It is a real privilege to be able to stand here and articulate some of the feelings in our midst this morning.

I guess one of my predecessor’s Fr Garrett had similar feelings when this building was finished in 1968.

Perhaps then it felt as it does today, a significant moment not just in the life of the church but of the wider community of Colton and Whitkirk in which St. Mary’s stands.

Over the years the doors of this building have been open for all sorts of events.

From parties to pantos.
From flower shows to funeral teas.

We hope and pray this will continue into the future and that alongside them new possibilities will be opened to us too, so that this will truly be a centre for our community.

I feel too a great sense of pride in what has been achieved, in a way that has had no significant impact on the life of the St. Mary’s faithful.

Aside that is from having to pop over to our local, the Brown Cow for refreshment on Sunday mornings and at other times, which has hardly been a trial.

So, it hasn’t been a project that these can sometimes be that drain the life out of a parish so that we all reach this stage exhausted.

That said the redevelopment team of Trevor Sirrell, Tony Bond, Janet Blenkinsopp, Shelagh Freer, Mike Jackson ably assisted in the later stages by Liz Hayes may well feel a bit different.

They have worked tirelessly to make this project happen. Hours have been spent, in the planning and fundraising, in the project management and development.

We are in their debt. They have tenaciously and with good grace made what we see around us happen. I offer my thanks to them on behalf of us all.

We are thankful too to all those professionals involved with this project the builders, the architects, the funders together with any others who have offered their support.

However, alongside the sense of pride and thanksgiving in our midst, I want offer a reminder too of why we have made it happen.

For me, it is simply about fulfilling those words that we as followers of Jesus say having met him in story and sacrament, week by week we are sent out to ‘love and serve the Lord’ in our lives.

That loving and serving Our Lord takes places in all kinds of ways, in simple and beautiful acts of kindness and care, in our worshipping and social life, and also importantly for us today in the fabric of the buildings that we have been entrusted with.

This Community Centre is the bricks and mortar of those words ‘to love and serve the Lord’, it was true when it was built, it is true now it has been refurbished and enlarged.

In the entrance Sue Kershaw has designed, and many of us here have helped her create a mosaic.

It depicts the scene from St. Luke’s Gospel in which the prodigal son, having lost his way comes back to his father. His father, the story tells us, runs to meet him. He doesn’t ask anything of the son who has failed him just opens his arms of love.

This mosaic is for me an icon of what I hope this building will be for this community, as we seek to love and serve the Lord, a place in which the open arms of God are known.

Whether it’s amongst the keep fitters,
or the Mothers Union
at a 50th birthday party,
or the Harvest Lunch.
At Messy Church
Or the next Arts Guild show, Legally Blonde.

For me everything that takes place here, can in some way be a vehicle for the love of God.

So, my friends may this building embody the words of our vision so that we as the people of St. Mary’s in the midst of this community, as we seek to love and serve the Lord, open our hearts and our doors wide so that all find a welcome, today and always.