When St. Wulstan's Church, Bournbrook joined the parish in 1980, the structure was set for the next two decades: three separate congregations under the overall leadership of the parish vicar, based at St. Stephen's. There were still many parish-wide activities (including a weekly joint evening service) which served to maintain a strong parish identity, but each centre remained largely autonomous. A combined (and very large) Parish Weekend was held in 1987; but it was the last one ever, as each centre organised its own such events after that.
The residential Weekend Away became an important part of building up the community within the Church Centre. Five of these events were held between 1989 and 1997, the favourite location being Hothorpe Hall in Leicestershire, which we visited twice.
A large group visited the Iona Community in 1995, while other external influences such as that of John Wimber and the Vineyard Fellowship were absorbed into the life of the church. in 1991, a Church Centre family took the first of three truckloads of relief supplies (collected by church members) to Romania, establishing links which are still maintained. Every house in the roads around the Church Centre was called on over a period of a few weeks one summer.
As numbers continued to grow, the limitations (and limited lifespan) of the building became ever more apparent. The Building Project, begun in 1995, served to deepen our commitment to the Church Centre in particular as we worked through the implications of this huge undertaking.
Following on from the leadership of David Veness, four more curates were appointed in turn to lead the Church Centre, each making his own contribution to its development. In the Church of England, a curacy is normally a stepping stone to a more senior post, usually lasting about 3 years. In order to provide more permanence, the post was re-styled as Associate Vicar in 1997, when Nigel Hand joined us.
By 2000 it was apparent that the Church Centre was outgrowing its "junior" status within the parish structure, with Sunday morning attendance now regularly exceeding the 150 mark. Discussions started among the three parish centres, with the Diocese, about the way forward. The conclusion was inescapable: the time was right for the Church Centre to become fully independent.