Frequently Asked Questions

What is Project Connect?

Growing God's Kingdom through Partnership, with People, on our Premises. Connect is our church's major initiative for the next three to five years. It comprises three separate projects that will enable us to support our growing congregations and improve our facilities in Maidenhead and help us to take the gospel further afield through partnership and church planting.

How much will it cost?

We need to raise £2.2m to help us achieve this vision.

What is the background to Connect?

Will had outlined his vision for the church in a series of papers since his arrival in 2003. The last of these, Continuing to Look Ahead in July 2011 shared his thoughts on our need to grow through multiple congregations and ultimately church planting in a new location.

In 2011 there was a consultation on Phase 2 of the Building for the Future programme to upgrade our buildings in Maidenhead. Three options of work were presented in Phase 2. However after much consultation and careful consideration, the PCC decided that proceeding with any of them was not the right step at this time. On one hand, there was not overwhelming support for any of the options and therefore there was a risk of division; on the other hand, the PCC wanted to bring a more mission-focused orientation to the thinking. We have spent time working through this idea, consulting the church family and the vision behind Project Connect was outlined by Will in April 2011 at the APCM.

It was decided that funds should be raised for essential work and improvements to our buildings, but more importantly, to reach out to help White Waltham, a smaller church and prepare ourselves for church planting. Connect therefore comprises three distinct but inter-related projects that will help to Grow God's Kingdom in Maidenhead and our wider community.

Connect will help us to connect on many levels: through partnership with another church, connect more with each other pastorally, connect with our friends and family through evangelism and connect with our community by using our upgraded premises.

Do we really need a church plant?

Over the past six years, St Mary's in Maidenhead has grown from two Sunday congregations to five today. Around 500 adults and children pass through our doors each Sunday. There is no additional capacity for another congregation on a Sunday and so we need to look elsewhere to continue to grow.

We are also conscious that there is a gospel need in areas of our wider community. Most people ideally want to go to a local church.  In the Cox Green/Woodlands Park area for example, we estimate less than 1% of adults are members of a local church in their area. To help grow God's Kingdom further we aim to plant a local congregation with an evangelical focus in a new location.

How will Connect help the church in Maidenhead grow?

Support for SMWW and the potential plant will help grow the wider church in Maidenhead and its environs.

We hope that the appointment of a Bible Teacher at SMM will encourage us to grow further, by equipping us with the know-how to be more effective in personal evangelism, and encourage our friends, family and colleagues to come to church.

We also hope that the appointment of a Pastoral Co-ordinator will help us be more effective in meeting each others' spiritual and emotional needs. This in turn should help folk to stay within the church family as they feel better cared for and supported.

Finally, improvements to our own buildings will provide an environment which is more welcoming to visitors and those with disabilities, as well as being warmer and more comfortable once they get here! 

Project 1: Connect through partnership with St Mary's White Waltham

White Waltham is a small village church with a strong gospel focus. They do not have adequate facilities on site for a Sunday school and have to transport the children half a mile to meet elsewhere. This is isolating families from the rest of the church family and also limiting their opportunities for growth. Project Rainbow is raising funds to build a much-needed facility for on-site youth work.

The project is expected to cost £500,000. They have already raised £150,000 and as a small church it will be difficult for them to tap new areas of funding or raise substantially more in the near future.

The first 50p of every pound we raise in our appeal, up to a total of £250,000 will go towards Project Rainbow. The Bible commands us to look not only to our own needs but also to the needs of others, and the raising of this money will help them achieve their financial goal and grow the church.

With our donation they will have secured 80% of the funding required. They are then in a strong position to approach Trusts for further grants. There will also be a need for them to continue their own fundraising initiatives.

Members of St Mary's have been involved in community events organised by WW, two of our apprentices have been helping with youth work, and we occasionally preach there.

To enable us to proclaim the gospel in an area which has a great need. Our site in Maidenhead is at capacity with five congregations each Sunday and so we need to look elsewhere to grow. We are hoping to plant in the area of Woodlands Park/Cox Green as it has over 13,000 residents and yet the three churches there have a combined adult membership of around 100. That is less than 1% of the local population.

We hope to start the plant in two to four years' time.

Project 2: People - appointment of two additional church workers

We plan to strengthen our staff team by recruiting two church workers. This will enable us to send out a member of staff to start a church plant within 2-4 years and support our congregations in Maidenhead.

