St John's Church Preservation Group


STORIES FROM THE PAST TO HELP
SAVE HISTORIC CHURCH

Local MP to launch book

The stories of William Perry the Tipton Slasher, an internationally famous educationalist, a legendary brewery owner and a celebrity look-a-like are amongst those contained in a brand new book now available. ‘Tales From a Churchyard’ – is being sold to raise much needed funds for the St John’s Church Preservation Group which is aiming to save and restore St John's Church.

All profits from the book are being donated to the Group who are desperately trying to raise £36,000 as the first stage of the fight to save the Kates Hill church and bring it into use by the community:

“The book highlights some of the fascinating people who are buried at St John’s” explained Deb Brownlee, the Chair of the Preservation Group. “It really reinforces the importance of the church and why it is worth preserving”.

Written by local journalist and researcher Chris Smith, ‘Tales From A Churchyard’ tells the life stories of various individuals commemorated in the churchyard at St John’s. These include English boxing champion William Perry (known as ‘The Tipton Slasher’); Marion Richardson who revolutionised the way that art and handwriting were taught to children across the world; Julia Hanson, the local brewery magnate; and Mary Ann Mason, the young girl murdered in a Kates Hill pub by her jealous boyfriend.

There are also a quartet of servicemen highlighted in the book – including a member of the famous ‘Dambusters’ squadron and a local man who served an incredible 77 years in the army!

The official launch of the book – which is available at £8.99 – takes place on Saturday 6th February at 2pm at the Preservation Group’s stall on Dudley Market Place where local MP and Minister for the West Midlands Region Ian Austin will purchase a copy, which will later be donated to the House of Commons Library. Ian Austin and the author Chris Smith have been friends for many years and now find themselves reunited in their respective efforts to help to save the grade II listed church.

"I first met Chris some 20 years ago - in fact he gave me my first job working in the PR department of an advertising agency. So when I was asked to launch this book I was only too pleased to accept" explained Ian Austin. "I think it will be a real eye-opener for many people who just did not realise quite how historic the St John's churchyard is. I am hopeful that the book will raise a considerable amount for the Preservation Group."

The patron of the group Dr Carl Chinn expressed his delight at the launch of the book "As a historian myself I am well aware of the wealth of Black Country history enshrined within the grounds of St John's Church. It is excellent that some of these stories have been so thoroughly researched and brought to life in this lively and fascinating book and which will in addition help to raise much needed funds."

The group are currently seeking to raise £16,000 for essential waterproofing works, £15,000 for a feasibility study and £5000 to replace the lightning conductor. £8000 of the funds have been raised so far. It is expected to cost around £150-£200,000 to get the building re-opened and a further £700,000 over ten to twenty years for total restoration.
More information about the work of the Preservation Group can be found at www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com. Donations can be sent to St John’s Church Preservation Group, The Old School House, St John’s Road, Dudley, DY2 7JTT.

(Added 29012010)

St John's Church Preservation Group would like to THANK YOU for your continued support throughout 2009

2009 has been a busy year......we share a few highlights here....

  1. The St John's Church building is now Grade II listed - a massive accolade for St John's, for Kates Hill, for Dudley and the Black Country

  2. We thank the members of the St John's Church Steering Group chaired by the Archdeacon of Dudley for working hard with us to try to find a future for the St John's Church building.

  3. We have raised over £10,000 towards restoration costs the bulk of which in less than 6 months but we have a very long way to go.

  4. We have agreement in principle to re-open St John's Church building subject to risk assessment and insurance - the insurance assessor has visited and we eagerly await the report due in January 2010.

  5. With the Steering Group we have agreed the specialist architects we would like to work with to carry out the essential feasibility study. We are appealing to everyone to help with fundraising for the costs of the feasibility study - estimated £10-£15,0000 - send a donation, run a coffee morning, collect your loose change, have a whip round, collect tombola prizes for our Saturday stall on Dudley Market. Anything you can think of to help us get the funds together for this most essential stepping stone to the future.

