St Mark’s Chaplaincy in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna

Our churches in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, and the people associated with them, constitute what is called a Chaplaincy. In many ways, this is simply another word for a Parish, but technically, it means that rather than serving a specific geographical area, we serve the people who come to us – the ‘gathered community’ that we create through our mission, outreach and visibility in this region. Many members of our congregations travel long distances from where they live to be a part of our fellowship and many are here for a very short time. It means that we serve a very mobile community and our provision has to be very open and responsive to change and changing circumstances.

This is our Mission Statement:

Walking in the light of Christ, the Chaplaincy of St Mark’s Florence with St Peter’s Siena, and Holy Cross, Bologna, works constructively and inclusively together, as three places of Christian excellence and witness, in common with other Ministries of the Universal Church, for and with any people who find themselves in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna.

Our Mission Statement helps us as we focus on three principal groups of English-speakers: ex-Patriots (of any English-speaking nation), students (or those staying here for extended periods) and tourists. This is not an exclusive list by any means, and we are very much engaged with the local Italian and ecumenical community in the Cities of Florence, Siena and Bologna, but it helps us to direct our energy to the needs of so many who gather here.

Restoration and Development for the Future

The heritage that has been given to us in this Chaplaincy can sometimes appear overwhelming because although we hope everyone can benefit from the resources we manage, there also comes with it the huge responsibility of good stewardship. Our buildings, and their contents, are enormous community assets which are used extensively, but they require constant maintenance and development for both current and future needs.

In 2015, we will be launching a major fundraising campaign to address some of our most pressing needs and also to help us look to the future with confidence. The objectives are to enable our Mission Statement and by 2021 (the 140th anniversary of the opening of St Mark’s Florence) we hope to have set our Chaplaincy on a sure footing for the next one hundred and forty years.

Stencilling

In terms of the buildings, the connection in Florence with the pre-Raphaelite movement of the Nineteenth Century has meant that we have a most beautifully-decorated church in Via Maggio, one which is arguably unique in the history of art. However, the flood of 1966 caused a great deal of damage that has never been properly addressed, and subsequent problems with water have only made this worse. The stencilling is a treasure, but one that is incredibly difficult and expensive to restore. The visual impact of our church has its own ministry. It has inspired generations and continues to do so. It is vital that we keep this voice, and vision of God’s majesty, for the future.

Music

In terms of the musical life of our Chaplaincy, St Mark’s Florence has also become a highly sought-after venue for choirs, orchestras and other groups. However, we are also trying to invest in this reputation and build community through it. The Florence site is perfect for a wide range of musical performances, whether as part of a wedding, a church service or a concert. However, our (post-1966) organ is now at the end of its working life and requires constant repair. We need a new instrument and also want to expand the scope of what we can do with music; for example, with an additional chamber organ and harpsichord for early English pieces. This vision extends to St Peter’s Siena as well.

St Peter’s Siena

St Peter’s Siena is a remarkably beautiful church building in its own right and is a delightfully intimate space for worship, weddings, recitals and community events. However, there are many problems with this equally-historic building and its future will depend on a great deal of investment. It has no modern facilities at all and recent nearby building works have brought its structural integrity into question.

Access and Inclusion

We are also deeply conscious that more needs to be done in terms of accessibility for the disabled. Sixteenth Century structures like Via Maggio 16/18, or early Twentieth Century ones like St Peter’s Siena, are not ones that easily accommodate these needs. An elevator at St Mark’s and better ground-level access at St Peter’s, are essential if we are to enable those who cannot use our (beautiful) staircases or doorways to have a full part in our activities. As Listed and historic buildings, however, finding a solution to these needs is both complicated and expensive.

Finally. . .

Our mission does not rely on financial investment. It relies on our faith in God to provide for his people in every spiritual way, but there are many ways in which you can help us to achieve this vision for the future and for building God’s Kingdom. Indeed, we are constantly working to grow our church provision with many different groups of people and are doing everything possible to engage with potential users of our facilities. However, there are huge opportunities that we could grasp with the right level of financial investment and it is this to which we also appeal.

If you would like to know more about our vision for the future or feel that you can help in some way and become a part of that vision, as our forebears were, then please tell us how to get in touch with you. Thank you.