Carrick Centre – Maybole Parish Church Relationship

The following address was delivered to the congregation of Maybole Parish Church by Jim Stevens at the service on Sunday April 29th 2012 to explain the relationship between the Church and the Carrick Centre.

In the absence of Bill Miller, who is on holiday, Brian has asked me to say a few words about the relationship between Maybole Parish Church and the Carrick Centre.

To understand and appreciate the relationship you have to go back twelve years to the Millennium and the Church of Scotland’s decision to create a millennium fund to provide funding for new and exciting church projects.

When we were awarded initially £300,000 by the General Trustees for our Maybole New Church Project and Youth Centre, this was on the clear understanding that our new building would be multi-functional and available for both church and community use seven days per week. From this concept it was our decision to build a Church and Community Centre, and our stated vision was “a project at the heart of the community for all citizens”.

In order to take the project forward we needed to secure external funding, and whilst some additional funding was available to churches the majority of external funders would not finance religious groups. We needed, therefore, to form a body comprised of not just church members but also members of the wider community, which could approach these funders, including Lottery, to secure the grants we needed to allow us to begin work.

The result of this was “The Carrick Centre”, which is de facto our church’s Outreach to the local community. Outreach is such an important part of the church’s remit, and something incumbent upon every one of us to support. It was our original funding consultant, Peter Walker, who suggested the name “The Carrick Centre”, and who, incidentally, was responsible for securing the grant of £188,000 from the Prince’s Exchange Foundation – the grant which was the turning point in our fortunes and which allowed the vision to become reality.

The Carrick Centre is in its own right a registered charity and is also a not- for-profit company limited by guarantee. This gives its volunteer directors protection in the event of economic difficulty – not something we anticipate. The Board of Directors, which includes Brian, your Minister, also has community directors who are not church members, and this, along with its community associations, opened up avenues of funding denied to the Church. The latest example of this is Alan Murray’s recent coup in securing Lottery and other funding to the value of over £100,000. This funding is enabling us to fully equip the Centre and also to provide the much needed Audio-visual and Loop system for the Sanctuary and throughout the building.

The Carrick Centre and the Church are very closely linked. The Church owns the building, and the building is leased to the Carrick Centre. This is a 25 year lease at a peppercorn rent. The Carrick Centre operates, maintains, insures, heats, and lights the building, and covers photocopying costs. This relieves the Church of responsibility for all of these activities. In return, apart from the lease of the building, the Church also makes an annual contribution of £10,000 towards the running costs of the Centre, as detailed in the Management Agreement between Maybole Parish Church and Carrick Centre Boards. This is a very good deal for the Church as it no longer has to think about all these different services and provisions. Indeed insurance and photocopying alone amount to some £6,000 of the £10,000 being paid. At today’s rates it would have cost each of our former churches close to £10,000 just to operate at a very basic level.

Already you can begin to see the effect of community outreach in the number of people and organisations using the Centre; the numbers of volunteers in the Centre (now over 30, and to whom we offer our grateful thanks); and the increase in numbers attending church on Sundays (dare I say a 30% increase?) with a consequent increase in givings. And we haven’t even yet begun to implement a proper marketing strategy.

A word now about the Management Agreement. This guarantees to Maybole Parish Church and its associated groups such as Guild, Bible study, Choir, Youth etc various uses of the accommodation, including the sanctuary for Church Services, at no additional costs beyond the agreed annual contribution. Also included are single occasion uses such as the Guild Rally, Funerals and Weddings. The Agreement also provides for a proportion of any free surplus at the end of the year to be made available to Maybole Parish Church as a contribution towards paying off the outstanding loan on the building costs. A free surplus is one which is not reserved for a specific purpose. Lottery Funding, for example, is not a free surplus.

I have twice used the word “Sanctuary”, and to me as well as to you all, this place of worship is indeed at this moment the Sanctuary. But bearing in mind the building’s multifunctional uses this space is at other times the Auditorium, or the Crossraguel Room. And so you will hear it referred to in differing terms in differing circumstances. To date two conferences, two concerts, and several school events have been held here, and on Friday 18th May a Fashion Show will be held. We do, however, remind visitors that this space, despite its varied uses, is also Maybole Parish Church and a place of worship.

As business develops scheduling of spaces will become more complicated and it is essential that all requirements, including those of our Church, are routed through Karen, the Administrator, as soon as known, to avoid clashes. The success of the Carrick Centre is crucial to the continued success of Maybole Parish Church. As our Church/Carrick Centre Agreement says, and I quote: “The Carrick Centre will operate as a partnership between the Board of the Carrick Centre, the Congregation of Maybole Parish Church and the community and public sector organisations operating within the North Carrick Area.”

On a very recent visit the General Trustees were delighted by the progress being made by the Church and The Carrick Centre. They saw their remit of a multifunctional building for both Church and Community being demonstrably put into practice. We would urge you all to share in that delight, and those of you who have time to spare to volunteer some of that time, even an hour per week, towards helping the Centre to become the success it deserves to be.

Thank you for listening.