Manchester Consistory Court: Holden Ch, May 2001
A petition was brought by the incumbent and churchwardens to reorder this ancient church by constructing a small platform in the area immediately in front of the chancel screen extending into the nave and to remove two pews at the front of the nave and make any necessary modification to the heating system. There were three objectors. The chancellor detected behind the objections a sense of unease about the style of worship in vogue at the church. The chancellor rejected the objection that the proposal would be too expensive being satisfied that the officers of the church and the PCC had determined that it was an appropriate use of parochial funds. He was satisfied that the removal of two rows of pews would not be objectionable. He was concerned that the platform would constitute a hazard in an emergency and was mindful of the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. He did not go into details as he was to refuse the petition on different grounds. He rejected the objection that the platform should be seen as a stage with theatrical connotations. He considered that the platform would aid visibility for those sitting at the back and sides of the nave. The petition was rejected on a basis not raised by the objectors, namely that the present arrangement was to use the area for baptism services with a portable font. The chancellor noted that the church had a baptistry in an open side chapel to the north of the chancel. He felt bound by the resolution of the House of Bishops, which states that there must be only one baptismal point in a church. See Response by the House of Bishops to Questions Raised by Diocesan Chancellors (June 1992). He felt that it would not be appropriate to permit the introduction of the platform until the whole pattern of liturgy and worship had been worked out in relation to the use of the building.
(2002) 6 Ecc LJ 289