It is a fact that the men and women who either inspired or funded the building of our great cathedrals and abbeys never saw their plans accomplished. Most of them took hundreds of years to build and whilst their motives may have been mixed, they remain enormous testimonies to the faith and vision of our forebears.
We now enjoy the benefits of what they set out to achieve as sacred spaces dedicated to the worship of the Triune God and as the repositories of outstanding and beautiful examples of craftsmanship worked in wood, stone and glass.
Although many of these ancient buildings impose a levy to wander around their entirety, there is invariably a space set aside for private prayer for the pilgrim and the earnest and sincere believer.
Over the last year or so the Church here at St Anne’s has been the recipient of generous benefaction. Individuals have chosen to include the Church in their wills and to leave it a percentage of their estate. For some people this will only come about many years hence.
Rather like those who funded our cathedrals these people have looked beyond where they are and thought to themselves, How can I maintain the ministry of the Church of St Anne in 50 years time? For this we must be very grateful indeed.
There are many churches up and down the country that maybe, only 40 years ago, had flourishing congregations, vibrant Sunday Schools and outstanding choirs; their situation is somewhat different now; I came across one such only recently in Norfolk. The reasons for such demise are no doubt various.
However, whilst we must live in the present moment we must also make provision for the future. That necessitates some sort of vision that impels us to ask ourselves the question, “How important to us is the Christian faith and do want future generations to be moulded and shaped by it ?”
All of us at St Anne’s are the beneficiaries of the endowments of our predecessors – Mrs Holt who persuaded her husband to build the Church in 1799, the Kenyon family, Mrs Culley, the Rothwell family, the Whitehead family and many others who looked beyond where they were and put the Church organ in, or the pews or who purchased the Churchyard, the Coronation Doors, the wooden panelling and much else besides.
We are also the beneficiaries of 216 years of constant prayer and Christian devotion; a visiting monk once said of this little Church how struck he was by its atmosphere of holiness. With its doors metaphorically wide open to all it tries to be a place where the tired find rest, where the bereaved find comfort and where the joys of life are celebrated.
Lent is a period of time when we think seriously about the Christian faith and the many blessings that we receive at God’s hand. Pray God that in 100 years time people will still be able to cross the threshold of St Anne’s and continue to discover, as we do, something of the love and peace and grace of God in their lives.
As the expression goes, one of the proofs of endearment is endowment.”
(Our treasurer, Roger Morley is always very happy to discuss the matters raised in this article.)