REV SUSIKARAN JAMES: ‘When the final bill arrives, let’s send it to God!’

Work on the crumbling window frames at St Simons Church, Southsea
Work on the crumbling window frames at St Simons Church, Southsea

Police promoting safety messages at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth

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The priest-in-charge of St Simon’s Church, Southsea, looks back on trying to raise money to fix the church windows.

It was on my very first day as priest-in-charge of St Simon’s, May 1, 2016, that I noticed the yellow hard hats on the sound desk.

Only afterwards did I work out that those working the PA system had to wear a hard hat as the masonry falling from around the church windows was quite dangerous. My heart sank.

I went home and tried to remember if there was any teaching from my theological college to help me address this challenge – I couldn’t recall any,

What were we supposed to do? I had no other option other than to put into practice what I’d been preaching – ‘God is much bigger than we can ever imagine’.

We decided to put our trust in God and have faith that the money for this work would come in. So when the architect asked me for my final decision about repairing the church windows, I said: ‘When the final bill arrives, let’s send it to God!’

Work started in February 2016, and of course we did our part in finding the money. The congregation raised £30,967 and the Coffee Tavern Trust was very generous in giving us £50,000.

The windows have now been repaired and the final bill has come in. It’s more than £100,000 because we’ve had to pay for lots of scaffolding and specialised stonemasonry work.

But God did pay the bill, by inspiring sacrificial giving by some faithful individuals within our congregation and the local community. We’re so grateful that we’ve been able to finish this work without any debt.

This is obviously not the end, but only a beginning, as we’ll continue to use our fully-repaired building to feed the homeless, welcome parents and toddlers, and reach out to young people, as we have done for many years.

But it’s an important lesson for us to learn, that faith does work. God is bigger than we can imagine, and we can trust him.

Why not see the newly-repaired building for yourself at one of our Christmas services, including Carols by Candlelight at 7.30pm on December 10, a Crib Service with a donkey at 4pm on December 23, and an all-age service at 10.30am on Christmas Day?

St Simon’s Church is on Waverley Road, Southsea. for more information go to stsimons-southsea.org.uk.