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The Parish of Three Saints

Re-Pitching Our Tent

Re-Pitching Our Tent

At a meeting held on 6th February 2016 at St Mary’s Church, East Brent, the Revd. Simon Lewis, who has been the Priest-in-Charge of our Parish since its inception in 2012, presented a major new project entitled Re-Pitching Our Tent to local Parish Councillors and other representatives of local organisations in our three villages.  With Geoff Searle, the Project Manager,  and Jim Hanmer he presented the thinking behind the Project.

Over the past few years, the Parish of Three Saints has been coming to terms with the realisation that their church buildings and facilities are not fit for purpose for the future growth and activities of the parish. Whilst St Michael’s, Brent Knoll, St Mary’s, East Brent and St Christopher’s, Lympsham are beautiful, grade 1 listed buildings, deemed to be of historical significance, the space within these buildings is inflexible not only for worship but for hospitality and social events. Their maintenance and heating costs are extremely high and becoming unmanageable.

Re-Pitching Our Tent is the Parish’s initiative to discover a solution to the problem of making these three church buildings “fit for purpose” for the future. Amongst the solutions the project will consider are:

1. Altering the inside or outside of all three church buildings.

2. Altering the inside or outside of just one or two of the church buildings.

3. Closure of one, two or three of the church buildings.

4. The building of a new church along with another neighbourhood orientated building next to it, as yet undefined.

5. Closure of the Church Office in East Brent.

A Working Group(WG) was formed in 2016 consisting of PCC members and community representatives from Parish Councils, Schools, other denominations and our youth.

It was important for all on the WG to understand the buildings and they embarked on a SWOT analysis of the buildings and Spider diagrams to pictorially present the challenges and opportunities.

This information, together with the background intelligence amassed by the PCC, was used to create a brief for our Architect to start the process of creating drawings, and vision, of what was possible.

These drawings were presented to the WG and, following improvements, to the PCC in December 2016.

The Diocesan Advisory Committee(DAC) is the body which decides what work can be done to church buildings. To understand their view of whether we were on the right track, as to do all buildings in one project is unique, our proposal was submitted to them in March 2017. A delegation of DAC members visited the Parish in August 2017 to gain a better insight. Following this visit, we were advised to develop a comprehensive Business Plan to prove that, following the prosed improvements, the buildings were sustainable. That is, if we remove medieval pews and create a more flexible layout, the buildings will attract community, and wider, use.

The PCC will be reflecting on this at its meeting in July 2018, with advice from the Diocese, on what progress is possible during our Interregnum.