One of the Church of England’s greatest assets is its historic church buildings, ancient parish churches and cathedrals. Thousands of people visit these buildings to worship regularly or simply as visitors, curious as to the stories they tell. However, these churches are also in many ways one of the Church’s greatest burdens. The cost of maintaining these historic buildings is huge and also costly in terms of time and energy for their clergy and congregations. We at All Saints know about this only too well as we are responsible for the upkeep of our medieval building. We are of course hugely grateful to the Friends of All Saints, who, over many years, have raised very large sums of money earmarked for the sole purpose of maintaining the fabric of the building.
Of course the maintenance of any church building must never be an end in itself, an object we worship, for worship of the building is a form of idolatry. All Saints is, yes, an historic building but it is primarily a place where God is worshipped and where his people are resourced to engage in mission and service to the parish and the building must be, as they say, fit for that missionary purpose. In recent years it is quite remarkable and wonderful how many historic church buildings have been reordered and refurbished to reflect the 21st century missionary purpose of these churches and their congregations.
At All Saints we are beginning conversations, and I stress only beginning, as to how our building might be further developed. The Local Ministry Development Team (LMDT) has spent a lot of time exploring the crucial topic as to what makes a welcoming church. Of course it is primarily people who are the living stones of the church building, and the ministry of welcome is their responsibility. However, the layout and appearance of the building speak volumes as to whether the church is open and welcoming. One of our current problems lies at the north door of the church by which people enter the church. Very often there is congestion there and this can be frustrating not just for regular worshippers but for visitors and newcomers, and of course sidesmen, who want to be welcoming to those who enter the church.
Currently, there is a discussion about removing several pews on the north side of the church to create a welcome area, thus relieving us of the congestion at the north door before a service begins. It is interesting how the LMDT’s discussions around the welcome area have also led them to dream dreams of a glass door replacing the heavy wooden north door, and also how redecorating the church would greatly enhance the overall, welcoming appearance of the church’s interior. The LMDT, the Fabric Committee and the Parochial Church Council (PCC), are all involved in these conversations about developing the interior of the building, as well any outside bodies who would have to be consulted when alterations are proposed to an historic building such as All Saints. Of course, ultimate approval for any potential refurbishments of the church, lies with the PCC, and perhaps most importantly money has to be found to finance such a project.
In the coming days these conversations and discussions will continue, and I for one hope and pray, that in the fullness of time, they may be a first step in the refreshment of the interior of our church building, giving the impression to all who cross the threshold of the church, that we are unquestionably a warm and welcoming church.
The Revd Canon David Lawson
Christian Aid Prayers:
Please pray for Haiti
We are continuing our emergency appeal for Haiti this week and please continue to pray for this and for those who are helping in the disaster affected areas. Please remember all those affected like Viola from Torbeck in southern Haiti. Viola sits outside her home, trying to dry her bed, clothes and other belongings. She lost the roof of her home during Hurricane Matthew and has been left in a desperate situation after the storm destroyed all of the banana crops in her backyard. Christian Aid and their local partners are distributing shelter materials, water purification tablets, food kits and cash to help people survive in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and rebuild their lives.
Read the Septemberl 2016 Campaign Update from our Christian Aid Committee.
The Kings Langley Christian Aid Annual Report for 2015 is available for download.