The process of buying a new building is not always an easy one. First of all, there was the funding application. (Unless you’ve tackled one of these things, you really have no idea what a massive amount of work has to go in to this!) Then there was the question of putting in a bid to the Methodist Church – minimum price required £150,000. Even when the funding application was successful and there was money available to purchase the building (February 2009), things did not go smoothly, for there were other bidders whose offers seemed more attractive to the Methodist Church. With much disappointment, the CRT grant had to be returned to the funders at the end of March 2009, since it seemed that there was no chance of the church being allowed to purchase St Mark’s.
All we could do was wait… and pray! A prophetic word that we would see others overtake us initially but that the first winner would not be the final winner was very encouraging to us. The desire to own St Mark’s just wouldn’t go away, but we knew that there was nothing more we could do. Then, in July, we were approached by the Methodists: the property developer’s deal appeared to have fallen through, and they asked if we were still interested. Still interested? Definitely! But being interested and having the money to do anything about it were two different things.
The chances of getting the money again from CRT seemed remote. Even when it seemed that there might be a chance to re-submit our application, we were sure this would only be the prelude to yet more masses of paperwork! But in the end, CRT allowed us to re-submit the application with only minor amendments, and by September 2009 we had been given the grant again!
We hoped to be in the new building by the end of the year… but even this was not to be. Every time we hoped to make progress, another stumbling block appeared. The property developer was still around, still offering more money. Legal wranglings and delays kept cropping up. Weeks would go by with no sign of any movement. October turned into November… November turned into December, and still nothing was happening.
Then we had an e-mail reminding us of the date of the stone on the building: 1960. “Its Jubilee year is next year, 2010. I’m certain in my soul you will get the keys to the building for then, not this year. It’s not long to wait – 1 month.”
Jubilee – the 50th year. Leviticus 25 talks of this – a time of rest and release, a time when debts were cancelled and slaves were set free. Maybe, then, 2010 would be the year when we finally took possession of this new building.