St. Helen Lundy
Lundy is the exception in the Mission Community. Lundy was not in any parish until the parish of Lundy was created in December 2013. An isolated church on the lonely island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel, over the years it has suffered some damage due to its exposed position but restoration work has started and, with God’s grace and with the help of large lottery grant in 2013, this will continue. The present structure, built by the Revd. Hudson Heaven, was consecrated in 1897.
St Helen’s continues as a place of worship with occasional services being conducted by a rota of ministers travelling from the mainland.
There are a limited number of occasional offices. When visiting the island, Ministers usually have to stay for a few days and the church currently provides very basic accommodation in the Vestry.
Holidaying ministers are welcomed and encouraged to conduct services during their stay on the island; these are advertised in the Tavern. The church is also a place for learning, education and worship, with provision for research and accommodation for mini-retreats.
St Helen’s is not only a place of worship. It is a striking building in a prominent position and is visited by almost everyone who visits the island. It is valued for its unique character, and is a place of peace, refuge and quiet contemplation for believers and non-believers alike. Despite the low number of permanent residents on the island, the church provides an opportunity to reach thousands of people each year.
The PCC has no resident members but all have one thing in common; a passion for the island and its church in particular.
The Heritage Lottery Fund provided a grant of over £1 million to support an ambitious and inspiring project to restore the fabric of the church to extend its ministry as The St Helen’s Church Centre for learning, research and worship. The PCC has provided matched funding and managed to repay a Diocesan loan of £150,000.
Lundy has a resident population of around 30 people and there are 23 holiday properties plus a campsite on the island. There could be about 200 people staying on the island at any one time in the summer with an additional 200 or so day visitors on “boat days”.
There is a shop and a pub. Most of all there is wildlife in abundance, unspoilt by many of the trappings of modern day life. Thousands of visitors come to the island to stay or for day visits with regular sailings on the MS Oldenburgh from Bideford and Ilfracombe during the summer and a helicopter service in the winter.
The Oldenburg sails three times a week and carries day visitors, staying visitors, food and all other supplies required to the island. The journey takes around two hours; if sailings have to be cancelled because of bad weather, a helicopter service is provided if one is available. During winter months the island is served by a twice weekly helicopter service from Hartland Point; the flight takes about 7 minutes and provides passengers with a wonderful view of the island and North Devon Coast.
The Fellowship of St Helen has been started on the Island. The peace and solitude of the Island environment will provide a great environment for spiritual development.
Bishop Jackie offers the following words in support:
‘To be a pilgrim is to be on the journey of life, to be a seeker after God, and to walk faithfully and joyfully with companions on the way. For many people Lundy Island is a special place, a place of pilgrimage and a place where God seems very close. St Helen’s church, built for the glory of God, is a place of prayer, peace and sanctuary. Joining the St Helen’s fellowship is to set your heart on pilgrimage, to seek to live in relationship with God and one another. Whether you are physically able to make that pilgrimage, or it is a journey of the heart and soul, finding a place in our lives to draw close to God, to creation and in love for one another, is an essential part of spiritual life. I warmly commend the St Helen’s Fellowship to you.’
A leaflet includes a form so that you can commit to the aims of the fellowship which are also listed there. As a member of the Fellowship you will be able to undertake this ‘search for God’ knowing that others of like mind are in fellowship with you.