Crowland Abbey: one of Britain’s undiscovered treasures

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The Rev Mike Ongyerth looks upon preserving Crowland Abbey as part of his ministry.

It’s a new ministry, and Mike will not be “priested”, or become a full priest, until June of this year.

The Rev Mike Ongyerth is encouraging people to become a Friend of Crowland Abbey. Photo: SG200214-116NG

The Rev Mike Ongyerth is encouraging people to become a Friend of Crowland Abbey. Photo: SG200214-116NG

But for 30 years, Mike has developed an appreciation of the abbey, for many years as a member of the congregation.

In time he was encouraged to be confirmed, then to become a server and eventually he realised he had “a calling”.

After a couple of what he calls “false starts”, Mike was finally taken on for training and ordained as a deacon last June.

He says: “I have developed a love of the abbey and I consider it to be part of my ministry. The abbey is not going to survive into the future unless we provide funds for it, and for me that’s important. There are so many churches struggling and we need to keep a Christian presence in this community and be here for people when they need us.”

Mike is going to launch The Friends of Crowland Abbey next Friday, March 7, and hopes that other people will join him.

He has secured a coup with his speaker for the launch event. It’s celebrity broadcaster, respected academic, archaeological historian and chief executive officer for the World Monuments Fund Dr Jonathan Foyle, who just happens to have started out in life in Market Deeping.

Jonathan is to give a talk based on his new series coming out on BBC4 this year, and called A New Discovery at the Dawn of the Tudor Dynasty.

The launch night will consist of a drinks and nibbles reception from 6.45pm and at 7pm Mike will introduce the speaker and say something about The Friends of Crowland Abbey. Jonathan will then give his talk before answering questions from the audience.

At the moment Mike is the only “Friend”, but he hopes that other people will want to get involved.

He says: “The Friends will organise certain events, but not concerts because that’s down to another group.

“It costs an awful lot of money to keep the place open and anything we can raise has got to be a good thing.

“Eventually I’d like to hand it on to someone else. Really my place is as liaison between the Christian site and the community because we want to buy a baby grand piano for concerts as well as contribute towards repairs and upkeep.

“The abbey has got a certain spiritual aspect to it, judging from the comments we have in the visitors’ book. People find it a place of spiritual refreshment and have called it ‘One of Britain’s greatest undiscovered treasures’.”

Tickets for the evening with Dr Jonathan Foyle cost £15 from Bridge Hardware.