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A House of Prayer for the Nations?

One of the odd things about being a Baptist minister in this area is the privilege of leading ecumenical services at Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.  It is an unusual place, having  a proper church and the servcices of a chaplain.  The staff at Sherwood really value this provision, seeing it as something special to offer their guests.

Now Center Parcs has been taken over by a company who wish to replace the chapel with a retail outlet - whether this is a conversion (!) or demolition job I don't know.  The current intention is that services will now be transferred to the cinema.

I have mixed views about this.  I have long since relinquished any special attachment to church buildings - they are, for me, largely functional, the 'sacred space' being something created in the gathering of people encountering the divine.  Worshipping in a cinema or pub or the middle of field is all the same to me.  At the same time, it has been good to know that there was a quiet space at Center Parcs, a place people could just sit and be.  From my own perspective, to have made it a multifaith prayer centre would have been accpetable, if the argument had been over exlcusively Christain provision.  But it wasn't.  It was about mamon.  Why tie up several square metres of prime space in a chapel when you could be selling stuff...

I hope to join many others giving thanks for all that the chapel has meant at a special service on 2nd September.

My own special memories cannot be taken away - the RC couple with whom I shared communion at New Year, the lonely woman who found solace in Eeyore on Palm Sunday, the unashamed ecumencism that transcended left-right high-low labels and the foretaste of the eschatoclogical banquet.  Somethings money can by, but those that matter are often price-less.

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