The future of the Windermere Centre

The future of the Windermere Centre, one of the United Reformed Church’s four Resource Centres for Learning was discussed during four separate sessions of Mission Council. The discussion was wide-ranging and careful, and included the Centre’s financial position. Mission Council considered three options:

  1. To pursue a partnership with an ecumenical hospitality provider;
  2. To continue to operate on the current model and;
  3. To close the Centre.


The conclusion was that of the three options, Mission Council was minded to favour the third option to close the centre. With sadness, Mission Council considered that the financial challenges of keeping the Centre open are too great and it did not wish to continue underwriting the costs of maintaining the Centre. The finance and the education and learning committees, noting that the final decision about the Centre has not yet been taken, have been tasked with looking at the full implications of closing the Centre. The two committees will bring a report to the next meeting of Mission Council in May 2017, and it is expected that the final decision on the future of the Windermere Centre will be made then.

A clear call was made to Mission Council to use the Centre as much as possible between now and May 2017. There was absolutely no doubt about the high regard which members of Mission Council have for the staff at the Centre, with many people speaking of the great hospitality and service provided by the Centre.

Mission Council, the education and learning committee and the Human Resources office at United Reformed Church House are mindful of the importance of:

  • The pastoral care of the Windermere Centre staff
  • The legal requirement for proper consultation with the staff
  • To consider any alternatives suggested in that consultation
  • The value of the work of the Resource Centre for Learning to the denomination
  • The need to consult with the URC Trust, the Windermere management committee, the North Western Synod and Carver United Reformed Church.

Mission Council asked the education and learning committee to bring to the May 2017 meeting of Mission Council creative proposals for the continuation and development of the work that the Windermere Centre has been involved in, specifically its pioneering work on digital discipleship and iChurch.

Mission Council fully recognised how distressing this uncertainty is for staff, and is committed to keeping them as well informed as possible throughout the coming weeks and months.

The full text of the resolution reads as follows:

Mission Council, mindful of the importance of:

  • The pastoral care of the Windermere Centre staff
  • The requirement for proper consultation with the staff
  • The necessity to take seriously any alternatives suggested in that consultation
  • The value of the work of the RCL to the denomination
  • The need to consult with The URC Trust, The Windermere Management Committee, the North Western Synod and Carver URC.

Instructs the finance and the education and learning committees to look at the implications of ceasing to use the Windermere Centre building and to bring to Mission Council in May 2017 detailed proposals to enable a final decision to be made in the light of all the above consultations.

Mission Council thanks (the ecumenical hospitality provider [name of provider deleted]) for its continuing support to the Windermere Centre but does not wish to pursue the option of a formal partnership.

Mission Council agrees that the budget support arrangements for the Centre made in November 2015 should remain in place until at least its May 2017 meeting.

Mission Council requests the education and learning committee to bring forward creative proposals for the continuation and development of the Resource Centre for Learning. This should include exploring how the work on digital discipleship may be carried forward.