Above is a photograph of our now reordered, rededicated and reopened church of St Mary’s. I am so sorry that we were not all able to be there last Sunday as Bishop +Graham led our service of thanksgiving, but I hope you were able to watch it as it was live-streamed, or will watch it for the remaining time it is available, by clicking:
There were so many people to thank, so please find below the text of what I said at the end of the service. As you will know, from 1st November, All Saint’s Sunday, we will be continuing with our worship on Zoom at 9.30am and, for as long as we are not in the third tier, there will be a said Eucharist with music, at 11am in church for 30 people who will have booked. For details of how you can do this on future Sundays, please contact Betty Miller on: email@example.com or 020 8943 3561.
The church will also be open for Private Prayer from 3pm - 5pm on Sundays and 10am - 11.30am on Wednesdays. This will be for those who turn up on the day and my understanding is that this will also be for a limited number of people, due to the Covid restrictions.
Like you, I long for the day when we can all congregate in church again, in the meantime, please keep safe and keep joining us on Zoom if you can.
With richest blessings and all good wishes
Thanks given by The Reverend Jeff Hopkin Williams, Vicar of St. Mary's Twickenham, 25th October 2020.
3 Archbishops of Canterbury, 3 Bishops of Kensington, 2 Archdeacons of Middlesex, 7 Church Wardens, 5 Prime Ministers, 2,973 meetings later, and we are here at this marvellous moment, which marks the beginning of our new chapter in the ongoing story of St. Mary’s Twickenham and its attempt to provide a sacred space at the heart of this community for the making real of Christ and where significant moments in people’s lives can be celebrated and commemorated.
It has taken 12 years and 10 months since the first Reordering Meeting for us to get to this point in our attempt to honour one of our Mission Statements: "To use our buildings more creatively to help make God more real for the people of this area." Considerably less than it has taken other parishes apparently! We recognised some time ago that the previous, formal interior of dark, immovable pews, no longer allowed us to express who we now are as God’s people in this place. For example, no longer could all the pupils in our church school, which has tripled in size over the past 15 years, fit into their church. Now they will be able to do so, when the benches are moved to the side and stacked up, revealing a generously large space for them to all sit on the floor. Marvellous!
The acoustic of the building has been hugely enhanced, as you may have noticed, and I look forward to our hosting all manner of concerts here in the future, which will sound amazing. It is now a building which can be used for so much more than it could before and we must be open and alive to the opportunities it offers.
I am immensely grateful to those who have believed in this project, fundraised for this project, invested in this project, worked on this project and trusted us to deliver on this project. It has breathed new life into an old building allowing it to welcome and serve generations to come, whilst honouring and cherishing its architectural integrity and ecclesiastical purpose which is its very foundation.
So, chronologically, can I please thank all those who worked with me on the original vision for transforming this space, those who assisted with the identification of the right architect to guide our thinking and interpret our aspirations into a physical space, thanks of course to Richard Griffiths for being that architect with whom we could work. Richard, you came to us with years of experience and a distinguished array of architectural interventions behind you. You have successfully reinterpreted all manner of historic buildings, celebrating them and setting them in a contemporary context for them to be enjoyed, used and experienced in a refreshed way.
You listened acutely to what we said and to what we didn’t quite have the language to express and then you reflected back to us in this design, a space which pays tribute to John James’ original design, allowing his space to breathe again, freed as it has been from the Victorian imposition and interpretation and you have given us scope to enjoy our church in a new way.
With your careful respect for sacred spaces, you have been faithful to our original brief: to help us celebrate the transcendence and otherness of God by maintaining a sense of the numinous in the sanctuary and chancel, whilst also allowing us to experience the immanence of God in the gift of one another in the more relational and interactive space of the nave.
As you will see, we have laid out the church in this collegiate style for today, not only because it works with, and not against, the balconies, but also because I wanted to reference the illustration you included of your design for St. Mary’s in your recently published book,"Old Buildings, New Architecture."
Thank you for being our friend, our guide, our reference point, our legitimacy with the authorities during the course of this project. I hope you are happy with the result of our united endeavours.
My thanks then to those who set about raising funds to pay for this transformation, those who applied themselves to help us steer a course through the numerous committee meetings, those who donated and invested in the vision of this transformed, enhanced space and who prayed us through the transitions. I am grateful to each and every one of you.
For furniture we settled on Treske and I am delighted that Russell Clynch is with us from Treske today. First Tom, who then moved to Canada, and then you, courteously and carefully worked with us on ensuring that the pews and storage units, made by another Tom, met the highest standards which we both share. It has been a great pleasure working with you and please thank Lee who helped you deliver the pews and all your other colleagues back at the factory for us. They have done a super job and we are delighted with the result. We wish you and your company well in the months and years to come.
