Building to Serve

In the last couple of years at St Mary's, God has been extending our vision to serve the town in an exciting, ambitious and creative way at a time of substantially increasing need for many within our community... For more about this vision please click here.

Getting started

In October 2019 the final paperwork went through enabling us to exchange and complete on the purchase of the Old Bank on Friday 4th October. The following Sunday, with providential timing, we also launched our 'Building to Serve Campaign'.

Alastair Ewer, our Project Manager, is overseeing both aspects of the project (St Mary’s itself and the Old Bank) and, with the help and support of our Buildings Team (a subcommittee of the PCC), is working with Banbury-based architects, Acanthus Clews, to draw up plans for both the church and The Old Bank. These designs have been on display in the church.  The next stage is to begin pre-planning preparations in order to submit the plans for various permissions (Planning, Listed Buildings, DAC etc).

Georgina Orchard, our Campaign Director, is shaping the fundraising campaign, so please be praying for her as she shapes up our appeal with initial approaches to grant making trusts, local philanthropists and local businesses. We are seeking to encourage the people of the church (and also the town) to become integral parts of it to share the life-changing love of Jesus, and to serve even more widely in our community.  


We held consultations with the church family to listen to their views and help them commit to this vision.  A well-attended Open Day at the Old Bank in December 2019, and a more recent consultation in December 2020 gave the public opportunities to come into the building, see the plans, hear more about the vision for adapting the building to serve the town and provide feedback. We have also shared our plans with the Town Council who very kindly leant their support to our campaign. 

We are grateful for the strong support of Chippy News in providing a mechanism for keeping the wider community up-to-date with progress on the campaign by inviting regular articles from us.  We continue to network closely with statutory and voluntary agencies in the area whose expertise and understanding of the local needs is guiding the practical support that this building will offer to our town.

We are also extremely grateful for the generous support of BrandCooke, a local graphic designer who has produced brochures, branding materials, a website and a name – The Branch!!  This name brings together the building's history (as a bank), the outreach and growth that we hope and pray will come about through the building, and Jesus as the central root and source of all that we do. 

Current status of the project (January 2021)

Developing Plans

The Branch – Following detailed consultations with heritage architects we have submitted plans for pre-planning and are now moving forward into planning with a view to submitting a planning application in the Spring (2021). 

CAD drawing of reception spaceCAD Drawing of function hall

We are very grateful for specific project development funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund which has enabled this to happen plus support from PF Charitable Trust, Goldman Sachs and private philanthropists. 

The Church – we have had initial very positive discussions with Diocesan Advisory Committee and are now preparing for a formal submission to them in the New Year.  This will enable us to make progress towards planning next year.


To achieve this vision we are breaking down our fundraising into different chunks for different target audiences.  We have been amazed by God’s provision at our recent Church Gift Day where the target of £300,000 was reached and then surpassed!  In addition to a successful 'Big Give' Campaign in early December, we have also been extremely blessed by the support of local philanthropists, businesses and grant making trusts who have already given generously towards our vision for The Branch. Together, these different strands bring our current fundraising total to an astonishing £2.3 million in gifts and pledges. We can only praise God for such provision at a time when many charities have experienced huge drops in their fundraising.  
We are blessed with an extraordinary team of ambassadors who are promoting The Branch to local philanthropists and continue to pray for positive conversations with potential supporters. We also have a list of Trusts that we will approach next year to help us with the funding for both projects.

The success of the Big Give has left us in a strong position to fund our ongoing outreach work and we are submitting grant applications over Christmas that, we pray, will support our youth, children's and families work.

This project has prayer at its foundations - we have much to be thankful for, and much to pray for!  We have set a daily watch of prayer (6am and 6pm) and have also established a weekly time of prayer when we specifically lay this project before God, seeking his guidance and provision for the vision he has given us to serve the people of Chipping Norton.  We'd love you to join us, Mondays 12 to 1pm.  Due to Covid restrictions this is currently taking place online using Zoom.  Please contact Georgina for an invitation.

If you have any questions or suggestions about how to support the campaign either practically or financially, or have specific questions about the details of the project please do contact Georgina on  She will be delighted to hear from you.

What's happening soon?

Thursday worship Thu 5th Aug St. Mary's Church, Chipping Norton More info
Sunday Service in church Sun 8th Aug St. Mary's Church, Chipping Norton More info
Building to Serve Prayer Meeting Mon 9th Aug Zoom More info