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Parochial Church Council:
Celia Kozlowski, Secretary; David Major, Treasurer; Penny Bates, Pat Harvey, Rupert Little, Peter Maltby, Elaine Major, David Mayor, Linda Stamp, John Whitfield
All are Welcome to attend our PCC meetings
Minutes of the PCC for St. Andrew's
Minutes of St. Andrew's P.C.C.
4 May, 2011-- 7:30 p.m. -- at St. Andrew's
1. Welcome and Prayers -- Hugh Ellis led us in a prayer. In addition to the PCC and Hugh, Jess Pitman also attended
Apologies: John Whitfield, Peter Maltby, Penny Bates
2. Minutes for the previous meeting were approved unanimously.
3. Reports and Matters Arising:
A. Church Duties:
Hugh began by observing that loss of churchwardens is nothing new for small parishes--where there is a will there is a way. This is Christ’s church and it is normal for them to go through phases. Challenges are to be welcomed. But there is something more precious than duties. He then asked the assembled PCC to describe what was valuable about the church to them as individuals.
Pat said many value having the church for ceremonies of life (baptism, marriage, funerals), an essential part of the village, a beacon, and a place for contact with others, even for people who don’t care about the specifics of the Christian faith. That is something to build on, and we need to draw people in, with no exclusion. Dave felt it says a lot that the building is open 24 x 7, with Pat adding that people “get a feeling” about St Andrews, as evidenced by a large recent funeral. She felt people took away an impression. Dave felt it important that the church be part of village events. While there are lots of people on the fringe, they are glad we’re here and glad to know they are being prayed for. Elaine noted that there are lots of people who never show up, but still want the church to remain. Pat agreed people would be upset if the church closed but at the end of the day, the building per se doesn’t bring a sense of worship. Sundays are often taken up by sports and other family activities.
Linda noted there were many regular visitors who used to come. Many enjoyed the Bishops’ (Michael and Peter Ball) services and thought people would come for those services and to Family Services.
Dave Mayor said the church was about relationships. Several people concurred that this was the key for them. Dave went on to say that in the context of a benefice experiment with multiple churches sharing a priest, the Team is too big. Elaine concurred. Hugh said this was becoming the case across the country as there were not enough clergy, and the presence of the Bishops had masked the problem in Aller, which has now become acute. Hugh said Aller was the one parish where he didn’t have a presence, but the gathering of people has begun to happen with Jess representing him, as well as herself, at family services and in the village.
Linda inquired whether the Bishops had been asked not to take services. Hugh said it had been decided that a year would be a sensible gap after their retirement. They feared that if they took services in Aller, they would be asked to take services all over the place. After Celia noted that Bishop Michael is taking services outside the benefice, Pat asked could they not take services here? Hugh replied that sometime there will come a time when they could, but they would not take the duties of running the PCC. Elaine felt we don’t have a right to ask, given the frailty of the Bishops. Dave Mayor said the issues were complex and should be looked at it again with the passage of time. Hugh stressed that the pressure on the bishops, as clergy, is huge.
Pat said we need to think about how to encourage people to come back. Aller loves refreshments, nibbles and visiting. Linda asked how you appeal to the “regulars” to come or come back. Dave Mayor said it has to start by inviting people personally. Hugh said that if the clergy disappear, you have to have the church as The People. Dave Mayor gave a caution based on his experience at a Roundtable organization for young business people which had to keep raising the age limit for the group as they were unable to attract the next generation, and every meeting was about getting people to come and raising funds. Being short of money is not a fun point.
Hugh said the group was describing something precious and that needs to be nurtured, that we need to keep “Other Stuff” to a minimum. He invited the group to agree on the purposes that need to be struggled for.
