Bath Moravian Church


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Coronation Avenue History

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Anglicans and Moravians under the same roof - September 2003


Coronation Avenue Moravian Church and the Church of the Ascension (Bath)


Background


This situation came about through the initiative of the previous Vicar at the Ascension, Gary Wilton. He approached us with representatives of the PCC, in the wake of the Fetter Lane Common Statement. It did not seem right, they said, that we should be struggling to maintain a second set of premises which was obviously becoming a burden to the small congregation, when the Ascension premises, then being revamped, could provide adequate facilities for both our needs. The Moravian congregation accepted that it made sense and decided to sell its building, and eventually on 10th January 1999 the last service was held in the old church.

Gary unfortunately left just as the ball began rolling in January 1998. He is now training Church Army officers in Sheffield. This was a blow because we felt we knew and trusted each other fully. However, the plan had been laid and the PCC was behind it. We began holding a monthly united service following the pattern of the ‘host’congregation, with the ‘visiting’ congregation providing the preacher and reader. Other members of the Marlbrook Team Ministry were looking after Ascension until September 1998 when Robert Pimm arrived as the new Vicar. We then began to prepare to move.

Where we are


Since then the Moravian congregation has been worshipping at 3:00pm on Sundays. This means we no longer have a morning service in the summer, which had been enjoyable, but as many grow older they find it harder to ‘get going’ in the morning. It also means however that with services at 3.00pm all the year round, people know where they are. So there are some advantages here. One member who never came at 9:30am now comes regularly but another finds the afternoon is no good on account of family commitments. Four people have started to come regularly since we relocated. Since the choir disbanded, we miss a midweek fellowship.Our organ, sold (for £1) to Ascension was rebuilt and rededicated in October 2000. This has been a big plus to the worship of both congregations and we now feel even more at home. A Bible Class has been started on Monday nights after Girls’ Brigade, which is supported by half a dozen of the girls. Two of these have expressed an interest in Confirmation - the first such enquiries for some years. The Girls’ Brigade also has a closer-knit feeling to it, which may well owe something to the greater compactness of the Ascension premises.

Our initial agreement was signed by the Bishop of Bath & Wells and we hope to have a joint notice board outside, as opposed to two, or one with two parts. Inside the porch we will have our own notices. We have also put up a new shed outside at the back basically for Girls’ Brigade storage. So we shall gradually begin to lose the feeling of living out of a suitcase. Being part of a larger enterprise is good. We retain our identity fully, but we do not feel alone in our small corner. There is a genuine feeling of trust between the Anglicans and Moravians and we see our ministries as complementary and not competitive. How that develops remains to be seen, but that is our starting point. We have agreed to send representatives to Council/PCC meetings once or twice a year. We exchange newsletters and the Moravians are making use of Ascension’s hymnbooks.

Practical points


It is of course a relief not to have the worry of property maintenance and repairs. The Ascension premises, as mentioned above, are more compact than our former place, and while we miss the extra space at times it has done us no harm to shed some of the excess baggage and learn to live in a more realistic way. It is also useful to have car-parking facilities available. Being next door to the local school (South Twerton) gives a sense of integration with the community and probably removes any sense of caution such as might be felt initially when entering a “Moravian” church. There are still things to be done but there is no going back, however wistfully we may look at the old building, which has now been sold and put to good use. Meanwhile we go forward with a feeling of encouragement that, if it is God’s will that we continue to serve His Kingdom as a Moravian congregation in this locality, then our present situation offers the best position from which to do so.


Rev. Paul Gubi
former Minister of John Cennick Memorial Moravian Church, Coronation Avenue, Bath.

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