Dear Johannesburg Congregation,
A recent visit to England prompts this letter to you, timely too as another year has passed since our arrival in Vienna and an update was in the air.
But first, to England and the reason for our visit. Christine and I wanted to attend the opening of the new church in Stroud. Aaron Mirkin is one of the three colleagues there, as well as Selina Horn who some of you may remember from Michaël Merle´s Ordination. Stroud, west of London, was my first sending in 2000 and already in 2001 the opportunity came to purchase an adjoining overgrown orchard – who knows when it might come in useful?!
The congregation almost immediately started to dream, envisage, and gradually plan a new build for the 1968 built-on-a-shoe-string church, ancillary rooms and small flat (in which we were living). The first architects were approached (including Dennis Shaw, at that time living and working locally), as well as the first costings floated for the various permutations.
Time moved on, we too, but the wheels continued to turn, the plans took on form.
And now this marathon run was completed, and a proud new church stands, for all to see and admire and, since Sunday, 20th October, to use! A festive weekend by all accounts, and particularly because the original church still stands alongside: this meant that the events began in the ‘old’ space, (evening lecture, the final Act of Consecration of Man) followed by the symbolic scraping of the walls, while those assembled remained seated in the middle, then the removing of the altar, the fittings and the contents of the now ‘old’ vestry.
In the afternoon, across the adjoining hallway, we gathered again to hear from the architect`s team (now their third church for The Christian Community), some of the factors and challenges involved, including the new design possibilities through working with so called ‘cross laminated panelling’. Then the red ribbon was cut by the wives of Michael Tapp and Peter Allan, (both priests of the congregation and both still living in Stroud until recently).
Lines from T.S. Eliot`s well known “Choruses from the Rock”, which was performed on the Saturday evening, stood over the weekend festivities;
“The Lord who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service.”
And so it was, on the Sunday morning the Act of Consecration was preceded by the consecration of the new church space – this time from the centre to the periphery and beyond; North, West, East and South, each in relation to one of the four elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Following the Service came greetings and gifts from other communities, children from the congregation performed folkdances, new music and choir pieces filled the packed space.
It isn`t often given to experience the consecration of a new church, still less to witness it dovetailing with the farewell to the previous space – almost a once in a lifetime occasion.
Back in Vienna, enriched, we enter our third year here, learning the quirks of the Austrian folk-soul, and Christine now well established in the eurythmy and eurythmy therapy scene (even over the border into neighbouring Hungary).
There in Johannesburg you have also completed a long process – it was impressive to read that after re-visiting the possibilities for the Windmill Property over so many years, a decision has finally been reached – something had shifted! It must be a very satisfying feeling, on the one hand to have reached and implemented this decision, and now to be in a position to tackle some improvements and new developments. All good wishes to you in this regard.
For all unanswered questions, do ask Margie, whom it was lovely to see here a few months ago.
Malcolm & Christine
Where are they now?
Members of our congregation move away from Johannesburg. Whenever they visit us they feel immediately at home. In part this is through receiving our monthly newsletter. We too would hope to remain connected through these posts and learn something of their lives and where they are now living.