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St Mary Magdalen church rededicated after building works

The completion of work to improve and restore the church of St Mary Magdalen in Bermondsey Street was recognised on Sunday when the Bishop of Woolwich rededicated the historic building.

Rt Revd Michael Ipgrave
Bishop Michael Ipgrave enters the church of St Mary Magdalen after knocking on the door with his pastoral staff
St Mary Magdalen church rededicated after building works
The solid wall which separated the south aisle from the body of the church has been replaced with glass
St Mary Magdalen church rededicated after building works
This mosaic of the Bermondsey Lion was previously covered by a carpet

New glass panels at the west doors of the church provide passers-by on Bermondsey Street with glimpses of the building's interior.

Inside, the modern wall which separated the south aisle from the nave of the church has been removed and replaced with glass, filling the space on both sides of the partition with light and enabling visitors to appreciate the full width of the listed building.

The service on Sunday afternoon began with Bishop Michael Ipgrave knocking on the main church door in Bermondsey Street with his pastoral staff.

Later Dr Ipgrave commented on the uncovering in the church sanctuary floor of the mosaic image of the Bermondsey Lion who also holds a crozier. The Bermondsey crest is derived from the arms of the Abbot of Bermondsey Abbey of which St Mary Magdalen was part.

The reopening was the culmination of a ten year plan to 'let light in', 'reveal what was hidden' and 'increase connectivity'. This has involved reopening Georgian doorways, moving the kitchen, creating rooms and revealing large windows to let light in from the churchyard on the south side.

The architect for the upgraded church is Union Street-based Roger Molyneux.

The bishop was welcomed inside the church by the rector, Revd Charlie Moore.

In his sermon, Bishop Michael highlighted words from the Paul's Letter to the Ephesians which appears on the new glass partition just inside the church.

'He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance.'

The Bishop said that he had recently been in Ephesus which is in Turkey. St Paul, he said, was making three points about bringing down walls: it brought together groups which were once divided, it created peace and it reconciled all together in God.

The church in Bermondsey was no longer separated from those in the street but a meeting ground.

"At the heart of this place there still remains true holiness. At the heart of this place is the sanctuary with the table from where God feeds his people. God is deeply involved in the life of Bermondsey."

Earlier in the day Bishop Michael was at St Anne's church in Thorburn Square to license Church Army captain Paul Warren as urban missioner for both St James and St Anne's Bermondsey.

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