Blackham All Saints’ Consecration by the Bishop of Chichester
On Wednesday afternoon the handsome new Church, which has been erected at Blackham, was consecrated by the Bishop of Chichester. The growth of the Church work in this corner of the diocese, from the day of its humble commencement 18 years ago in a cottage, is a splendid testimony to the perseverance and devotion of the Rev C N Sutton, the present rector of Withyham, whose long cherished desire to see the services at Blackham conducted in a worthy habitation has at last found fulfilment. When the late Rev T F Rudston Read was rector of Withyham and Mr Sutton was curate, the latter conceived the idea of starting services at Blackham, an outlying portion of the parish. Accordingly, a start was made, the gatherings being held in a cottage. At first the work was hard and discouraging, but as time went on better results were attained and a corrugated iron building was erected. Here the services were continued for some years, for even when Mr Sutton was appointed rector of Withyham, he did not allow his interest to diminish in the work at Blackham and still regularly conducts the services. For some time the temporary building had proved quite inadequate to the needs of the district and the erection of the new Church, which is a dignified and compact structure, is a matter of much satisfaction to churchmen in the neighbourhood. The Church, which is built of local stone with Bath-stone dressings and tiled roof, will seat 200 people. The cost, including the site, amounts to £1,380 of which £100 has yet to be raised. The Church is dedicated to All Saints. The foundation stone was laid in September by the Archdeacon of Lewes. The builder was Mr Chas Day of Cowden. The handsome altar was made and presented to the
Church by Mr Arthur Thornby of Langton, who also made the choir stalls. The altar cloths were given by Mrs Mews of Hartfield, and the altar linen by Miss Nelson of Tunbridge Wells. Lady De La Warr, who was present at the service on Wednesday, has promised to provide a bell for the little tower at the West end of the Church. The Consecration Ceremony The solemn ceremony of consecration took place in the presence of a very large congregation, many being unable to gain admission. The clergy present, in addition to Dr Wilberforce, were the Revs C N Sutton (Withyham), W P Evans and A J Swainson (Forest Row), C C Woodland (Hammer- wood), R Fisher (Groombridge), D Y Blackiston and L H Dahl (East Grinstead), R Formby (Hartfield) and J H Townsend, D D (Broadwater Down). The surplice clergy met the Bishop at the Church door and the presentation of the petition for consecration was made by the Rev C N Sutton. The Bishop then proceeded to the chancel and the consecration service was carried out The Sermon The Bishop of Chichester took the text for his sermon from Psalm 16 v 11 “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” He said they were met together that day in a place solemnly set apart for the service of God and for the use of His people. That House had been built for the especial service of God and was an effort on the part of the National Church to fulfil its National duty – to see that no part of any parish, so far as the Church was able to provide for the extreme parts of the parish might not be without its decent orderly services, and without the House where they might claim the presence of God; where the sacrament might be administered;
where God’s word might be taught and where people were invited to join in the solemn act of worship to God. The words of his text brought before them with singular emphasis the great fact that man could not live without the presence of God. Oh yes, they might say, we can live and we can prosper and grow rich. So we could, but what was man? They had the three-fold division of man brought before them and life was incomplete unless every part of man in his three-fold order was really satisfied. They might provide for the body with all its wants and all its cares; and they might heap comfort and wealth around it, but they would find there was no real satisfaction in all that unless they were providing as well for the spiritual part of man and for the development of his intellect. Years ago one of the great men of old said that man was created to rest in God and man never knew what his rest was until he had found it in God. Surely they need not look beyond the confines of their own hearts to realise the truth of this. Sin was the cause of all the sadness and restlessness and pain of their lives and Christ was the only giver of satisfaction and rest. In that Church the peace of Christ
would be taught and preached. In it, too, he trusted the young would be brought into the fold of Christ and that the sheep would be fed with the only true food that came from the hand of God. The sacraments would be administered and men would receive Christ’s life into their souls. He trusted that Church would be a living witness to the necessity of the presence of God in the hearts of men; the opportunity was offered to men to know more of Christ and by knowing more to grow to love Him more and by loving more to grow to serve Him more. He understood that a sum of £100 still remained to be raised before the Church was free from debt and he appealed to them all to help according to their means so that the weight would not fall on the shoulders of those who had guaranteed the money. The Church required certain fittings before the House of God – simple, yet beautiful in it proportions – was complete and he appealed to them to aid in the provision of those things which made the Church worthy of Him whose presence they sought and that their worship might be worthy externally and internally of Him to whom it was offered.
Transcript from Kent & Sussex Courier 2 May 1902
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