New Centre Continues Legacy of Renowned Missionary Amy Carmichael
If Amy Carmichael was alive today she would clearly be delighted with the August opening of a new purpose- built activity centre adjacent to the Welcome Evangelical Church – a ministry she founded well over 100 years ago.
In keeping with Carmichael’s vision, the stunning new state of the art building aims to care for the whole person providing a sensory room for people with autism. It’s the brainchild of Welcome Pastor Jonathan Clarke, who recently celebrated his 10th anniversary in charge of the Shankill-based sanctuary.
The main contractor Maghera Developments commenced building in January 2016 and the Co. Down firm is due to finish the work by their target date of July 8th.
The centre, which cost around £400,000, has been backed by both the Department of Social Development and Belfast City Council.
“This project is in keeping with the original vision of Amy Carmichael 127 years ago when she came into the community to care for the whole person. It will help address social issues in our present-day community and provide a safer environment”, Pastor Jonathan has stated.
The new project is located on the corner of Heather Street - opposite Cambrai Street on the Shankill Road - and is an extension to the refurbished Welcome Evangelical Church.
This latest development is seen as a continuation of the work of Amy Carmichael who is renowned for her work as a missionary in India where she served for 55 years and wrote many Christian books.
The Belfast-based project will house classrooms for after school tuition, a sports area for keep fit activities, crèche facilities, offices and, of course, that unique sensory room for people with autism.
Special guest at the Welcome recently – Dr Jeff McNair – a California-based expert in helping those with disabilities believes: “The new centre will be a breath of fresh air to the people of the Shankill area and is a wonderful blessing for the community. There’s a great need to promote awareness of the need to help those with disabilities and this is why the centre will be an important location”, he said.
Last February at the official announcement of the building of the new Carmichael Centre DUP MLA William Humphrey stated: “I was born and raised in the Shankill area and I understand how hugely important this project is in terms of youth work. The facility will be of great benefit to the already 100 strong youth club which meets at the Welcome Church every Friday evening”.
Just over nine years ago, the Welcome Hall was totally refurbished and the latest extension is further advancement by the members of this historic landmark. Added Pastor Jonathan: “This is a most exciting time, not just for the members of our church, but for the people of the Greater Shankill area. Our dream has become a reality and to have a centre like this on our doorstep is really amazing”.
The new Lord Mayor, DUP Politician, Brian Kingston, has said he is also proud to be associated with the new centre and sees it as a real boost for the people of the Greater Shankill area.
He says “I am delighted to support the Welcome Community Group facility which will undoubtedly help the people of Woodvale area. It will be well visited during the week and is a great investment by the Department of Social Development and the Belfast City Council”.
The Amy Carmichael Centre will officially open on Friday 19th August 2016 at 3pm. The
The Grand Opening will be by invitation only and will commence a weekend of celebrations at the Welcome Evangelical Church. On Saturday 20th August an Open/Fun Day for all the family will take place from 10.am – 3pm. This will be followed by two special services at the church on Sunday 21st August.
Booking and room hire of the centre is available from Monday 22 August 2016.