  6. We have continued to receive marvellous support from the local media and from our Patron Professor Carl Chinn. Also from our local Councillors and MP Ian Austin.

  7. Many wonderful entertainers have given their time freely to help us raise funds, and fantastic venues such as The Quality Hotel, Club Dudley and The Ex Servicemens Club have provided us with meeting rooms free of charge. Ex Servicemens were also the first group to run an event on our behalf and raised over £300.

  8. Ned Williams needs a special mention, as do all the regular helpers and the grounds clearance team.

  9. Facebook has been a special success for us, with 668 friends on our page and 403 members in our group Save St John's Church, Kates Hill, Dudley.

  10. A piece from the Express and Star on 4th December - our friend Aynuk, who was married at St John's in 1959, has donated his office desk which he has been using for 46 years, to St John's Church Preservation Group. The desk will be auctioned on 23rd January 2010 at Aston Auctioneers, Tower Street, Dudley. Please put the date in your diary. Aynuk organised a benefit show for us in August which raised £1200.

  11. An article written by Mick Pearson, editor of the BlackCountryman Magazine, the excellent quarterly magazine of the Black Country Society. We are very grateful to Mick for creating this feature for us and recommend all our members to have a look at the Black Country Society website http://blackcountrysociety.co.uk/

CHRISTMAS SERVICES IN THE PARISH HALL, ST JOHN'S ROAD, KATES HILL

CHRISTMAS EVE 11.30PM MIDNIGHT MASS
CHRISTMAS DAY 9.30AM CHRISTMAS MORNING FAMILY SERVICE
SUNDAY 27TH DECEMBER 10AM HOLY COMMUNION

WISHING YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

"Working Together to Save St John's Church"
www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com

(Added 23/12/09)

Aynuck Show announced to raise funds for St Kohn's - click here => LINK
Detail about funding plans and possible usage for St john's - click here => LINK

AYNUK’S BLACK COUNTRY SHOW

(with Aynuk, Lee Wilson, Marlene, Beryl Briscoe
and introducing Emma Rollason as ’Dolly Allen’)

Wednesday 26th August 7.30pm
Club Dudley, Waterloo Street, Dudley
(The former Dudley Labour Club)
TICKETS: £10 each. Available from Club Dudley, on the door on the night, reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or by email savestjohnschurch@hotmail.co.uk, from the Aynuk & Ayli Cafe in Northfield Road, Netherton (next door to Netherton Arts Centre), and from Sofi’s Cafe, Castle Street, Dudley.
Aynuk was married at St John’s Church on 4th April 1959 and is hosting this benefit concert to help with the St John’s Church Restoration Appeal.

THANKS TO EVENT SPONSORS CLUB DUDLEY, AYNUK, LEE WILSON, MARLENE, BERYL BRISCOE AND EMMA ROLLASON. ALSO PAUL SMITH AND THE AYNUK AND AYLI CAFE, NETHERTON


A MUSICAL EVENING WITH PHIL JAMES

FRIDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 7.30pm
Quality Hotel, Birmingham Road, Dudley

Tickets: £3 pay on the door or reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or email savestjohnschurch (at) hotmail.co.uk. Also available from Quality Hotel reception, Sofis Cafe in Castle Street, Dudley or any Saturday at St John’s Church when Preservation Group members are on site carrying out grounds clearance.

Phil demonstrated his musical genius at our AGM in May; this is his concert debut for St John’s Church Preservation Group. He plays seven instruments, composes and produces. His musical style ranges from classical to rock. He has produced six CD’s of his work. He is only fifteen years of age but is already an experienced concert performer. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear this brilliant young musician. His girlfriend Ellie, a talented singer and actress will be providing the vocals.

THANKS TO EVENT SPONSORS QUALITY HOTEL, PHIL JAMES AND ELLIE. £1 from the sale of each CD will be donated to St John’s Church Preservation Group.


