WORK is taking place this week to bring Seamer’s 860-year-old St Martin’s Church into the 21st century – by the installation of indoor toilets and a kitchen/refreshments area.
The work is part of the church’s plan to increase its appeal and usefulness to the Seamer, Irton and Crossgates communities.
The parochial church council and the vicar, the Rev Laura McWilliams, are aiming to make 2011 a year of outreach and mission to those communities.
A mission statement has been drawn up, outlining the intention to be more actively involved in and with the community as it proclaims the Gospel message.
And a newly revised mission statement points to what St Martin’s wishes to achieve in the next five years by building on what has begun with various groups, children’s work, relevant worship services, etc; by building up relationships and opening the church building to the wider community; by completing the ongoing work and church roof repairs; by better communication within the parish; by being the hub and spiritual centre of the parish; by developing prayer ministry; and, not least, by having the church full of worshippers.
Great strides have already been made towards these targets in the two and a half years since the Rev McWilliams became the vicar and, more recently, since the Rev Richard Firth became assistant minister.
Changes to Sunday morning worship have enabled it to cater for both traditional and modern worship, resulting in more people attending the services. On most weekday mornings short prayer meetings are held at the vicarage. There are regular life groups meeting in members’ homes and prayer meetings in the church room.
Involvement with non-churchgoers is a priority. This includes monthly church-in-the-pub social gatherings at the Londesborough Arms, monthly social meetings for men and women, occasional lunch outings, a weekly Brushstrokes art group, and a monthly ABC Club for adults, babies and children.
Specially for younger members of the community again not necessarily churchgoers there is a weekly term-time Crossgates youth group for 11-14-year-olds, a monthly breakfast club where 13 to 18 year olds can enjoy bacon sandwiches and refreshments, a weekly Sunday Club for children up to 13 years, and close links with Seamer and Irton CP School.
The centuries-old church in its scenic setting is also a popular place for weddings and baptisms.
Other open-to-all attractions include the annual garden party, church fair, flower festival and in-church evening concerts such as that planned for February 19 and starring teenage Crossgates singer James Aconley.
The Rev McWilliams said: “We believe Jesus makes a difference, and through Him and a welcoming church we are striving to make a difference to everyone in Seamer, Irton and Crossgates.”