Special prayers – it seems – were offered up in Bath Abbey last night (Thursday, September 14th) ‘ for the mission and ministry of the Abbey.’
They came as the church faces a special Consistory Court hearing in response to the nationally based Victorian Society’s objection to the removal of most of the pews following work to stabilise the floor.
In a letter to the congregation, the Rector, the Rev Prebendary Edward Mason, explained that the Society were objecting to an element of the Footprint Project.
‘Footprint will stabilise the Abbey floor to quite a deep level, install under-floor central heating with energy from the hot springs, and repair and re-lay the wonderful set of ledger stones.
To do this, all the furniture in the Abbey will be removed. Equally, our application proposes that all the furniture will be replaced – except for the nave pews.
We believe that freeing the nave of pews will enhance the mission and ministry of the Abbey in the present and leave it much better placed to respond to the changing needs of church and community in the future.
The Victorian Society does not agree and insists on the nave pews being replaced. The Consistory Court is a normal (but rare) means by which church planning issues like this are clarified.
The Court will be held in the Abbey early in October and there is full representation of both sides by legal teams. The judgement is made by the Chancellor of the Diocese, himself a practising lawyer.
In the light of this process, we feel it particularly important that we gather in prayer.’
The Rector said prayers were for the Abbey’s mission and ministry.
‘In particular, we pray that our core values expressed in worship, hospitality and justice will continue to be fully expressed through the development and future use of the Abbey.’
It is my understanding that the court hearing will be held in Bath Abbey on October 4th and 5th during which time the church will not be open to tourists.