‘Church for changing times’: Community event to share proposals for building alterations

Photo of St Michael's Church, Stoke Gifford, viewed from the south.
St Michael’s Church, Stoke Gifford, viewed from the south.

Plans to revamp Stoke Gifford’s medieval church to make it ‘fit for the future’ are being shared with villagers.

The changes to the interior of the church at The Green, Stoke Gifford have been designed to increase visibility and accessibility, improve safety and add extra seating.

The proposals, which will need to be approved by the Diocese of Bristol, will:

  • Replace the worn and uneven flooring and level the floor
  • Remove the raised platform at the altar which was added in the 1970s
  • Take out the large stone pillars between the north aisle and the nave and reduce the size of the remaining roof support at the east end of the chancel (in front of the organ)
  • Provide two toilets in the vestry, one to be accessed from inside the church and the other from the outside
  • Replace the external vestry door with an approved fire escape door
  • Replace the Victorian pews with comfortable and flexible seating which will enable a wider range of activities to take place within the building

There has been a church in Stoke Gifford since Saxon times and the present building, which is thought to date from the 14th century, is in the top eight percent of listed buildings in England and Wales.

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The Rev. Canon Simon Jones, rector of St Michael’s said:

“We are committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing the building and increasing its use as our legacy for generations to come, whilst honouring its history. We are a church for changing times.”

The refurbishment will be funded through the St Michael’s Heart of the Community project, which was launched in 2012 with the aims of:

  • Creating a spacious, modern church and community centre
  • Repairing and upgrading the Old School Rooms
  • Funding outreach and anti-poverty projects locally, nationally and internationally
  • Restoring and enhancing the church building for future generations

The Rev. Canon Jones added:

“We saw the first of these ambitions realised with the opening of St Michael’s Centre on North Road, which boasts a 550-seater auditorium and hosts the two larger Sunday gatherings at St Michael’s as well as conferences and events throughout the week.”
“In the last two years we have also invested more than £220,000 on repairs to the church tower, stonework, boundary wall and new roofs.”

“The church building is still very much in use on Sundays and during the week (present lockdown excluded!) and is always packed at Christmas, Easter and other popular services. Last Christmas we were in the unfortunate position of having to turn people away from our afternoon carol service as we ran out of room. These plans will not only give us extra space and more seating, but also greater flexibility on how we use that seating.”

Anyone who is interested in finding out more, or would like to comment on the plans, is invited to an information morning in the church on Saturday 28th November. To book a place, head to the website at www.stmichaelsbristol.org

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 29). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Update: Community information event goes online

Added Thursday 26th November 2020.

In view of the current national restrictions, the community information event planned for Saturday 28th November will now take place via the Zoom videoconferencing platform.

To book a place, visit Church for Changing Times.

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