Royston Parish Church set to reopen following devastating December 2018 fire
21st November 2022
The congregation of the parish church of St John the Baptist in Royston are gearing up for a series of events to celebrate the restoration of the church building after a fire destroyed much of the interior almost four years ago.
Thanks to the energy and support of the congregation and the wider local community, the church has been restored to better than its former self, with full accessibility, more efficient lighting and heating, a new kitchen, disabled toilets, baby changing facilities, AV system and new moveable chairs.
Although the damage caused by the fire was a shock for the church, the church council and congregation saw it as a time to think about how the church building can be a better resource for the people living in Royston.
Speaking ahead of the reopening ceremonies, Vicar of St John the Baptist, the Revd Heidi Huntley, said:
“After we had taken in the shock of the damage caused by the fire, we realised we had an opportunity to think hard about our purpose in Royston and what else we can do to serve this fantastic town.
“The way individuals and local organisations rallied to support us when we were down was so encouraging and needed. I want to thank everyone who supported us and kept showing their interest in what we were doing to rebuild and reopen the church. All the local support enabled us to go beyond just rebuilding the church to how it was before the fire.
“We’re thrilled to be able to repay all that kindness by restoring this building in a way that means it’s much more useful as a community space.”
The new chairs are an important part of the vision for the church to be a flexible space, as there is no hall for social events and meetings. The old pews were destroyed by the fire, and so the decision was made to raise money to replace them with elegant chairs, similar to those used in St Paul’s and Canterbury cathedrals. So far, over 200 chairs have been bought through the church’s ‘Sponsor a Chair’ fundraising initiative.
The festival of re-opening will kick off on Saturday 26 November with an open day from 10am to 3pm. On Sunday 27 November there will be a town service of thanksgiving with popular hymns and light refreshments. In February 2022 the Bishop of St Albans will re-dedicate the church building.
Full details of the festival of reopening can be found on the church’s website, at www.roystonparishchurch.org.uk.