Parish of Blunham
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This last year has been overshadowed by the pandemic, when the stone masons stopped work on the kitchenette and toilet in advance of the first lockdown in March 2020. They were able to resume sometime after construction workers were allowed back and, despite the odds, complete the construction of the toilet in September 2020. Volunteer craftsmen from the village installed the kitchenette and white goods, and one of them constructed a low, oak partition when we ran out of money. Church members made generous donations for the materials for the screen.
We feel this is a real achievement in difficult circumstances.
We successfully applied for a grant from Heritage England to make urgent repairs to the damage to the south porch roof which had further deteriorated during lockdown, and this work has now been completed.
Some fund-raising events have gone ahead as planned, including our main fundraiser in February 2020 (the Big Book Sale), and Gift Day. We were able to raise money in other ways – a raffle, on-line sale of hand-made goods, sale of old gold and silver.
The community supported us – a local business donated flowers for Mothering Sunday; money raised from a community Christmas tree and raffle was shared between three village organisations including our church. We feel this is a result of our active presence in the community.
This church set up and largely runs the Zoom services for the Benefice which have taken place every week in lockdowns and during the first few months of 2021. We have reached new people through these Zoom services.
We held two outdoor Café Church services with communion for the Benefice.
The church building has been registered as Heritage at Risk, which we hope will help us successfully apply for grants to make the building water-tight, repair masonry and replace rotten pew platforms. We know that this is no reflection on what happens inside the building.
Our three readers led the Benefice service in August
The Benefice magazine is up and running, though we were unable to deliver to every house on three occasions because of concerns about the virus.
The pandemic meant that there was a further hold-up to the kitchenette and toilet when lock-down stopped construction – our contractors pulled out their workers earlier – but it is now functionally complete as the screen is for aesthetic purposes only.
Even though we now have a kitchenette we have been unable to hold Messy Church services, or a breakfast club for parents and younger children after they have dropped off their children at school.
All our plans from March 2020 onwards for community involvement and fundraising had to be put on hold, apart from Gift Day.
We were unable to involve the village in how people would like the church to be used.
The Big Book Sale for February 2021 has been postponed – this is our major fund-raiser.
Our vision is to have an ongoing, active presence in the village revealing the light and love of Christ through our worship, our words and our actions.
2021 is the 400th anniversary of Dr John Donne becoming Rector in this parish as well as Dean of St Paul’s in London. We have planned a series of events including a special service to celebrate when he became Rector; a talk by the current Dean of St Pauls; a display of scenes from the Bible with knitted figures; a concert of music from the 17th century with readings from contemporary writers.
We would like to create a special area in the church with information about John Donne.
We would like to apply for a grant to the Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out urgent repairs, thus making the building more welcoming to the village. This may not be until 2022.
We would like to hold a community service, possibly outside, to commemorate 2020 and the people lost to the virus.
Reflecting Christ’s life in the way we live, especially the fruit of the spirit by:
loving one another
increasing our faith
listening to one another – showing empathy
Using the updated facilities to make the church building welcoming to the community.
Establish a monthly Messy Church, in collaboration with the school, to start in September 2021.
Making a programme of events to engage with the community
Publish monthly in the Benefice magazine, on Facebook and on the Benefice website details of upcoming events