APCM Reports April 2018

Vicar’s  Report for 2017

As I read the APCM pack and look back over the events of the year and how the ministry here has been developing, it reminds me of how some children grow; they have sudden growth spurts that can leave them looking a bit tall thin and gangly, and then slowly they grow into their new stature; filling out, regaining proportion and then  laying down fat as their bodies adjust and prepare to shoot up again!

For me 2017 at All Saints’ has been a season  of filling out,  maturing and consolidating the ministry following the many changes of the last couple of years. I can see our vision and values influencing the church we are becoming and I see a congregation growing in commitment and confidence in who Christ is calling us to be.

Consolidation has been particularly evident in the following areas :-

 

  1. Staff, ministry leaders and structure

There has been a real growth in confidence and autonomy of our paid staff and ministry leaders over the year. People have a growing understanding of their roles and a freedom to act and take decisions within these. As a result we seem to have achieved more with less effort!

  • Michelle Fenn our administrator, completed our database which enables good record keeping and communication, and as she has become familiar with the patterns and structures of All Saints’ has proved a very  helpful and proactive presence in the area of administration and communication.
  • Katy Thomas has gone from strength to strength in developing the youth work here and we are  very fortunate to have secured her employment on a permanent contract during the year.  
  • Staff contracts and employment conditions (including pension provision) have been reviewed and updated over the year and a system of annual appraisal and salary review introduced for all contracted staff.
  • A significant amount of work has been done over the year in response to the ‘promoting a safer church’ safeguarding guidelines issued by the Church of England. I am now confident that we can comply with all its recommendations and have everything in place to keep young people and vulnerable adults in our care safe. This work also helped us to clarify volunteer role descriptions,  responsibilities and training needs, all steps which help increase people’s sense of ownership for the work they do.  
  • Our financial policy (including revision of the expenses claim procedure) have been reviewed and updated this year.  
  • The PCC and the finance and buildings sub committees have taken great care and held real  ownership of the issues they have been asked to consider. The swift response to the opportunity to enlarge the kitchen during the Bosco’s refurbishment project was particularly impressive as was all the help that John Sharpe gave to project managing this. Both Sarah Webb (buildings coordinator) and Kirsten Sharples (treasurer), have made a fantastic start in their new roles, aided by their participation in the growing leaders course and the new insights that this brings to the team here.
  • MLT (Ministry leadership team) has proved a helpful, supportive and wise group of people with which to consider the issues of ministry which face the church. 

 

  1. Connect Worship

The service started in September 2016 has grown and developed over the year. Particular highlights were:

  • The  installation of the new cross in the hall at the beginning of the year to provide a focal point during worship, and the visit of Bishop Jo as she came to bless its impact.
  • The Easter service with the children’s choir & drama, and large congregation!
  • The splitting of the children’s work into 2 groups in September as more children started to attend regularly.

Over the year we  have seen the service grow from fragile beginnings to have a real sense of identity and confidence. The people who attend the service enjoy the informality and the freedom to participate and get involved and although it requires a large team of committed people to set up, run and clear away each week, this is all part of growing together as a community – Setting up on a Saturday as the band rehearses has become part of the worship to me !

The numbers attending Connect are growing as ‘newcomers’ are being drawn in and it is now a similar size to the 9:30am service. The big challenge going forward will be to bring the different congregations together and to make the most of J service,  social/fundraising events and  homegroups for doing this.  

 

  1. Mission & Outreach

Schools work in New Haw Junior is now well established and the lessons we take with every year group are very well received by both students and staff alike. During the autumn term we extended  this teaching repertoire by taking a year 2 lesson on the Bible at the Grange Infant school. It was a wonderful opportunity to share my love for the scriptures with these youngsters and the school look forward to having the church lead a session again with the new year group.   

Alpha is now an established part of our annual cycle in the autumn term. The ‘coffee with God’ homegroup took up the leadership of the course this year with Mark Oliver and Karen Murphy joining the team too. There were about 20 people who met each week to share food, film input and discussion and it really helped people to explore Christianity and deepen their faith. Each year the course seems to have a wider reach in the type of people that it attracts, and it always builds up  the faith of those who ‘step forward’ to lead.   

Learning to Share our faith and to invite others to ‘come and see’ has been a bit of a theme over the year, and it was lovely to see that bearing fruit during the years ‘special services’. What has been started over the 2017 we are looking to build on in 2018 and beyond. A mission organisation called ‘Through Faith Missions’ will work with us and Heathervale Baptist Church at the Midsummer event this year, where we also have plans for a big messy Church outreach through Doug Horley’s ‘crazy science’ ministry.

The LYCIG course that the PCC and homegroups started in the summer proved a helpful tool in getting us to think more missionally as a whole church and has led to lots of conversations and good ideas emerging. 

 

  1. Finances  

The finances of this church point towards  a maturing ministry and a ‘getting ready’ for what is to come. As we are learning to be openhanded with the money and resources that God has blessed us with and to invest what we have in ways that will bring glory to God, we have discovered  that we can trust God with our finances. We committed to giving 10% of our income from donations away to mission partners for the first time this year and then found that our giving to seasonal charities increased considerably as well. We committed to employing a youth worker on a good salary and found we were given grants to support this decision. We committed to a stewardship campaign to increase regular giving and at the first meeting of the campaign received a legacy that paid for the Bosco’s kitchen work!

 We pray, we trust, we commit  and God honours – this is a key lesson in Kingdom finances, a crucial lesson that the Lord is teaching us to get us ready for our next ‘ growth spurt’.

 

FFF

Amidst all this consolidation there was one significant new initiative started by the pastoral team in September in response to the need of those who have difficulty in getting out early. Faith Food and fellowship is a welcome addition to our service program, providing the opportunity to worship and eat lunch together once a month. This is open to the whole community and has been particularly well received by people who struggle to come along on a Sunday.

