Notes from public meeting

April 12th, 2008 David Posted in Diary reports | No Comments »


Notes of Public Meeting on 7th April at Waltham Village Hall – Harry Hunt Room
Re The Future of Waltham Church – Set in Stone?

Beverley opened the meeting by giving some background information on the church and advised that the problem with the spire has highlighted our dual problem of:

Repairs to the ancient building competing for time, efforts and finance.

Our desire to improve the church to suit the 21st Century ie.

1: It needs to be warm, welcoming & useful whilst keeping its ancient beauty.

2: It needs to be flexible for worship as well as for other uses. (A building that has lots of money spent on it needs to be used as often as possible.)

Beverley concluded by stating that our hope is that those who love our ancient church will help organise and support an appeal to repair and improve St Mary Magdalene church for the future.

A presentation was then shown and talked through by Shuna George, details of which can be supplied.

Kate Kingston, who helps to run Little Gems, a group which meet in the church, then spoke about how important the group was to the mum and babies/toddlers who attend and how necessary the platform (which is a fairly recent addition) has been to them meeting and to the children having space to play in safety.

There was then a question/discussion time. Most of the points raised are summarised below. Various people commented as follows:

Would like to see encouragement of use of the building by non-Christians

Suggested setting up a Friends of Waltham Church to fund-raise for the church and would be happy to participate in this group.

One person said that they felt money had been wasted on platform, sound system etc. Could not see why we wanted a disabled toilet or why any pews should be removed.

Advised that approximately one-third of villagers (in any one village) are disabled in one way or another and the lack of toilet facilities may well prevent them going to church. Also reiterated that Little Gems have found the platform to be essential for their children.

Felt that there were two options open to the church – either to be ‘religious’ and not change in any way or to become bigger and better, by applying for grant monies.

Felt that the structural repairs needed to be done first. Added that Disability Discrimination Act lays down necessity for providing Disabled Toilets.

Said that the platform was very necessary and useful for musical events and a great improvement.

Said that the pews needed to be taken out to create a useful space.

Advised that they had been put in by the Victorians and that the church had been re-ordered three times during the 19th century.

Suggested we needed to consider if the church was to be a holy place

Liked the idea of the church being used in different ways.

Backed up the suggestion of a Friends of Waltham Church for people who don’t worship in the church but would want to keep the building going.

Reminded/advised us that the building of the present Village Hall started with a similar meeting to this.

Suggested a questionnaire round the village to be collected by volunteers (as was done when the Village Hall was first thought of).

Advised they were happy to lend a hand re the questionnaire.

Said it sounded like a group should be formed to discuss how to open the church up to the community – we would need input from the village. However the chancel roof is in need of urgent repair.

Said that the view of those there seemed to support auctioning the urgent repairs and fund-raising for those.

Stressed that we should look at the whole picture as funds raised to repair the chancel roof could be used as our ‘contribution’ for large grant applications which could include all the improvements/repairs which we want to make. Also made the point that if we approach funding bodies for a small amount, it is then difficult/impossible to go back to them later for a larger or additional amount.

Agreed. Suggested also that we advise the village that we need their help to fix the roof or they would lose the church.

Also made the point that we need a ‘vision’.

Suggested hiring a consultant to advise on filling out grant applications. They could be ‘shadowed’ on the first one and then the knowledge would be available for subsequent applications.

Suggested that we set up Emergency Appeal at the same time as canvassing village for their input. If there were excess funds, after repairing the chancel roof, then this could be put towards a consultant.

Felt that we needed to consolidate ‘vision’ to put to villagers.

Felt there were 3 clear views:
1 Money needed for the roof repair
2 A questionnaire should be put round the village
3 This would then enable a ‘vision’ to be created and put back to the villagers for their response.

Suggested approaching people in the registers(baptisms, weddings etc) to help.

Suggested advertising on the scaffolding.(Peter S advised that planning permission would probably be necessary) (Beverley mentioned that we were looking into David Stirling’s suggestion of a banner with the website – www.saveourspire.org.uk – address on it.

Felt it would take a long time to go back and forth to the villagers and thought a group with vision was needed so that an outline plan of what church improvements/repairs were planned/desired could be presented to the villagers for their comments/offers of help.

Felt strongly that the PCC should take advice from experts, as costs incurred would be recouped in the long term.

Suggested advertising the Gift Day- Saturday 26th April – , when Beverley and Clare (and dog) will be sitting under the lych gate, from 8am till 2pm, accepting monies, in the local press.

The meeting ended (at 9.30pm) with Beverley thanking everyone for attending and asking people to fill in their details on a list with what help they were able to offer.

ACTION POINTS

1. Raise money for roof repair

2. Draw up questionnaire to go round the village

3. From information received, create ‘vision’ to be communicated round village.

GIFT DAY TO TAKE PLACE ON SATURDAY, 26TH APRIL

Beverley, Clare and dog to sit under lych gate at Waltham Church, from 8am till 2pm, to receive monetary gifts in the traditional way. If you want to donate via the website – www.saveourspire.org.uk – then please do so. Please remember that, if you are a taxpayer, you can greatly increase your donation by using and signing a Gift Aid envelope. These can be picked up on the day at the lych gate or from Isobel Smith, The Mount, 53 High St, Waltham.

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