Category: Latest News

St John’s Church, Bridgwater. A Success Story!

A major part of the satisfaction derived from being so closely involved with the work of the Trust is the opportunity to visit so many wonderful churches, not just at the time grant applications are being made but also on completion of the relevant works for which a grant may have been awarded. It is gratifying to witness the positive results of  the efforts applied by everybody involved in bringing a project through to a successful conclusion, whether they be the architect, the contractor and of course most importantly the incumbent and their team and their congregation.

Repair work continues to represent the main recipient of our grants and whilst leaking roofs or tower repairs may not be readily visible to the casual observer, their importance to the maintenance of the fabric and the continuing use of the building as a vibrant and uplifting place of worship cannot be ignored. I would particularly like to highlight from recent awards the successful outcome at St John’s, Bridgwater. The church is within a challenging urban environment where until the present incumbent, Lis Sparrow, arrived some six years ago, the congregation had been dwindling and the condition of the church itself was deteriorating. Both lighting and heating were improved through local resources but last year it became apparent that a major failure of the tower roof could no longer be ignored by the judicious distribution of buckets beneath.  Lis embarked upon the herculean task of raising in excess of £100k, which she achieved in a matter of a few months and, against the further challenges of the pandemic, the work has recently been completed.  Her determination and commitment are an inspiration to us all and it’s pleasing to note that not only is the church now light, warm and dry but is also witnessing a significant increase in its congregation and in the outreach work being undertaken in the local community. The Trust is delighted to have made a contribution to support this project and the work of this church in the local community.

Anthony Sutcliffe – Grants Secretary

Annual Meeting November 2021

On a chilly autumn evening at the Wells Museum, the Somerset Churches Trust held its Annual Meeting followed by a lecture on the subject of Romanesque Churches in Somerset.  This was a particularly special opportunity for members and trustees to meet as no such meeting had been possible in 2020 owing to covid restrictions. This was well attended and members were brought up to date on the activities of the Trust over the last year. Thank you to everyone who attended and for the positive and helpful comments which were made.

The Annual Meeting was very well attended and the Newsletter compiled by Chair Axel Palmer is available to read here. 

Treasurer Tony Davies reported on the trust’s finances. Click here to read the Annual Report and Accounts for the Year Ending 30 June 2021.

Trustee, Marion Jeffrey recounts her skydive to raise money for Somerset churches


Ride+Stride+Glide 11th September 2021

A never-to-be-repeated fundraiser. Possibly! On the 25th anniversary of Somerset Churches Trust and the 20th anniversary of 9/11, what could possibly go wrong with a tandem skydive? Just about every possibility had gone through my mind in advance, and then 48 hours before, I decided to stop worrying and enjoy the ride. 10,000 feet of descent, 6000 feet in freefall and 4000 feet cushioned by parachute. An exhilarating thrill and definitely faster than going anywhere by bike! I didn’t see any churches en route but I did feel a little closer to heaven. My son had bought me this thrill as a birthday present and it simply seemed right to convert it into an opportunity to fundraise both for the SCT and my local church St Petrock’s in Timberscombe given the planned date of 11th September. Armed with my Ride+Stride personalised t-shirt I was ready to face the elements and experience the euphoria of a 32ft/sec/sec drop. And euphoric it was, utterly thrilling and exciting. It takes a while to come down to earth after an experience like that.

Ride+Stride September 2021

News of fund-raising plans made for this year’s Ride+Stride.
Cycle rides, pilgrimages, abseiling (not!) and parachuting – what else happened?
Across Somerset, many friends of the Trust planned their weekend R+S activities.
The weather was ‘set fair’! So, what did we get up to?
To read all about it, click here.


The Chairman’s A – Z of Somerset Churches

Trust Chairman, Axel Palmer, has set himself an objective of visiting a range of churches and chapels across Somerset to compile his own  A – Z!

This time:

The Bishop. The King. St Michael and … er .. Highland Cattle!
And a Dragon!

To read the whole story, click here to download

Summer Newsletter 2021

The latest newsletter is available by clicking here. Some headlines are below:

  • Good News from Boris – Open Churches and visitors permitted!
  • Summer is here, at last: more relaxation in prospect!
  • Baby steps, maybe, but let’s start to CRAWL!

New Website Launched August 2021

There’s nothing like a new broom for sweeping clean! And that broom turned out to be our newest trustee Marion Jeffrey.

We took advantage of the unexpected break in our activities to think about how we communicate with members – clearly, there are many platforms including Instagram and Facebook but we rapidly concluded that a proper, flexible, website was of utmost importance.

Our current website was created when we re-launched as Somerset Churches Trust back in 2013. At the time it seemed
very modern and has served us well over the years. However, technology has moved on and we were finding it increasingly
difficult to give the site the look we wanted and to incorporate the features expected with a modern website.

To read the whole notice click here to download.

The importance of church buildings – sermon by Rev Martin Beaumont 8th August 2021

Some of you may have read Robert Harris’ latest book “The Second Sleep”.   Opening its pages, you are returned to a world 500 years ago, an agricultural pre-industrial England where the church and its clergy exercise both spiritual and temporal power. However, it soon becomes apparent that the society about which we read is not 500 years ago but 500 years in the future. It is not pre-industrial pre-technological rather it is a society in which technology and industry have been and gone. England has suffered some cataclysmic disaster and the things upon which we rely, power, water, food, shelter, clothes and all take for granted have disappeared. Society has reverted to one that depends upon subsistence agriculture and stone buildings.

The reason behind the power of the church is that in most towns and villages the only surviving building is the church which during the cataclysm survivors sheltered in.   The church once again became the focus of a community. It offered safety and protection. People went to it to try and make sense of what had happened. The churches became places of understanding.

Well it’s fiction. It’s a story. But it also reminds us that our church buildings have survived cataclysms such as civil and world wars, pandemics, even neglect. All of them, hopefully, remain in use. All of them can be a safe and secure environment where people come to try and understand, to make sense, and be with themselves and with what they believe to be their God.

And I believe that offering such a space, whether it be to a local community, or to visitors who pass by, this offering of shared space is a ministry. It is what the church still today has to offer, a mission. It takes time, it takes money, and it takes care, but it is something we can do for others. Looking after a church building takes an enormous amount of time and effort. Many churches across the land are doing something similar to All Saints at Rockwell Green who are raising £20,000 for the Spire at the moment.  But this emphasis on preservation and maintenance of the building is only half of what is real.

The other half, the unknown, is the emotional and spiritual value preserved in our churches. It is their beauty, their witness to Christ, their inspiration to other Christians, and their silence. Nothing much happens here, and that’s no bad thing. If this place is a testament to the power and wisdom of God, rather than mere human invention, it can have been of use.

Jesus recognised the value and power of a building, when he cast out the money changers. When we, in our turn, focus our attention on the same such place, we may be doing what we can, in some small way, to continue in Christ’s work.