May to September – ‘Open Church’ on Sunday afternoons
It’s that time of year again! We have started the summer Open Church afternoons and have already attracted almost 100 visitors. We hope to welcome even more this year than our total of over 900 in 2016. For those unfamiliar with this we aim to keep the Church open from 1pm till 5pm on Sundays between 14th May and 24th September. This is made possible thanks to the time kindly given by many of the congregation. We ask people to do 2-hour shifts in pairs and there is a sign up sheet at the back of the church.
Many people who come in say they have often walked past the church but have never before seen it open; others are walking along the river path and just find us. Some specifically come to see the building and learn about its history whilst some are looking for a place of quiet. Interests are therefore quite varied and people come from near and far. Information on services and other activities are given out and we have seen some people attend St Mary’s who first came here through ‘Open Church’.
Last Sunday, 28th May, we were privileged to have a talk about the church from Sven Tester following a Bring and Share lunch. 25 people attended the talk downstairs most of which stayed for the guided walk round the church. Sven also brought some of his historical documents and prints. We are grateful to him for sharing his wealth of knowledge. Hopefully this will have helped more people to feel confident about volunteering to do Open Church.
JUNE: For the first three Sundays in June the Sewing Group, led by Susanna Williams will be hosting Open Church with tea and scones sponsored by Gail’s Bakery. Please encourage people to come and support this. When the sewing group is running on Tuesday mornings we also keep the church open and today, 30th May, had 7 visitors, 2 specifically to see the Benedict Arnold memorial and one family who wanted ‘to give thanks’.
JULY: The Summer Recital series will take place again at 3pm each Sunday between 23rd July and 3rd September. Open Church volunteers, in addition to their welcome to visitors, are asked to welcome people to these concerts and provide tea and coffee afterwards.
SEPTEMBER: London Open House weekend this year will be 16th – 17th September and usually attracts a mixture of visitors, some coming for St Mary’s fair on the Saturday and some specifically for Open House. Sven Tester kindly brings his display of historical information and documents for visitors to see together with his great knowledge of the church and local history. Additional helpers are needed on these two days.
Thank you to all who have already made people welcome this year and, in anticipation, to those who will sign up for the rest of the summer. Please contact me if you have any queries.
Libby Bradshaw 07956 655037, [email protected]