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The Re-Imagining of St. Luke's

Updated: Nov 30, 2019

Built over 150 years ago, with a strong missional presence, St. Luke's church stands at the heart of the city of Portsmouth. As in many things, there've been good times, and some not so good times. For five years, 2009-2014, the building stood empty and quiet, the congregation meeting off-site, as the community of Somerstown grew, changed, and developed around it. A new local landscape was emerging and with it came new retail outlets, entrepreneurial start-ups, social enterprise, and plenty of student housing, all catering to the parish demographic.

In 2014 the doors of a dark, inflexible and damaged church were pried open to reveal disrepair and neglect. In less than one year a phased approach to re-development had taken hold. Stronghold, with a vision to fulfil the mission of God in the heart of this city.

The re-imagining of St. Luke's is not a small undertaking, but no thing worth doing is. We like to think of it as 'inspiring opportunity within challenge.' The community of Somerstown is ready for both opportunity and challenge. This has been evidenced by a 'doing things with and not doing things to' philosophy, working alongside local schools, families, and organizations, building relationships that allow us all to see what the future church has the potential to be in this place.

The future of the church is a thing that grows and flourishes, out of the invisible and intangible into something visible and tangible. For St. Luke's this visibility is simple but not superficial, a connection, a bridge between what is and what can be.

The future of this church is safe, warm, for everyone, everyday, faith or no faith. It's genuine in its worship and praise, like the transforming love found in Jesus Christ. It's alive with the creativity and surprise of each and every member of this community, regardless of the differences that could otherwise keep us apart.

And the building, well we've started work on that already. Things are changing, thanks to the hearts, hands, and help of innumerable members of the community.

We'll still be a church, but the pews are gone. They're being reincarnated into bespoke items for the new co-working space. It's called The Host. There'll be a café, office space, multi-use halls for church and community events. There's even a green space coming, and gardens. Underlying it all, enveloping it all, will be that sense of sacred space, a space built for the 21st century. At times its focus will be eucharistic in nature, and at times it'll be coffee in nature, but it will always be about community, and people, and Southsea.