Rev. Beverley’s update

March 18th, 2008 David Posted in Diary reports | No Comments »

Dear residents of Waltham and friends of Waltham Church,

First of all I would like to say a big thank you for all the encouragement and concern that has come the way of the church, its congregation and its leaders. Your kindness has kept us going!

Of course there is a lot of shared anxiety too and I am sorry that due to the weather and the processing of the insurance claim it has taken so long to start work on securing the spire and starting the long rebuild. The latest I have heard is that scaffolding will start on Wednesday.

It has become obvious that many people, in the village and beyond, have a love for St. Mary Magdalene Church. Some people love it as a fine medieval building in the centre of a beautiful village, but many others have special memories and special stories to tell. Since the damage to the spire, people have been telling me interesting snippets from community or family events. And quite a few people have suggested that we ought to launch an appeal, even though the vast majority of costs to repair the spire will be covered by insurance.

Parish Churches are in a period of change, just like so many treasured institutions. Gone are the days of rich benefactors, glebe and a vicar in every village. You can ‘do religion’ on the internet and all churches are encouraged to experiment with fresh expressions of Christianity (Cool Club is one such group) as well as inherited ways of being church that are still loved by many loyal church goers.

Medieval buildings cost more and more to maintain, just at a time when church finances are stretched more than ever before. And yet I believe rural people are not ready to give up on buildings like Waltham Church.

However we must continue to open them up to a wider variety of uses whilst still keeping the integrity of the historic fabric and our Christian foundation. It would not be appropriate to spend the vast sums of money needed on a building like Waltham Church if it is only going to be opened up two or three times a month for services.

The new wooden platform at the front of the nave, the fixed powerpoint projector, the art exhibitions, the Little Gems Toddler Group meetings on Wednesday and the increased school use have been visionary responses to this need to share the church with the community. We would like more.

Thanks to the generosity of the congregation and the people of Waltham, the Church meets its running costs and the church council has some money in reserve to keep on improving the building. A new heating system, improved storage, a disabled toilet and a simple servery are on the current wish list. The dilemma is that we cannot spend what money we have on these improvements, and on repairs to the fabric of the church as well.

The Church Council would love to launch an appeal that would set the church up for the next decade or so. This would mean raising money for repairs and for money to continue to enhance the inside of the church. This would be our preferred option and we would only hold onto a minimum of the reserves to meet small additional costs, putting the rest into the appeal fund. This would be a big appeal of over £60,000. We hope there would be support for this but realise that this is a big undertaking that we cannot do by ourselves.

In order to give everyone a chance to have a say we have booked the Harry Hunt room at Waltham Village Hall for the church AGM which will then be followed by a public meeting. All will be welcome to come to either or to both on……..

MONDAY 7th April . 7.15p.m Church Annual General Meeting

8p.m Public Meeting both in The Harry Hunt Room, Waltham Village Hall.

If there is sufficient support by the end of this meeting for an appeal then we intend to hold a Gift Day on Saturday April 26th. From 8a.m to 2p.m Clare and I will sit under the lych gate and receive your monetary gifts in the traditional way. If you want to donate via the website instead then please do so. Or just put a donation through the vicarage letterbox. Please remember that if you are a tax payer you can greatly increase what you give by using and signing a Gift aid envelope. These can be picked up on the day at the lych gate or from Isobel Smith, our Treasurer, at The Mount, 53 High Street. After the Gift Day we would hope that people who love the church would organise a fund raising event on our behalf and also that a small group might get together to apply for funding from grant making bodies.

It really is a chance to set the church up for the next generation and your opinion is of great value as we consider and pray about the best way to serve God and the local community at this time.

Thank you for reading this detailed letter. Please do talk to any of the Church Council members about this, or to myself, or to Richard Snodin the Village Heritage Officer.

Finally, can I wish you a Happy Easter. We would love you to come to Waltham Church on Easter Day. The Family Communion Service will be held in the Village Hall at 11a.m. For details of other services please look on the church and village notice boards and monthly in the Village Voice.

Best wishes


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