An appreciation of All Saints' Church, Nottingham
1952 - 2004
The approach of All Saints’ Day, 1st November, is an appropriate time to remind myself that it is now fifty two years since I first entered All Saints’ Church, which has meant so much to me over the past years. Since 1952 I have observed many changes not only in the style of worship and the interior of the church but also in the buildings of the surrounding community.
It was Dr Billy Graham’s first London Crusade that inspired local churches into new initiatives and I remember the then Vicar of All Saints’, Revd Charles Harrington and his curate calling at my home in Tennyson Street with an invitation to “come along and see what the church can offer”.
My decision to accept the invitation proved to be a turning point in my life. I recall venturing into the church on a cold October evening by myself, sitting in a pew with two young ladies listening to a powerful sermon delivered from the pulpit, a wonderful feeling of warmth and joy swept over me, and I knew then that I would want to return to All Saints’ again and again.
After two or three weeks, the ladies who had befriended me asked whether I would like to attend a mid week Bible Study. I agreed, and what a revelation it proved to be. My friendship with these ladies grew in strength and I quickly realised that they each possessed a strong faith in God which I was seeking, and helped by their example and their encouragement I not only found a faith but also a new world opening up to me.
Following a year of preparation I was confirmed and eventually began teaching in the infant Sunday School. Underpinning these activities was the Bible Study Group which became known as the Guild of Health. In those early days at the start of my Christian life, I found those bible studies so meaningful and I recall quite vividly the power of the spirit in those inspiring meetings.
The 1950s that I recall were a period of growth for All Saints’. My two children, Alma and Robert, were now accompanying me for Sunday morning worship, and with other groups of Brownies, Girl Guides and Boys Brigade also in attendance an early arrival was necessary to obtain a seat. On special occasions, such as Harvest Thanksgiving, and on Remembrance Sunday, the church would be packed with the inclusion of members of the Tank Regiment and RAF Newton. And to enhance those services were the voices of the men and boys choir, latterly supplemented with young ladies.
By the late 1960s times were beginning to change in society, which sadly was to be reflected in the decline in the community surrounding All Saints’. Streets of terraced houses were demolished, including a nearby school, and the splendid Victorian dwellings which previously were occupied by members of one family were adapted into flats or hostels. What was once a recognised up market district, was eventually to be designated by the Southwell Diocese as a Urban Priority Area.
Thus began a noticeable decrease in the congregation of All Saints’, including the choir which was disbanded in the mid 1970s. Yet an average of thirty to thirty five people still meet Sunday by Sunday to worship our God.
So what of the future? The unification of All Saints’ with St Peter’s Nottingham gives me renewed hope for our lovely church and that those of the community without a faith might be encouraged, like I was fifty two years ago, to come along and see what the church can offer. Our hope is in the Lord, great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father.