An invitation from Revd Canon Anne Gell
The church we know and love today is not the same church which was first built here in 1840.There is no doubt that we are blessed with a lovely historic building, and yet its shape and layout has evolved over the years in order to facilitate the worship of God for different generations. It’s like the way that many people enjoy living in older houses and relish the sense of history they find in them. But you can be sure that they won’t be living with the kind of plumbing, lighting and heating that was used when the house was built!
In planning for the future we want to make sure that the wonderful old church building that is St Peter’s is a place which retains that sense of history and of being interwoven with the lives of those who have gone before. We want to ensure too that the building is as accommodating and comfortable as it can be for those who worship here now and for those who will come after. Our plans for the development of St Peter’s are a fitting recognition of how important this building is to our community and you can read more about the project here and the latest news here.
I am often struck by the timelessness of Christian places of worship, where generations of men, women and children have gathered on every kind of occasion to pray and to worship God. There is a real sense in St Peter’s of those who, over many years, have come together to celebrate God’s goodness and to give thanks for his blessings, as well as to find strength and comfort in times of grief and distress.
Initially it might seem that we could have very little in common with the first worshippers here, because the times in which we live are so different. Yet the human experiences of love, of loss, of soaring hope and deep despair differ little from generation to generation.For those who have gone before, and for us, St Peter’s has been a place which has spoken, and continues to speak of God in all kinds of situations. It has been a place where, for nearly 175 years, people have come to pledge themselves to each other in marriage, where they have brought their children to be baptised, and where they have come to mourn the death of loved ones. Generations of children have come with their classmates from St Peter’s School to celebrate festivals and feasts here, in their church.
We pray that for many years to come, people from this community will gather in St Peter’s, in the name of the living God,to celebrate, to mourn and to pray. In order for that to be so, we need to adapt and update the building whilst retaining the timeless beauty of this very lovely and much loved church.
The Christian life has always held together the paradoxical concepts of changelessness and change, permanence and pilgrimage. God is always the same; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13.8). But from the very earliest days, from our Jewish ancestors through the early Christian church and on to today, the people of God have been a travelling people, a people forever moving onwards as we respond to the unchanging truth of God in vastly differing times and places.
My prayer is that we would truly embody the trust of a pilgrim people in the unchanging love and faithfulness of God as we Move Onwards Together in our development of St Peter’s and my hope is that you will want to be part of this vision.