VARIETY SHOW NIGHT

With comedians and singers

FRIDAY 16TH OCTOBER 2009 7.30pm

A benefit show hosted by the Ex-Servicemens Club, Hall Street, Dudley on behalf of St John’s Church Preservation Group

Performers and admission to be confirmed


FAGGOTS ‘N PAES

Entertainment from Stan Proudman and more to be confirmed

FRIDAY 23rd OCTOBER 2009 7.30pm
Quality Hotel, Birmingham Road, Dudley

Admission £7 pay on the door or reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or email savestjohnschurch@hotmail.co.uk. Also available from Quality Hotel reception, Sofis Cafe in Castle Street, Dudley or any Saturday at St John’s Church when Preservation Group members are on site carrying out grounds clearance.

THANK YOU TO EVENT SPONSORS QUALITY HOTEL AND STAN PROUDMAN


AN EVENING WITH PHILIP SOLOMON

Wolverhampton Express and Star Psychic Agony Uncle and Medium

THURSDAY 12TH NOVEMBER 7.30pm
Club Dudley, Waterloo Street, Dudley

Tickets: £6 each, £7 on the door. Get a party of 10 pay £5 each. Available from Club Dudley, on the door on the night, reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or by email savestjohnschurch (at) hotmail.co.uk, from Sofi’s Cafe, Castle Street, Dudley. Also from Preservation Group members any Saturday at St John’s Church, find us on the grounds doing clearance work.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS CLUB DUDLEY. ADVERTISING PAID FOR BY PHILIP SOLOMON.


DODICI CORDE GUITAR DUO

FRIDAY 27th NOVEMBER 2009 7.30PM

An evening of classical guitar music. Wine and nibbles.

Venue and admission to be confirmed.


CHRISTMAS DINNER DANCE

Details to be confirmed


NEWS FROM ST JOHN'S CHURCH PRESERVATION GROUP

ST JOHN'S NOW GRADE II LISTED. PARTY INVITATION AND EVENTS DIARY.

Great News! St John's Church building has been listed Grade II by English Heritage. This means that St John's Church, Kates Hill, Dudley is now nationally acknowledged as an important historic building.

We thank everyone who helped us with the listing application and everyone who has offered us so much help and support since we formed the St John's Church Preservation Group in May 2007.

This is what our Patron Professor Carl Chinn said when he heard the news:

"Both as a social historian and as patron of the St John's Church
Preservation Group I am delighted that this historic church has been
listed as a Grade II building by English Heritage. This listing
recognises that the church is of special interest historically and
architecturally and it emphasises that every effort should be made to
preserve it. The challenge is now on to secure funding to ensure that
the building is not only saved but also that it can become a wonderful
facility for local people. I hope that everyone concerned with this
building can work together to realise this dream of the Group, whose
members I congratulate on their achievements so far."

Please join us for a Celebration Party on Saturday 13 June 2009, details below. Everyone is warmly welcomed to come and celebrate this historic moment, not just for St John's, Kates Hill and the whole of St John's Parish area, but also for Dudley itself, as another piece of our architecture and history is shown to be valuable not just locally but also to the nation.

So what's next? We have proved that St John's is an important building which should be saved. Now we have to raise the funds for the repairs and development, and to pay for the feasibility study which is essential for major funders to consider us. We think we can re-open the church for around £150,000 - £200,000 with a total project cost of around £1million over a ten year programme which includes refitting the unique stained glass windows which have been removed, and repairing the church organ. We remain committed to trying to persuade the Church of England to re-open the building for worship, and with additional community use for everyone. We must continue to resist any move to make the building redundant, which would not only mean that St John's was no longer a place of worship but could also remove the limited protection from demolition that listing provides.

For lots more information, news updates and details of how you can help us please visit our website www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com

Please now have your diary ready to make notes of our EVENTS PROGRAMME and please do circulate this email to your friends, family and colleagues. And we still need more grounds clearance helpers every Saturday at St John's from 10.30am. Please come and give a little time, even an hour can be a big help.

