Monday, November 16, 2015

Messy and tidy churches

click photo to enlarge
I recently went into a medieval church that proudly proclaimed itself to be a "Messy Church". And it was. One afternoon each week it held an informal meeting for families that included art and craft activities. It presumably subscribed to the "Messy Church" credo. I have no problem with that. However, this church was messy in the more widely understood meaning of that word - it was a tip! Surfaces and walls were littered with pieces of paper, furniture was spread about almost randomly, the underlying architectural order of the various parts of the building and its furnishings was undermined by signs, "displays", artwork and much else. It needed someone with an eye and a tidy mind to get a grip of the interior and show people how it was perfectly possible to have a "messy church" that was tidy, clean and looked cared for: one that showed the congregation and visitors the best of the church's past as well as present.

After the disappointment of that experience it was refreshing to step inside Sutterton church. The signs were good even before I entered the porch because I passed someone digging over one of the churchyard flower beds. Inside was an object lesson in how a church can meet the needs of today without obscuring the building's history. It was tidy, obviously well-cared for, had well arranged evidence of regular and wide-ranging activities, and for this visitor, a real pleasure to see. Of course, a dark November afternoon isn't the best for showing off a medieval church interior. But, such a day brings its own charms in the form of pools of light and areas of deep shadow. Both are shown in my photograph that is taken from the chancel looking towards the nave, font and west window. Incidentally, the leaning verticals are a result of time and the foundations, not my tilted camera.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 18mm (36mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/60 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On