  1. A bible teacher from June 2013
    We plan to appoint a Bible teacher to help us focus on evangelism, equipping us to more readily share the gospel with our friends, families and colleagues. He will also be promoting quality evangelistic events at St Mary's. This additional staff member also means we have the resources to send one of our Bible teachers to start a church plant in the area of Woodlands Park area in 2-4 years' time. The Bishop has given approval for us to have a Curate from 2014 however through Connect funding he can start in June 2013.
  2. A pastoral Care Co-ordinator
    As our church family is split over five congregations we now need a dedicated person to work with our existing pastoral structures (such as growth groups and congregational teams) to ensure that we support and nurture the spiritual growth of every individual at St Mary's. As well as establishing new congregations we need to work at strengthening and growing existing ones. Sue Bauhahn has been appointed to this role and started work in mid-October.

This role has been done by a dedicated volunteer for many years, however the scale of the job is now too much for one person to manage on a temporary basis.

We could be much better at establishing the needs in our congregations! There have been times when people have slipped through the net and we have been unaware of their pastoral needs. A dedicated Co-ordinator will ensure we can be more aware of what's going on in people's lives and making sure the right support is offered to them.

We need to focus more on evangelism, both corporately and as individuals. Another member of teaching staff will also free us up to send someone to start the church plant in 2-4 years' time.

Project 3: Repairs and updates to our site in Maidenhead

St Mary's is on a strategic site in the centre of a growing town. We are the Borough Church and have a mandate to proclaim Jesus in our town. We need to be good stewards of what God has given us and need to ensure that our facilities are properly maintained. Our improvements will help us to provide a warm welcome and a comfortable environment for Sunday services.

The areas were identified in the earlier consultation for Phase 2. They are the most urgent needs and would not compromise any future plans for more extensive redevelopment. They are: improved signage and lighting at High Street entrance; larger foyer with disabled access; a new boiler and heating system; a re-ordered chancel and repaired organ; an audio/visual control desk; re-ordering of the ground floor of Church House (church office, toilets, kitchen and lower lounge).

As soon as we get the funding. This project strand is the third priority within Connect. Funding should first go to White Waltham and funding church workers. It is likely permissions will be sought in 2015 and building works are unlikely to start before 2016.


Through prayer, financial giving and giving time. There are many jobs still to do.. please do speak to Ralph Hewins if you'd like to be involved with any of the three Connect project areas.

Latest questions and answers

As we progress with the Detailed Design phase of the 'Premises' part of Connect there will be many questions that will arise.

Every Sunday there is a small display on Connect available in the Church Hall, and you can ask a question there of one of the team if they are around the stand (as they often are), or if someone is not there, just write your question/comment on a Post It note. You can also submit questions at the bottom of this page.

We have already received a lot of questions and comments. As the list of these is so extensive, in the interests of conciseness we have attempted to consolidate them into the following responses. If you have a specific question/comment that you still think needs a direct answer, or have a concern that you want to raise, we would be delighted to respond directly to you; please contact .

We will refresh these responses on a regular basis as new questions come in or more details are known.

Thanks - The Connect Team

In order to allow for new underfloor heating the floor has to be removed. This raised the question of whether to retain the raked floor design, or to replace with a level floor. After much consideration it was agreed to proceed with a level floor that would enable us to achieve a level rather than stepped access to the building.

In order to gain the full ‘flexibility of use’ benefit from having a level floor the decision has also been made for the pews to be replaced with ‘Howe 40/4’ chairs. It is envisaged that most often the chairs will remain in place but it will be possible to rearrange them to facilitate alternative aisle arrangements or seating plans.

It seems likely that we will need to purchase the chairs sooner than expected so that we can use them while the church is meeting at Oldfield School. There will be an opportunity to see example chairs before they are purchased and the many questions raised regarding the type of chairs will be addressed at this point, including how best to handle Bible storage.

We will be advertising the disposal of the pews in the hope of finding homes for some of them or a use for the timber. It is not envisaged to make use of them anywhere else on site. Please let us know if you have any interest in making use of the pews.
It has been suggested that a board is made up for the brass pew plaques that commemorate a loved one (as opposed to advertising a local business) so that these are kept on the church site.

Some additional chair storage has been created at the rear of the church and the possibility of storing the chairs (when cleared from the church) in new storage space created within Church House is being explored.

It is proposed to serve communion at the foot of the stage steps along a standing row with a row of seats behind enabling communicants to sit if necessary.

The communion trays and 'wine' will be stored in the vestry at the front of church. There will be access to the refurbished kitchen in Church House.

