By Revd Vanessa Conant, Rector, St Mary’s & the Parish of Walthamstow
When Dave and I visited our architects this week, I was struck again by the name of the complex where their offices are housed in Hoxton: Perseverance Works.
It’s an appropriate name for people who have to be extremely tenacious, patient and adaptable to see their projects through to completion.
We talked together about the perseverance it has required from so many to get our project to the place where the building work is now happening and we are beginning to see the vision for the project realised.
This includes, of course, a lot of practical perseverance – so many people from our church community have worked so hard from the outset on raising the funds, agreeing the designs, consulting with the community, researching our history.
And there are many other things which happen behind the scenes. For example, Nevil Osborne, a member of our congregation, collates all our payments and then submits detailed (and sometimes complex) VAT reclaims under a government scheme for Places of Worship.
Without this work, we would simply not be able to afford to do the project. I am so thankful for the perseverance of our church family. Sometimes, it has felt immensely challenging and, on some days, almost impossible.
I am reminded, when I think about the offices of Matthew Lloyd Architects and of our own experiences, of the verses in Romans 5:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us perseverance for the challenges we face, and what is it that ‘works’ when we persevere? What changes?
It isn’t just that projects get completed or that we have a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment. The letter to the Romans reminds us that this perseverance in the face of struggle ultimately produces hope.
Our vision for the renewed St Mary’s is that it will be a totally accessible, welcoming and beautiful space where people can come and find welcome, community, inspiration and ultimately hope in the unfailing love of Jesus Christ. We still have a long way to go. By the grace and with the help of God, may our perseverance work.