(*please skip if you have not been following this story). Looking back I realize that not one of my places of ministry has known financial plenty. Every organization I have ever been involved with has always required faith and generosity to meet annual budgets and as for big projects, like the Stone Yard Centre, the struggle never seemed to end. We rejoiced in the Day of Willingness and many acts of sacrifice (and there were many) but financial stress continued with a background of national economic slowdown. In budgeting our commitments to mission remained a priority but other problems loomed.
One critical issue was to find a home for the Director of the Centre and his wife, Graham and Val Thomson. They began life in Cambridge renting but we needed something more permanent. With all the other financial pressures this seemed a forlorn task. Yet on May 5th 1991 we learned that one of our dear members, Mrs. Elsie Norman, not only bequeathed a substantial sum of her estate to the church but...joy upon joy....her house in Leys Avenue. It seemed like an action replay of the extraordinary gift of the house for the associate minister in 1983. Just when we needed it! Just!
The role that some of our older saints played by their praying and enthusiasm for the church is one of the unsung themes that needs to be voiced. It thrilled me when I visited our elderly members to hear their excitement and commitment to all that was happening. They really belonged within the church family. And then to see it in the way they had written their wills was deeply moving.
Although so many older friends played very significant parts in this story I also should mention Miss May Pigott who died around the same time and who also left a substantial part of her estate. May was a spectacularly loyal saint, of strong views and long service in the church - particularly as an Assistant Treasurer who kept the Sunday offerings overnight (guarded by her dog) before banking on Mondays. Like so many older friends she was exhilarating to visit because the church community meant everything to her and her enthusiasm shone out. That's church family.