Monday, 27 February 2012

Marching into the Unknown

By close of play this evening, my Little Church will have undergone not one, not even two, but three significant changes. Each is distinct from the other, each bold, each apt to cause a few problems - but each being the right changes to make.

In my opinion.

The first is the (re) introduction of Evensong
Second is the church being open during daylight hours
Third is the first meeting of a newly formed Communications Group

I am the sort of Christian who has eyes to the future, with a heart rooted in the historic and tested, and with a desire to share what and who we are with the wider world. This seems to be covered well by the changes of this day. 

During my relatively short ministry (which is to say, short enough not to have found the need to write a column for Rupert Murdoch) I have lamented the ever increasing numbers of closed churches, and church communities that exist (with their life-saving good news) behind a shroud of mystifying unknowing. Who really knows what goes on in a church except those who have managed to find the doors open? The answer is simple - very few. 

We live in an age that is fearful of crime, hungry for sustenance and spiritual nourishment, and amply blessed with cheap devices that communicate. Why, then, do we ignore two at the peril of one? My church doors are open at this very moment, and the chances are even that it is empty of regulars. Will the lecturn get snaffled? Maybe. That said, if they wish to steal our brass budgie, it is the PCC who are in greatest peril - from a personal injury claim from the Muppet who tried to lift the thing. Seriously - I weigh the probabilities of theft in one hand with the possibility of a stranger finding God by coming into doors that are open - and there is no real contest. I can buy a new lecturn. 

But why all the secrecy? The funky-monkey churches are all genned up with their Comms - and they grow by virtue of it. Us of a more vested and sacramental bent conceal our life and triumphs under a doily of decency or the antimacassar of polite self-deference. 

Not no longer. 

This church in West London is open for business. We are going to shout about it. We have something that everyone needs and it is our absolute duty to ensure that as many as possible are given the chance to access it. We are going to take a mature, informed, market approach to what we are and what we do and we will not apologise for it. 

And yes, a good Evensong is a fine way to close off a spring Sunday. 

Our Insurers, Ecclesiastical, when asked how we may open our church and remain insured said:
Ecclesiastical does not object to the Church building being left open during daylight hours provided:-
 1.         All valuables are locked away.
2.         The altar is furnished with wooden replica's in place of your silver communion items.
3.         The Church must be locked during the hours of darkness.
4.         Ideally, a person responsible to the Church would check in at intervals during the day to ensure there are no problems. 
If the Church being left open appears to increase the likelihood of claims being made, we may need to review the situation.
 It is not recommended that the building be left open during the night, any Church wishing to be unlocked during the night will be subject to a loaded premium.


  1. I'm actually going to show this to our vicar as I think it's useful. I bet our church is littler than your church.

  2. Good Luck David. You stand a better chance than most of achieving your goals. The combination of heart and head should be a winner.

    Is there no group of willing volunteers in your new community who would be prepared to 'man'-'woman' the church to lessen the likelyhood of the light fingered brigade getting away with your goodies?

    Evensong sounds a very attractive proposition.

  3. I very much hope this works out. Just one point. I would have thought John Sentamu was a ma n after your own heart in wishing to communicate his faith to as wide an audience as possible. Best wishes.

  4. Dave - thanks for your comment, and in most of it I agree. I think me and ++York are both alike in many ways, but I think that then and there were perhaps not best chosen.

    Ray - pop over sometime!

    Claire - mine is the tiniest Church ever built by the hands of God, so there!

    Thanks all for your words. Pax

  5. We keep three of our churches open when possible during the day. Definitely not at night, unless there is a planned activity or service.

    We seem to lose petty cash from the votive candle donation box, not sure how? But otherwise, we keep the goodies locked away, with replica's on the Main Altar and the Lady Chapel Altar.

    It seems to be a risk worth taking. Occasionally we'll find someone asleep in the church, one was asleep in the church yard at the height of the recent snow. But most find their way to the Vicarage where help can be offered or they can be signposted towards help locally.

    And if we are looking for small Churches, St Mary's at Nackington or St Mary's at Patrixbourne might well be in the list.

  6. I always tried to keep my churches open as much as possible and people really appreciated it. Granted these were all country churches, but there are thieves in the country too and we never lost anything.

    Good for you as far as reintroducing Evensong is concerned. Our newish vicar has discontinued it as numbers had dropped off a lot and I really miss it. Sigh....

  7. Well done, Vicar. Practice generosity, always, but especially in the face of small mindedness and fear.



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