Christ is Made The Sure Foundation …
At last, we have moved on from an Archaeologically-Approved hole in the ground to start constructing a Diocesan-Advisory-Committee-Approved building. We can also report a successful Dwr-Cymru-Approved and Church-in-Wales Approved connection to the main drainage system in Main Street. (All we need now is the building to connect to the connection.) And all this is being done within Government-Approved guidelines for Covid-19.
Please excuse the sarcasm here, but I’m afraid it reflects a real life where so many authorities have to be placated before work of any kind can be done. With so many barriers erected in our way (apart from the safety one around the excavated hole) a lot of faith has been required to keep going with our building project.
Actually, ‘Faith’ is a key point. There’s a popular line of argument that ‘church is not a building, but its people.’ The flaw here is to suggest they are mutually exclusive. In truth, both are vital. Our raison d’etre in Fishguard is about ministry and mission. Peoples’ actions and concern for others is one form of ministry, whilst the presence of the church building is one form of permanent witness, and therefore mission. It also provided a tranquil and sacred space for the many visitors and worshippers for whom ‘the building’ and what it stands for, matters.
This sounds somewhat removed from the practical need for toilets and a store room! But both are needed if ‘the building’ is to continue playing a positive role in these modern times when ‘believing’ or not is almost relegated to being a consumer choice. If we don’t succeed at ‘mission’ then there’ll be no one left to ‘minister’ to. So … in continuing to enhance St Mary’s as a physical building we have Faith that what we’re doing will sustain its ability to enrich personal lives and community spirit. Why else would we bother?
Work was delayed due to changes in the plan BUT is restarting February 2020!
However roadworks in Fishguard for a one way system which include the replacement of pavements outside the church has closed the main gates, again causing, hopefully, a further short-term delay
2019 – 16th April
Archaeologists oversee the initial dig prior to the building work on the new extension which will house toilets and storage facilities
2018 has seen the next phase of renovations and planning for a new extension, (to include among other things toilets), at St Marys.
The first part of the work saw the reopening of the balcony, which had been closed for some years due to safety fears. The upper wall at the rear of the balcony had not been rendered following the installation of the wonderful John Petts window in the early 1980s and this had made the area very dark and dirty. The wall has been painted and a glass barrier installed at the front to the delight of everyone The seats were full to capacity on Remembrance Sunday when it was opened for the first time.
Further plans are under way for work to start in 2019
2013 was the year of renovation and restoration work at St Mary’s and Advent Sunday was a celebration not only of the start of Advent but also of the completion of the 10 months work at the church. We were delighted to welcome members of Goodwick Community Brass Band and to have the chance to look back with thankfulness and on to what the future may hold for St Mary’s.
Although costing nearly £150,000 the renovation project was not big compared with some, but it is has made the biggest impact for 100 years on the internal appearance of St Mary’s.
For many years there had been a problem with damp in the South Wall of the church resulting in rotten plaster work, peeling paint and other signs of damp on the inside of the building. To effectively deal with this, the outside of the wall needed to be re-pointed and the stonework mended so that no more rain came in from outside. The inside was then faced with lime plaster and repainted.
We also took the opportunity to make a ‘phase 1’ improvement to the heating (a new boiler and fan convectors); created a south aisle space which is more user-friendly; made the font more prominent, and freed up some space in the north-west corner where we found rotten flooring. The pews that were removed from the south side were reused in an imaginative arrangement of seating and panelling along the wall, leaving a flexible space alongside the central phalanx of pews.
Already that new space has been used for displays as part of the town’s autumn festival, for the brass band playing at the celebration service, for the school’s remembrance service, for church meetings, for wheel chair users who can now sit alongside those who sit in pews and for the creation of props for the Christmas services. As a church that wants to engage more and more with the community of Fishguard we feel that the new space increases our ability to do so. St Mary’s is also open every day for those who want to pray or simply to enjoy the beauty and peace of the building. The new paint and attractive woodwork set off the stained glass and make the church more welcoming. As one visitor said ‘This place feels loved’.
The project has been a team effort, co-ordinated by a great planning team but involving many church members. We are grateful to them all and to those who provided the funding: Heritage Lottery Fund; Churches Trust; The Church in Wales, a legacy from Glenda Gibbon and funds raised by our church members.
The local builder whose team used so much skill and imagination to create the new spaces in our church said this,
‘The history of the drive and enthusiasm for building churches to a very high standard left a legacy of a brilliantly well-built St Mary’s that, with your endeavours, has gained a further lease of life by creating inside a drier, warmer, and more useful area for worshipping and socialising. Just a better space to be in. I must thank you for letting us be a part of the history and future of the church.’