St Swithun’s was built in the 1870’s as Bournemouth began to expand as a Victorian town. In 1998 it was redundant and sold by the Church of England but began to thrive again as the site for a new church within the New Frontiers network. That community did a lot of work on the site, reconfiguring it for contemporary use. Under great leadership and God’s blessing, that church thrived to such an extent that it outgrew the site and moved to its own purpose-built venue near the Station as Citygate Church (we recommend you check it out). We leased the building from them in 2014 and purchased it in 2016. There are many families with children and teenagers in the church.
Being right opposite Bournemouth University’s Students Union building, a large number of students worship on Sunday evenings. There’s a thriving social scene for young adults, and a surprising number of older people who seem to enjoy the loud contemporary music – the church puts a big emphasis on prayer and worship. LOVECHURCH’s office is also on the site, in the Victorian folly “Tudor Hall”.
In 2014 The Bishop of Winchester, The Bishop of Southampton, The Archdeacon of Bournemouth, local Bournemouth clergy and laity in the Deanery Synod, invited HTB in London to plant St Swithun’s Bournemouth led by Tim Matthews. The vision for the new church was, and remains, the evangelisation of Bournemouth’s younger generations; the transformation of its society; and the revitalisation and resourcing of its church – including planting more new churches.
Led by Tim and Debi Matthews, a team of 11 adults moved to Bournemouth in the Summer of 2014 to begin the work. Now, Sunday attendance across both our sites is regularly over 600. A third are under 25 years of age, and nearly two-thirds under 40. One in five of the congregation are new converts or those returning to church after many years of absence.
Along with thriving children, youth and student ministries, St Swithun’s has a large relationships ministry covering marriage, marriage preparation, parenting children and teenagers, recovering from divorce and separation, and life after bereavement. A large addiction recovery ministry also tackles the unique local opportunity for mission afforded by Bournemouth’s many rehab centres. The church also partners with others to provide a crisis homeless shelter during the Winter months.