St Gregorys Bedale

Comments 2016

From this website and Facebook:

I think the description of the background and current situation are clear, concise and realistic. I think the description of what we need for the future is very good too and exciting. We need to plan for the future so we can begin to create new ways of being and doing church whilst respecting the past, something which previous generations have managed very well. It is now our turn to do the same.

What a fantastic opportunity to make a community space truly for the community again, I think all the ideas in the brief are innovative and exciting, for me toilets and kitchen facilities are essential to enable the space to be used for events and concerts and therefore maximise income for the church. A way of better heating would also be essential for the winter events, however if there is scope to divide the space and possibly use a 'false' ceiling to areas so the heat is not lost it should be greatly improved.

As Area Dean I am really thrilled by this initiative on the part of St. Gregory's Church to make their building better adapted to the needs of the wider community. There is a clear desire on the part of the congregation to demonstrate through these provisions of hospitality something of the grace and love and welcome of Christ.

It looks like the brief has considered the needs of the church, internally, into the future. It's an exciting proposition. I only hope the character of the building isn't spoilt in the process.

We need to change the building that is an important witness to our Christian presence in Bedale to one attractive and appropriate for the 21st century.
It will need to be flexible, comfortable, warm and equipped to serve all the population of the town. Suitable for many different forms of worship; with comfortable seating and a variety of different spaces available. Loos and a kitchen suitable for refreshments are a must. The best Technology and media that we can afford is essential.
We are privileged to be stewards of the largest community resource in Bedale and this a great gift and blessing from God. As a Grade 1 building we need to respect our heritage and the building but not be constrained by our own personal preferences and sentiment. We are commanded to look upwards and look forward. This means we can have no sacred cows or no go areas regarding any proposed changes. The Church is the people and if we are to continue to be a blessing to the town we need a space that will provide worship, fellowship and encouragement to the whole population. This means we needs to provide space and facilities for all ages including children, the elderly and those less able in some way.
A building full of features from the past that is uncomfortable, inflexible and reflecting only of past, if much beloved by some, liturgical and spiritual practices almost completely fails to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
Whenever reordering has taken place the needs of existing church members is able to be respected and continued and this too is a non-negotiable requirement for any re-ordering.
I am excited that this proposal is moving forward and will be pleased to continue to take an active part in prayfully supporting all the difficult and challenging work it will need. I pray that there will be good will from all throughout.

I think the brief is very well thought through and would definitely increase the churches users and income for the future. Looking forward to seeing it all.

I am very torn over this issue. On the one hand, strong and valid points have been made about the ways in which the church can become a better 'venue' for concerts etc. and it is undeniable that for these, toilet facilities / kitchen facilities would be highly desirable. On the other hand, as it stands at present, St. Gregory's is a superb building, one which is resonant of a church tradition stretching through the centuries. It is precisely for those reasons that many groups wish to book it for concerts, so anything which impacts on its current ambience would only detract from its viability as a 'venue'. I would deplore any changes which impacted on St. Gregory's atmosphere and historic identity. Ideas such as lowering the roof to preserve heat would clearly destroy the church architecturally. Even lesser changes, such as the suggested removal of the pews in the side chapels, would have an enormous impact on the church and its atmosphere. It is precisely because of its integrity as a building that those of us who worship here love it so much. I am also not convinced that changing the building would change its congregation. While opening the building up by removing pews etc. would allow for different forms of worship, there is no guarantee that there is actually an appetite for these in the wider community. My own children, now aged 12 and 13, have always cordially disliked the worship at ten service, finding it too simplistic and aimed too young even when they were both at primary school. They much prefer the more traditional weekly Eucharist services. There has to be a danger here of throwing the baby out with the bath water - of wrecking the religious and historical integrity of the building in order to attract a new congregation, and of then failing to do so. My heart tells me that I do not want change at St. Gregory's, or, if change has to come, that it should be as minimal and non-intrusive as possible.

The architect's brief certainly provokes thought, and I look forward to seeing firm proposals in due course.  However, with so many and such diverse ideas, how will the Parochial Church Council decide which ones appear worthy of pursuing? And which to prioritize? How can our representatives on the PCC gauge how we parishioners feel about the future use of our church, and the stewardship of church resources? To answer such questions I make a suggestion.
We should have a ballot. Those on the electoral roll should be sent a ballot paper; others showing an interest in the future of St Gregory's may wish to request one. The ballot paper should list each feature to be considered (e.g. kitchen, toilets, font...), and invite a response "for", "against" or "don't know". The ballot results should be presented in tabular or graphical form, thus providing a firm basis for PCC discussions and decisions.
We should not expect to please everyone, but we should make a good effort to identify those innovations which will elicit our sustained support. Is there a better way of achieving this?

