Let There Be Light...a 150th anniversary gift to church

Part of the Victorian St Johns Church illuminated
Part of the Victorian St Johns Church illuminated

The words “Let there be light” from the bible’s Book of Genesis came to life when a Victorian church in the heart of Burgess Hill switched on its floodlighting.

Leaders at St John the Evangelist Church believe it might be the first time an energy-saving LED lighting system has been used in an East or West Sussex Church.

People in the town are getting used to seeing the church step out of the shadows this week, since the switch-on last Thursday evening.

Churchgoers and guests held candles outside the church as The Bishop of Horsham, the Rt Rev Mark Sowerby blessed the lights as they were illuminated.

Earlier a concert had been held in the church, and the hymn “Christ, be our Light” sung as the choir led people outside.

Father Kevin O’Brien, vicar of St John’s, told the congregation inside the church: “We believe this is possibly, probably, the first time that LED lights have been used to light up a church in the diocese, possibly in Sussex. LED lights mean that we can light the church at a fraction of the cost in an environmentally sustainable and economic way.”

He thanked people involved in the project, which was largely paid for by a grant from Mid Sussex Council and said of the contribution of church member Graham Todd: “This project in many ways has been his baby. Many of the pains of delivery have been his. We could not have done it without him.”

The lighting is the latest event in a year of celebrations for the church’s 150th anniversary.

Pupils from Burgess Hill School for Girls provided music at the evening, along with other performers.

Those taking part in the concert were organist James Lloyd Thomas, who played the first movement of JS Bach’s arrangement of Vivaldi’s

Concerto in A minor, Fiat Lux by Dubois, and the Finale from Symphony 6 by Widor; Burgess Hill School for Girls pupils Amy Lovejoy and Alice Beaumont, both on violin, Alexia Clark on viola and Pippa-Jin Box on cello playing Wesley’s Quartet number 1 in F; Emily McQuillan , from the same school, sang and played piano on The Heart of Worship by Matt Redman; Johanna Moiseiwitsch on piano played Edvard Grieg’s Notturno, and St John’s Choir performing Ave Maria by Camille Saint-Saens, If ye Love Me by Thomas Tallis and Cantate Domino by Pitoni.

After the switch on church members provided canapes and drinks to the congregation as the church looked forward to an even brighter future.


words and pictures by phil dennett