Meeting People 2015

Reports from St Faith's Annual Parochial Church Meeting

After the morning service on Sunday, March 8th, the annual statutory meetings took place in church, following a sandwich lunch for the faithful.

The brief Annual Parishioners' Meeting, to which all resident in the parish or on the Electoral Roll, are entitled to vote, was originally known as the Vestry Meeting. Its sole purpose is the election of two churchwardens, and Brenda Cottarel and Rick Walker were duly re-elected, to take office at the forthcoming Visitation service.

The APCM itself, at which only those on the Electoral Roll were entitled to vote, followed without a break, and received the previously published official report to the diocesan authorities. This contains all required information and reports, together with the audited church accounts. Those responsible for these spoke to their contributions and were available for questioning, as were those making other contributions from the 'floor of the house'.

Following this, we listened to the Vicar's 'State of the Nation' report before proceeding to the election of new PCC  members and Deanery Synod representatives.

This latter address is reproduced in full below.

The official returns referred to above are may be seen HERE

Pages introducing previous APCMs are HERE

The Vicar’s Report

Take heart, get up, for he is calling you. (Mark 10.49)
Those words from Mark’s Gospel occur in the story of Bar-Timaeus, the blind man Jesus heals – take heart, get up, for he is calling you.  And they were the words that came to me as I began to reflect on this year.

Just a year ago, relatively speaking the ‘new girl,’ I spoke about what had been a difficult year with the spiritual and relational troubles of 2013.  Well, I still feel like the ‘new girl,’ relatively speaking – though not quite so new-minted and just out of my cellophane – and 2014 has been different; in fact, a year of building.

It’s been quite literally a year of building, as we’ve responded, with commitment, energy, imagination and generosity to the need to repair our roof, following two incidents of lead theft.  That’s not something we’d have looked for or wished on ourselves – and I well remember the sinking feeling when I learned, one Friday afternoon in October, that the second incident had happened; but we have gone some way to addressing the issues of a 120-year-old roof, issues we may well have had to face in the coming decade anyway.

So this year has, in its own way, also been challenging; people are still at different places in processing and reflecting on the events of 2013.  It was a brutal and difficult experience for everyone.  But look at it we must, as Christians – not in the sense of worrying away at it, like a dog with an old bone – but in the sense of learning what it means anew in terms of our Christian story – the story we are living now, in Lent, of passion, suffering, and crucifixion, all the way to the glorious Easter morning of Resurrection and redemption.  We, the Church – are an Easter people; but we cannot be an Easter people without Lent, the Passion and Good Friday.  Some of you had more than enough of Good Friday I know; but do not forget that part of our call is to see everything – everything – in the light of the Resurrection – a Resurrection that was not about being right, or about revenge on those who did the most horrendous wrong – but about God’s relentless committed love for all humanity in Christ – even for those who crucified him.  A challenge, yes – but a challenge in the light of the faith and hope that, wherever we are in processing our own feelings, God’s grace is sufficient, and the past can be reimagined, the present transformed, and the future hoped for.

And, in October, the Episcopal Visitation was lifted – it is now only we who have the responsibility to – well, take heart, get up – and respond to God’s call.

So – take heart and get up!  But perhaps the trickiest of all is discerning, carefully and prayerfully that to which we are called.  This is never easy or straightforward – as R S Thomas writes in Pilgrimages, it can often seem that ‘He is such a fast God, always before us, and leaving as we arrive.’

We don’t discern vocation alone – my hope this year is that the PCC, the various officers, but also all of you, as God’s Holy People, have a role to play in discerning what God is calling us to here at St Faith’s – and more about that as the year unfolds.

However, there are some directions of travel, I think, beginning to emerge;

One is – well, this Holy House.  Our building has much to commend it – it has a real sense of the presence of God, of being a house of prayer; it is big enough to host concerts and events and serve our community – and it has a very forgiving acoustic musically.  Like all 120 year old buildings though, it has a habit of springing nasty surprises on us – so we need to be proactive in thinking both about how to maintain it to a high standard, and about making it a space in which God is worshipped and all humanity welcome for another 120 years.

The Waterloo Group Council has had its first meeting, and those present felt it was very positive.  It was born of the conviction that the Anglican Churches in Waterloo – whatever difference we have in terms of churchmanship, and whatever our history with one another, deeply belong to one another – quite simply, by dint of geography, God has given us one another, and we need to discern how best to use that gift – after all, it is being properly ‘holy, catholic and apostolic’ to belong to one another in this way.

And thirdly, what, distinctively, are we, as God’s Holy People being called to at St Faith’s.  You’ve probably heard me say, with a twinkle, that the catholic revival in the Church of England is about to happen.  Well, it’s only half in jest; I believe with all my might that the Church and the World have never needed Catholic witness as much as they do now.  It is characterised by friendship, but critical friendship, with the world; with the search for holiness, with Christian life expressed as our way of belonging to one another, with a cherishing of spiritual rhythms in daily life, with an openness to the whole of the Christian tradition, and above all, with a costly reconciliation between our faith and society and culture.  And I believe with all my might that St Faith’s calling is in discovering anew and showing forth in our live what Catholic witness means in these parts.

Needless to say – that’s the most challenging of the lot!  But let me say it again – you are not, on the whole, shrinking violets, and on the whole, you like a challenge.  What I would say though – is that the discernment of this vocation is as much about prayer, reflection, and careful thought, as it is about action; St Faith’s are great do-ers, great activists; part of the calling now is to bring that gift into harmony with prayer and reflection.  And to trust that, whilst our stumbling efforts to discern that to which we are being called are met with the grace of God – with encouragement, hope and committed love, more than we can imagine.

So – take heart, get up, he is calling you!