THANK YOU

Deb Brownlee, Chair

Click here for photos and a report on the celebration => Celebration

ST JOHN'S CHURCH PRESERVATION GROUP
(EVENTS DIARY 2009 BOOK TICKETS NOW!)

FRIDAY 26TH JUNE
SAVE THE CHURCH VARIETY SHOW

organised by entertainer and publisher Greg Stokes of Kates Hill Press. Comedy, performance poetry, storytelling. Back by popular request following the great success of the first Save the Church Variety Show in January.

Venue: Quality Hotel, Birmingham Road, Dudley
Time: 7.30pm

Tickets: £3 pay on the door or reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or email
savestjohnschurch (at) hotmail.co.uk.
Also available from Quality Hotel reception, Sofis Cafe in Castle Street, Dudley or any Saturday at St John’s Church when Preservation Group members are on site carrying out grounds clearance.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS QUALITY HOTEL, GREG STOKES AND ALL THE ENTERTAINERS.

DRAMATISATION OF THE MARY ANN MASON MURDER STORY
BY THE NAC THEATRE COMPANY

(early July awaiting final performance venues and dates)

Mary Ann Mason was murdered at the Sailors Return, Kates Hill in 1858. Her gravestone at St John’s is the only stoneknown to show the name of the murderer. NAC Theatre company have very kindly scripted the story which will be performed at a number of venues in July.

SATURDAY 11TH JULY
NETHERTON PARK FUN DAY

Time: 10-5pm

Come and see us, sit in our gazebo, have a chat and a cool drink. Pick up leaflets and tickets. Aynuk will be popping in sometime during the day.

MONDAY 27TH JULY
CELEBRATION EVENT 169 YEARS SINCE ST JOHN’S OPENED

A fun event looking at what’s happened in 169 years since St John’s was opened as a church on Monday 27th July 1840. There have been 25 occasions since 1840 when the 27th July fell on a Monday. The next time is the year 2015!

Details to be confirmed please put the date in your diary

WEDNESDAY 26TH AUGUST
AYNUK’S BLACK COUNTRY SHOW

with Aynuk, Lee Wilson, Marlene, Beryl Briscoe and introducing Emma Rollason as ’Dolly Allen’.

Aynuk was married at St John’s Church on 4th April 1959 and is hosting this benefit concert to help us with the St John’s Church Building Restoration Appeal

Venue: Club Dudley, Waterloo Street, Dudley (the former Dudley Labour Club, now refurbished to a high standard)
Time: 7.30pm

TICKETS: £10 each. Available from Club Dudley, on the door on the night, reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or by email savestjohnschurch@hotmail.co.uk, from the Aynuk & Ayli Cafe in Northfield Road, Netherton (next door to Netherton Arts Centre), and from Sofi’s Cafe, Castle Street, Dudley. Also from Preservation Group members any Saturday at St John’s Church, find us on the grounds doing clearance work.

This event will be filmed

THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS CLUB DUDLEY, AYNUK, LEE WILSON, MARLENE, BERYL BRISCOE AND EMMA ROLLASON

FRIDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER
A MUSICAL EVENING WITH PHIL JAMES

Phil demonstrated his musical genius at our AGM in May; this is his concert debut for St John’s Church Preservation Group. He plays seven instruments, composes and produces. His musical style ranges from classical to rock. He has produced six CD’s of his work. He is only fifteen years of age but is already an experienced concert performer. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear this brilliant young musician. His girlfriend Ellie, a talented singer and actress will be providing the vocals.

Venue: Quality Hotel, Birmingham Road, Dudley

Time: 7.30pm

Tickets: £3 pay on the door or reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or email
savestjohnschurch (at) hotmail.co.uk.
Also available from Quality Hotel reception, Sofis Cafe in Castle Street, Dudley or any Saturday at St John’s Church when Preservation Group members are on site carrying out grounds clearance.

THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS QUALITY HOTEL, PHIL JAMES AND ELLIE. £1 from the sale of each CD will be donated to St John’s Church Preservation Group.