 

Statistics

Over the year the clergy conducted 7 Baptisms,  1 wedding and 8 funerals.  

 

 

Looking ahead – APCM address

The life of a healthy local church is like a flowing stream – Things keep moving – water comes in, flows through, moves on - there is no room for stagnation! And there is a fair bit of movement anticipated in the All Saints’ stream this coming year.

On the buildings it has already started  - Just in the last week, long overdue,  Oak trees cut back, The hall floor resealed, & within the month the painters will be in church sprucing up the ceiling.  Plans for the summer include replacement & purchase of appliances for the halls kitchen to make it fit for catering and replacement of the surface under the halls canopy for children to play safely. Alongside that we will be looking to renew the paths and church threshold for better disabled access and create a book of Remembrance which will be displayed in Church.  

In terms of Sunday service pattern there will a change starting in May going back down to 2 services on Sunday morning. The pattern will become 1st Sunday 8 & 10 – J service and other Sundays we will be stopping the 8am service and running the 9:30 and Connect. The 8 o’clock congregation who will no longer have weekly services had been consulted and agreed that due to dwindling congregation numbers and the challenge of resourcing  3 services on a Sunday morning that it was the right decision.  

Again this year we have a fair bit of turnaround on the PCC  – 4 outgoing members, 5 new members  coming in  – Serving on PCC deepens peoples understanding of how the church is governed and managed and gives a wider perspective of what is possible and the part we are called to play – Those who have been on PCC enrich and encourage our congregation in new ways – I think they are changed and developed by the experience – I hope they do too!

 Thanks and presentation of gift to those going out .

Each year as Vicar in the time between Christmas and APCM I wonder about who the Lord is going to raise up to take up positions that are becoming vacant. When I first came I used to worry, but now I have learnt to pray and  trust – The Lord always provides the right people at the right time for the  ministry of his church.

So thanks to those willing to step forward to serve this year – Alison Mayger, Pat Lemon, Chloe McCarthy, Jennifer Pratt and  Christina Ashdown – you are the right people, you are an answer to our prayers, remember that!

There are other significant people movements happening in 2018 too!

In June this year the period of Mark’s curacy will be complete and we he will join the ministry team here  in a new capacity as a licenced associate minister and we hope to mark this with a ceremony in July.  

Jenny Phillips has also asked me to give the church early warning of her decision to step down from leading the choir after Christmas. Jenny has led the choir faithfully for many years, but she now feels it is time for someone else to step in and take up the reigns. We all so appreciate the way that the choir enhances the worship of this church so it is really important to be praying over the coming months that a suitable replacement can be found.

With the growth we are seeing in the children’s ministry here it is likely that in the near future we will need to find someone else to join June to help lead the children’s and families ministry – (This morning we had 18 children at our regular Sunday service).  It’s a great problem to have, so please do pray about this too! 

Finally, I need to share with you the difficult decision that Paul and I have made – that is we will be leaving New Haw in the summer to move to Brussels. Paul’s work is now based in Brussels and weekly commuting whilst married to a Vicar (who works every weekend) is not a sustainable situation long-term. I have written to Bishop Andrew to resign my position in Guildford Diocese and will be taking up a position working as part of the ministry team at Holy Trinity, the Anglican church based in the centre of Brussels in September. We plan to move in August after New Wine, but our last Sunday here will be 15th July.

I realise that this will have come as a complete surprise to most of you – it came as a bolt from the blue to us as well. When Paul first heard the rumour that he may be asked to go to Brussels on assignment we both said ‘no way’ we have work to do here and Paul made his position clear. It was therefore a real shock when some months later he was told the Company  wanted him to take the job. After our initial confusion, we considered and explored the implications together and then we prayed about it -  Prayer is a very powerful thing - Within 24 hours I was taken from a position of total panic to total peace, as I realised that the Lord was in it – It was Him calling us out of New Haw because He has new work for us to do in Brussels and because He is preparing a new person to come and lead All Saints into the next phase of ministry here.

People have often said to me ‘How long will you stay at New Haw’ and my response has always been ‘I don’t know, but I’m sure the Lord will make it clear if or when it is time to leave’ . Well, now  he has made it clear, abundantly clear and I trust his calling beyond all else. So although I love this church and can see the amazing things that  God is doing and will do here in this next season, although the process of leaving will feel very painful, I know that it is his ministry not mine and He is telling me to go and entrust the church to Him, and to the strong and capable  team he has put in place to see you through this time and oversee the appointment of a new Vicar.

I realise that this news will evoke a whole range of emotions – some of you may feel let down, angry, heavy hearted …(I know, because have felt all those things) .. Some of you will be sighing thinking ‘Oh no, here we go again, uncertain times, not another new Vicar to get used to’. …The new PCC members are probably thinking ‘ Oh no, that’s not what we signed up for!’ and Some may be thinking ‘thank goodness she’s off, we can relax now and get back to normal!’

I have been dreading telling you that I am leaving and my first instinct was to apologise for this decision – But in praying things through the last couple of weeks the Lord has pointed out to me that to apologise would be to acknowledge that I was doing something wrong – and He assures me I’m not. This is His will, you are a cracking church, the Lord is here, there are great things coming (who would not love to come here and serve) and He is going to bring just the right person in for this next season of ministry.

So I make no apology – Instead I pray that you will come to see and accept that God is in this decision – and be able to discern His purposes being worked out through what happens over the coming year.

When the new  PCC  meets on 23rd April we will discuss the details of what needs to happen next and keep the church informed.

Close with prayers  

 

 

 


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