Rector's Letter - January 2003

My dear friends,

Here's a piece of good news to celebrate the New Year: the result of our application for funding to English Heritage has come through.  It has been approved to the tune of just over £80,000!

Here's another piece of news to sober you up (just in case your New Year celebrations went with a particular swing): the overall cost of works required on the Church are in the region of £300,000!

Let me tell you how these figures break down.  Just under £200,000 is related to repairs and maintenance on high level stonework and roofing, and is the final stage of works that were planned a number of years ago, but held up by the lack of English Heritage support at an earlier application.

The further estimate of something over £100,000 is to cover works related to repair/replacement of the organ and to allow the Church to meet the 2004 access regulations by provision for the disabled.

These figures may of course increase!  And seeing as we have to raise such a large amount it is also worth asking whether this project would be the time to consider whether there are any modest developments we might wish to make to the interior of the Church.  It would be a great shame if the only contribution that a generation of Christians in the 21st century could make was the preservation of our heritage without the development of our mission.  It has been the contribution of the two together that has given us such a wonderful, fascinating and beautiful building.

A few home truths: raising over £200,000 will not be easy.  We haven't started yet and I'm already having sleepless nights!  It is not a project to be solved by a few coffee mornings!

It will require a great deal of faith…

It will require a great deal of sacrifice…

And it will require a great deal of sheer hard graft…

…Without our living faith in God, we become a museum of antiquity for that quaint old-fashioned little thing called Christianity.  But this is for God and his glory!  It is to allow countless future generations to enjoy an inspiring building that leads them to contemplate the greatness and majesty of Almighty God without a word being spoken.  And I do believe that in a time of retrenchment and defeat for the Christianity in our society, now is exactly the time for the Church to be bold, faithful and confident in the power of it's message and mission.

…Without sacrifice the necessary work simply cannot be done.  I do not intend to spend every week preaching on Christian giving.  Quite frankly the needs of the congregation are too diverse and important for that particular agenda to hijack what we do.  But £200,000 will not all be raised from applications to grant awarding bodies or local businesses, it will also be raised from amongst ourselves - not by making sponsored abseils, but by prayerfully and quietly making challenging individual gifts from our own wealth or poverty, of tens, hundreds, or thousands of pounds.  Some will achieve this by giving from their savings.  Some will do extra sessions at work.  Some will cash in investments.  Some will make adjustments to their wills.  Some will adjust domestic budgets.  Like the Magi at their adoration of the Christ-child, we will "open our treasures and present unto him gifts".

…Without energy, commitment and involvement from the whole Church, this project cannot even begin.  Can I entrust this to your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks and months?


Happy New Year!

 Jeff Cuttell.

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