St. Luke’s, Ramsgate
As with most churches in the U.K. these years saw a steady decline in church numbers. Eva Side, who was a Warden at St. Luke’s and wrote a 100 year history of St. Luke’s in 1976 reflects, ‘During the 1950’s and early 1960’s St. Luke’s, like practically every other parish found meetings and church attendances dropping steadily. The age of television was in full swing and as with all new toys, people just wanted to stay at home and watch the ‘box’.
Yet, the decline must not be exaggerated! Much continued to happen at St. Luke’s during this period. There were Women’s Fellowship outings, youth groups and the starting of a Campaigner’s group in 1969, which soon grew and developed. Also in 1967 the new Church at St. Mark’s that was first planned before the War was completed and consecrated by the then Archbishop of Canterbury.
Each vicar brought in their own changes. The Rev. Hall who started in 1956 encouraged a greater emphasis on Spiritual growth and less on general fellowship, whilst the Rev. Halse who started in 1968, also brought in a number of changes, including the end of the publication of the parish paper, ‘The Recorder’, which had run for 20 years with the aim of being placed into every home in the parish. In 1968 it was felt that the paper was no longer taking the vital message into the Parish that it was meant to do, that it no longer had popular appeal. Finally, it was felt that the Parish could no longer afford to distribute the paper. It was replaced instead with a more ‘do it yourself’ duplicated parish magazine that would be charged for. The other big change introduced at this time was to move the Sunday School from Sunday afternoons to Sunday mornings, so that they would run during the Sunday morning service (as they do now). This was a big change, but it reflected as similar pattern up and down the country. In the following years there were other changes, including the move away from the traditional 1662 prayer book to more modern services.
In 1976, St. Luke’s celebrated its centenary. However, this was not a grand celebration like the Diamond Jubilee in 1936, rather the vicar encouraged it to be a ‘growth point’. As such Rev. Colin Urquart was invited to lead a weekend of renewal at around this time.
In the late 1970’s the Diocese did a review of Thanet Deanery and suggested closing and amalgamating a number of churches. It was suggested that Ramsgate have only three churches: St. George’s, St. Laurence and St. Mark’s. St. Luke’s would be closed. However, this proposal was rejected by the local churches. Indeed, no churches in Thanet closed as a result of the review!
Read on: 13. The Church must come down, 1988
14. Into the Twenty-First Century