As we celebrate – with the help of our Archdeacon – the new glass screens separating the lower hall and the main body of the church, it’s a good time to ask some rather bigger questions about how our building helps us in our ministry and mission.
Two goals adopted by the Church Council a couple of years ago are to make our building a better environment for worship and meeting and to make the building more accessible to the local community. At the same time we adopted two more specific objectives:
- To create more independently useable spaces within the building, including an informal meeting room;
- To reduce the impact of traffic noise inside the building.
Our Fabric Team, headed by Jacquie Sands, is now considering some options for the Church Council to consider. It is looking forward ten years and asking what specific improvements we could make to the building during that time to realise the Church Council’s goals.
We continue to have separate parts of the building which can’t be used at the same time. Noise from the street often interrupts our worship. During our services, up to half the church is unused, largely because of the position of the organ, which cuts off key sightlines. The upper hall remains inaccessible to some people. The only exit from the balcony when the upper hall is being used is down a stone spiral staircase, hard for some to manage. We have no small meeting rooms, where for instance a couple could meet in privacy with a priest. Our administrator is hidden away upstairs in a room designed as a storage cupboard. For most of the week the main west door of the church remains closed and it’s not possible for bypassers to even see inside. So there are plenty of issues to address.
And yet it’s a splendid building, which surprises and lifts people when they first come inside. We want our local community to feel it’s their building, one they can come into and use during the week. So it’s worth asking these big questions now. When the Church Council has specific ideas about possible ways forward, we will of course talk to the wider congregation, as well as other users of the building and our neighbours. Our aim is to fulfil our vision for the church, to be a visible sign of God’s kingdom on the Earl’s Court Road.