Fr. Ed Tomlinson has reported on a couple of occasions in the past two weeks:
13th June: The new parish hall is very nearly finished. So this Sunday we are holding a special Mass at 11am to be celebrated by Monsignor Keith Newton of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. After Mass a ribbon will be cut and the new hall will be blessed and sprinkled with Holy Water.
14th June: The official opening
This morning Monsignor Keith Newton visited St. Anselm’s in Pembury to officially open the new hall by blessing it with holy water in a special devotion following mass. After which the congregation stayed on for a glass of bubbly and some special cake which Sue had made for us. (Unfortunately Fr. Ed was not able to be present himself as he was unwell.)
We had hoped the hall would be completely finished but there are, in fact, a few more jobs to do. On Monday new flooring is being laid and the external walls will be given a final coat. We are also awaiting new doors for the main entrance and until then temporary doors are in position. But aside from these final details the hall is in place and looking delightful. It really is going to transform what we can do, ensuring we have both space for the community and permanent space for worship.
22nd June: A new chapter begins
On Sunday the new hall was used as the venue for our Sunday school. After several years of witnessing the poor children jammed into insufficient space on a tiny sacristy floor it was a moment of genuine liberation. Now they have tables and chairs and space in which to move. This is great news!
It was also the first time we could use the new entrance into church. The doors need a few finishing touches but are now operational. The glass is welcoming and provides lots of light for the new lobby. Which is also now finished affording all visitors to Saint Anselm’s a view of the high altar on which the sacrament will eventually be housed.
So now it is time to sit back and reflect. Over the coming weeks and months we must adapt to fit our new surrounds. The pre-school will be experimenting on how best to set up the new hall to suit their needs. And in church we will be pausing before bringing in the new pews to ensure we make informed decisions.
The five year plan has come to a close then … in four years not five! For which we are hugely indebted to those who managed the build. The project has come in just £94 over budget which is quite an achievement and evidence of how well things were managed. The next five year plan will see a significant chunk of the debt paid off on the hall and plans put in place to further beautify the church. But for now the pause. Time for reflection on all that has happened thus far and time to give thanks to God for the development of our parish.