Following substantial cash injections from the local community and a streamlined design, Mahurangi Presbyterian Church looks set to start building a new $11 million church and community centre early next year.
The two-storey centre will feature a 450-seat auditorium, a multifunction gymnasium, a café with attached play area, commercial kitchen, preschool, classrooms, offices, counselling rooms, a 40-seat chapel and parking for 120 cars.
Additional rooms with refrigerators and attached truck loading bays will house the church’s food aid operations for families in need.
The centre will be located on a one-hectare site along the Mahurangi River between Mitre 10 and Mahurangi College, and will find itself in the heart of Warkworth’s planned urban development.
The decision to build the new centre came after the church found itself struggling to accommodate its burgeoning congregation and dozens of community services at its current location in Bertram Street, where it has been for the last 160 years.
Church board chair Neville Johnson says the range of facilities reflects the fact the church has an amazing reach into the community and needs a building that can cater for many different needs.
Moreover, the facilities will be available to the wider community and sports groups.
“For this to be a success for the church, we really want to see everybody in the community using it seven days a week” building committee member Gary Caldwell says.
The gymnasium, which can accommodate a full-size basketball court or several badminton courts, will be the only indoor sports facility with a high roof in Warkworth, except for school facilities.
Already sports organisations are lining up to make use of the gym, including those connected with basketball, volleyball, badminton and table tennis.
Several sports that currently must stage games on Auckland’s North Shore will be able to make use of the new centre instead.
The auditorium can cater for big weddings and funerals and its large stage area can accommodate major concerts and musical shows. A large foyer area will be suitable for catered events.
Centre designer Floyd Thomas says the centre represents good value for money. He notes that for $11 million the community will secure a brand new facility. This compares favourably to the $7 million cost of refurbishing the Warkworth Town Hall, which has considerably less capacity.
Project capital campaign chairman Brian Dangerfield says so far the church has secured 70 per cent of the money required to complete the project and has received substantial grants from Foundation North and the church’s national body – the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.
“We are running a very professional campaign to attract large grants and large donations,” he says.
He adds the church recently received its first major donation from a local business leader and he expects others to follow.
In addition to cash, the church is also looking for gifts-in-kind, particularly from those who can help with excavation and construction in the local community.
The church has already secured the necessary resource consent for the project and expects to have a building consent toward the end of this year. The church says Auckland Council has been very supportive and done everything it can to expedite the process.
It’s hoped the building will be completed by August 2020.