OCTOBER FAGGOTS ‘N PEAS with ENTERTAINER

Details to be confirmed

THURSDAY 12TH NOVEMBER
AN EVENING WITH PHILIP SOLOMON

Wolverhampton Express and Star Psychic Agony Uncle and Spiritualist Medium

Venue: Club Dudley

Time: 7.30pm

Tickets: £6 each, £7 on the door. Get a party of 10 pay £5 each. Available from Club Dudley, on the door on the night, reserve by telephone 01384 357634 or by email savestjohnschurch@hotmail.co.uk, from Sofi’s Cafe, Castle Street, Dudley. Also from Preservation Group members any Saturday at St John’s Church, find us on the grounds doing clearance work.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS CLUB DUDLEY. ADVERTISING PAID FOR BY PHILIP SOLOMON.

Report:

The celebration party was held on Saturday evening 13th June on the car park of the Old School House (the former St John's Church School), next door to St John's. Permission granted by Bernard Stockford, accountant, owner of the Old School House.

Around 140-150 attended and most took advantage of the beautiful evening to also have a good look at the grounds clearance work so far.

There was a disco for the children. SJCPG members provided a barbecue and most of the food was donated by well wishers including home made cakes. The neighbours next door made tea and coffee which we we sold at 30p a mug.

Ian Austin MP attended (pictured with Adrian Baillie, founder Vice Chair of St John's Church Preservation Group and Community Police Nick and Rachael). Ian was very supportive of the application for listing and made representations on our behalf to English Heritage and to the final decision makers the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

Councillor Shaukat Ali attended. He is a founder member of the St John's Church Preservation Group and of the St John's Church Steering Group chaired by the Archdeacon of Dudley. Geoff Hill MBE attended with his wife Sue and members of his family, and handed us our first ever grant donation, a cheque for £200 from the Geoff Hill Charitable Trust.

Local History author Ian M. Bott attended and loaned us a rare and precious copy of the Annual Church News 1902 . We can copy this book and extract wonderful historic facts and snippets from it. (pictured)

Local shopkeepers High View Fish Bar and Tiwana Superstore sent bottles of wines over as gifts

This party was to celebrate St John's Church being Grade II listed by English Heritage on 21st May 2009.

Deb Brownlee (Chair St John's Church Preservation Group)

"This was a fantastic event which received massive public support in terms of donations of food, with practical help, and with a fabulous attendance of around 150 people. This party was for people to share our joy at getting St John's listed and to have some fun before we start on the very hard work of fundraising for the building restoration"

Images (Top to Bottom):

1. The Cha Cha Slide
2. Ian Bott with copy of the Annual Church News
3. Adrian Baillie, Ian Bott MP, Rachael and Nick (Police Community Support Officers)
4. Guests enjoying the event
5. Dancing the Macarena

“Working Together To Save St John’s Church”
(Date: 25th March 2009)

NEW HOPE FOR REPAIRS TO KATES HILL CHURCH

Campaigners seeking to save St John’s Church, Kates Hill are overjoyed to announce that subject to final agreement of a schedule of works they may be given permission to start work on essential repairs to the church building.

St John’s Church Preservation Group, formed in 2007 and whose patron is Professor Carl Chinn, has been involved in engthy discussions with the local Parochial Church Council and the Diocese of Worcester.

A St John’s Church Steering Group headed by the Archdeacon of Dudley has been set up consisting of representatives from the Preservation Group, The Diocese of Worcester, the St John’s Church Parochial Church Council, English Heritage and St Thomas’s Ward Councillors. The church was originally closed in November 2002 on safety grounds, but subsequent surveys carried out in 2005 and 2008 showed the 169 year old church building to be structurally safe and capable of repair.

Deb Brownlee, chair of the St John’s Church Preservation Group, “We sought agreement through the Steering Group to do sufficient work to make the building waterproof whilst further explorations regarding the future for St John’s continue. This will buy time for the building which at the moment suffers more damage every time it rains. The Steering Group have now agreed on a commissioning architect who will prepare a workplan. This is the first stage towards obtaining permission to carry out the repairs.”

