ANNUAL PARISH CHURCH MEETINGS
The annual Meetings of the three Parishes were held in April 2016. Here is Gary’s Annual Report to the three meetings:
APCM Report – 2016
Breamore – April 11th
Fordingbridge – April 12th
Hale & Woodgreen – April 15th
I thought I’d spend a few moments reflecting on the past year – and, as usual, it’s been a very full and interesting one.
We are extremely fortunate here to have such a varied and capable Ministry Team. Rachel and Nicky were both priested in July, and we had wonderful First Communions for them at Fordingbridge and Hale on the following Sundays. This year Kate has developed her ministry with the Pastoral Visiting Team: regular meetings, training, a new Coffee Morning especially for those who have been bereaved, and so on. Mark is developing a role for education and training – we’ll hear more about that over the next few months, but he’s going to take the lead in encouraging us to take steps forward on our journey of faith, and to be aware of the opportunities for growth locally and further afield. Ian continues his ministry, especially at Breamore, and John is a great support across the Partnership – they all give of their time freely and generously, and we would struggle without them.
As well as our regular Thursday morning Communions in the Church Office, and monthly evening meetings for planning at each other’s houses, the Ministry Team has started meeting once a term on a Friday morning, usually in the hall at Damerham, so that we have a bit of time for long-term planning and discussion. We usually end up with lunch in the pub, and it works very well.
There have been some changes in the Church Office. Sadly, Sarah Farr moved on to a new post at the end of the summer – she had been in the Office for a number of years, and built up a vast expertise of how things were done, as well as being a very significant presence in the Office and more widely. We were very fortunate to recruit Gail Newell, who now shares the work with Marie Gray, appointed the previous year, and the Office is moving forward well in its new form. We have also been providing some support for our neighbouring Parish of Hyde with Ellingham and Harbridge, with whom we are in a Group – which means we try to work together and support each other where we can. At the moment we are providing 5 hours a week for them, principally to look after Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals, and we are looking into the possibility of a longer term arrangement, which should be beneficial to both them and us. This will need the approval of the three PCCs if it is to go ahead.
One of the main projects of the past year has been the Partnership Mission Action Plan – the pMAP. The pMAP Group from the three Parishes started its work last Spring, and we had the very enjoyable Vision Morning in the Hulse Hall in May, followed by endless drafts of the pMAP as it went backwards and forwards between the three PCCs, the pMAP Group, the Ministry Team, and so on – eventually being launched both in the Cathedral and in our Parishes in November. We are now in the Action Phase – and the pMAP is discussed at each PCC each time we meet, so that we keep it in mind, and move forward with the actions we have agreed. If you’ve not had a copy, they are available – do continue to pray for all of us, which means everyone, who has responsibility for taking the pMAP forward.
2015 was the first full year of the new Parish Share system, the Common Mission Fund, and all three Parishes were able to meet their share, which was wonderful. Last year, as a Diocese, 98.3% of the Common Mission Fund requests were met – the best result the Diocese has ever seen. The system is based on a number – the Worshipping Community – which we decide locally, and an Affluence Band, which is determined by national statistics. This year will be challenging for us in all three Parishes, as we have an extra 10% to contribute, as we move towards the amount the new system says we ought to be paying. In the autumn we had a teaching and preaching series, Joyful Giving, and that resulted in an increase in giving across the Benefice which was very welcome. We shall return to that subject again later this year for the annual review.
2015 was also the first year of the Partnership Account, in which all three Parishes contribute to the costs of the Partnership – principally Office, Clergy expenses, Administration – and the amounts are calculated using the Worshipping Community number I just mentioned. This has worked well, and we now have the budget set for this year. Particular thanks to Martin Calver, Treasurer at Fordingbridge, who has set up the system for us, and has done a lot of work in keeping it all up to date. It is a huge achievement to have got agreement for this across the three Parishes, and helps our working together enormously.
And, since the beginning of this month, we have ‘Just Text Giving’. You can now donate to the Church via your mobile phone. Simply text a code [Breamore: SMBM11, Fordingbridge: SMFB11, H&WG: HAWG11] and up to £10 to 70070. As easy as that! We hope it will be used by Baptism and Wedding families especially, but also visitors to the Church might decide to donate that way.
Amongst highlights of the year for me, and for Rachel, was the trip to Kinkiizi to join the Diocese for its celebrations of the centenary of Christianity in Kinkiizi. That was a wonderful fortnight, and was followed up by visits from Bishop Dan, who was here for the priestings in July, and Revd Sam who was here at the start of this year.
Also the Holy Week Activities in schools which we did last month – about 350 children from Breamore, Fordingbridge Infant and Junior and Hale Schools either came to Church, or we went to school, and they heard the Easter Story and did activities related to that. We had very good feedback from staff, children and parents, and it was a super group of people who helped us to make it happen.
Breamore: In Breamore, great work has been done on raising most of the money needed to repair the bells; we have remembered each of those on the War Memorial on the anniversaries of their death; we have done a lot of work with the school again, this year – individual class visits, assemblies every week, Trudi has gone in most Thursdays to hear children read, and we had a School Baptism for the first time – four children were baptised, with the whole school present, and it was a wonderful Service. We’re proposing to do it again on June 16th – anyone, of any age, is welcome to be baptised at that Service.
