Bear Building Project

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 The Bear Church: past, present and future…?

(It’s time for a new building at the Shaftesbury Christian Centre).

 The past

The Deptford Ragged Trust dates back to 1844 when eight ‘Christian men and women’ from Deptford opened one of London’s first ‘ragged schools’ in a loft above a cowshed on Deptford High Street.

The present

Today the Deptford Ragged Trust at the Shaftesbury Christian Centre is home to The Bear Church, Bear Cubs, The Evening Service and soup kitchen, English Fridays, Psalms and Stretches, BearLive and all kinds of creative and community events from theatre shows to jumble sales...

The future

We plan to knock down our 1950’s life-expired building and replace it with a new building of up to eight storeys, with the ground and first floors for flexible church, community, exhibition, archive, café and office space, and the upper six storeys for London Affordable residential accommodation.

But first we need to own the land.

The site is worth around £1.2m but given the work of the Trust we have agreed a purchase price with the owners of £756,800.  The good news is that we have grants pledged towards the land purchase for £604,600. The grants are payable on proof of financial viability and support from Lewisham planning. This means that The Bear Church is responsible for £151,200.

How much for the whole project?

The total project cost is estimated at between £8-9m.  We are hoping to secure half or this from Lewisham Borough Council and the GLA for the provision of London Affordable Rent housing and the rest as a loan/mortgage from an ethical bank and as grants/gifts/fundraising from other sources.

The developer

We have a ‘developer with a difference’ on board.  Jubilee Resource LTD aim to help churches and community projects redevelop without having to meet profit margins associated with commercial development.  They aim to recycle any profit back into the Deptford Ragged Trust. 

When will it happen?

We have already exchanged contracts with the owners (Livability), along with a deposit of £75,100, and we expect to complete on the purchase by 12th December 2019. If all goes to plan we will wrap up activities at the Shaftesbury Christian Centre at the end of this year, to coincide with completion of ownership, and the building will be knocked down in January 2020.  We then hope to move back in January 2022.  

What will we do for two years?

We want to carry on everything we are doing now and are looking for ways to keep them all going.  We would like to keep everything local and in one place.  We are working on it but would welcome any suggestions if you know of somewhere.

How much money do we need to buy the land?  

We now need to raise £75,100 by 12th December 2019

And £10,000 in Jan 2020 for legal fees

In 1934, The Deptford Ragged School started ‘The Hundred Helpers Fund’, asking 100 people to give £1 per year. How about committing to be one of 100 people who aim to raise some money by the end of 2019?  It could be £100 or £1,000 or £10,000. 


Can’t we just leave things as they are?

The owners are going to sell whether we buy or not. We either buy the land or we lose it, and start looking for a new home for The Bear Church.

Where is God in all this?

The vision to redevelop this site has been dreamed about, hoped for and discussed for many years. Just as He did for those before us, we believe God has given us a vision to see this place serve the community of Deptford for future generations in Jesus’ name – providing purpose-built housing where it is needed, a welcoming community space for different groups to come into, and an amazing facility for God’s people to gather to worship Him. 


Now’s the time to make a noise about this project and start raising money.

How to give

If you would like to give directly to the Building Fund, please email The Bear Church office - or use the following details (including the reference ‘The Bear Building Fund’):

HSBC - The Bear Church - Sort Code: 40-02-25 - Account Number: 21361317


The Bear is able to claim back the tax you have paid on your gift.  Please contact info@thebear.tvwith your full name, address and postcode if you are able to do this.