When I wrote my first message for the Transformation Project webpage three years ago, it felt as if I was writing about a vision for a distant future. But the realisation of the dream is swiftly drawing near. I even dare to speak about approaching the final stage, now we have raised approximately two thirds of the money needed for completion of the whole project.
The vision behind the project is still the same. We had experienced how the lack of facilities such as modern toilets, a meeting space and kitchen, the absence of a levelled access from which everyone would benefit but in particular the disabled, and the inflexible church layout, was a hindrance in our aspirations to grow. So we started by installing energy-efficient heating, a state of the art sound and audio-visual system, and new energy-friendly lighting. Within months we saw growth, a greater interest in the life of the Parish church, and a response from the community that illustrated the potential of the site as a place for meaningful and fine worship, for education, culture, music and drama.
Despite these positive signs after the first improvements, we felt that we could do better as a church at the heart of the community. There is a great need for catering for residents, and in particular the vulnerable, isolated, disadvantaged, elderly, bereaved and young. But not only small gatherings, but also running big events of a liturgical, educational, cultural, social and entertaining nature will be made much easier with the new facilities. As an example, when we will have completed the project, a large organisation such as the Diocese will never again have to decline our offer to run a training day at St Mary’s due to the restrictions of our pews or outdated toilets which are inaccessible for wheelchair users. We have missed out in many other ways on great opportunities to reach out to all groups in the community.
Bringing the project to completion by raising the remaining funds will make us more sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly. It will be a new start not only for church people but for the entire community of all backgrounds. This is no longer just a dream, it is the reality of taking up our responsibility as a church to serve the society, care for the weak, protect and endorse our heritage, strengthen unity and promote tolerance.
We are very grateful to all those who have given so generously since the launch of our appeal. If you haven’t had the opportunity to donate and would like to find out how to contribute to this wonderful cause click on the link below.
Rev Erwin Lammens
Rector, The Parish of St Mary’s, Wivenhoe