Drawings have been provided to demonstrate the visual experience of the congregation both seated and standing. The stage height has been increased slightly to improve this experience. If necessary on occasion it will be possible to relay close-up shots of activity on stage to the screens.

The lighting within the scheme has been carefully designed to ensure that there are good levels of ambient light throughout, provided by sensitively sited, reflecting luminaries. Points of increased illuminance levels highlight the stage.

• A significant element of the design is the 'open' and 'connected' feel to the building when entering from the High Street so that there is no mystery as to what ‘lies beyond’. While this does have implications for the transmission of sound between the foyer and the main church building the design team are working to achieve a slight improvement in the acoustic separation between these two areas to that currently experienced.

• Provision will be made for the civic crosses, flags and other items important for civic and more formal services but not necessarily where they currently are.

• The brass Eagle lectern does not feature in the design but it will be retained on site. The stone font is to be moved to the chapel.

• The vestry and two other rooms at the front of church can be used for prayer. The glass walls of these rooms will be opaque.

• The collection boxes will be kept.

• There will be a book display shelf in the foyer / welcome area.

• The cross will be replaced as part of the front of church redesign (see ‘Response 7’ below). The design has recently been reviewed to ensure the cross is prominent.

• It will be possible to use additional temporary staging if required for specific events.
• Shelves will be provided for the display of flower arrangements.

A stair lift is being provided from the chapel (i.e. not in full view of the church) to enable disabled access to the stage.

There are seven stained glass windows in the main church building. The four windows on the front wall will be partially obscured by staircases to the upper rooms. It will be possible to move these to other locations if so desired. The round dove window is being retained in its present location.

The organ will form a major new feature in the church along with the cross, crown and circular window. It had been thought that much of the current organ would be incorporated into the new but on closer inspection there is not much that warrants being reused. It has been noted that the current organ may contain pipes originating from the organ donated to the church by Lady Pocock around 1815. If any of these historical pipes can be identified they will be retained and offered to Maidenhead Heritage Centre or the Borough Museum.

The new welcome area has been carefully considered so that it enables the vision and mission of St Mary's Church to be fully realised.

Principally this involves:

• Providing level access to all doors with improved connections between hall and church, with their associated kitchen and toilet facilities.

• Providing a greatly enlarged 'Welcome Area', that can be used for welcome of members and guests, after service ministry, children's retreat, and overflow seating for peak capacity.

• Provision of high quality, internal furniture constructed from oak that will allow the church to display information about its work. When the building is used for one off events, the same furniture can be used as a welcome and reception desk.

The welcome area has also been designed to be able to be used on a day to day basis to provide a reception and information space to take pressure off the existing church office and to provide a more welcoming environment.

Changes to the design that have already been made in response to questions received include, providing two sets of double doors from the church to the hall, the location of the weekday reception desk not to be fixed, storage provision, a book display and seating.

The heating system is all in the floor, as part of an integrated underfloor heating system. The underfloor heating is in two parts. Firstly a 'wet' underfloor heating system is set into the screed, and secondly 'Trench heaters' are used to boost the heat output. These will be finished with discrete grills set at the same level as the floor. The reason for this design is to heat the large volume of air in the church.

Underfloor heating is used because it is silent, hidden, efficient and effective. It also allows maximum spatial flexibility.

Much thought has being given to the diverse requirements for speech and music. An acoustician's advice has been sought and is being followed. This includes wall and ceiling treatments. We have worked hard on speech intelligibility at St Mary's over recent years and are looking for further improvement out of the new church design.

While the building work is underway and the church is meeting off site on Sundays the plan is to retain the use of the church hall and room in the Old Vic. However, it is likely that it will only be possible to provide pedestrian access to the site. It is unclear at this time whether the garden will be available to use.

Other questions

Yes! We have a Fundraising team, a building team and input from people with experience. Standing Committee is overseeing it. Where we need professional expertise (e.g. architect) we are getting it. There are roles where we need, or will need in the future, help from people in the St Mary's church family. These will be identified as we move forward.

We do hope that through the growth of the church we will increase our regular giving. We have no plans to generate other income at present.  Our church facilities are primarily for the use of the church and are often fully booked.

No. Planning permission can take a long time but we don't have any additional factors (e.g. listed status) which could delay it further.

Our main focus is to proclaim Jesus and preach the gospel. This is the biggest need our community has and we need to use our facilities to do this. Of course we want to reach out to our local community and show the love of Jesus in many other ways, which we do often. We also collaborate with Churches Together and Street Angels.

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