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On Glasgow’s east side, wedged between an Indian take-out and a tiny convenience store, is a row of shuttered windows. Above are the words: “THE CHARTER,” with a “For Sale” sign that cuts off the word “BAR.” The paint is shabby, the walls have been tagged with graffiti more than once, and half a mile away, Parkhead Church of the Nazarene are the new owners.

Under the leadership of Pastor Ian Wills, the Parkhead church have made it their objective to continually invest in their community. And with this new property, they hope to breathe a new spirit into an area of their city very much in need.

The bar, which was shut down in 2014, had a reputation for attracting a rough crowd. Now, as the church move in to renovate, they are hoping to offer positive opportunities in a place where real community can form.

The process began back in 2016, says Pastor John Craig, part of the team working to repurpose the bar. As the congregation grew to the limits of their current space, they began to consider church planting. So, when the old bar was put up for sale, the timing seemed right.

The Charter Bar “ticked a couple of boxes,” says Craig. “Firstly, it is local enough to be another space that some groups at Parkhead Nazarene church could use.” And, in addition to helping ease space constraints, the bar is far enough from Parkhead church to “make it seem like the kind of place where we can explore missional opportunities to that particular location.”

The church did not have the funds to buy the property, but they secured a loan and moved forward on faith that this new outpost in their community would be supported. They’ve held fundraisers at Parkhead, as well as sought grants and even created an online giving page through the fundraising site Virgin Money Giving.

Acquiring the new building, which they hope to open this summer, has not been entirely seamless. It took some effort for them to even discover who exactly was selling the building. And then there was the city planning department. Projects like this don’t fit into the traditional boxes for a city — it’s not a cafe, it’s not a bar, but it’s not exactly a “church” either.  Eventually they were able to make the case that their use of the building would be classed as a “place of worship.”

The Nazarene church in Parkhead also places a high value on partnerships, and their new endeavour is no different.

Craig says, “The Charter sits almost exactly equidistant between Parkhead Nazarene and another evangelical church, namely Easterhill Community Church, with whom there are both historic and current links and overlaps in friendship and ministry.”

The Easterhill congregation is excited for the opportunity to make use of the new community-centred space that the Parkhead church is pioneering.

As for a new name to put on the building, they haven’t settled on anything yet. “‘The Charter’ (which means “Royal Decree”) seems to be the default that is stuck in people’s minds,” says Craig, although he points out that discussions about renaming the building are ongoing.

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