Professor Chinn “This is a major step forward for the group and I hope everyone will rise to the challenge now in front of us. This is our first chance to make a real difference to the historic St John’s Church. ”

The Archdeacon of Dudley said “The Steering Group is making progress in tackling the need for basic repairs to the building and in working towards a feasibility study on the options for its future. We are hopeful that a plan will emerge that will enable the church building to have a new lease of sustainable life.”

The St John’s Church Preservation Group is seeking to raise the estimated £16,000 costs of the work and is urgently seeking donations and new helpers to help implement their fundraising action plan.

There is more information on the St John’s Church Preservation Group’s website:

www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com
The Old School House, St John’s Road, Kates Hill,
Dudley, West Midlands, DY2 7JT

The event was to constitute the St John's Church Preservation Group and turn it from an informal group into a legally recognised body. Over 100 people attended, with candles and lanterns

Cheerleading supplied by Pedmore Panthers

Chaired by Mr Keith Massey who has served the local community in a number of capacities over the years notably at Green Park and Jasmine Road Community Centre

All three ward councillors, namely Councillors Shaukat Ali, John Davies and Steve Waltho attended. Goodwill messages were received from Ian Austin MP who was in London and Group Patron Professor Carl Chinn who was lecturing in Manchester.

CHURCH GROUP APPEALS
FOR NEW HELPERS

St John’s Church Preservation Group is appealing for new management committee members following the sudden loss of several key people due to illness or caring responsibilities.

The group was set up in 2007 to save and restore St John’s Church, Kates Hill and their work has included applying for the building to be listed, organising fundraising events and extensive grounds clearance. The Group’s Patron is Professor Carl Chinn who is a great great nephew of the famous Tipton Slasher who is buried at the church.

Deb Brownlee, chair of the group ”We have always been a fairly small but hardworking team, and the loss of anyone from the team is important, but to lose several people makes things very difficult for us and we need to replace them very quickly in order to be able to proceed with our 2009 Action Plan. No special skills are needed at all, just the will to work hard and have around ten hours a week spare time to give.”

The 13 point 2009 Action Plan features promotion work, achieving greater communication with the membership, developing volunteer systems and fundraising activities.

Anyone from the age of eighteen can apply to join the management team, which meets weekly. Much of the work can be carried out on a flexible basis so is suitable for people who are working, unemployed, students or retired.

Deb Brownlee:
”Dedication and enthusiasm are the most important attributes we seek as any necessary training or guidance will be provided. We are offering the chance to be involved in an exciting and involving challenge, to help us achieve our goal of re-opening St John’s Church.”

Anyone who would like an informal initial chat can come along to the St John’s Church grounds any Saturday between 11-1pm, telephone Deb Brownlee on 0787 119 5042 or email savestjohnschurch (at) hotmail.co.uk.

Further information about the work of the group can be found at:

www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com

Contacts:

Carl Chinn, Patron, St John’s Church Preservation Group: carl (at) brummagem.fsnet.co.uk

Deb Brownlee, Chair, St John’s Church Preservation Group: debbrownlee (at) hotmail.co.uk or 0787 119 5042


Update 24/12/2007

NEW SURVEY TO BE CARRIED OUT ON ST JOHN’S CHURCH

St John’s Church Kates Hill has been thrown a lifeline as church leaders have decided to carry out a third survey of the building. In order to obtain a further opinion on the state of St John's church building the Diocese of Worcester is commissioning an independent survey which will take place in the New Year. This follows an application from the Church Council for the church building to be declared redundant.

The Archdeacon of Dudley said, "When the report is submitted it will contribute to the material that is being provided for the Church Commissioners to consider in making a decision on this application. The state of the building however is not the primary reason for the Church Council seeking redundancy. It believes it is no longer vital to its essential calling to worship, minister and carry out its mission which are being maintained using the adjacent Church Hall. Whatever the outcome we are committed to working with the local community to find a future for St John's Church building which meets the needs of the Church Council and the congregation and enables the building to be a resource for the local community."

