PCC members and church group leaders enjoyed an excellent day at Whalley Abbey on September 20th, helped by a tasty lunch.
Initially we split into groups to look at how we viewed ourselves – things we liked and things we did not like, leading on to what made a good team. (1 Corinthians Ch. 12).
We received two presentations about our current state of affairs:
Finance, from Hazel Shaw, on behalf of Treasurer, Frank Robinson. Our finances are healthy, but projected to decline. We discussed a number of options:
Do nothing and see what happens
Increase stewardship giving and/or the number of givers
Make plans for a reduction in giving
Reduce overheads and/or cut parish share
Amalgamate with another C of E church
Amalgamate with a CTNB church
Mission and liturgy, from Jonathan Tranter, in which he presented graphs of church attendance and other statistics over the last few years, which showed a steady decline in numbers from 2005, especially in children’s attendance. No single reason for this could be identified. Questions then considered were:
What does the context of declining Christian population mean for our mission?
What is the future of our children and young people’s ministry?
Given that numbers have declined, but now seem steady, does this affect how we ought to be thinking about our mission to ourselves and our community?
After lunch, we received updates from various “co-ordinators”:
Jo Hartley – The monthly All-age service, based on Morning Prayer, in which children and adults were engaged throughout.
Sheila Lowry – now has a Bishop’s Licence as a preacher.
Jonathan Tranter – Explained about the third Sunday service, which looked at the wider church and was a simple Morning Prayer, more focussed on adults, to which guest preachers were sometimes invited.
Janet Chester and Wendy Feast – Sunday School members are a fairly loyal group aged 7/8 years, but volatility of numbers is a planning problem. More use is to be made of dvd’s, partly to maintain attention. Derek Hartley and Sheila Sanderson work with the older children. It will be good to have the input of the new PAIS worker, Sam. It is important to ensure that the children we do have in our congregation learn to grow and stay part of our church family.
Pat Cave – The Pastoral Care Group had a variety of helpers and it was a great pleasure to visit those in care homes and also to receive feedback from those in their own homes. The “church” (and Holy Communion, if wished) are taken to them and visitors sometimes help them with simple administrative matters.
Wendy Feast – was praised for her patience in setting up the successful Tiddlers and Toddlers group. She thanked David and Margaret Holden for their support. She said how lovely it was to see children of all backgrounds and faiths. Better advertising might lead to greater numbers.
Derek Hartley was thanked for his support of outreach ministry, both with the Abrahami Café (due to restart on 9th November) and with “Open Church” on Wednesdays. As well as attracting occasional visitors, it brings in church attendees as well as our local Police Community Support Officer. A leaflet is in draft form, intended to be delivered by hand to houses in the vicinity of the church stating that St. James’ is a centre for prayer. A prayer box (and possible candle stand) are also envisaged. Rev. Lena Talbot from Revidge Fold URC will give an address at the bonfire on 2nd November.
Shelia Sanderson – The Monday Challenge Group has completed over 20 courses since its inception. The regular number of weekly attendees is 14/15, although the total number who have been over the years is about 25. The “challenge” is always looking for new subjects. The group makes occasional outside visits.
Ian Stocks – The “St. James’s Day Tripper” locomotive headboard has made many people from near and far aware of St. James’ church. The luncheon club is noisy and all enjoy eating. There are more volunteers than “customers” and there are one or two vacancies. There are 22 members, eleven of whom are not attenders at our church. There are some transport difficulties. The Day Tripper is 27 years old now, so there has been plenty of outreach. On the recent trip to Italy, there were four from St. James’ and the remainder were from “all over the place”. There are about 250 on the list of members.
Brian Openshaw – The church is warm, decorated and (largely) in good repair. We have had a difficult contractual problem with the defective and poorly supervised tower work. The remedial work will be costly, but we have been able to recover a contribution towards it. The next task is to redecorate the porch. We might begin by removing the plaster to see what it looks like. Building maintenance is a huge drain on our resources.
Graham and Hazel Dean – Grateful thanks were expressed to them for taking over the editing of the Magazine. They both enjoyed doing this and felt welcome at St. James’.
The Vicar felt that overall we had a very strong team.
The final session was for concrete proposals to be made to recommend to the PCC for which purpose we split into three groups. The discussions resulted in the following recommendations:
Mission to our own members (Parochial Ministry)
Not to change the present service pattern.
To publish a leaflet and make optimum use of our website to give information to our members about our activities.
To arrange regular social events to keep members together.
Medium term priorities:
To develop cell groups in the residential areas to provide fellowship and worship.
To make better use of the notice board.
To make provision for car parking.
Mission to our neighbours (outreach ministry)
To organise an Open Day for the community (such as an exhibition).
To circulate a leaflet about our activities around our immediate neighbourhood, but also targeting Lammack, Pleckgate and Beardwood areas.
A strong commitment to Open Church on Wednesdays and to the bonfire on 2nd November together with a carol singing revival and also Easter celebration in the community.
Medium term priorities:
Collect information about the needs of people in the local area. [Bi-lingual or multi-lingual questionnaire.]
Visit other local places of worship, build contacts and arrange reciprocal visits.
Make more of Remembrance Day.
Create/encourage a music workshop.