Please do not remove the font from the present position.  It is the history of baptisms and new life. Great welcome with flowers for weddings, Easter, Harvest, Christmas.  Both doors have been used without any trouble for years.  Also consider the new font lid in memory of our dear Frank Ledgard.  Looking forward to seeing this in place in the near future.  Do not spoil the special atmosphere of Christian worship, that is so special to many, even if they are not regular attenders.
Just read comments in the visitors book from around the world.
As with most of the congregation I would certainly not like to see the font moved (where would it go) but I feel it would be most beneficial to have pews moved from the centre isles and maybe a nave altar. I also think the Lady Chapel could be a beautiful space if the pews were removed. This would be most controversial.

Toilets maybe yes. Moving the font definitely no. We do not want to compete with Bedale Hall.
That needs the revenue, and has all the facilities, as well as our Chantry Hall.  Please do not make the Church look like a concert hall. How many folk attend the concerts? Not that many from my experience.
Folk could be put off by the Church always needing money for something.  Certainly a new clearer better sound system is required, with speakers around the Church.

Having read the brief, I felt it necessary to consult the Bible for inspiration and Gods guidance, for decisions of this nature need God firmly placed at centre stage.
The following passages resonated:
Philippians 4:6-8
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

This plan is well considered and is attempting to secure the building and its use for future generations. Who knows what may develop from a chance visit to the Church building for a secular purpose, God indeed does work in mysterious ways.
Nothing appears to be too radical but more considered for all community users of this great and public space.
Whatever our personal views, let us all think and pray to determine the best way forward for not only our generation, but for the use of the Church for the many generations to come.
May God bless us with love and compassion during this process.

St Gregory's Church is currently a wonderful building and is clearly admired by it's many users and casual visitors. Limited improvements could be made to the facilities without any noticeable loss of it's charm or character. For example - improvements to the sound equipment & lighting system, provision of toilets and baby changing facilities, etc.

However, if for example the font were to be moved or pews replaced by rows of chairs then it could be found that these costly alterations actually destroy what makes St Gregory’s church so special. Such actions could easily diminish the internal appeal of the church. I have seen this done in other rural parishes but sadly it has not brought more people to services, but has cost much money, caused angst among the regular congregation and has detracted from the overall character of building's historic interior.

In Bedale we already have other venues available, like Chantry Hall (which the church owns) and Bedale Hall. If St Gregory's Church were to be altered in order to compete with those venues as an entertainment venue, then it could result in their future being threatened, which would not be good for the town or it's community. If we were to lose the internal appeal of the building then it could make it a less attractive wedding venue and weddings do bring non church going families into the church. The building must not just become a general purpose venue with no more appeal than a wedding in a hotel.

Personally I feel that with the few relatively easy improvements detailed in my first paragraph, our parish church would continue to be a wonderful place for regular worship, for christenings, weddings & funerals. These must continue to be the primary function. It would also be more capable of hosting musical events, as it's current acoustic qualities would be maintained as well as it's visual and historic attractions.

Undoubtedly architects would like the opportunity to design some extensive, novel and exciting changes, but obviously these would be expensive to complete. Would this really improve the core function of our church and be worth risking the huge investment and the possible loss of the building’s many current attractions?

So, please do proceed with caution and just complete the three simple improvements!


From the comment sheet in Church:

Please do not move the font. It is a beautiful welcome of thoughts of birth and so beautiful. Also a new lid is being made and possibly would not be seen if moved elsewhere.

The future brief looks very good to me. It is a beautiful church already, but needs to be useable in the 21st century, therefore the need to 'upgrade'.

The font is always at the entrance to a church and should not be moved. I agree to the toilets. We have a kitchen in the Chantry Hall.

Leave font but remove some pews from the nave.

Please do not move the font. Do we really need a kitchen?!!!

A great deal of money has been spent on Chantry hall which provides good facilities. A kitchen in church is not required. The font should be left where it is.

Do not move the font - there is enough space in this area to meet & greet as it is.

The font provides a wonderful focal point at the entry to the church and a natural space with which to baptise. I see no reason to duplicate the excellent facilities at the Chantry Hall.

Please keep the font as it is. It is the beginning of the Christian Life for all of the generations christened here. The North Aisle lends best for any alterations.

Very happy with providing toilet facilities (& small kitchen if possible). Not happy with moving the font at all. Integral part of the history of this church sited at the west end - a lovely position for it and one we should not change unless an exceptional reason for so doing.

Do not move the font at all because this is a nice area for family to gather round.

St. Gregory’s was built for prayer and worship. We are very temporary custodians of that long tradition and this wonderful church. Let us do nothing to detract from its main purpose.

The Church is for everyone not just church-goers. Hoping the Church building will reflect the needs of the community also.  The building is not the Church, the congregation are the Church.

It is through prayer and worship that this building has evolved to how it is today, we should give thanks for the vision of those who achieved this and should be looking to the future to ensure it is fit for purpose in the years to come.

and a Reply to the above:
Amen!  Every blessing as you seek to make this building a mission centre for the future.