Deb Brownlee chair of St John’s Church Preservation Group, “Obviously we were delighted when the Church Commissioners office in London informed us that the Bishop of Dudley had asked for the redundancy process to be halted whilst a third survey is carried out. However we and the local ward councilors Shaukat Ali, John Davies and Steve Waltho have called for a local joint steering group to be set up, but as yet the Archdeacon has not established this and therefore we have not been part of this decision making process and in consequence have no say in the experts who will be used. We are mindful that the previous church survey led to the building being closed as dangerous in 2002 and yet an English Heritage survey three years later in 2005 said that the building was basically sound and capable of repair at reasonable cost. We are also mindful that the Church released repair figures over time of up to £2million whereas the basic repair costs muted by English Heritage were £126,000. We are arranging prayer meetings to pray for a good outcome from this third survey.”

“We have put in writing to the Church Commissioners that we will if necessary fundraise to provide the full cost of repair and modernisation costs and also to help with maintenance costs. 86% of our 900 members have made it clear that they wish to fulfill their spiritual needs and family occasions such as weddings in the beautiful and historic St John’s Church and not in the parish hall and we are keen to help re-build the congregation which is now fragmented into other places of worship or have lost the habit of coming to church at all. We cannot agree that the church is not necessary for worship and ministry, indeed following that argument if a Parish Hall is considered to be a suitable place for worship and ministry in this parish they might as well shut every church in the UK and put every congregation into their parish halls or community centres.”

Visit the group's website: www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com

URGENT APPEAL FOR PHOTOGRAPHS AND INFORMATION

St John's Church Preservation Group is urgently seeking photographs of the interior of the Kates Hill church in order to complete an application to try to get the building listed through English Heritage.

Deb Brownlee, chair of the Preservation Group "We have to comply with certain criteria in our proposal to get St John's Church listed, and this includes photographs of the interior to illustrate architectural points. We have been refused access to the inside of the church to take these photographs, therefore we are issuing an urgent appeal to local people to search their cupboards and lofts for any photographs which may help us. We only need to borrow the pictures to scan them in, then they can be returned immediately."

The group is also asking for anyone with knowledge of the architecture of the church to come forward, as the listing application needs to include as many points of architectural interest as possible.

The launch event comprised of the formalisation of the group, singing and prayers.

Picture shows well know local author, Michael Taylor, a founder member of the group. He was President of the St John's Church Youth Club and is pictured with two of his former members, Roger and Marleene Evans.

For further images of the event please see below:

CHURCH SUPPORTERS URGED
TO TURN OUT IN FORCE

St John's Church Preservation Group, Kates Hill appealed to their 800 plus supporters to turn out in force at a meeting called by the Archdeacon of Dudley Fred Trethewey. The meeting took place on Tuesday 27th November at 7.30pm in the Parish Hall, which is opposite St John's Church on St John's Road.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future of St John's Church and the reasons for the redundancy process.

Deb Brownlee, chair of the Preservation Group said:

"We urge our supporters to attend and let the Archdeacon know that we do not want to lose our church, and that we want it to remain as a church and a vital piece of Kates Hill and Dudley heritage. We have figures which show there is a real demand for St John's to re-open, as the majority of people do not wish to worship in a Parish Hall when a beautiful, loved and historic church is unused a few yards away. People cannot get married, have funerals, or have children christened in the Parish Hall, and they are being forced to use other Dudley churches which are not where there family connections or loyalties belong. We have strong reasons to believe that the church can be brought back into use at a relatively modest cost, and it just needs the will of the church leaders to allow this to happen."

All three local ward councillors, Shaukat Ali, John Davies and Steve Waltho, along with Dudley North MP Ian Austin, local author Michael Taylor, and historian Professor Carl Chinn MBE who is also patron on the group, have all come out in favour of saving the church.

