the key venues in the main festival programme, with a unique ambience which is ideally suited for some of the more intimate performances where the subtleties would be lost in a larger or outdoor arena. In my opinion, with its superb acoustic, it is the best space in the town for performing and listening to folk and acoustic music.” The Show Choir has rehearsed here weekly since the summer of 2013. This space can also be used for day conferences and retreats for organisations looking for somewhere affordable and atmospheric.
With a panoramic view of the Thames Estuary, the upstairs former vestry has been converted into a comfortable working space. Bart and Mike from Whitewolf Films are now the most regular users of the studio. Dave Walker of www.cartoonchurch.com is now working here one day per week. With five desks, there is room for further creatives or artists to make The Fishermen’s Chapel their home too.
Downstairs there are kitchen facilities and a further meeting room. This flexible space can be used for workshops, rehearsals, training events, dining, an intimate venue for accoustic music and spoken word, or other pop-up events.
Faith at the Chapel
There are many ways to explore and express faith through life at the Chapel and we hope to explore and introduce even more. The existing congregation will continue to meet on the FIRST Sunday of each month for a 9.30am traditional Communion Service and on the THIRD Sunday of each month for its highly popular 11.00am Church Parade Service which 100 children and young people attend from the 3rd Chalkwell Bay Sea Scouts. All are welcome to attend these public services of Christian worship.
There will also be one-off events that provide contemporary ways of exploring faith and spirituality, such as the Labyrinth that took place in January 2014.
And of course the chapel continues to be available for weddings, dedications and funerals.
A new steering group has been established to take responsibility for helping the church make this transition. This currently includes Peter Moorhouse, the minister of the congregation and superintendent of the local Methodist Circuit; Paul Wornell, one of the officers of the congregation; Heather Simmons, who runs our Gospel Choir and Daisy Bowler concerts; Dave Walker, resident cartoonist, who runs our website and social media, and Sheila Smith, first point of contact for Chapel enquiries.
Bookings & Enquiries
The Fishermen’s Chapel is not out to make a profit, but we do need to cover costs and save a little towards repairs and improvements which will make the building even more of a delight for the local community. If you would like to see if the venue is suitable for an idea or event you have in mind, please contact us to arrange a visit and explore options. If you would like to become a member, or volunteer to help improve our facilities or help us apply for grants we’d love to hear from you.