Closure of St. Paul’s Church, Lindale

(An article by the Revd George Wilson, taken from the February 2019 Lindale Newsletter)

Dear Friends

The closure of St Paul’s Church Lindale, as a place for Public Worship, has been a wide topic of conversation since July 2015 and sadly it has now become a reality. On Friday the 25th January 2019 (the Feast Day of the Conversion of St Paul) we gathered in St Paul’s Lindale for the final service, to celebrate and give thanks that the site on which the current building stands has been the hub of Christian witness to the community of Lindale for at least three centuries.

Nearly 100 people came together, to say farewell to the building which held special memories for them having worshipped there and celebrated life’s special events. They had celebrated Baptisms, Weddings, Confirmation; they had come to renew wedding vows or for a marriage blessing; and they had come say their farewells to loved ones, to seek comfort, healing of body, mind or spirit, come to enjoy fellowship, to make new friends, come to share in worship and Holy Communion.

In life there are times when we fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when we are forced to endure things that are outside our comfort zone. But when God closes one door, He opens another. It may not be today, tomorrow, or the next day, but God will definitely have His plans for us all. For although the church is now closed for public worship, the ending experienced is not ‘THE END’. It’s the possibility of beginning again in a new way. It’s a point in the story of the church building and Parish of St Paul’s Lindale where one chapter transitions into the next. The next chapter will begin with the Parishes of St Paul’s Lindale and St Paul’s Grange becoming the Parish of St Paul’s Grange with Lindale.

What the next and subsequent chapters in the story of the building and the newly formed parish will hold, we do not know at this time, only God knows. As the prophet Jeremiah conveys to us – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

We may often prefer the familiarity of the old and consider that beginnings can be scary. Yet beginnings can also be exciting, because a big blank space of possibility stretches before us. Yes, endings are hard, we may grieve endings, but we can accept that both endings and beginnings are an important part of our journey through life and an important part of our journey of faith, as we move ever forward rejoicing with God and supporting one another.

And we can be assured that there will always be a Christian presence in the community of Lindale, offering support and fellowship, a presence made known through the lives of those who make up the living body of God’s Church, God’s family on earth.

There has possibly been a living body since before the 16th Century for it is believed there has been a place of worship in Lindale since before the Reformation, but nothing certain is known; however, it is recorded that a chapel does appear on a map dating 1577, and there are further records of the church from 1627 onwards.

In 1650, it had been recorded that the chapel had ‘neither minister nor maintenance, though there was a great necessity for both’ and a report made to the Bishop of Chester in 1708 shows that the chapel was almost destitute of books and furniture. There was nothing belonging to the Communion, because it was never administered; and the table was not railed in.

It was not until 1770 that a brief was obtained for the rebuilding of the chapel, but nothing more than repairs were done. The rebuilding was not to take place until 1828, providing seating for 160 people. The chancel, vestry and organ loft were added around 1864; and the north aisle was added in 1913. In more recent times there has been some reordering with kitchen and toilet facilities added.

If the seating capacity provided during the rebuilding in 1828 reflected the requirements of the present day we wouldn’t be at this point in its story. Sadly, like a number of churches throughout the land, the ongoing decline in congregational numbers has brought us to where we are in the present day.

In May of this year I would have been involved at St Paul’s for 9 years and it has been a privilege to serve in this way and to have been a tiny part of the life story of the church, and more so from being involved in the life stories of many from the community of Lindale.

From my very early days here, I have been hugely aware of how much effort has been put in, trying to keep things going, trying to keep up with the maintenance of the building and all the other tasks involved in caring for and running a church building, by a small and ever lessening group of truly dedicated members of the Parochial Church Council.

As such it has been a very distressing and difficult time for the PCC, to take the decision, because of limited financial and human resource issues, to declare we were no longer able to maintain the church building as a viable and comfortable place for Christian worship.

I’m sure many are saddened – and many will have special memories, stories of their own to tell of what the church building has meant and does mean to them, perhaps not least to some of the surviving loved ones of the 1862 recorded as being laid to rest in the churchyard. And of course, their stories, our stories, don’t end being written; they will continue to be lived out in the new parish of St Paul’s Grange with Lindale.

As mentioned earlier, all chapters come to an end but not ‘THE END’ – the next chapter has always to be written, and we can celebrate that a Christian presence in the village of Lindale will continue through the worshipping lives of the people of God, the living body of his Church, an illustration used by St Paul our Patron Saint who’s feast day is celebrated yearly throughout the Christian Church on the 25th January. Stories like his that can go on being celebrated, added to and shared year upon year.

What the future holds for the church building is unknown. However, we do know that the Diocese takes responsibility for the church building on the 1st March 2019 and they will seek to find an interested party who are willing to take it on and begin the next chapter in its history. Whatever the future use of the building may be, the graveyard to the north side of the church will remain open and becomes the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council of the combined parish of St Paul’s Grange with Lindale.

Any future enquiries for Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals or Churchyard matters should be made through the Cartmel Peninsula Team Ministry Office in Grange -Mrs Linda Brown 015395 35560 Email – [email protected]

This being the last issue of this News Letter relating to St Paul’s Church Lindale, on behalf of the PCC may I offer our grateful thanks to all who have contributed in any way, the Parish Council and Taylor Newton Hibbert Trust who have contributed towards the costs, those who have supplied news items, advertised events, those who have printed, folded and delivered and to those who have edited it over the years, with a special thanks to Judy Morris the current editor.

May you know God’s blessing each and every day as your story transitions from chapter to chapter.