“From Armageddon to comfort and joy” a tale of good fortune, told by St Chad’s, Hackney
In early 2015 I felt our church, Saint Chad’s, was facing its own Armageddon. You need to know our situation; Saint Chad is a huge boat shaped building seemingly dumped into the middle of an ex council estate and hidden in view from the Hackney Road by a large tower block. Inside and out it is stunningly beautiful and has real medieval mystery, but She is over one hundred and fifty years old and is feeling her age.
Our declining congregation did not have the numbers or energy to clean and decorate the adjoining hall and kitchen. But the church and hall is well used and valued. Especially by the older people in the area. People who have been left behind as their families and friends have moved out of this once poor community which is now very expensive. We needed to keep up our social activities and more importantly keep up our spirits.
I met Emily from ELBA and gave her the low down on our church. I tried to be truthful and she gave me hope that she would try to find volunteers for us; she exceeded herself. We have had three teams working with us from September to December 2015. They were Arthur J. Gallagher, Lloyd’s and Lockton all from The City of London. Lockton painted our toilets, working in very confined spaces with terrific good humour and as much care it seemed as if they were in the Sistine Chapel. Lloyd’s had the huge task of painting parts of the church and all the hall. The team from Gallagher decorated the whole of the building imaginatively for our Christmas services and social festivities. I felt they went way beyond their remit. James from Gallagher even cleared all our jumble rubbish and took it to Oxfam in his car! All the team managers were true leaders and treated us all with great consideration and respect. Looking back it all seemed like a scene from Snow White where the Fairy Godmother waves her wand and things just get done. But more importantly perhaps, it gave us all some energy and hope for the future.
As I write we have had two Christmas parties, numerous services and one very special requiem for two men who lived mostly on the streets. To see their friends attending the service and enjoying the beautified space was very moving. I hope everyone who participated enjoyed their Christmas. You brought us tidings of comfort and great joy!
Jan Dewhurst, Member of Congregation, St Chad’s in Hackney