Church vision... we long with Christ to be churches that:
Love - seek to grow together
Pray - continue to be healing places of prayer
Grow - make disciples growing from the Bible,
- Particularly growing children's and young people's faith
Serve - encourage the ministry of all; walk in mission,
- sharing Jesus & serving those outside the church;
- Seeking justice for the world
We pray that we will continue to grow as churches within the vision granted us together...
We now also have another web site devoted to the Major Refurbishment of St Helens church. See Below:
St. Helen's church Trowell has a history record as far back as AD801 when permission was given to build a wooden church on the site. In 1180 the present chancel was built in stone and would have been the whole church. The nave, aisles, raised clerestory and tower were added in stages much later. Since 1180 there has never been a gap of more than 150 years without some major alteration or addition in response to the contemporary requirements of the day.
Renewal project - Why?
The renewal project was born from a desire to install a modern energy efficient heating system which would reach the set temperature easily, even in the coldest of winter weather.
The present system, installed in about 1900, even with its later (35 year old) gas boiler, can never achieve severe winter performance even after five or six hours operation. It is known that the old pipes and radiators will soon start to give serious trouble. There is clear evidence of advanced corrosion which could at any time lead to serious water damage in the building.
As all the existing furnishings were installed in 1891, the 1900 heating system was built around the furniture in several areas. This means that furniture needs to be removed to properly install discreet modern heating. Small choir pews, originally built for choir boys, severely limit the capacity and usefulness of the chancel area. A review of the nave furniture reveals that at some time much of it has been subject to woodworm. Considerable wood rot, dealt with about five years ago, had made some pews unsafe. The present format of pews will only properly facilitate the traditional Victorian Anglican worship pattern. Any deviation from this pattern ranges from difficult to impossible. Special occasions and festivals always require the temporary removal of some pews.
The nave floor is of stone slabs with a herring-bone ceramic block pattern in the pew areas. Some blocks have become broken and loose or are missing, forming a trip hazard. It is not possible to replace them, so a filler compound has been used. Wood runners in the floor have some beetle infestation.
Originally the chancel floor was at the same level as the nave floor, but in 1891 the chancel floor was raised up two steps as was traditional at that time. This necessitated many other smaller and inappropriate alterations to accommodate this floor at the raised level. The most serious and obvious effect of the raised floor was obscuration of the large east window.
Historical use of the building
In the middle ages, the church would have been the only community building in the village and, in common with most other village churches, would have hosted many events and festivals other than the Sunday worship. There would have been no pews. Seating (if any) would have been moveable benches. The chancel is where the worship would have taken place, with the congregation (mostly standing) looking on from the nave. They would be pseudo worshiping because they were under the same roof. The only requirement being that they saw the bread broken during the Eucharist. It is in Victorian times that churches became reserved for worship alone. Theological thinking required that God be lifted up at a distance, hence the raised floor and distant altar. In the present day we very much consider that God is among us for his Spirit to be active in our lives. This surely is a much more biblical interpretation and completely in line with the teaching of Jesus.
The Renewal Project
The project seeks to return the use of the church building to the people, much as it would have been prior to Victorian times, but fit for use in a modern society. The building needs to be used for much more than an hour on Sunday and the occasional wedding or funeral. There are regular events taking place in the hall which could very appropriately take place in the church. This would free up hall booking space for lesser activities.
On completion of the project, the building will have a modern discreet economical heating system, a level insulated floor right through to the altar rail
giving full disabled access, a creche area, chairs instead of pews thus making the nave and chancel space adaptable, cleaned up and restored historical features,
improved lighting and a permanently installed Audio/Visual system with loop facility for hearing aid users.
We are not in the business of maintaining a monument to the past. We are in the business of enabling a modern community to come closer together and closer to God.
David Wright, April 2016
Renewal Project Update - July 2017
Our renewal project continues with more detailed costings for the work having being completed.
The main contractor has been chosen based on the advice of our architect and we are making sure the project costs are covered
and the grants bodies kept up to date with the latest cost breakdowns. Work will actually begin on 18 September 2017 !
Taking a conservative approach to our income and costs the project is now going ahead.
There will need to be some juggling to enable cash flow through the work.
