Friday, January 18, 2008

Church as work place

While I was away work started on the redecoration of St John's church interior, starting with the south aisles and choir vestry. This entails sealing off the organ and organ chamber to prevent the ingress of dust, and then the covering of all internal furnishings and floors with a robust protective cover before erecting two storeys of scaffolding necessary to access the highest sections of wall and windows. It's such a complex task that inevitably preparation over-ran, so we were not able to open the church for a Eucharist yesterday. But today was business as usual.

Not only was the Tea-Room carrying on as usual, but the rest of the nave was open for tourists and candle-lighters alike. When I entered for the service I was impressed to see that the builders had erected a chipboard tunnel through the works area to link the south porch and vestry block with the nave, so that people can pass safely through the area where work is being done.

I couldn't have asked for more to ensure that the church stays faithful to its commitment to be open to visitors as far as it possibly can, even under most difficult circumstances. The best touch of all, to my mind, is that the outermost layer of protection is a screening of transparent plastic filling each of the southern arches of the nave from floor to ceiling.

It's a good way to enhance site security, since it would be possible to spot anyone hiding in there and up to no good. More importanly from my point of view it means that the entire work site is visible from the nave, offering a subject of interest to visitors, saving a lot of additional explanations, in a way bringing the world of everyday physical labour right into the place where prayer is offered for the life and work of the city.

I would relish having a large screen in church where we could display the SD2 webcam images for visitors of what is going on down the street, just out of sight from church.

There were half the usual number for the service. This is understandable given that the church has been closed for the preparation work this week, and the weather has been very poor, but I'm sure it won't take long for things to get back to normal, with all our regulars taking an interest in work in progress.

I spent the afternoon over at Southgate House with members of the city centre management team, getting up to speed on developments in the city centre since I went on holiday, and catching up on matters concerning Cardiff Business Safe as preparations are made for an all new security radio network to be put into place at the end of this month, hopefully embracing both day and night-time economies in future.

This is necessitated by the news which arrived just as I went on leave that Cardiff Chamber of Commerce (which ran the night radio network) was going into receivership. For such a large professional enterprise to run out of funds is a remarkably rare occurrence, and largley due to a fatally flawed partnership made with ELWA the mismanaged quango which went bust. Finally that collapse has taken CCC with it. Discussion is now under way about what can replace it, with speculation about a South Wales CCC. But is bigger really better? It's hard enough to manage the affairs of a city, let alone a region.

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