THE Society of Mary and Martha announced last week that it has entered the final stage of its Long Barn appeal at the Sheldon Centre, near Exeter.
The Society, which offers confidential respite, particularly for those in the ordained ministry, has raised £900,000 to renovate the Long Barn with en-suite rooms.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is patron of the appeal, and on Wednesday of last week he hosted a reception for many who had contributed, reminding them that a final £150,000 was required to pay off loans.
Dr Williams expressed his gratitude for the work done at the Sheldon Centre during the 25 years of the Society’s life. Its ministry had been “just like the ministry that you support: an incarnational, hands-on, sacrificial, brave, practical vision. It’s been pursued with great tenacity, without massive guaranteed financial support, as you say — “on a shoestring” in some ways — and all the more impressive for that. And all the more impressive because of its fundamental honesty about the nature of ministry. . .
“The actual drain on the soul and spirit of people is so real and so profound, that it needs folk to name it and face it, and think clearly and feel deeply about it in the way that you do, then to roll up your sleeves and get on with it.”
Dr Sarah Horsman, administrator of the Sheldon Centre, spoke about the needs being met by the Society of Mary and Martha: “When the mind is exhausted, the body is sick, emotions have gone haywire, the spirit is crushed and God has gone AWOL, then we do well to seek a place of safety.”
She went on: “If you are exhausted and anxious and have made a tiring journey to an unfamiliar place, you need to find a decent room — a reasonable size, and light and quiet and warm and en-suite. At last we can offer such a room to every guest who comes to Sheldon.”
They had mortgaged themselves “up to the hilt” to complete the work, she said, and urged supporters to help with the final sum.