The main project work includes levelling the floor, installing a new heating system, putting a glass door
in the porch and reworking the woodwork to fit the new layout.
Ideally we also want to update the audio-visual equipment at the same time.
Overall, including the audio-visual work, the project comes to £107,000 in addition to the money we have already spent in fees getting to this point.
As of May 2017 we are £6,400 short of this total but have applied for three more grants.
Even if these don't come in we can do the work with more limited audio-visual updates.
However, if you would like to contribute (or contribute further!) to help cover this amount then gifts are welcome - do see David Wright.
We have had a sense through this long project of the Lord building us up as a people and community.
Some of the Lord's challenge has come in the waiting... some in the attention to detail... and some in the questions people have raised.
The Lord's graciousness is more than evident in the hearts of those who have given so much. Let us prayerfully seek to complete the task before us
God regularly calls us back to renew the heart of our faith so that we may
experience afresh his love in our lives. At the heart of our faith is the
simple, yet profound, truth that we are called to walk with Jesus. It
was this truth that revolutionised my faith many years ago as I realised that
Christian faith was about a daily walk with Jesus through all of life, not
words to a distant God on a Sunday morning. But how does this happen? It cannot
be simply a matter of our effort or knowledge or even church attendence.
Rather, as the apostle Paul puts it, "God's love has been poured out into our
hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5). It is only by the Spirit
that we can live this life of faith, a life overflowing with love for the whole
of creation. We need to come to God aware of our own weaknesses and failings
and confess these, asking him to send his Spirit that we might know Jesus
walking with us in life. As we do so we will realise that our Christian life
can never be lived alone but wherever possible it is lived incommunity.
Church is not an outdated institution but rather a community of people who have
experienced God's manifold love by the Spirit and seek to walk closer with
What are the effects of this kind of life for us? Firstly, we experience the love
of God - a love that is shaped by Jesus, particularly through his death on
the Cross. Here is a love that faces the extremes of pain in our lives and in
the world and yet is able to bring life even out of death. As we slowly
experience this kind of suffering love so we find ourselves also reaching out
in love to others to create healing communities. Many people testify to the
healing power of church communities at times when life seems at its darkest.
Secondly, we find ourselves praying to God, knowing that he hears and
answers such prayer. This is a rich tapesty of prayer with something just right
for each one of us as we seek to hear God and offer our concerns to Him.
Thirdly, through prayer we find God stretching us and challenging us to grow
in faith. Christian faith faces the challenges of the world and the questions
as to its validity - it forces us to face the truth rather than escape from it.
The testimony of Alpha courses and others is that we can enjoy learning and
growing in faith as the Bible inspires us. Finally, through all this we find
ourselves called to serve God in the communities of which we are apart -
within the church, village, city, nation and world. Christian faith never rests
until the world is transformed by the love of God and all pain and suffering
overcome. God's mission is for a transformed creation and we are called to be a
part in that.
This pattern is seen through the Bible and can be glimpsed in one of Jesus' first
approaches to his followers after his resurrection from the dead. Two of his
followers were walking away from Jerusalem to Emmaus not quite believing that
he could be alive (see Luke 24). Rather than turn to those who believed Jesus
shows his great love by coming alongside these two who were heading in
the wrong direction. There is a sense of God's concern and comfort that shines
through, and yet also the challenge to grow. Jesus challenges the two to
understand better the Bible's testimony to him, to go again over the stories of
God's working and discover how Jesus' death and resurrection fits in. And so
the two learn, but somehow do not recognise Jesus. They invite him in for
supper at the end of the long walk and as they share together Jesus turns the
ordinary into a place of prayer and worship as he blesses and breaks the
bread they share. Suddenly the two recognise Jesus and the experience is
overwhelming. So much so that they find themselves running back to Jerusalem to
serve others by sharing the good news that Jesus is alive and active.
Christian faith is a great adventure. One that is so simple that anyone can join in. Yet
one that is so vast that we will remain constantly surprised by God's working.
It is an adventure rooted in a loving community, in prayer and worship, in the
living word of the Bible, in charismatic gifting, in committed service. It is
an adventure with Jesus, by the Spirit as the Father calls and leads. Let us
carry on the adventure together.