Most of you will know that we have been thinking, talking and blogging about how to make our building more fit for mission by increasing its impact and usability for more than a year. I preached about this last Sunday and possibly you want to read it again here:

Clearing the Nave

Work started on Thursday, 12th May at 6am (!!!). Under the leadership of Fr Simon and Matt, several volunteers removed all pews. This went a lot quicker than anticipated and by midday the nave was free. Repairing and cleaning the pews took the rest of the day, but by 5pm we managed to have a very welcome beer in the Robert Peel. A huge thank you to Peter, Tony, Ben, Phil, Adie and Kathryn who made short work of a big job.

On Friday we again started at 6am and this time cutting the slots for the new positions required particular skills and tools. Fr Simon was on site until 10.30pm to finish the job – I had gone to bed before he left the building. Again, huge thanks to him and Matt, Peter and Joyce for helping on the day.

Monday to Thursday Dean from Hollyoak Floors was in church to restore the wooden floor and Tuesday saw an extremely impressive operation by stonemason James Elliott with a large number of professional helpers to disassemble and move the High Altar (and yes, I cannot wait to burn that hideous red curtain…).

On Friday Ben, Gill, Mick and I applied the floor paint – which again worked out quicker than anticipated. Many hands make fast work!

We also tackled the layer of concrete above the beautiful caustic tiles in the sanctuary – there is quite a lot of damage here but hopefully the floor can be restored to something resembling its former glory. The wooden floor on the south side of the sanctuary has rotten underneath the vinyl tiles and needs replacing sooner than later, but the north side floor has been sanded and painted.

On Sunday some of you will have witnessed Fr Simon, Matt, Adie and Ben putting back to pews in record time – all slots were cut the week before and when we finished with the Mass in the hall almost everything was in place.
Thanks to all who offered their help to with this project – from making tea to professional expertise. Many of us contributed – including people who are happy to help us without being part of our church community. The generosity I experienced has been rather humbling.

What happens now?

More work needs doing both in the nave but particularly in the sanctuary. The black frames around the wooden platforms need painting and I live in hope that something can be done to the caustic tiles before 12th June.

Ben is going to paint and gild the wooden frame of the High Altar, replacing the somewhat hideous gold paint with a pattern mirroring the old tiled sanctuary floor from 1862 – remnants of which you can find behind the High Altar. The first image below is a photoshop impression of what it might look like.

Whilst this work continues and tools and stuff continue to lie around we will continue to celebrate the Mass in the Hall (and I humbly need to eat my words about moving back into church!). There is no emergency for moving back into a half finished church and it will be adding to the occasion of the consecration of the restored High Altar that this will be the first time we are worshipping back in our church. Apologies for not thinking this through before talking about it!

What can I do to help?

Both Saturday 28th May and Saturday 11th June are cleaning days from 9.15am to 11.15am. Could you give an hour or two and join us to get the church ready? Your help would be most welcome as obviously the church and everything in it is rather dusty after all the work of the past weeks.

Altar Consecration and Parish Feast, Sunday 12th June

Please come and join us if you possibly can! This is a significant date in the life of our parish as the altar is the central item in church. Bishop Peter Fox and his wife Angie (the genius needleworker who restored the altar frontals in the two side chapels) will be with us for the day to consecrate the altar and after all we have achieved together we have all the reason to celebrate!

Could you make and bring something to eat? Drinks and a Hog Roast are ordered and will be ready, but we do need other things to eat. Please let Esther know if you are able to bring something so that we can coordinate what might be needed via
As usual for events at St Andrew’s the weather will be nothing short of glorious and the company exceptional and inspiring!

Fr Johannes