It has been a month since I have posted a blog. Apologies. The main reason for my silence is that I have been much affected by a family bereavement, and have found that I have only been able to cope with the rudimentaries of life and work. So the blog went temporarily on mute. However the events of this morning are so momentous for the Go and Grow project that I feel compelled to comment on them.
At 10.30am this morning I, along with others, was summoned into a committee room in Church House (the headquarters of the church commissioners in central London, next to Westminster Abbey) to appear before the pastoral committee. The hearing was to last one hour, and the conclusion would be that the committee would rule whether or not the project would be allowed to go ahead. Knowing that this would be make-or-break, I had very little sleep last night - my mind racing about parking spaces and PCC deliberations.
The hearing followed a similar format to what I imagine government committees do, of which one occasionally sees snippets on the news. First the one complainant spoke briefly and was asked questions. It soon became abundantly clear that all members of the committee had meticulously read all 174 pages of the supporting papers, and were very well informed indeed. The next person summoned to speak was a long-standing member of St Bs, and spoke in support of the project, again followed by some questions. Then finally three of us: the diocesan head of property, the archdeacon and me, took to the stand. I was grateful that the head of property took the lead, he having spoken at this type of hearing many times before. Occasionally I was invited to comment on or clarify certain issues. There was loads I wanted to say, but I knew that I had to stick scrupulously to the specific subject being addressed. Almost as soon as it had begun, our bit was all over and we were asked to go and wait in a separate room for the committee to deliberate.
After a short wait, pregnant with hope and anxiety, we were invited to return to the committee room for the committee's finding. In a couple of short minutes the chairman summed up their conclusion, which was to allow the scheme to proceed. A wave of relief washed over me. Breath returned to my being, as I whispered a heartfelt "thank you" to the Lord. For a time, it had felt like the entire future of St Bs had hung in the balance, but now a major hurdle had been passed. The process had been incredibly thorough, gruelling and nerve-jangling. The resulting assent has left me exhausted but happy that we are still in the game. Next hurdle: planning.