Celia agreed that it was the relationships with people from the village and church that was important to her, but confessed to a sense that there is no “There” there in St. Andrews – that teaching, charity, helping people in need, outreach to the community, innovation in services, and the bishops’ diligent pastoral care, have all but disappeared. Elaine suggested we need something different to attract younger people. Pat noted that rural people (in contrast with the congregation Celia came from) are traditionalists and also can become complacent. Children of the World Wars were forced to think about their faith, and the Book of Common Prayer established a foundation for soldiers reading it in the trenches. Elaine bemoaned the lack of religious education. Linda said she had loved to go to Chapel. Pat said back then, it was your social life. Jess noted the sense of collective worship in her experience. Dave Mayor said it was like your family.
Moving back to the subject of duties, Hugh introduced his “Aide Memoire,” a list of church duties and asked the group to look at it and see if these were things we did, didn’t do, and if there were some things that we were doing that didn’t need doing. The group studied the list and said what was and wasn’t done.
Pat stressed the importance of having at least a couple of people to handle responsibilities, with a community discussion of roles being needed. She said she would not continue alone as churchwarden because it was too important for just one person to be doing it.
Dave Mayor suggested consideration of who would be the contact people for visiting Clergy as Dave did not want to be in the Diocesan Directory. It was noted that Penny has no backup for her duties and suggested perhaps Elspeth might be asked if she could be Penny’s backup. Dave Mayor stressed that people need to be allowed to do things in their own way and that others shouldn’t second-guess and complain. For its part, the Team office provides communion wafers and crosses for Palm Sunday (as well as notices and service booklets, Roundabout, photocopying and scheduling of service leaders).
Parish Roll: Celia said on Pat’s recommendation she had given (John) Trevor Limon an electoral roll form, which he had completed, finding no reason why he should not be added to the roll. Hugh called for a vote and Mr. Limon was approved.
Team Council: Pat proposed and the PCC approved her proposal that two people continue to attend the Team council to assure effective 2-way communication with and to that body. Pat volunteered for the 23rd May. John Whitfield has volunteered to attend on a regular basis. This led to further discussion of Team meetings. Dave felt that the Worship committee was a complete waste of time, especially when one is obliged to take off work to attend. Elaine questioned whether such meetings are really needed. Hugh said he must have Team council meetings and praised the pastoral care committee. Elaine said she thought they could cut down considerably if there were good communication and they let people get on with it.
In conclusion, Hugh said it was ok to have no formal churchwardens for a while and said it sounded like St Andrew’s was managing alright. He recalled the model he had seen in New Zealand where local churches ran themselves with regional clergy serving a conduit and oversight role. Having an intentional gap might result in people coming forward. Jess could review this and present it at the next meeting. The goal is to have clarity on responsibilities by the end of July when the current churchwardens’ obligations end.
B. Financial Issues
Hugh introduced this by saying the question needing prayerful thought was how to restore the balance in income. Money was not the prime issue, only a short-term management issue.
Dave Mayor said he expects we won’t have an adequate level of giving until relationships are restored with the Team and Diocese. Celia concurred that people are angry that Dave and the Bishops are no longer part of our services. Dave Mayor said that we can’t do anything about those problems. Elaine said she felt the team is just too big for the clergy to have close relationships with each parish. Pat asked, what can be done? We have had various retired clergy taking services and it would help forge relationships if we could get to know one of them. Hugh said relational networks had not worked out here, but now Jess is now involved, and becoming familiar through the family service, which is gaining momentum, and Hugh himself is now taking one service per month. Celia objected to the term “relational networks.” Dave said ideally the Bishops would have left more gradually. For now he felt we should rely on “first aid” and wait to see what happens. Hugh said he had desired to do his best, and fortunately God is greater than that. He urged the group to have more fun. He said there is always change, tough times and fallow seasons in everything, but to look for the opportunity. We are the ones to face it, one step at a time, and things would unfold.
