1 Peter 2. 5
“…like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house…”
Building for our future
Approximately 1,500 years ago St. Cedd arrived on our shores and built the foundations for our community in Upminster. At that time, our church and our town would have been unrecognisable to us. However, St Laurence Church has stood in this spot since 653 AD; a constant in a changing world.
Over the many decades, although a solid and constant presence, the church has changed - accommodating and adapting to the needs of society. As the town grew, so did the church. Many names immortalised on the church walls are reflected around the town and are integral to our everyday lives. Schools and roads are named after the people who worshipped as we worship today. We enrich and add to that history, carrying it forward.
The church was extended substantially in 1928/9 to provide for the growing population of Upminster, expanding since the arrival of the railway. Designed by Charles Nicholson, the extension provided new choir stalls, a new sanctuary, a rebuilt Lady Chapel and the new St George’s Chapel. The seating capacity of the church was thus significantly increased and new spaces for worship were created. The current choir vestry and sacristy (area for clergy and servers to robe and for items needed for worship to be stored) were added in 1937.
In recent years we have been reflecting upon how the church building might best be adapted for the future. An initial plan was to demolish, rebuild and extend the choir vestry and sacristy, now in need of major refurbishment, to create more multi-purpose spaces. However, these plans have changed and evolved both as we have been made aware that the choir vestry and sacristy are more structurally sound than previously thought, and as we have been faced with the financial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic and high living costs.
Our current hope is to adapt the existing building as follows:
Phase 1: Partitioning off the Tower area with glass doors, so that it can be variously part of the worshipping space, a place for those who need to feed or calm babies and young children, and a self-contained meeting area. We would install facilities for making refreshments in the Tower area and convert the existing Wardens’ Vestry into a disabled toilet. Some pews would be removed from the back of the church near the Children’s Corner, and the font would be moved to that space so that it is more visible to the congregation during baptisms.
Phase 2: Refurbishment of the choir vestry and sacristy, including designation of the choir vestry as a multipurpose space for use by church groups (including children’s groups), those visiting the church on organised trips or for concerts, and community groups who require a more confidential meeting space. Facilities for making refreshments would be available in the choir vestry.
Phase 3: Possible adaptation of the St George’s Chapel and space behind the organ for storage etc. to ensure that we are making the best use of space in the church.
We could serve our parish better if we had better facilities to offer to our church children’s groups, to the many people who visit the church for baptisms, weddings, funerals, concerts, school visits and other events, to our choir and servers, and to those in the local community who would appreciate a discreet meeting room available for use by support groups and others. Just like our forebears, we need to be considering how the church building can evolve to best minister to our parish today.
Our church is built on the town’s crossroads - the centre of the community. It is the vision that the building, and we who worship here, become the heart of that community. We have much to offer. It is believed that, with the plans for the church building, we will be able to reach out and offer a spiritual space and a more appropriate facility, enabling us to continue St. Cedd’s mission and ministry within (and beyond) Upminster.
The plans for Phase 1 of the project are on display in church.
Continuing the mission of St Cedd...
Donations towards the project are very gratefully received and can be made using the QR code above or by contacting the Parish Office.
If you would be interested in helping to organise fundraising events, please let the Parish Office know. We hope that we will soon have an estimate of the likely costs of carrying out Phase 1.