You may be wondering what has changed over the last four decades given the nature of my previous post on the church where I grew up….
The pews are mostly gone, replaced by chairs. This happened in the early 1990’s. The logic went thus – small church, small population, small amounts of money. We have to attract in money from outside. Fetes are hard work, and don’t produce enough. So let’s make a flexible performance space and hold concerts, deliberately aimed far wider than the parish. As far as I can tell (this was my last regular contact) this has worked a treat. I do hear from time time of people who know the church because they have been to concerts there.
The lighting has been changed, and the heating updated. Alleluia. It looks fab. It meant grants left right and centre for the work, and was a lot of work to do, but the benefits are still tangible years later. Well done for foresight!
The qualifying connection rules for weddings changed nationally, and the church promptly reached out as far as it could. It has a spectacular reception venue right next to it. Well done to the incumbent who has made huge efforts in this direction – and I love the photos of couples to be married each year, on the board at the back, so that we can pray for them. That’s a lovely way to connect the congregation with the Occasional Offices, something with which many churches struggle.
The hymn book has been updated (hurrah) and this happens about once a generation. You can see from the photo that this is not a church which lends itself to screens for worship!
So describing the congregation as “change resistant” is deeply unkind. Here are people who are very very conscious of their deep roots, and who want their church to be around for the next 1000 years. You might not agree with their way, but I am glad of their efforts.