Building for the Future
We are so fortunate to be part of the family of a vibrant and growing church. As “a living community of faith at the heart of the village” we continue to seek to cater for all ages and backgrounds and for those who find Church inaccessible either physically or spiritually. We want to be especially hospitable to children, families, and people with physical infirmities.
Wherever we look in our Church we see signs of people’s love for God and a desire to build for the future and to meet the needs of their time.
Last summer we wrote about our plans to build for the future. Since then we have installed the screen and projection system. We have also improved the seating and created more flexible space by the removal of pews. To make access easier and more welcoming we shall shortly be installing the beautiful new inner door which is partially glazed and will replace the Victorian door which is badly warped and draughty.
It is now time to move forward with a much-needed project which we have all been considering and praying about for so long.
Many of you will remember that four years ago the PCC sought to extend the building to provide a meeting room for up to 30 people together with kitchen and toilet facilities.
However a number of sincerely held objections were raised to that scheme. It was felt that the scale was too bulky, that the design was unsympathetic, and the protrusion beyond the Baptistry and close proximity to the ancient tower were very unwelcome. It was felt that more use could be made of the Village Hall and that the existing church building could be used more flexibly. The very close proximity of the new building to graves would also be a cause distress to relatives. It was a scheme which “was not to be” and the PCC rightly decided not to pursue it.
There was however widespread support and understanding of the need for basic sanitation and simple kitchen facilities.
Wealden District Council recommended that the Church pursue a modest addition to the north side of the 1962 extension which would leave the older parts of the building untouched and be further away from the graves. It was also recommended that existing church space be used more flexibly.
As a Church we have listened and acted upon these suggestions. We now make extensive use of the Village Hall for Sunday Club, and many other activities and this will continue. Some pews have been removed and replaced with high quality seating so that the building can be used more flexibly.
However the absence of basic sanitation and hospitality facilities is awkward, sometimes embarrassing and does not allow us to use the building to its full potential. The lack of toilet facilities prevents some people from attending church altogether.
At weddings and funerals the first question people travelling from a distance ask, just before the service, is not whether there is a toilet but where it is! Lack of these facilities can cause acute problems for children and the elderly as does the absence of baby changing facilities.
There are many ways we would like to make use of the newly created flexible space in the church but they are hindered by lack of facilities.
A new small space incorporating a small galley kitchen and toilets could also be used as a “quasi crèche” during services and a mini reception area for bridal parties and a private area for families attending funerals to assemble.
For many months we have been considering how we can meet both these continuing needs and also past concerns. We have prepared revised plans to provide these essential facilities.
The proposed addition is dramatically smaller, no longer including any large meeting room. We have been meticulously careful to ensure that, as far as we can see, the proposals are in accordance with WDC previous recommendation and people’s feedback. We have embarked on consultation and have been encouraged that these smaller plans, subject to normal planning procedures, have been sympathetically and well received by The Diocese of Chichester, Wealden District Council, English Heritage and the Gilbert Estate. The plans are on display in church and there are “Informal open house exhibitions" for all members of the community in early March.
The PCC is unanimous in their support for the project and we have been very encouraged in all the discussions we have had so far, please do tell us what you think. Please also pray that God will guide us and lead us in the direction which is right for His glory and in His service.
Anne Mudd and Peter Hewitt Churchwardens
This page last modified on: 09 March 2012