The wood for our floor, despite technically being English Oak, actually came from Wales, Because of the lockdown restrictions there, Julian Attwood from whose forests this wood derives, can’t be with us today. I believe he will, though, be watching online. If so, thank you, Julian, for taking the trouble to produce such quality wood which has not just been used in a church which Queen Elizabeth the First was once the Patron of, but has also recently been laid in Charterhouse, which played a significant role in her life, another of Richard Griffiths’ celebrated commissions. The wood is rich with quality and enhances our church wonderfully. Thank you.
It was a huge breakthrough for us to find Contractors who would work constructively with us in the realisation of our vision. Roseline have done that and more besides. It was less than a year ago that we were let down by the Contractors we had settled on and we did not have much time to identify new ones, without seriously interfering with the realisation of the project.
Roseline had been working on the property further downstream from here, which had belonged to one of our oldest attending parishioners. We approached them to see if they were interested and would be free to do the work when we had arranged the diary for it to be done. Again, we struck lucky. Sorry, we were led and blessed!! Lukasz and Michal, whom I am delighted to see here today, could not have been better partners on this project, again, excellent in listening and understanding, swift in responding, diligent in detail, reliable and respectful of the sacred nature of the space: you have helped make a time of potential turbulence into one of creativity and purpose. All of your team, though perhaps not speaking in English, have smiled in English and have been a delight to have around the place. Please thank each and every one of them for me: Robert, Slawek, Piotr, Matthew, Chris and the incredible Ivan. Your workmanship, here for all to see, is a shining testament to the quality of your skilfulness, marking you out for the craftsmen and professionals you undoubtedly are. I am sure you will have a distinguished and successful future in our community. We thank you and we wish you well.
When the pillars were liberated from the faux plaster columns which had encased them since the 1950`s, revealed were eight gilded lines on each of the edges, to catch the light. "If only we could reinstate those gold lines." I cried with Celtic emotion, only too well aware that we had no money left and even if we had, gilding the lily may not have met with others’ idea of parochial priority. However within 48 hours of my cry to the Heavens for aesthetic intervention, I received an email from a couple who had already been wonderfully generous, offering an extra donation, and I quote, "To do anything you wish Jeff, to give that final touch you think will make all the difference." Perhaps there is a God?! Well, within moments, we had contacted Richard Griffiths to enquire where we would go to get a decent gilder. So thanks to Saskia Huning, who is also watching us online, for her 5 diligent days of careful gold leafing of the pillars, linking the gold of the ceiling and balconies with the gold rays in the wood of the floor and of the benches, drawing our building together into a more harmonious whole. Marvellous!
But actually, the two people who have really drawn everything together, are Charlotte West and Gill Clark. It is they above all others who should take credit for what we all see here today. For their liaising with the church authorities, working on the permissions, spotting the contractors, sourcing materials, supervising all the work, being around from early morning until late evening, losing sleep, interrupting holidays, spending hours at their desks, on their ‘phones, on their computers, in the church, up ladders, on their knees, all in a determined effort to make this project work and make this project fly.
Today, they sit there fairly inconspicuously, but, but for them none of this would be done, or if it were, then it would not have been done to the standard that you see. Gill, Charlotte, it is you who are the real pillars of this project. We here present, those watching online, those who will worship in this church and visit this church, celebrate significant moments in this church in years, decades to come are all in your debt. We offer you both more thanks than I can possibly express.
So, here we are: at a new beginning, making ourselves available to God, to use this space as He pleases, echoing our Patron, Mary’s, words 2,000 years ago, "Be it unto us, Lord, according to your word."
Thank you to each and every one of you who believed in this project, trusted in this project, prayed for this project, donated and invested in this project and worked so hard to help this project to come about and be the thing of beauty which we see today.
May it now be a place of welcome, acceptance, affirmation, inclusivity, worship, sanctuary, calm, creativity, presence, beauty and wonder, where lives can be transformed and empowered to make a positive contribution to the ongoing story of our community and beyond.
As soon as possible, may it be a place where children laugh and sing, where friends are held tight again and where numerous glasses of Rioja may be raised in toast to only good things.
Thank you, thank God, for this place.
Please join us this coming Sunday, 1st November, at 9.30am for our Zoom service.
Our readings will be Revelations Chapter 7 verses 9-17 and Matthew Chapter 5 verses 1-12. Our Collect is:
Almighty God, You have knit together your elect In one communion and fellowship In the mystical body of your Son Jesus Christ Our Lord: Grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints In all virtuous and Godly living, That we may come to those inexpressible joys Which you have prepared for those who truly love you. This we ask through Jesus Christ Our Saviour Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit One God, now and for ever. AMEN.