Mary Portas launched the ambitious fundraising campaign for St Mary’s Church this summer. Marking the 150th anniversary of the church, home of so many impressive social initiatives, the ‘Grow the Wonder’ campaign aims to raise £1.5 million to re-equip and develop the building, to help St Mary’s continue to serve the people of Primrose Hill and beyond.
The launch began with live music from renowned violinists Simon Fischer and Eve Kennedy, and 100 guests joined Mary to celebrate. Mary spoke passionately about the campaign and her personal experience of feeling warmly welcomed at St Mary’s when she and her same-sex partner wished to have their child baptised. ‘I’m passionate about communities working together for the common good. And here at St Mary’s we’ve got a powerhouse of social action and spiritual nurture. Will you join me in helping Grow the Wonder to make this very special building fit for the future?’
St Mary’s Primrose Hill is indeed a place of wonder. And by raising the funds to reimagine their building, they want to grow that wonder for the benefit of everyone in our community, now and in the future. St Mary’s people have always felt a burning sense of social justice and purpose – hardly surprising, because this church started up in the little chapel of a local home for destitute children. Since their founding, they’ve had two big principles: send the church out into the local community, and welcome the community into the church.
Nowadays they’re a flourishing social hub, home to – among other things – an acclaimed youth outreach programme, a homeless shelter, a brewery, an enviably crowd-pleasing designer fair, and a highly respected and long-running lecture series; not to mention a thriving worshipping congregation, of course. Their church building is what makes it all possible. Truth to tell, it is an ordinary space; but together the community have created something truly extraordinary in it. However, inequality is increasing; society is becoming more polarised. And because of this, their large, accessible space is increasingly in demand, particularly for the disadvantaged. They have to be flexible to host those coming to the building to help others: social outreach workers, childcare providers, counsellors, teams supporting young people. They’ve learned to use every inch of room to maximise their capabilities; but they need to go further and reimagine their building from within, so that it functions more nimbly and accessibly.
Remaking St Mary’s will be about more than just the building. At a time of division and rancour in society, they aim to bring people together in an inspiring statement of belief: belief in a future based on understanding, cooperation and love. Their building will symbolise faith in the values of tolerance and openness, at a time when those values are under threat.
They hope to grow the wonder by raising £1.5 million to carry out the work needed. And they invite you to join in and help.
If you’d like to donate to Grow the Wonder, please follow the link: www.justgiving.com/campaign/grow-the-wonder
For more information, please contact Reverend Emily Kolltveit on:
Email: [email protected]. Tel: 07947 792869
Mary Portas has made a film, www.youtu.be/NHb_RzAD1ko, and a podcast, www. soundcloud.com/stmarysprimrosehill/growthewonder, which aim to spread the word about the historic importance of St Mary’s as a hub for kindness and compassion in north-west London.