An international ‘mega-church’ that counts pop superstar Justin Bieber among its former members unexpectedly bought the old racetrack building in Golders Green – just weeks after the controversial end of the approval of ‘an Islamic religious center on the site.
Hillsong Church, which describes itself as “on a mission to see the kingdom of God across the earth,” was founded in Australia in 1983 and operates churches in 28 countries, including 12 in the UK.
He has now stepped in to buy the iconic site next to Golders Green metro station from the Iraqi Shiite community of Markaz El Tathgheef el-Eslami, which for four years failed to secure the space as a religious center. Islamic. The straw came in July, when Barnet’s strategic planning committee deferred its verdict on the request. Lawyers representing the Markaz group had previously written to the council claiming religious discrimination.
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Jewish News understands that contracts between the church and Markaz have been exchanged and that completion is scheduled for the new year.
A church spokesperson said Jewish News: âWe aim to be a positive influence in the region. We recognize the importance of building to the community and look forward to playing our part in contributing to the work of local churches and charities through our outreach programs.
Hillsong intends to invest in the structure of the century-old building and use it as a North London hub with services run on Sunday mornings.
Alan Jacobs, spokesperson for the Golders Green Residents Environment Group, which led the campaign against the demand for a mosque to be established at the racetrack site, said Jewish News: âHillsong Church is a progressive, diverse and inclusive organization that recognizes the value of working with local communities.
âTheir services are popular around the world and we look forward to welcoming them to Golders Green. The Racecourse has suffered from underinvestment for many years and we are delighted to hear that Hillsong recognizes the historic significance of the Racecourse and is considering investing in the structure of the building.
Jacobs added: âThe previous owners failed in their attempts to obtain a building permit to use the racetrack as a mosque due to the daily traffic and parking problems that would have resulted. The use of the church is usually on a Sunday, which Golders Green is better able to handle. “
Singer Justin Bieber was a member of Hillsong until earlier this year when he had a public argument with one of the church’s senior pastors.