Monday, 11 May 2009

Munificent bequest

Today is the centenary of the death of St Michael’s greatest benefactor, so the first photograph is another one of his grave in the churchyard there, this time taken close enough to read the inscription; I particularly enjoy the words ‘munificent’ and ‘liberal’. The money he left must have been what today we think of as a ‘lottery winner’s’ amount if most of the present St Michael’s was built with it quite apart from the other bequests.

The Grimsby Church Extension Society was not an incidental or minor cause. As the town grew rapidly Edward King, who as Bishop of Lincoln famously loved the rural poor of his village churches, felt a particular burden for the urban poor of the multiplying unchurched terraced houses in Grimsby. He promoted and supported this as a major cause, and when the diocese gave him an anniversary present it pleased him that it was in the form of a large donation to the Grimsby Church Extension Society. So the second photograph is the foundation stone he laid for St Aidan’s, Cleethorpes four years before Chapman’s death, and I guess that Chapman (who lived in the parish from which St Aidan's was carved out) would have been among those there when he did so.

Today we look back on the multiplication of churches and parishes at this time as a mixed blessing. I've posted before about the way that ten of the twenty Anglican churches opened in Grimsby and Cleethorpes between the 1860s and 1970s had now closed but that this still leaves us with more open churches than the Baptists, Catholics, Methodists and United Reformed Church put together. Nevertheless, today we give thanks for Chapman, and for King (the centenary of whose death falls in March).

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