A Reflection as We Enter This Vacancy

During this period of change when we are all looking forward to the process of discernment for choosing our new vicar I have also been looking back to see where we were 19 years ago and what changes have been made.

When David had his first meeting with the then Archdeacon two things were mentioned.  The first was likelihood that St John’s would be closed and the second was the possibility that the Sunnyside Vicarage would be sold off!  The Archdeacon retired shortly after that meeting.

David had other ideas and invited Helen and Martin King and Carol and John Lewis to become part of the community at St Johns. Martin, Carol and John were Readers and Helen was a musician and had been playing the piano once a month for our Family Service.

Things were fairly basic in the church no water, no toilets. The women of the village had to carry water to the church each week in order to have refreshments after services. It was a scene you might have expected of a Third World country.

The nearest water main on the church side of the A41 was 500m away in Sharpes Lane.  As we were unable to afford the cost of engaging a contractor we did it all ourselves, digging most of the trench by hand, then using a mini-digger for the rest. A toilet was then built into part of the vestry and Bishop Christopher came to bless the new facilities!

Next we realised that we had over 50 children in the village – but nowhere for them to go. We were given an old caravan which was parked (without Diocesan approval!) behind the church as a temporary measure. We decorated it and it housed up around 7 or 8 children during our Sunday services.  They became the Caravaners and were very disappointed and upset when the new Parish Meeting Room was built and their temporary home was dragged off to be scrapped!

It is now nearly 10 years since the new Parish Meeting room was built.  It was an extraordinary project driven by Martin’s vision for what we could achieve.  The room was designed by Architect Nick Wood, a member here at Sunnyside, and the money was raised by fund raising events and donations from our supporters.  This was achieved, without the need to borrow any money, under the careful stewardship of out Treasurer, Edith.  It was Edith who, unlike any other Treasurer I have ever known,  exhorted us to give more to charity famously declaring at one of our PCC meetings: ‘The more money we give away. The more we receive’

Our Parish Meeting Room not only allows us to enjoy fellowship together after the services, our time over coffee can take longer than the service itself,  but it also is used for our House Group, our Pot Luck Lunches and various parish meetings and we offer it to other churches who like to use it for ‘Quiet Days’, ‘Away Days’ and their own meetings.  We also have Pilates, various craft activities and After School classes there.  It is also ideal for Exhibitions and just last week we had a week long Open Studios Exhibition by local Artists.

So that is my reflection on where we have come from over the last 18 years, it is tribute to the loyal faithful parishioners and a testament to the importance of the Reader ministry which the two couples brought to St Johns and the vision of David in suggesting that they might like to become part of the community at St Johns.

We look forward with excitement to the next 19 years and beyond.