A very strange sight here in Amberley on Tuesday evening.
I was mowing the lawns in front of the church and a church went past.
This does not happen often and I was pretty surprised, but had enough presence of mind to grab my phone from my pocket in time to take a couple of pictures so that I had proof when people laughed at me for telling them that a church drove past our church.
I looked carefully to make sure it was not one of our six Hurunui churches and was relieved to know that I would not have to phone the police saying that I was a priest calling to report the theft of a church.
Curious to know from whence it came and whither it goest I sent an email to parishioners with the pics asking if anyone knew anything of what was happening.
A dozen parishioners replied within a couple of hours with many different parts of the story. Finally the full picture emerged.
Until twenty years ago St. Mark’s church was in Rotherham and on its closure the Satterthwaite family purchased it and moved it to their farm for safe keeping. Now the beautiful little church is to become the chapel at St. Margaret’s College in Christchurch.
You can read the full story by clicking on the third image below and visiting the St. Margaret’s website.
Congratulations to all involved in this project. The closure of a church in a small community is always a very sad occasion. Often population decline and the ease of travel makes these small churches (in this case ten minutes from the larger centre of Culverden) unnecessary as people prefer to worship with larger congregations.
At the point of closure of a church the grief is most often from those who remember and recognise the labour of love that saw these churches built, often by very poor communities who wanted to ensure that the dwelling place of God in their midst was more beautiful than any of their own homes. Because these churches were constructed so well and of such fine materials it doesn’t take too much to restore them to the full beauty of opening day.
The Satterthwaite family deserve our gratitude since they stepped in to prevent the church being demolished or becoming an unused barn.
St. Margaret’s College have also done very well to recognise that the tradition of prayer and worship that this church was home to for a century is something to be preserved. Many schools instead opt to build multi-purpose spaces to serve as chapels which do not have a sense of the transcendent and sacred.
Some of our Catholic schools are considering the possibility of building chapels. In some of these cases there is a lot to be gained by saving a small unused church and giving it a new life. This is especially helped by the fact that young people today have a strong inner sense of beauty and tradition which is often lacking in we who are older. Just think how many young people buy run-down houses and take the time and spend the money to restore them to their original beauty.
Well done St. Margaret’s!
I encourage Food For Faith readers to support this worthy venture.
Click on the third image below (or this link) to visit the St. Margaret’s College website and follow the “donate” link below to indicate how much you would like to contribute. The Foundation will issue you a receipt and your donation is tax deductible.