In the village in Shipton Bellinger in southern England the rector of St Peter’s church, backed by the parish warden’s and other local groups would like to get rid of it’s rather large Victorian era baptismal font. The primary argument is that in addition to being “showy,” the font is much too large for the small medieval church it calls home.
The authorities say that people have tripped over the large step on which the font stands and that after-service gatherings at the church have been “constrained by the size and position of the font.”
They argue that it is “it is much too large for a small medieval church.”
They have suggested that when removed it could be either sold or given to another church or chapel or, failing that buried in the church yard.
Unfortunately the local church folk are bucking heads with the Victorian Society and a parishioner. However, the removal has been approved by Christopher Clark, Chancellor of the Diocese of Winchester and a judge of the Church of England’s ancient Consistory Court, which must decide on major changes to CoE buildings. The Victorian Society has threatened to appeal his ruling.
On the other side of the world a much smaller, 1000 year old Norman baptismal font which has traveled from possibly France to England and later to New Zealand is also in search of a new home. Not because the local church members don’t like it, but due to the decommissioning of the font’s most recent home of 90 years, the Church of the Holy Trinity in Lawrence NZ by Bishop Kelvin Wright.
Photo:Kelvin Wright’s blog
It is only a piece of limestone, but it is also a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings. It has survived through much of the history of the Anglican Communion, and now it waits to find out how it will carry that history forward.
Bishop Wright seems dedicated to the idea of passing the font on to continue it’s historic task.
Parishes often run into issues when they wish to change things regarding their buildings. It can be as minor as the color of new carpeting to the decision of removing the pews and replacing them with chairs to selling the property to an developer who plans to tear down the structure. Sometimes the disagreement is in house pitting parishioners against one another. Other times it can be the majority of a congregation battling a local historic organization dedicated to keeping things the same. Do you have a short story to share regarding an attempt to change something inside or outside your parish home?
posted by David Allen