The first phase of the work at the church is drawing to an end. The bells have been removed and all the debris within the building has now been cleared, sorted, and the few bits with any future use have been stored. The final process in the phase is the external scaffolding of the entire building with a covering roof, and protective sides. We shall be left with what probably looks like a cocoon, which will come off at the end of the project, hopefully like a butterfly emerging! This first phase has gone extremely well, and the contractors have been superb.
However, as part of this work, we discovered evidence which suggests that the fire might not have been caused accidentally. On the day after the fire, when it was safe to go into the fenced compound, I discovered that one of the cremation plot stones was missing. Well about 10 days ago, it was discovered underneath one of the main windows inside the church, underneath the debris. This, sadly, means that it went through the window before the fire started, and certainly on the night of the fire as people were in church the afternoon before. The police are still investigating, but I am afraid that it is now fairly likely that the fire will have been started deliberately.
I am sure this will be a major blow to many of us, and we may have all kinds of questions and feelings surrounding something so wrong as this. We have set up a small Pastoral Prayer Team of people from church who you can talk to, or pray with, if you feel you need to. They will be at the Radford Rendezvous coffee mornings, and we have arranged a time with our friends at the Baptist church when their hall will be open to meet and pray – the first Thursday of every month from 7.30 -8.30pm, starting on June 5th.
Members of the team are also available to visit you at home, and if you would like to meet one of them, do call Helen Robertson or Anne Wilson and they will make the arrangements. Please do use this team to help with the anger and sadness that we will be feeling at this time.
I would also like to say a huge thank you to those who have given so generously to the Restoration fund. We have now raised just over £10,000 !
I know some of you have been waiting to find out how much we will need to restore the church before making your gift. At the moment we do not know how much this will be as the cost of repair work to the stone walls and the design and building of the new interior have not been assessed yet. Once the building is safe, there will be a thorough survey which will begin to give us some indication of the final state of the walls (stone is still fracturing and falling off!). The Church is insured, but nearly 10% of the cover has already been spent in this first phase of work. It looks likely that we shall need to raise some more, and at that time, we shall be setting up a small fund-raising group who will oversee some events and activities that we can all be part of. So please think of creative ideas … I am sure they will be very useful !
Alan Jones is also going to make a DVD diary of the event and rebuild, so if you have any pictures or video footage, please contact him on 334443.
Thank you again for your support and prayers – we are getting there, slowly but surely!