Doctor Carl Chinn MBE, historian and patron of the St John's Church Preservation Group.
Visit the group's website: www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com

Update 4/5/2008

PROFESSOR CARL CHINN’S DELIGHT AT CHURCH PRESERVATION GROUP MEMBERS SURPRISE ELECTION TO CHURCH COUNCIL

St John’s Church Preservation Group was formed in August 2007 in response to public demand that something be done to save St John’s Church, Kates Hill. The church was closed in 2002 following a damning Church of England survey and has since been left to become even more overgrown and neglected.

The Preservation Group has been met with lukewarm support from the remaining St John’ s congregation, who fear that if the church is re-opened they will again be tasked with the job of paying for the upkeep.

The Church of England leaders have shown no interest in re-opening the Church. The Preservation Group has not been allowed to display leaflets or give out notices in the Parish Hall where the congregation now meet. The group were refused a Church of England spiritual leader for their inauguration ceremony held in November.

However members of the St John’s congregation recently voted two members of the Preservation Group onto the St John’s Church Council.

Annette Eardley, secretary of the St John’s Preservation Group is now a member of the St John’s Parochial Church Council and was also appointed Deputy Churchwarden by the Priest in Charge Rev Dave George. Preservation Group Committee member May Whitehouse was also voted onto the PCC.

Both are long standing members of the congregation and have served St John’s in various capacities.

Preservation Group Patron Professor Carl Chinn “I am delighted that the congregation and St John's Preservation Group have shown support for each other. It is vital that they and the church authorities work together thoughtfully, sensitively and realistically towards finding a solution that will allow this historic church to remain open as a place of worship and as a vital community centre.”

Deb Brownlee, chair of the Preservation Group “This was an incredibly heartening result for us. We had challenged the interpretation of the voting rules, which had been geared in a way which would have stopped some of us from voting. Our challenge was upheld but in the end we needn’t have done so because our candidates were voted in by the congregation anyway.

There are still some people trying to stop us from saving the church but we feel they are becoming more of a minority. We have proved that we are serious, we have ideas and we are not expecting the congregation to pay for the restoration or maintenance or even get involved if they don’t want to.”

The St John’s Church Preservation Group is now participating in the St John’s Patronal Festival, a series of events which start on Sunday 4th May at 10am with a Patronal Service.

On Monday 5th May there will be a Table Top Sale in the Parish Hall, Kates Hill and the Preservation Group will have information and membership forms available. The event has been organised to offer plenty of interest for the whole family including activities for the children. This will be the first occasion that the Preservation Group and other members of the congregation have worked together.

Annette Eardley, Secretary of Preservation Group and St John’s Church Deputy Churchwarden “This is a small step towards getting people to work together. We know the church can be saved and we just want to get on with it. I hope that my election to the Church Council will help enable us to achieve our aim of working in harmony.”

Full details of the St John’s Patronal Week Festival activities are on the Preservation Group website www.savestjohnschurch.zoomshare.com.

Everyone is welcome and the Preservation Group is urging people to come forward and support everyone’s efforts to make the church activities attractive to local people again.


Update November 2008

St John’s Church Preservation Group in partnership with BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) carryied out the last full day of clearance of 2008 together at St John’s Church, Kates Hill this Sunday, 30 November 2008.

Clearance of the overgrown two and half acre site began in September and along with help from West Midlands Probation, Dudley Youth Offenders team and helpers from the local community a huge amount of clearance has been carried out. Paths and graves which had not been seen for over twenty years are now clearly visible and relations are returning to tend graves which they had not been able to reach.

Deb Brownlee, chair of the Preservation Group:

”Although with all the help we have received we have cleared more than we could have believed possible in the time, there is still a lot to do. If we could just get enough people this Sunday we might just finish the rough clearance which would make every single grave accessible again. We urge the whole community and relations of those buried at St John’s to come along and help. Bad weather won’t stop play!”


Telephone contact is Deb Brownlee on 0787 119 5042. Further information about the group is available on the website

email the web master Mick Pearson: