St Peter's Church, Woolhampton – Annual Report for 2018
The PCC has the responsibility of co-operating with the Rector in promoting the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic and social in the Ecclesiastical parish of Woolhampton and as part of the joint Benefice with Aldermaston and Wasing, Beenham Valence, Brimpton and Midgham.
Membership: The PCC is a charity accepted for registration with the Charity Commission. Members of the PCC are either ex-officio or elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting in accordance with the Church Representation Rules. During the year the following served as members of the PCC:
Rector: The Revd. Jane Manley from September.
Associate Priest: The Revd. Pat Bhutta (HfD).
Churchwardens: Mr. Charles Davison and Mr. Malcolm Large.
Deanery Synod Reps: Mr. Charles Davison and Mrs. Margaret Davison.
Elected members: (until APCM 2019) Mrs. Prue Matchwick (Treasurer), Mr. David Nicholls (Health and Safety Rep.), Mrs. Gillian Sitch (Secretary), Mrs. Catherine Lovell, Mrs. Kate Moir and Mrs. Stella Nesbit.
Electoral Roll Secretary: Mrs. Margaret Davison
Child Protection Rep: Dr. Chris Newman (Aldermaston and Wasing Parish)
Committees: The full PCC has met on 4 occasions, but should the need arise the Churchwardens call an extra-ordinary meeting or contact members by e-mail. There is also a Joint Benefice Group which is attended by one of the Churchwardens.
Church attendance: There were 42 parishioners on the Electoral Roll, a decrease of 1 over the previous year, with the average Sunday attendance being 18 adults and 1 child, although this rises considerably for special festivals. During the year there were 5 Baptisms, 2 Weddings and 3 Funeral services in church, and 1 Funeral service at the Crematorium.
Review of 2018: Sunday services continue to be held at 11 a.m. with one Holy Communion, one Family Communion, a Morning Worship and a Family Service each month. On a 5th Sunday we join in a Benefice Service which rotates around the parishes. On these occasions there is the opportunity to worship together with a much fuller congregation. Each month there is a mid-week Communion service at Midgham and a weekly Morning Prayer service rotating around the other main churches in the Benefice. During Holy Week there are short Evening Prayer services and a Communion on Maundy Thursday, again joint across the Benefice. ‘Messy Church' for children from across the Benefice continues and is a way of introducing children to church in a fun way with crafts and stories.
A Benefice Lent course was held following the theme of ‘A way through the wilderness’ – experiencing God’s help in times of difficulty. There was also a 3 week Advent Benefice Bible Study using material based on Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
A Lent Lunch, serving homemade soups, bread, cheese and fruit, was held in the Village Hall, with donations going to WaterAid.
During Holy week a display of artefacts and scenes capturing key moments from the Passion Story was set up in the church by the Revd. Janice Macdonald, assisted by children from the primary school.
In April we hosted a Benefice Communion which was taken by the Bishop of Reading.
On Rogation Sunday in May those parishioners who were able walked across the fields to the home of a parishioner, where a service was held in the open air with the rest of the congregation. Afterwards refreshments were served from a beautiful garden room where everyone was able to enjoy fellowship in the lovely surroundings.
In September, we hosted the service of Institution, Induction and Installation of our new Rector, which was conducted by the Bishop of Reading. This was followed by refreshments in the Church School hall.
A Harvest Lunch was held in the Village Hall in October and proved extremely successful in that it involved people from outside the church community. The proceeds from this were sent to the Mothers Union for their Emergency Relief Fund. Our Harvest Festival Service was held in the barn of another parishioner on a beautiful day, again followed by refreshments and fellowship.
A Benefice Quiet Day was held in October and attended by some of the church members.
A Quiz Night was held in the Village Hall in November and this again proved extremely successful. It was greatly enjoyed by all present and is seen as part of our outreach into the community. The Bring and Buy stall at the monthly Village Market, together with the sale of refreshments, continues to raise funds for a specific named charity, once again for the Salvation Army, for which they are extremely grateful.
The Remembrance Day service on 11th November commemorated 100 years since the end of WW1 and was attended by many from the local community with several wreaths being laid at the War Memorial. Once again we welcomed the Scouts, Cubs and Beavers, all of whom presented their standards during the service. Afterwards there was a lunch in the Douai Pavilion where there were relevant displays from all the local schools and other memorabilia.
Elstree School continues to use the church regularly for worship during term-time, with joint Sunday services with the parish normally being held at the start and end of each term. Their choir also performed a concert in the church at the end of April, postponed from early March due to snow. Such occasions further promote the close links between the school and the church. The primary school also uses the church for specific services and the St Peter’s congregation is always welcome to join them.
A Parish Safeguarding Policy is monitored and reviewed annually. As yet there is no Drink and Drugs Policy but this will be kept under review should the need arise. Health and Safety matters are reviewed regularly with the Policy being re-adopted annually. Both Policies are displayed on the Church notice board.
Finance: The accounts for the year ended 31.12.18 showed a surplus of £10,890.79 which is directly related to the start of our ‘Inspire’ fundraising which injected £9,976.42 into this year’s figures.
The next significant project to repair the spire and the church bells has commenced with surveys being undertaken, hence the fees of £3,316.52 noted under major repairs. The overall repair cost is expected to reach over £60,000 plus professional fees and VAT.
The balance in our current account at NatWest was £37,521.64 as at 31st December, 2018.
Churchyard: Following the major effort last year to tidy up the churchyard, the grass cutting regime was amended to cut more to the edges, this being done by the same person who has cut the grass in the churchyard for a number of years now. Various strimming, including on the enclosed graves, continued to be done by Mr. Large and our thanks are extended to him for this.
No formal churchyard working party was held during the year but in the Autumn a list of jobs was drawn up and circulated to those who have in the past helped. A number of people volunteered to do jobs on the list at times to suit them and the churchyard was generally spruced up in time for our Remembrance Day service.
Fabric, Goods and Ornaments: This year has really been one of planning and investigative works to progress the major item identified in our last Quinquennial Inspection Report, being to repair and re-shingle the church spire. Before that, though, water getting in through the ceiling of the annexe necessitated the re-roofing of half the east side of the north transept roof, which was completed at the end of May.
Towards the end of June we closed the church for a week to allow tower scaffolding to be erected in the church to facilitate access for an ecologist to conduct a bat survey, an engineer to do a structural inspection and the architect to identify all works needed so that a specification could be prepared. Photographs of the bells and their hangings were also taken to send off to a church bell hanging company for their advice. Following receipt of the various reports a second bat survey was commissioned, being an emergence survey, which identified the only things living in the church roof, apart from the jackdaws in the spire, were an owl in the porch roof and obviously mice, as the owl was observed leaving the south transept roof with one in his beak which he took to feed 2 chicks in the porch roof. Unfortunately the report on the bells, received in September, indicated that they were in a worse condition than thought and would need to be taken down and sent away for repair. Bearing in mind that the oldest bell dates back to 1360 it is not really surprising. At its meeting in November the PCC unanimously agreed to carry out the identified works and to apply for a Faculty to be able to carry out the work.
Towards the end of the year we had the fire extinguishers serviced, with one being replaced, and the heating looked at with the sump pump being replaced, 2 automatic air vents replaced and a new 7 year digital CO detector fitted.
Other than this, grateful thanks need to be given to all those who assist with general housekeeping within the church, cleaning, flower arranging and the like, together with all those other jobs which are carried out behind the scenes without which we would struggle to operate.
Deanery Synod: The Parish lies within the Bradfield Deanery and St. Peter’s is entitled to have two representatives on the Deanery Synod, this level of representation reflecting the numbers on our electoral roll, with both positions being filled. The Deanery Synod is an important link in the church structure and meetings provide a good source of information and a place to exchange news and views amongst similar parishes and benefices in the area.
There were three meetings in the year, being 22nd February, 7th June and 25th October. Both representatives attended all three meetings.
The February meeting had an update on General and Diocesan Synods followed by a paper on Renewal and Reform, with small groups then discussing the 3 questions posed. There then followed 2 information papers, the first one being the Diocesan Mission Support Package agreed for Theale, being a 10 year plan to support their Parish Share shortfall. The second paper was on the 2017 Parish Share Rebate which the Diocese had agreed to pay now that the Theale shortfall had been resolved.
The June meeting was held at Wasing, which gave people a chance to walk round their wedding venue, followed by a Eucharist service in Wasing church. The actual meeting dealt with Deanery Mission Mapping, concentrating on the theme of Setting God’s People Free and in particular the 2 themes of Lay Ministry and Volunteering in the Deanery.
The October meeting agreed the Parish Share split for the year 2019. There was then an interesting and informative presentation on Generous Giving by the Diocesan Generous Giving Advisor.
Benefice Group: The Benefice Group has been in existence now for a number of years and is a good forum for keeping in touch with happenings in the other churches of the Benefice and for exploring common issues and themes. The Group usually meets three times a year, however, the frequency was increased whilst we were in the vacancy. Meetings in 2018 were on 18th January, 22nd March, 17th May, 27th July and 18th October.
Meetings generally have an update from each Parish, which is typed up and circulated before the meeting, plus updates from the Wedding Co-ordinator and the Children’s Work Co-ordinator, with business then focusing on a number of specific matters at each meeting. However, during the vacancy an update was given at each meeting on progress regarding filling the Rector’s position.
The January meeting had updates on a number of matters and went through various details of working together during the vacancy. The March meeting received the Benefice Accounts, picked up on a number of the Working Better Together matters raised at the previous meeting and then went through various issues regarding the new Data Protection Act. The May meeting noted that we had now appointed a new Rector, Revd. Jane Manley, and that it had been announced in all the churches the preceding Sunday. The meeting was then really a tidy up of a number of ongoing issues although the Wedding Co-ordinator raised the matter of sundry fees at weddings, which had not changed for at least 5 years. The July meeting was heartened by the fact that we now had a moving-in date for Revd. Manley and a date for meeting the Area Dean to make arrangements for the Induction Service. Business then included a report from the Treasurers’ meeting, updated sundry wedding fees and receipt of the final versions of the GDPR Data Privacy notices. The October meeting welcomed Revd. Manley to her first Benefice Group. There was a lengthy discussion on a joint Benefice magazine and it was noted that the change of service times was now subject to further consultation. Revd. Manley indicated that she would prepare a short paper for the next meeting on how she saw the Benefice working together.
Rector’s Report: It seems hard to believe that I have already been your Rector for seven months. During these initial few months I have begun to get to know the different churches, congregations and communities, each of which has its own joys and challenges.
Over the past seven months much has happened in our Benefice. We have celebrated Harvest Festival – and although I was beginning to feel like the Vicar of Dibley, I was struck by the hospitality of each of the churches, and thanks to the Moir and Gibbs families for hosting two of the events. Then Midgham scored well by becoming one of the top churches for the Ride and Stride. Well done team! Last year we commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War and our churches were full as people came to remember and pay tribute to the thousands who gave their lives for this country. In Aldermaston the day began with the bagpiper at dawn and ended with a most magnificent beacon on Frank West’s fields. I then had the delight and wonder of the Aldermaston York Nativity Plays; having sat through the five performances I can understand why these plays have drawn people for sixty-two years. In between there have been quiz evenings and Christmas services which saw good congregations in all the churches. St. Peter’s, Woolhampton, had over 130 people at the Christmas Day service.
I have enjoyed building up relationships with our Church schools and with Beenham Community School, Elstree and The Cedars. We are so fortunate to have some very gifted headteachers and staff. As I write this, we are preparing to interview for a new headteacher at Woolhampton C.E. School. We wish Katie Purdy all the best as she leaves at the end of the summer term. Katie has achieved so much at the school during her relatively short time there and will be sadly missed.
I cannot write this without expressing a deep gratitude to our Ministry Team and all the Churchwardens for keeping the Benefice in such good order during the interregnum. This certainly made my arrival so much easier and I want to thank you all. It is quite an achievement not to have to call in extra help during a vacancy. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Pat Bhutta in January when she retired. I personally miss her quiet and gentle support. I wish her and Anwar a very peaceful and enjoyable retirement. My thanks to Derek and Janice for their support. In November we helped Derek celebrate a significant birthday. Having known Derek for almost 30 years, I can honestly say he hasn’t changed in the slightest; but we would not want him any other way and his support and wisdom mean a great deal to us. Janice, as you know, has come to the end of her curacy and is beginning to explore where God is leading her in the future. It is an unsettling time for a priest, but I know that she is well supported by our prayers. In the meantime, Janice is taking on support for the Midgham Café. Margaret continues to fight her illness with great determination and strength and is an example to us all. She has now taken over the ministry at Watermill Court, which is much appreciated by all our parishioners who live there. Cara will be ordained in June 2020 and will then move to serve her Title elsewhere. Cara’s gifts will serve her well in the future; her pastoral care and missional vision is so evident. She is doing good work as our Children’s Co-ordinator and will be sadly missed.
Under Cara’s leadership, Noah’s Ark has now increased in Aldermaston to twice a week and growing in numbers. Sadly, it did not work out at Midgham, mainly because it was conflicting with a more established group in Bucklebury. Messy Church is going from strength to strength with a strong team. Likewise, Children’s Work at both Aldermaston and Beenham is doing well, with a very devoted team at both churches. It would be good to have more children attend but hopefully numbers will increase in time.
A big thank you to both Brenda, our Benefice Administrator, and Samantha, our Wedding Administrator, for their hard work, organisational skills and devotion. Brenda seems to undertake an incredible amount of work, often quietly in the background – things just happen and are organised. At the same time, Brenda juggles all the many duties of a churchwarden on her own. Without Samantha, we simply could not cope with the number of weddings that we undertake in this Benefice, surpassing most parishes in this Diocese. As well as all the administration involved with weddings, Samantha also has a much valued pastoral role towards our couples. Both Brenda and Samantha also undertake the administration of our baptisms, with Margaret preparing all the certificates with her beautiful writing. My sincere thanks to them all. Of course, thanks need to also go to Chris Stott who carries the majority of our weddings. I hope Christ does not want to retire too soon!
It is very hard to know where to begin to thank everyone and the danger with such a report as this is that someone will be left out. But I do particularly want to thank all our Churchwardens for their support and all that they do to ensure the smooth running of our churches and the care of the buildings. Both Aldermaston and Beenham have major building projects underway and Brimpton has just finished one. If you have not yet seen St. Peter’s Brimpton’s new coffee area, do pop in and have a look. All these projects take a great deal of time and dedication to ensure everything is done correctly and works towards the mission of our churches. My thanks to all those involved in these projects and the fundraising. Also, thank you to all the vergers, sidespeople, welcomers, flower arrangers, coffee makers, cleaners and those who do those many unseen jobs which ensure that our churches are run smoothly and are welcoming.
Last Friday (29th March), at a beautiful service in St. Mary’s, Aldermaston, we said goodbye to Andy Hall, a much loved member of the Aldermaston community. Andy was the Lord of the Manor and was involved in many charities and the farming world. Andy was the first person who welcomed me to Aldermaston village. As the village prepared for Andy’s funeral, what I noticed was the great strength of village life, of the deep sense of community which is prevalent in each of our villages, the way that people gather together to support and encourage. It is good to be a part of such communities.
Thank you to everyone who has welcomed John, Paul and myself to the Benefice. We love living here and are already enjoying country life. I am learning never to go out without a torch (thank you Charles for that present).
Now we look forward to our years together as we nurture and build our worshipping communities, reaching out to all those we serve. This we will do together.
May God bless you all,
Jane (The Rector)
Charles Davison (On behalf of the PCC)