About the Ark
Who are we?
We are Christians of all ages and ethnicities who meet every Sunday morning at the Ark, which is a large multi-purpose building in the heart of the Highwoods residential estate in the north of Colchester.
Many of us are members of the Methodist Church, and we follow the procedures, guidelines and service structure of the Methodist Church – but you do not need to be a member of the church in order to join us and our church activities – all who know and love the Lord or who want to know more are welcome at all our services and social events
Our minister is Rev Ken Chalmers, who has been with us for five years and has recently agreed to stay for another four years. Ministers in the Methodist Church often move on to a new area after five years, but many choose to stay for longer and we are delighted that Rev Ken wants to continue his Christian work with us.
Services are led either by Rev Ken or lay preachers who have been trained in the Methodist tradition, or active retired ministers. Occasionally we arrange our own services and are lucky to be able to draw on the talents of our members and the wider congregation to lead worship and music.
Many of our services have a contemporary, informal approach to the traditional Methodist worship and while the adults, and those children who prefer to stay with them, worship we teach and care for tots, youngsters and teenagers with a crèche for the little ones, Noah Club for the 5-10 year olds and Ark Teens for those in school year 6 and above. Once a month our services are all age worship where children are especially welcome to stay throughout the service.
Our music is generally provided by piano/organ but several times a year a number of musicians from the church, with friends, come together as the Arkestra to raise the roof with guitars, drums, flutes, oboe, saxophone, clarinets and trumpet.
Before every service there is the opportunity for half an hour of quiet prayer and reflection in our prayer room for those who want it. This is led by one of the members of our church who has many years’ experience as a worship and prayer leader.
Where did we come from?
More than 25 years ago Highwoods was a developing housing estate and a number of people in churches in the Colchester Methodist circuit decided they would “plant” a new church at Highwoods to serve the community and bring God’s word to the new residents.
The Christian life of the Ark started with small housegroups, while people were actively raising funds and seeking grants to build a church of their own. They won support from The Gilberd School, who allowed them to start Sunday morning services in the science laboratories at the school, and when they had enough money to buy a portable building they were allowed to place it near the playing fields at school, and the church began to grow.
The many years of fundraising which followed eventually paid off, and they were able to build the Ark on a piece of land at the junction of Brinkley Road and Gavin Way. It was never intended to be a building for Sunday worship only but a building which could be used by the community as well as the church seven days a week.
The main worship area is cleared after each Sunday service so that it is available for hire, and is regularly used as a home for Rainbows, Brownies and Guides and many other community groups during the week.
It also serves as a polling station for elections, and Home Start have a permanent base there.
In recent years the Ark was extended from its original size as more people came to worship and use the building. For many years we have also employed a community outreach worker to work on various community projects and in schools and for young people in school holidays at the Ark, all in the name of our church.
The church retains the vestry and a small prayer room for its exclusive use but the rest of the building is available as a community resource.
Where are we going?
We hope to be able to expand again and are already thinking about how we can develop and move on in our Christian worship and community service. We have started organising a number of fund-raising events, not only to raise money for new projects but also to have fun together, socialising as a family of friends.
Family and support are at the heart of our beliefs and we look forward to welcoming more and more people into our church family.