Yesterday evening we went to a meeting in the church, this was mostly to do with the annual financial returns, the amalgamation of three parishes into one, and the rather contentious subject of building a small stretch of walling between between the church and our friend's garden.
Churches sit in the landscape of nearly all our towns and villages, they are there for the record of marriage, birth and death and the Sunday service of course. Their function though is sadly whittling away by non-attendance of the congregation, people perhaps no longer believe in a God and the few that do are getting older and older. This is the sad truth, a gradual wasting away, the vicars no longer have an audience to attend to.
The Church has a long history, from the day it left the indigenous Celtic school of worship and followed Roman law, to the ransacking and murder of its priests and monks by the Vikings. Through the upheavals of Henry 8th and the Dissolution, so started the beginning of the Church of England as opposed to the old 'Popish' ways.
The Dean sat in the chair and ran a very fine argument for the amalgamation of the three churches, what worried one person is that we have no vicar in the village, though there is a rectory rented out, but there is no Parish visiting to talk to people but of course vicars are costly and as they drop away from their parishes so the contract is not renewed. The Dean talked a lot about 'autonomy' the picking up of the mantle of running the church by the remaining congregation. A vicar needs someone to do his secretarial duties, the more parishes he has the more duties fall on his shoulders.
What we have noticed with our church, is that people tend the graves of loved ones every weekend, the church is visited by tourists, it is a place of quiet meditation and serenity, and its fabric is overseen by two very stalwart churchwardens.
The wall problem is really a result of the clash of two personalities, the builder who put up two new houses without following the planning detail of an extra bit of church walling (there was no precedent for this) and the cutting down of trees at the back without replacement trees of a similar nature. The other protagonist is the person whose land adjoins the houses, I think he feels 'overlooked'. He got very cross at the meeting, and demanded 100% back up from the church committee and was most surprised when a farmer's wife challenged him on his demands. Our friends are being neutral on the subject, they are quite happy for the wall to be built or not. As this has occurred on Margaret Wood's land I suspect she left a 'curse' on it ;).