There is a bitter irony, during this BBC Proms season, in the announcement by the PCC of the National Musicians’ Church, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, that amateur and professional musicians will no longer be permitted to hire the church for rehearsals and concerts. The ashes of Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Proms, lie in its north chapel, which is dedicated to the commemoration of significant British musicians.
“The sheer diversity of those opposing this decision from the highest profile conductors, instrumentalists and broadcasters in the country, to educational and industrial leaders of the music industry and also to members of the clergy, collectively illustrate the obvious; that a substantial and open rethink of the hiring policy at the National Musicians’ Church of St. Sepulchre’s is needed.
The church has benefited hugely from many of their talents in the form of choral music and performances in the concert hall; for St Sepulchre’s, the National Musicians’ Church, not to acknowledge this is a simple act of betrayal.
Clearly, the current situation is unsustainable and should result in meaningful change. We appeal to all sides to begin an open and respectful dialogue to end the current crisis. A reiteration of the practical concerns within St. Sepulchre’s and piecemeal gestures to the ministry of musicians will be met with a cool response.
Banning musicians from the Musicians’ Church is as crazy as banning football fans from Wembley.
Christianity is about spreading a generous message to as many people as possible, not one that protects itself. Generosity towards the many should be of premium not just space, because the Anglican Church should welcome all, rather than just the saved, elected and lucky few.”
Richard Robbins, Save the National Musicians’ Church Campaign
As a church in the liberal tradition of the church of England, dedicated to providing rehearsal and performance space to musicians in SW19, St Paul’s Wimbledon Park asks the PCC and priest in charge of St Sepulchre to reconsider their decision.