“Church reordering refers to the rearrangement and adaption of churches, while retaining their primary purpose as places of worship”
It was in the 1980’s that the first efforts were made to reorder our Church building. Now, 30 years later, we plan to bring this to fruition. Over the next 4 issues of the Newsletter, I shall be explaining the plans that we have in place, detailing exactly what you can expect the reordered building to be like, and highlighting the resources that we need to deliver the plan. This is what you will see in our Church building for Christmas 2019.
As you walk from New Road to the Church building on a Sunday morning, you’ll see the new glass-panelled oak doors, wide open for you to enter through inner glass doors at the west end of the Church. By opening up the west end, we make it easier for everyone to enter the building, with wider access for buggies and wheelchairs , and space in the new lobby to shake off the rain before entering the body of the Church. In the lobby will be two toilets, including one for those with less mobility. It will be a bright and welcoming entrance lobby with a floor mat made from recycled materials.
Entering then through glass panelled double doors, you’ll see a completely revived interior. You’ll see the majesty of the original building restored with its pale “Ware white” brickwork, highlighted by the red arch bricks between the pale stone pillars. The carpeted floor will draw your eyes towards the east end of the Church and focus your attention on the spectacular stained glass window that has Jesus at its centre.
In place of the pinewood pews, we are asking the Diocese to approve comfortable upholstered chairs, which will have timber frames and a continuous bench-type design, thus harking back visually to our traditional pews. The fabric colouring will fuse with the brightly cleaned brickwork and new carpet to create a calm, welcoming space for worship. For flexibility, the chairs can be moved to create different layouts, or stacked to clear the floor area. Discrete under-seat book boxes, and arm-rests on end chairs make it more comfortable and accessible for everyone.
The south porch entrance under the tower, which everyone uses today, will remain as the main route for those from the car park and Church Centre. We need to improve access here for pall-bearers, by raising the height of the doors, so the glass and interior timber doors will be replaced. The font will remain where it is now under the tower.
At the west end of Church will be a new tea and coffee servery, with cupboards to hold the crockery and glassware, new worktops and a servery counter that will be much safer and easier to use than today’s system. Non-slip flooring and renewed electrics, with provision for a small dishwasher and steam extract, will bring it up to modern safety standards. Folding glass panelled doors enable the servery to be closed off to reduce noise, and be opened at the end of the Service for everyone to enjoy their refreshments.
Also at the west end of Church will be a Quiet Room. This will have half-frosted glass panelled doors, and be equipped with its own toilet and baby-changing facility. The plan is to enable the room to be used during Services, with TV and sound feed so that anyone in the room can follow the Service in a safe space with the door closed.
The continuous ceiling that will be built across the servery, lobby and quiet room under the west window lends itself to be used for occasional seating of up to 30 people. One challenge of the design is that we would have to install a spiral staircase for access, which although it raises concerns of safety and cost implications, will provide us with a unique architectural feature.
You’ll immediately notice that it will be warmer in the Church. The original Victorian floor of timber and flag stones rests on brick walls, all of which have deteriorated beyond useful life. It is being replaced by a new floor with under-floor heating, making the carpet warm throughout. Around the walls, additional heating ducts will counter the cold air that comes through the leaded windows. Unfortunately, the window structures make it all but impossible to install double-glazing, but new energy efficient boilers will reduce gas usage, and supply hot water for the toilet hand-basins and servery.
As you take your seat, you’ll notice that for normal services, there is more room between rows. If sitting towards the rear of the Church, there will be a couple of video screens located nearby so you don’t have to strain to read the words. An area will be designated for the new sound loop system to assist those with hearing aids. Our Sound designer will install new speakers so that sound is heard evenly throughout the Church. The carpet and soft furnishings will further improve the clarity of sound from speakers’ microphones, the Bands and the Organ.
Looking forward towards the Chancel, you might notice the new ramp on the right hand side which provides easy access to the raised stage and then into the Chancel. In the centre, a glazed screen with glass doors is proposed to separate the Chancel area from the main body of the Church. This screen has two functions – firstly so that the Chancel can be used regularly for worship with its new seating, improved heating and carpeted floor; and secondly, so that the Chancel can be physically separated from the body of the Church that secular Community groups will be encouraged to make full use of during the week.
A retractable projector screen, which will display the video words and pictures during Services, will hang high above the Chancel screen. Its careful positioning will improve the clarity of words and pictures, even in strong sunlight. When it’s not in use, you’ll have an uninterrupted view of the stained glass window.
New cupboards will hold hymn books and much of the “clutter” that appears around the Church, and the Band area will be tidier and safer too. Under-floor channels will take much of their cabling, and all other surface cabling that is a safety hazard today, will be removed. The lights above the stage will be enhanced, as will the lighting throughout the Church be improved to current standards. Low voltage lamps will significantly reduce our electrical usage, and allow modern control systems to be installed for easy use and greater safety. The Sound and Visual control desk is being relocated to the back of the Church “out of the way”.
This work as been planned by the Building Committee with the PCC for more than five years, and we are extremely grateful to them for dedicating so much time and care on behalf of us all, in getting to this final stage. Much of the work is absolutely essential following years of deterioration. However, the extent of the work carried out will depend entirely on our ability to fund and resource it in the next 21 months.
In the next article, I shall lay out our plans and progress with Resourcing, including the jobs that you can offer to do for your Church reordering.
Management Committee Chair