St Mark's Church Annual Report 2012
St Mark’s Church Leadership Team
Report to the Annual Congregational Meeting 22 April 2012
This year’s report reflects the continuing work of our Church in Brickhill and in the wider community. St Marks continues to offer a welcome to all and we believe a sense of friendship, belonging and inclusion to the many hundreds of people who pass through our Church and Community Centre each week, be it attending Church services and activities or attending the many groups who meet on our premises.
We are truly blessed by the number of people who freely give their time, resources and skills to support and further the life of our Church. In this report I apologise that it is impossible to mention everyone by name and every activity, but I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone for whatever they do however large or small it may seem. We really do appreciate the endeavours of everyone and know that by working together we really do make a difference to those we serve.
Ministry and Worship
During the past year we have continued to benefit enormously from the continued ministry of Sam, Jane and Charlie who each bring their own individual skills, experience and enthusiasm to the active and vibrant life of this church .
Our ministry continues to extend beyond the church with services in the community at Highfield, William Harpur House, Anjulita/Ladyslaude Court. We thank all the team who work hard to ensure these regular services are arranged, this really does fulfil a real need in our community and we are grateful to all who assist in the important piece of outreach.
Our “Thisischurch.com website continues to increase in popularity and we receive regular feedback from all over the world on our weekly bible notes, and commentary in Partnership News which is produced by Charlie and the office staff. We receive regular email with words of thanks, especially for the weekly church prayers which are used in other churches all over the globe. Our ministry truly is worldwide.
During Lent we have used the time normally spent studying our Lent Course to undertake discussions and consultations to bring together our Mission Action Plan under the Diocesan initiative “Living Gods Love. The dialogue has helped us to really focus on all the things we do and to understand our vision for the future, our priorities and our aspirations. This has now been brought together in an expertly produced draft form by Sam. We are grateful to the Ministers for leading us through process and to all who have contributed to the discussions and we pray for God’s guidance as we seek to implement our plans in the weeks and months ahead.
Messy Church continues to grow and there have now been 16 Messy Church sessions since it began back in October 2010. The team running this continue to be delighted with the response they have had from children and their carers who have attended. Between May 2011and April 2012 an average monthly attendance has been 31 children, with18 carers plus often 15 to 20 helpers and at least two families have attended every session they have held. They now frequently serve over 60 meals. On the 3 August 2011 a ‘Messy Church’ crafts area was held at the Waveney Green Family Day and it is planned to have a similar area at the Queen’s Jubilee event on 5 June this year. In recent months several new members have joined the team of volunteers who continue to do a sterling job, including people who set up and put away the furniture, and a volunteer from one family has offered to help regularly in the kitchen. Messy Church is funded from attendee donations, donations from members of the congregation, and from church funds. The Leadership Team would like to thank Wendy Waters, Jean Bank, and Richard Ledger who lead this valuable outreach project and to all the other members of the team for their continued commitment hard work and support.
Whilst attendance at Church Services continues to decline nationally we are very pleased to report that attendance at our weekly services still continues to hold up. On some services this year we have once again been delighted to see the church filled to capacity and every available seat in the church filled. Speaking of seats we were delighted that we were able to replace our ageing chairs this year and I am sure you will all agree the new chairs are really comfortable and certainly create a good impression.
The Wednesday morning Communion Service continues to be popular and the 8.30am Sunday Holy Communion Service has a regular group of people attending from St Mark’s and Putnoe Heights.
We are grateful to all members of the congregation who regularly prepare the church for our services, to those who move chairs, read, prepare intercessions, welcome on the door, book stewards, organists, the flower and PA teams and those preparing refreshments, we look to provide a warm and welcoming experience for all and could not do this without all of your help
In November we took delivery of our Allen Organ which has been purchased from fund raising and also from the kind donation of organist fees. We are especially grateful to Mike Puttock who has sadly now left us to live in his coastal retirement home. The organ was dedicated at a truly superb musical event arranged by Clive Simmonds and I am sure that all who attended now eagerly await a repeat performance.
Our Christmas services 2011 were our best ever attended and it was pleasing to see so many new faces in the Church. This year Carols in the Car Park will be on 22nd December with Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve. This change is in response to the feedback from last year that this was very popular and made really special being on Christmas Eve with the Holy Communion service at 11.30 also being by Candlelight.
Special Services were once again well attended particularly
Easter, Mothering Sunday and Harvest.
Junior Church has been led by Jaana Swaby and supported by Wendy Waters. Although numbers are generally small the children and young people take part where possible in special services and the congregation are always keen to see their contributions.
The crèche continues to be superbly managed by Debbie Coppenhall as does Storybox by Janna Swaby. Chat and Play is run by Joanne Garner on Thursdays and is now running an additional session on a Monday due to popular demand by parents and carers. We are so blessed and fortunate to have the skills and dedication of Janna, Joanne and Debbie and all those who assist them in this valuable part of our ministry and outreach.
In 2011 we saw the closure of Clubhouse as a result of changes in local authority financing. St Mark’s however considered that the loss of services for this vulnerable group of people was not something that could be allowed. In response a decision was made by Church Council to offer a free service to one day each week. This new project is run by Cheryl Green and a group of willing volunteers. The result has been a resounding success with increased membership and a programme of different activities in the sessions. We are so grateful to Cheryl and the team for stepping in at the loss of Clubhouse and creating something that is truly inspiring.
