As I write this letter I have just returned from a week studying The Reformation. I wonder if any of you have ever been to Morebath? Morebath was, and is, a tiny sheep-farming village in Devonshire. In the sixteenth century it was inhabited by thirty-three families who worked the land on the edge of Exmoor. During the English Reformation, this tiny community found themselves living with the effects of reforms in the Church, whilst living under the Monarchial rule of Henry VIII, and his children; Mary Tudor, Edward VI and Elizabeth 1st.
What is very special about this community is that detailed records were kept of all their Parish activities by their Priest, Sir Christopher Trychay (in the sixteenth century priests were known as Sir, not Father). In a commentary spanning fifty years we read of the daily lives of a Priest and his Parishioners who experienced first hand the events that took England from a Church rooted in Catholicism, to early forms of what eventually became the Protestant Church. Through the accounts of Sir Christopher, we are given a glimpse of life in a rural world subjected to instability and rebellion. But throughout all the tumult of events happening around them, the villagers and their Priest never wavered from their commitment to worship the God in whom they placed their trust.
Significantly, they always had a new project afoot connected to the upkeep of their Church and how its inner fabric reflected their beliefs and worship.
We are soon to embark upon the refurbishment of our building, a project in which many people have invested of their time, their money and most importantly their prayers. The architects, builders, electricians, plumbers and other professional bodies will provide us with a fabric within which we will have the opportunity to celebrate our faith and beliefs. New disabled access will entitle everyone to enter and exit the building through the same door. Movable seating will give us the opportunity to explore alternative ways of worshipping. A kitchen and open space in the porch will provide further facilities for hospitality and fellowship. And of course, new plaster and paint will brighten our surroundings reflecting the glory and goodness of our God.
I won’t promise to keep detailed records like those of Sir Christopher but I truly believe that when people look back on our efforts, they will see a community committed to serving God in this place, in this time. We walk forward in faith. Let the next stage of Emmanuel’s journey with God begin!!