The 10am service on 17th June 2018 was a historic one at Holy Trinity. It was our first Eucharist back in the church building after we had left 10 weeks earlier, in order to allow builders to do the alteration work. Over those weeks, Phil Piercy did the main construction work, and RJ Parry & Sons did the joinery work, and we now have a kitchenette in the south side of the church, the altar has been adjusted and moved towards the nave, with an extension to the old chancel step. New altar rails have been constructed. And in addition, an accessible toilet has been created in the vestry, and a ramp built to the back door (see pages 14-15).
This is the first major alterations to the church since it was opened in 1960. But this was certainly not the first building work faced by Holy Trinity Church in Chester. This building was preceded by a building that had been built on Watergate Street in 1869 (it is now the Guild Hall). But that was built 5 years after a very old medieval church on the same site had been demolished. There has been a Holy Trinity Church in Chester since the 12th century. And over the subsequent 800 years, Holy Trinity church building certainly did not stay the same. It was repaired in 1593, and then extensively restored in 1637. Only 40 years later, in 1678 the wall on the south side was taken down and rebuilt, and 50 years after that, the tower and north side had the same treatment. Through the 18th century, on 3 separate occasions there was building work – to put in galleries, to enlarge the north aisle. Then, in 1826 there was work done to add free seating and do more alterations to the south side of the church.
I was particularly interested to hear about that – because that work was done thanks to a grant the church received from an organisation called the Incorporated Church Building Societies. That is an organisation which still exists today – it’s now called the National Churches Trust. And the work here in church in 2018 was funded in part thanks to a grant from the National Churches Trust, almost 200 years since Holy Trinity Chester last received a grant from that organisation. So, while it may feel that what we have done here in this building is very new and different and breaking with tradition, it is far from that. In many ways we are very much in keeping with what our forebears did. They were concerned to maintain the fabric of the building, and also to make the space within it as useable and welcoming for all-comers as possible.
Now that we have the enormous blessing of a renewed and refreshed building, we need to move forward as a Church membership with a renewed and refreshed approach to the mission God calls us to – to reach out with Christ to all. We need to be praying and thinking and discussing and planning how we are to reach out more effectively in the coming months and years. And to that end, on Saturday 22nd September, we will have an ‘Awayday at Home’ (held in the church) starting at 9.30am. ALL who are interested are welcome to join the PCC and myself for this, to help with our discussions and our plans.