Blenheim Foundry to forge community ties
Sunday February 21st was a special day for Wesley Parish in Blenheim with the dedication and blessing of ‘The Foundry’, its new hall and community centre.
The Foundry is a name steeped in early Methodist history. In the 18th century, a huge explosion blew the roof off a British army munitions factory in central London. It left the shell of a building that John Wesley and his people acquired in 1739.
They converted it into a place for preaching, meeting, and serving the huge numbers of mainly poor people who were responding to the "gospel of the warm heart."
For 38 years the Foundry was the headquarters for early British Methodism, transforming the original purpose of the site – weapons of war and destruction – into a busy centre for the transformation of human lives.
It was for this reason that the Planning Committee at Wesley Blenheim borrowed the name for a hall built for youth and community.
The new Foundry is a 400sqm Totalspan building of steel construction. It will cater for the needs of New Zealand’s largest Boys Brigade company, Girls Brigade, the Wesley Blenheim’s Tongan youth group, the local highland pipe band, and the church’s own social needs.
In cooperation with the civic authorities, the Foundry with its commercial kitchen and full facilities will immediately be brought into service in the event of a civil emergency in Marlborough.
Methodist Church president Rev Alan Upson, vice president Lana Lazarus, and general secretary Rev David Bush represented the Connexion at the ceremony. Following a service they together unveiled a plaque.
David’s early life in the Church was in the Blenheim Parish, and he spoke of his grounding in the faith at Rapaura Church and Wesley Blenheim. He said the Foundry has the potential to continue the work of boosting future generations as they avail themselves of the leadership and facilities available through Wesley today.
Wesley’s Wesley Tongan congregation sang two anthems at the dedication service.
Planning Committee chair Bruce McKeage reported the story of the building of the Foundry was the Parish’s long cherished dream and is now a reality. The project had its beginnings in 2007 with a Parish decision to sell the Springlands Church and utilise the proceeds of the Avery Trust Estate and monies held in the parsonage reserve account.
The result is – after a tortuous process involving Church authorities, an uncooperative neighbour, unreliable drainage plans, and innumerable difficulties wrestling with government regulations – a very fine facility. It is the product of meticulous planning and a superb building contractor, Totalspan and PAE Woodbourne.
The Foundry looks likely to be a readily identifiable landmark in Blenheim for years to come. Bruce McKeage’s words are the prayer of many that the new facility will be a place where younger and older will discover, or re-discover, their own Journey of Faith.