Our Pre School were officially awarded the grade of “outstanding” following an Inspection by OFSTED and our thanks to Helen Harpin and her team for this truly excellent achievement, thanks also to Charlie Janet and Ian who support the Pre School Management Team in their day to day activities.
Deanery and Circuit
St Mark’s continues to take an active part in Circuit and Deanery life through the ministers and our elected representatives from St Mark’s Linda Parry and Margaret Appleton.
Last Year we supported local BECHAR in their Crisis Relief in Bedford Christmas appeal and raised an astounding £ 2,725 for this most worthy cause. Our thanks to Sam for his usual enthusiasm and drive in arranging our fundraising and thanks to all who contributed so generously.
The team led by Mary Stubbs continues to visit church members and also those who have received the services of one of our ministers for a funeral. Pastoral concerns are also picked up our Telecare Team who make regular calls to those who participate. This is an excellent way of the church keeping touch, especially as we recognise we have an increasingly older congregation and some members who are now practically housebound. It will be important to continue with the ministry which helps deal with the isolation which some feel as they are no longer able to attend church. Our grateful thanks go to all the team for their dedication, skills and expertise in what can often be very delicate, emotional and difficult situations.
Garden of Remembrance
The Garden continues to play an important part in the life of the
Church, with many visitors seen during the week in addition to those
who arrive quietly and discreetly to spend time with their loved ones
in contemplation and reflection.
Our thanks are due to all who help regularly in the garden, Marion
Prior, Colin McNeilage Jean Cole and Mick Ovenden and of course Mary Stubbs and Avril Williams for their administration of the Garden together with John Day who looks after the Garden of Remembrance finances. We are especially grateful to Mary Stubbs who after nearly twenty years has handed over the responsibility for administration to Avril. Mary has been a source of immeasurable comfort to hundreds of families who have chosen the consecrated Garden of Remembrance as the last resting place for their loved ones.
We are currently in the process of some major building works which will see the retaining wall at the front of the Garden rebuilt using better quality railway sleepers.
The work of the Trust has grown year by year and 2011 was no exception. They have been busy and have been able to offer real support and comfort to all of those who visit. Our Administrator Linda Parry has a remarkable ministry to all of those who use and visit the woodland and we are sincerely grateful for the amount of time which she gives to the bereaved.
Earlier this year there was a visit with representatives from Faith Woodlands Communities, who gave some excellent advice regarding the enhancement of the area, consideration of bio-diversity, use of dead wood for insect and small wildlife habitat and use of bird boxes, particularly owl boxes.
The trustees are grateful to all those people who share their vision for the Woodland to keep the site as natural as possible. The biodegradable bamboo vases made by Neil Kinselly have made a great difference in keeping cut flowers alive longer and help to keep the area tidy.
Since last year there have been 13 burial, 13 interments of ashes, 36 reservations for burial and 23 reservations for interment of cremated remains.
A new glade has been prepared this Spring and should be in use later in the year.
The Trustees have secured planning permission and are in the process of purchasing a further 10 acres to secure the future of the woodland as a sustainable environment for generations to come.
The Church Centre continues to be in great demand with the many and varied voluntary and charitable groups which meet here. The amount raised from lettings continues to be the major source of our income and we are grateful to Wendy Rider for her tenacity in ensuring that our premises are generating income by being let at every suitable opportunity. Wendy is ably supported by her team of office volunteers who we thank for ensuring that we can keep the office open 9-5 on 5 days a week.
This year we were disappointed to lose the police post, due to funding cuts and reorganisation by Bedfordshire Police. The Parish Council also decided to relocate to Brickhill Community Centre which is now managed by the Parish Council themselves. Together with the loss of Clubhouse this has led to a substantial loss of income to the church centre. We are however pleased that Autism Bedfordshire have increased their occupancy and we are exploring opportunities for use of the church flat.
The centre has a rolling programme of maintenance and redecoration to ensure the facilities remain of the highest standard. Last year we were also delighted to finish part of the foyer project by fitting the new automatic doors. This project now only requires the installation of the canopy to be finished. A fund has been started and we will complete as soon as finance becomes available.
We have made considerable changes to the heating system this year which will enable us to reduce fuel costs by heating water by gas instead of electricity. We now have a project in place to use solar thermal technology to heat the water, further enhancing our solar power production.
I would like to thank Ian, Jim, Wendy and Charlie who between them
and John look after what is now equal to the finances of a small company with all the legal regulations that go with this. Without their hard work and time we would not be able to operate and for this we are all very grateful.
It also would not be St Marks without reference to our annual Car Boot Sales and the much needed funds they raise, a special thanks to Avril Williams and all the volunteers who make this sometimes arduous task look so painless. Thanks also to those involved in running the Quizzes which again add to our overall fundraising achievements.
In preparing this report looking back on the last year and all that has happened in the life of St Marks’s it is rewarding to see what the labours of many can and has achieved.
Senior Leadership Team Member