Chairman’s  APCM Report  2013

Having taken over the Chairmanship of the PCC in June 2012, it falls to me to add the Chairperson’s remarks to this Annual Report, which takes a retrospective look at 2012.

As is customary, I begin by inviting a moment of silent prayer to remember those who have passed away since the last APCM: Jean Price, Sister Elizabeth and Mona Turner.

Since the last APCM, preparations for the interregnum, managing the interregnum, putting together the Parish Profile and negotiating the process of advertising and interviewing has of course, occupied much of our time and discussions.

Looking back, it astonishes me how much time and effort had to be put into this whole venture. Had those of us involved been on an hourly rate of pay we could possibly have stumped up for this year’s Quota between us!

Working with the middle management of a Diocese of the Church of England was a fascinating learning curve but not an experience I would wish to repeat any time soon.

We have heard from the Treasurer that we are currently in a more comfortable financial position. We continue to benefit from the increased giving initiated by the Stewardship campaign of 2011-2012 and from favourable changes to Gift Aid arrangements. Savings were also obviously made for the last six months of 2012, during which we had no priest or Vicarage expenses to pay.

I would strongly suggest however that we must be very wary of anything remotely resembling smug complacency by starting to make plans as to how we can spend this great ‘largesse’.

We still have to revisit those who felt either unable, unwilling or who failed to respond at all on the subject of re-thinking their giving during the stewardship campaign. The Diocese tells us that the most significant factor enabling them to levy their charges for the Parish Quota is the average weekly attendance figure. When we still have people who contribute very little or nothing at all, while at the same time attending church and availing themselves of its services, we are in danger of finding ourselves in the ecclesiastical version of negative equity!

My tenure as churchwarden, which has been relatively short in comparison to some of those in the past, has still thrown up at least two major and unexpected expenses: the gates and the roof repairs. While we cannot, of course, stand still and hoard our finances, it is vital that we keep sensible amounts in reserve so that we are not up the proverbial creek without a paddle when the next nasty surprise crops up. It is equally vital that those who would consider themselves to be regular members of the church pledge their financial support.

The healthier state of the finances has not just arisen from tax relief, legacies and savings on a temporarily empty house, of course. Huge thanks are due to all who have put so much time and effort into fundraising of all kinds this past year. The new revamped version of the Spring Fair, the regular table sales, the refurbishment of the Hall with its increase in appreciative paying users, the recital season and the Christmas Tree Festival have all brought in healthy returns in terms of money and in that vital outreach to the community. Again, however, whilst not wanting to sound like the archetypal Grumpy Old Woman or Prophet of Doom, these occasions and events have consistently depended upon the same people for their very existence. Finding more people who are willing to give their time seems to present a challenge equal to that of persuading them to pledge their money (and I am aware that I am probably preaching to the converted on this topic on this occasion!)

Although the installation and tenure of Fr. Simon technically belongs to next year’s APCM (for it happened after December 31st, 2012) it would be absurd not to mention it when the man is sitting here with us!

The first news we had of him did come in those last months of 2012 so it is indeed relevant to this report. In last year’s report Fr. Neil reminded us that growth can be a long, challenging and often painful process and that, as has been said before, unless we change, we cannot grow. Fr. Neil also paid tribute to ‘the many talented, capable, generous, hardworking and experienced people of St Faith’s’. At the end of 2012 we were inspired and optimistic to see such a swift end to our interregnum and we were ready to welcome someone whom we hoped would lead us through that possibly long, challenging and painful process to growth whilst, at the same time being able to listen to and benefit from the hard work and experience of its people.

 My experience of life in general and particularly of life in this church has shown me that people who are focussing their gifts in a positive way can work brilliantly as a team and I have benefitted enormously from the guidance and advice of those who have a great deal more experience of the background and traditions of this church than myself. I trust that as we continue into 2013 we will all: team and leader, continue to value and respect the traditions which are so special here whilst still working together towards that essential growth.  

Maureen Madden

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