St Lawrence Church Bidborough

St Lawrence Church, Bidborough

Know God, Show His Love, Grow His Church

Southborough Team

800th Anniversary

Vicar's View - February / March 2018

Bidborough Church

A month ago, in the middle of the afternoon on New Year's Eve, we had a sneak preview of 2018, as our daughter video messaged us from Sydney, where the firework display was taking place over the harbour just after midnight had struck - and so we entered the 800th anniversary year of the formation of the Parish of St Lawrence, Bidborough. I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you about the various significant things going on this year.

Project 800

Our anniversary has, as you know, given its name to 'Project 800' - our response to many years of hoping and wishing that we could have toilet provision at St Lawrence's, and re-order the building inside to create more flexible space, as well as upgrade the elderly heating and sound systems. A huge thank you to all who have supported Project 800 so far. We have come a long way and just passed the £250,000 mark towards our fundraising target of somewhere in the region of £350,000. This is a wonderfully generous response.

To bring you up to date, I am delighted to be able to report that Planning Permission for the extension has been granted, and the Chancellor of the Diocese, who ultimately grants permission for the work to take place on the church, is currently looking favourably at our Faculty application, and awaiting the detailed specification of the works before giving final approval. There is still a long way to go, and much work to be done, but this is a hugely encouraging start. Now that Planning Permission has been granted we are able to apply for some grant funding, but we shall still need further donations, so if you feel able to give further financial support to the project, we would be most grateful.

A New Proposal for Project 800

There is a new development that I would like to mention here. From the launch of Project 800, several church members have commented that we would gain a far larger usable space in the Victorian 'South Aisle' if the organ pipe box were not in situ, as it takes up a significant amount of the area which will provide the new fellowship area and social space in the church. The majority of our sung worship is of course led by the organ, so we had not initially considered the removal of the pipe organ and replacement with an electronic alternative. However, there are a number of factors which made us look at this again.

One, as mentioned, is the space that would be gained (there are aesthetic reasons to do with removing the organ box which partly obstructs the view of some of the fine windows too). The second is that contemporary electronic organs, now used by many churches, are of a very high quality which can replicate the sound of a pipe organ. The third reason for considering this is that due to other family commitments, it is not always possible for our team of organists to cover every service, and the advantages of an electronic organ would be that it would include a piano 'voice' and could be played by a pianist, and would also have the ability to play hymn tunes automatically - either from a pre-programmed collection, or from 'live' recordings made by our own organists.

Given these factors, the Project 800 group now feel that it would be a good idea to include the removal of the organ pipes and replacement with an electronic instrument within the current project, to save further disruption to the church building in the future, should this need become more pressing. We are very aware that this was not part of the original Project 800 remit upon which people decided to donate funds, and so we are keen to inform and consult on this issue with all before making a final decision. If you would like to know more about this significant proposed additional part of the Project, please speak to me and we can discuss the matter.

800th Anniversary Celebrations

There are a couple of other significant things to mention about this 800th anniversary year. There will be a Village Fête on Sunday August 26th, and a special service that morning in church presided over by the Bishop of Rochester. We expect other events to take place that weekend, and at other times during 2018 - and if you would be interested in being part of the planning and preparation for those, please do get in touch with me.

Parish Developments and Changes in 2018

Finally, this 800th year is also a year in which we at St Lawrence's, together with the other churches in the Southborough Team Ministry, and the Archdeacon and Bishop, are exploring the shape of Anglican ministry in this area. It is likely that this will result in a new configuration of churches, with the formation of a Group ministry, in which a number of churches and parishes, each with responsibility for their own local area, also commit to working together for the sake of the wider community or town.

The suggestion, first proposed by the Bishop following a period of local discussion, is that St Lawrence Bidborough and St Peter Southborough might become one parish (having worked increasingly closely together over the past 16 years within the Team), and form a Group with the parishes of St Thomas and Christ Church in Southborough. If you would like to know more about these proposals, please do have a word with me.

Thank you again to all who have supported Project 800, as we seek to celebrate our 800 year history as a parish by improving both our facilities within the church, and the way we do mission and ministry in our local community and beyond.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments relating to anything I have mentioned here.

With every blessing

Stephen Hills

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February 2018

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Crisis Recovery

The Day Centre would be happy to receive donations of second-hand clean clothes and shoes for their guests (particularly men’s clothing). If you can help please get in touch with Alan Richards on 528916.


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