A mission project that involves a building
During the early part of last summer, I drove over to Blakeney to hear a workshop led by Dr Nigel Walter who, by profession, is not only an architect but also a theologian.
The content of the morning looked promising, with the session called “transforming your church building for mission”. Sitting in the audience with numerous other PCC members from a variety of parishes I awaited his take on this subject with interest.
He began by looking at the concept of what, actually, is a church building? Various ideas were put forward: was it “an art historical document?”, “a machine for worshipping in” or “a shared story”? Moving through these diverse concepts he never lost sight of the primary purpose of our churches: to be a local centre of mission and ministry which must serve us as the local community. He went on to explain some of the vaguer mysteries of the ecclesiastical exemption and faculty jurisdiction, explaining that whilst all our churches had a primary purpose (to enable mission) most of them (certainly in this Diocese) were also important historical buildings. As we all know, therein lies the paradox: of enabling us as faithful Christians to use our church buildings better whilst understanding that it can feel like walking on a tightrope when changing their layout is being considered.
A particular quote he used, from a certain Mr Winston Churchill, stuck with me: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Nigel’s idea that it’s a ‘conversation’ between us and our churches was quite refreshing, not that they are our enemy but most certainly can be sensitively and practically adapted to mirror more clearly where we are as Christians in what sometimes can feel like a nation out of love with its national Church.
After a break and a chance to chat with members of other churches, most of whom face the same questions in how to make their churches work better, we looked at practical examples of adapting the buildings and the considerations that we needed to take into account. I will leave you with a direct quote from Nigel, one that seems to identify quite clearly his approach to dealing with churches: “This is not a building project … but a mission project that involves a building.” Wonderfully refreshing and led by a man with a real understanding of what it’s like to care for an historic church, I cannot recommend his approach highly enough.
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Ready, steady, welcome
With Spring imminent and the tourist system started, you may wish to, if you haven’t already, consider getting your church ready for visitors. Don’t forget welcoming is an important mission opportunity.More
The Children, Youth & Families (CYF) Task Force is currently comprised of fourteen members from around the Diocese representing key projects and specific areas of ministry relating to children, young people and families e.g. Schools and Mission Work, Open the Book, Under 5’s.More
Relief easily achieved online – obtaining a faculty
Just over twelve months ago the PCC at All Saints, Beeston Regis agreed that, if it was possible, we should proceed with the installation of a disabled friendly toilet inside the church and a local firm of architects drew up some sketch plans.More
A faculty or not a faculty? That is the question
What does and doesn’t require a faculty?More
Arriving easily at our destination – the Route B way
Every time I raise the issue of repairs to the church with my PCC, you see their eyes roll and hear mutterings along the lines of “not another faculty – it’ll be years before we get anything done”.More
How ‘good’ can come out of a ‘bad’ situation
The lovely church of St Mary’s, Northrepps in North Norfolk had lead stolen from the chancel and vestry roof in 2017.More
Ensure your church website is compliant with safeguarding policy
The Church of England’s Parish Safeguarding Handbook (available at www.DofN.org/safeguardinghandbook) which all parishes and clergy are required to comply with, states that parishes must “ensure that safeguarding arrangements are clearly visible on the front page of the parish website”.More
Confusion reigns – is the PCC a charity?
Yes! all PCC are charities. Currently PCCs with incomes over £100,000 a year need to register with the Charity Commission.More
Could this ‘Special Person’ be you?
As a major way forward for our churches I cannot emphasise enough how important it is that we get a Legacy Officer on each PCC.More
A guiding hand, The Church Building Ambassador network
As a Diocese, we are committed to growth in discipleship, service and numbers.More