The church at the Community of the Resurrection had fallen into a poor state of repair. It had been many years since major work was last carried out on it and as a result it was no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
There had been no heating in the church since the boiler failed in 2008. This failed boiler supported an outdated and inefficient blown air system which was uneconomical and unsustainable. We got through the winter of 2008 with wholly inadequate temporary heating. Whilst in summer the church’s stonework provides a cool haven from the sun, by autumn it becomes bitterly cold. Therefore, in December 2009 the church closed as a place of worship until the refurbishment could be completed.
The church receives many visitors and groups each year and has become a place of pilgrimage. Yet the church’s many tiers and steps made it inaccessible to people with mobility issues, visitors and brethren alike. To get from one end of the church to the other involved moving across 8 different levels and 14 steps. This led to the daily eucharist being moved from the Resurrection Chapel, which should be the heart of the Community, to the small altar at the west end of the church. These accessibility issues not only limited the Community’s ministry and the opportunity for some members of the brethren to worship, but it constrained our ability to enable the many groups who now visit us to use the whole building, and to provide access to the educational and heritage resources which we hold in trust for future generations.
The choir stalls had also become a problem. Several years ago we began sitting in a horseshoe between them. The new arrangement benefitted the worship immeasurably, but the problems with the old stalls were still felt by our visitors who continued to use them. Furthermore, we struggled to seat all our visitors at times. Therefore, a renewal of the choir was needed that retained the horseshoe arrangement while overcoming inaccessibility and shortage of seating.
The church’s electrical wiring failed in 2007 - a short-term solution was to re-wire the church with a system temporarily tacked onto the walls. That system was ugly and unsympathetic. The church also needed new lighting and sound systems. The old lighting system was inadequate and inappropriate. If we are to glorify God in our worship, we needed to create an appropriate environment. This also applied to the sound system, which was far from sufficient for such a large space.
On top of all that, the church needed thorough redecoration and some structural repairs. In particular the ceiling had become discoloured with unsightly staining caused by the failed heating system, and needed remedial treatment and redecoration.
All these elements of the refurbishment enable us to use the building much better for our mission. We wanted to enable the building to be worthy of that witness to the centrality of God which we believe we are called to proclaim to the contemporary world.