THEY STARTED talking about it at St Ninian’s 15 years ago. “It takes a long time to get things done on the island,” the Revd Brian Darbyshire said. He arrived in his Douglas parish on the Isle of Man six years ago, and found that there had still been no decision about what to do about the dilapidated church hall that was beyond repair, and the lack of modern facilities in the large Edwardian and very fine church.
But once he started “to push things through”, he found a large number of able people in his congregation who could negotiate the sale of the hall and another parcel of land, and oversee the building of a new two-storey parish centre inside the church.
The building is of a very high quality, he says, and the upstairs meeting-room makes the most of the curving arches. The centre now provides a room for the 25 children of Sunday’s Cool, and they are “feeling their way” towards making full use of the hall for parish and community use.
The church is famous as “St Ninian’s Corner” on the TT race track, and there is a regular congregation of “anything between 70 and 150”. The Archdeacon of the Isle of Man, the Ven. Brian Smith, came to dedicate the new centre in February, and in September the NS Curate, the Revd Margaret Burrow, will be the first woman to be priested on the island.
The ordination will be by the new Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, who will be enthroned in St German’s Cathedral, Peel, on 14 June.