Leaving St Michael-le-Belfrey church building – it will never look like this again

This summer our church building, St Michael-le-Belfrey, was closed for extensive reordering and refurbishment work. The ten million pound project has begun. The pews, balcony and narthex have already been removed leaving just the shell of the grade I medieval structure ready for repairs and reordering to start. In the meantime the church is meeting in a very grand recently restored building called The De Grey Rooms, a former Officers Mess and ballroom just a short walk away in St Leonards Place.

As well as closing our church building we also lost our Vicar, Matthew Porter, who was consecrated Bishop of Bolton this year. The vacancy has been filled by our Associate Minister. Revd Andy Baker has been installed as Interim Priest in Charge until we move back to our refurbished building in three years time.

My (Barrie) term as Parish Safeguarding Officer came to an end at the Annual Meeting in May. I handed the responsibility on to the person who had been my assistant. In a church the size of ours it is a big job, and I was ready to pass it on.

We are still Belfrey Group Stewards, looking after the leaders of three home groups and we serve on the welcome and coffee rotas for the 11am Sunday service. Joan is on the pastoral visiting team (as well as being a volunteer at York Hospital two mornings a week). We belong to a home group which now is mainly made up of people who belong to other churches. They were all at one time or another part of St Michael-le-Belfrey but have moved on in the years we have been meeting. Everyone values it and we have some very good friends there. Sadly we said goodbye to one of our dearest friends in the group. Paul Burbridge, the artistic Director of Riding Lights Theatre Company, died after a short illness just after Easter, leaving his wife Bernadette and children, Patrick, Caitlin and Erin.

More recently we lost Dave Playle. Dave was the pastor who married us in 1971, and prior to that I lived with him and his family in Holmfirth. He had been living in the nursing home where his wife Rosemary lives in Warrington.

We also meet regularly with our friends who formed the leadership of Harrogate Christian Fellowship in its early days in the late 1970s and early 80s. Richard and Jenny Dean, and Colin and Rhona Stanbury. We usually meet up about once a month, enjoy lunch together and an extended chat. We often start with coffee at 11am and finish with tea at three, with a cooked meal in between.

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