Lessons from Southrepps
In 1993 St James’ Church, Southrepps received a legacy of £750,000.
A working group was formed to consider the best use of the huge gift, the outcome of which has resulted in a well designed extension constructed to a high standard. The ground floor includes a kitchen and small hall (large enough to seat up to 25 around tables), toilets and store rooms. The upper floor has a larger meeting room and an office, and a rear door allows level access to the church. The office was fully equipped, including a phone line (and probably dial-up internet!).
At the time the parish was part of the Trunch Team Ministry and these developments created a ‘headquarters’ for the team, with a paid administrator and facilities which the whole team could draw upon. Activities included a toddler group and all age worship (a ‘Fresh Expression’ of its time) as well as allowing village groups to meet there, including a choir and a ‘Friendship’ group. The church is open daily and visitors and walkers benefit too.
Although much depleted, the trust fund continues today, administered by trustees (who include the incumbent and Churchwardens) independently of the PCC.
However, a word of warning; relations between trust and PCC have not always been good and tensions have sometimes arisen, and, whilst this is a really good asset for the church, it has also created the impression that the church is wealthy and therefore does not need support from the village. Stewardship has become very poor and the trust has paid all the bills and supported the wider benefice in Share contributions.
We are now starting to rebuild good relationships with the village; a new drops in session now runs monthly (organised by a villager) and we are about to start a new toddler group with support from the Diocesan PlayVan. In August the church will host the 8th Music Festival, and Southrepps Chorale uses the church for concerts as well as supporting major services throughout the year – and these would not be possible without the generosity of this legacy and the lovely rooms we have available.
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