It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost behind us and we will soon be reopening many of our organisations and activities after the summer break.
We anticipate the work in the church will be underway as you read this month’s magazine. Some people have asked me about the background to this project. Some years ago a parishioner gave me an article about disability access in church. It was written by a young woman who had become a wheelchair user in her late teens. She described the huge challenges she faced in wanting to receive holy communion in her home church, sit with her family and do things most of us take for granted like attend her friend’s granny’s funeral or a family wedding. It prompted her to undertake a survey in her home diocese in the south of Ireland and she discovered only a very small percentage had any provision for access for people in wheelchairs or with mobility issues. As a Vestry we had been looking at this question and taken advice from a leading ecclesiastical architect’s firm called Consarc.
We were almost ready to go with all the statutory planning permissions approved when the world was placed in lockdown following the arrival of Covid. The Vestry at that time made the decision to install technology and equipment to enable us to stream services when the building was closed and other possibilities were explored about making the church and halls more accessible. In the intervening time, costs have risen considerably and we have had to adapt the scheme in order to make it more affordable.
There is an article by Jim Haughey, the Rector’s Glebewarden in this month’s magazine outlining the nature of the work and its likely duration. We recognise that it will cause inconvenience for the duration of the work to have to worship in the hall and we are grateful that the contractors are making it possible for our organisations to meet and reopen in September by accessing the church halls along a designated path. The important condition around all of that is that no cars will be allowed on site for the duration of the work.
Anyone who has ever had building work done around their homes or businesses will be aware that it does cause inconvenience. What we keep in mind and ever before us is the end goal of making our church building more accessible and user-friendly for those with mobility issues. We want our church to be a safe and welcoming space for all who cross the threshold and we look forward to the completion of the work.
Our Sunday services will take place in the hall with the 9am and 11am services taking place in the Huston Hall. The 7pm service will take place in the parochial (Upper Hall) to facilitate setting up for our Toddlers’ Group on Monday mornings. We will need some help with the setting up of the halls on a weekly basis for Sunday services especially with the setting out of chairs for the 11am service and for putting away chairs after and setting up for Toddlers on Mondays. We hope people will be able to assist with that on a rota basis, setting up after the 9am service at around 9.45am for 11am and there will be lists for volunteers.
We look forward this autumn to restarting our Life Groups in people’s homes. We haven’t been able to meet in this way for a few years now with the lockdowns after Covid. This will be an opportunity to read the Bible together, to get to know a small group of people a bit better and to look for ways in which those small groups can bless the local community. If you would like to be a part of such a group please contact the Rector or the Curate.
Our Bishop is hosting the annual Bishop’s Bible Week from 29th August-1st September in Willowfield Parish Church. The speaker is Reverend Greg Downes, a theologian and missionary and director of Kingfisher Ministries and the evenings begin at 7.45pm. Greg will also speak at a youth event at 7.45pm on Saturday 2nd September also in Willowfield. Each evening includes worship and a time of prayer ministry when a team of people would be glad to pray for you or someone for whom you feel concerned. The studies this year are in the 1st chapter of Colossians and the theme is True Conversion. These are very special evenings of teaching and encouragement and we hope you will be able to come along.
I also hope to interview Greg on my podcast ‘Bitesize chunks of Faith’. That interview should be on the Bitesize Chunks of Faith page wherever you get your podcasts by the time this magazine goes to print.
We want to wish everyone well who is starting school for the first time, maybe moving to a new school or university or returning to school. Our prayers are with you for the new term and we pray for this new season of activity in our parish.
With very best wishes to everyone.
Jonathan Pierce (Rector)
Telephone 02890 793822