CommunityCreative ParticipationToolkit

Baptists Building Communities

Year | 2021
Location | Yorkshire, UK
Clients | Yorkshire Baptist Association

Baptists Building Communities Live Project, run in partnership with the Yorkshire Baptist Association, explores how churches could utilise their buildings to better serve their local communities. Working directly with a group of pilot churches, the team explored the specific context of each church, whilst picking out common themes which could be helpful for churches throughout the association to remain relevant for the future.  

The 5 pilot churches; West Craven, Harrogate, Blackley and Harehills Lane Baptist Churches, and Trinity Church Rawdon; were carefully selected to cover a range of contexts, including rural and city locations, areas of high deprivation, and funding availability. The project began with site visits to each church to explore their buildings and contexts in depth. 

This revealed that each church needed to better understand their local community’s needs before embarking on large scale building alterations, and resulted in the creation of a common framework for community engagement. Contained within the Future Engagement booklet, this process is broken down into four stages; ‘discover’, ‘understand’, ‘grow’ and ‘engage’. Churches are encouraged to start with demographic investigation about their local communities, –often very different to their congregations– before taking time to digest this information and talk to potential partners. The ‘grow’ stage ensures all team members have had appropriate training and that the church building is prepared to welcome more people. ‘Engage’ provides an idea bank of example activities and the steps needed to complete them, highlighting that engagement is a cyclical process and can be used at any stage, to research, consult or celebrate.

Each church also received an information pack unique to them, containing individual demographic research to start the ‘discover’ phase, and initial design proposals to address specific issues with their buildings. These proposals were developed in tandem with representatives from each church, combining physical and digital working methods during weekly remote design meetings. Design interventions included new entrances, exterior canopies, outdoor art exhibitions, community room layouts and accessibility upgrades. 

The project culminated with a handover workshop, held at The Well, Sheffield. This acted as an example engagement event, demonstrating the detail of how to run an activity well. It also ensured that churches understood how to complete the framework, and allowed them to share ideas and start planning.


Mentor: Jo Sharples
Client: Yorkshire Baptist Association
Location: Yorkshire, UK
Students: Alex Cole, Anu D’Costa, Matthew Honeywood, Lucy Mills, Tong Luo, Anna Wiliwinska, Sunny Yu Shang Wu, Jasmine Howarth, Robin Hoolachan, Xingyan Liu, Xupeng Li, Xifeng Peng, Huazhang Li

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