A big thing for the school this year has been the Federation of Breamore and Hale Schools – which begins today. Two separate Schools, one Church of England, one County, each with their own budget, timetable, uniform, Ofsted, etc., but with one head, and one Governing Body. I can say more about this if you are interested, but it is a way of supporting small rural schools, and helping staff to feel more supported by having a larger group to work with. We have increased the number of Foundation Governors from two to three on the new Governing Body, as a way of ensuring that the distinctiveness of Breamore School is not lost – I remain Ex Officio, and will be joined, as approved by Breamore PCC, by Richard Farr and Nicky Davies.
The School is a big part of the life of our Parish here, and the pMAP encourages more of us to be involved it is also great fun, as those who have been on the recent inter-generational days will agree.
In the Partnership as a whole, we have had Quiet Days, Gravetalk sessions, wonderful Christmas and Easter Services, and so much else – it’s been a wonderful year.
Fordingbridge: In Fordingbridge Parish in particular, we had the Hustings before the General Election last year, arranged by Nicky and John; another fantastic Patronal Festival – which, once again the Foresters very generously supported with a grant of £1,000; lots of activities for children and families – Refresh, a new Sunday afternoon Service, arranged by Rachel and Kate and a team; Boost, which is for primary aged children, and follows on from Puddle Ducklings – and which has been particularly successful; Families Skittles, Pancake Party, Bonfire Party – in the pouring rain; Godly Play has been refreshed, and moved into the Porch Room. Lots of good things – but there is still more to do if we are to integrate families into the life of the Church, if we are to go out to them, if we are to continue to grow as the Christian community in this place.
The 11.00 1st Wednesday Communion and Coffee has been introduced, reviewed, and changed to 10.30, and continues to grow. And after reflection, the Wednesday Communion in other weeks has been moved to 10.00 by popular request.
At Godshill, the Services moved, again after much discussion, to 9.00, on the 1st and 3rd Sundays, and a new Coffee Morning, with Traidcraft Stall and IT support, once every couple of months or so has been started in the Village Hall, preceded by prayers – and this has been very well attended.
Sandleheath has had a difficult time recently, after John Scrivens’ accident – he is still seriously ill in hospital, and he and his family are very much in our prayers. The Church there continues to work with children and families, to worship on Sundays, and to run the very successful monthly 1st Tuesday Coffee Morning – lovely cakes! At St Aldhelm’s, the leasing of the Church to the Village Hall Association has been long and tortuous, but we hope to draw that to a conclusion soon. If all goes to plan, we will also have free access to the building, and will be able to use it for worship or other events if we wish to do so. It’s been a very stressful business, especially for the small working group which has been looking after it, and especial thanks are due to them for all their hard work.
Hale & Woodgreen: In Hale and Woodgreen we’ve had another great Summer Holiday club, super Friday Fairtrade Coffee Mornings, very enjoyable Hale’s Angels’ Suppers at the Rectory, and lots more. There are serious questions to ask about our finances, and the sustainability of our Church buildings, but I hope that some of those will be addressed by the pMAP.
We are very grateful to Patrick Hickman, for a legacy of £5,000, which was released last week after probate. That is very kind of him – Sloan has said that he thinks his father would want us to ‘fritter it away’ – as if we would! But we might want to think creatively as a PCC about how we best use the gift in Patrick’s memory. He was always very good with young people for example, and there may be something in that area we could do.
A big thing for the Hale School this year, along with the retirement of Maria McCusker as head teacher, has been the Federation of Breamore and Hale Schools – which began on Monday. Two separate Schools, one Church of England, one County, each with their own budget, timetable, uniform, Ofsted, etc., but with one head, and one Governing Body. I can say more about this if you are interested, but it is a way of supporting small rural schools, and helping staff to feel more supported by having a larger group to work with. We have increased the number of Foundation Governors from two to three on the new Governing Body, as a way of ensuring that the distinctiveness of Breamore Church School is not lost – I remain Ex Officio, and will be joined, as approved by Breamore PCC, by Richard Farr and Nicky Davies.
The School is a big part of the life of our Parish here, and it would be great more of us were able to be involved, thus strengthening the links between us and the community.
As ever, it’s been a very demanding year in the Deanery. We hope the vacancies at Burton & Sopley and Highcliffe will be filled in the coming months. The Deanery Standing Committee is now functioning very well, and we are planning another Excite Deanery Celebration Event in May, at which Bishop Jonathan will speak on the Holy Spirit. May 21st at Moorlands College at Sopley – do come. There will be other vacancies to come, sadly – and supporting the Churchwardens and Parishes through them, and then the short-listing and interviewing, is time-consuming – but worthwhile. And I continue to fulfil duties in the Diocese, and in particular in the Cathedrals at Winchester, and now Salisbury as well.
So, another full year, full of struggles and delights, another year in which God has been with us, and as we look forward to the year ahead, we can do that in the knowledge that God has a plan, and we have a plan – the pMAP – and we hope that our plan matches God’s plan! And there is plenty to get on with, as we seek to be God’s people in this place, and as we continue to listen to him, to our communities, and to each other on our journey of faith.
Canon Gary Philbrick