C. Parish Reserves
Aware of the late hour, Hugh said he would organize a small meeting on finances to work with David Major. As David was charged at the AGM with exploring this subject and presenting it to the PCC, David Major was asked to proceed with outlining the details of St. Andrew’s declining General Fund. At current rates of income and expenditure, the General Fund will be exhausted by April 2012. He has modeled the effects of having a reserve of 2x to 3x monthly expenses. A reserve of 2.5x monthly expenses would leave us with a zero balance in the General Fund in September 2011. Up until that point we could pay our full Parish Share and Team share before hitting the reserve level. The General fund has been drawing down saved money since 2005.
Hugh said we should be disciplined about what the reserve was reserved for. Confirming that there were savings in the Fabric Fund and the Bells Ring-fenced account and the Organ fund, the Reserve did not have to be reserved for any of those things. David Major said that the Reserve would permit us to cover General Fund emergencies and expenses as they arise– electricity, water, insurance – and whatever portion of the Parish and Team Shares that we felt we could cover. He said we could afford to pay ½ of the Team share at the current rates. When the money is gone, no one gets anything.
Dave Mayor said it was not right to make a church pay out its money until it was completely broke. The Rural Dean says some of his parishes are not able to pay, and it is not reasonable to collect until the balance runs down to zero. Hugh pointed to another church in the team, Drayton, that had been close to bankruptcy and had completely turned itself around. Dave Mayor noted that there had been times when other parishes had not paid their full share for various reasons, but Aller had always taken its contributions seriously, tried to be generous, and at one point even raised its share. This never drew any positive reinforcement from the Church, but when we had to go back to our previous share, the Church was very unpleasant about it. Dave felt it would not be a good idea to run the General Fund down to zero.
Hugh said we will work at it together to change giving patterns. Dave noted the Church’s help in the past along these lines had been of questionable value in Aller. Pat said it is going to be difficult to ask people to give more as many are really struggling with increases of the cost of living, petrol, and cutbacks in the county budget leading to belt-tightening all around. If people can’t afford additional giving, they can’t afford it. Dave said we had to be very clear about our situation, and would need to show that money is being wisely used. Pat said perhaps if people realized the importance of the church, if we made a plea for a donation as is made, for example, for the Roundabout, going out to 170 homes in Aller, house-to-house. Responding to Dave’s point about the wise use of donated money, Hugh said our Team Share pays for a share of the clergy for facilitation, services, rites of passage, baptisms. Moving into a new phase, Hugh said he hoped to see building of relationships.
As to cutting Aller’s shares in September to retain a reserve, Dave Mayor asked if it would be preferable to cut to the Team Share or the Parish Share. Hugh said theTeam was working to lower the Team share. He advised David Major should talk to Charles about the best way to reduce Aller’s Share. Somehow the deficit must be made up amongst the Team. If the Diocese is not paid, the problem is more remote, but the Rector gets it in the neck. Dave Mayor observed that the church couldn’t spend money it doesn’t have. As it is, many individuals dig into their own pockets for incidental expenses in St Andrews. Hugh said that if there was an improvement in Aller’s income, he would expect that to be used to pay Aller’s full shares and make up earlier deficits. He recalled one instance in which a church’s fortunes reversed within a term, and although they had warned that they would not be able to make their Parish share, the reversal made it possible to pay in full. All the trouble from the advance warning caused an unnecessary flap.
Dave Mayor proposed that David Major proceed with the plan to establish a reserve and that David be given fully authority and latitude to work with the Team treasurer to determine and execute a reserve at a level appropriate to cover church expenses and an optimal payment schedule of reduced Parish and/or Team share, effective approximately September, with the understanding that if money coming into Aller’s General Fund is more plentiful than expected, the additional money will be applied to deficits in our Share payments. This motion was seconded by Elaine and passed unanimously.
D. Church Yard and Path Maintenance: Dave Mayor proposed that Pat be given full authority to organize a work party and/or jobs for the village Lengthsman.
E. Restoration Shortfall: David Major reported that application had been made to Viridor for funds to cover most of the £18,000 shortfall remaining after the English Heritage grant. The application included letters from Peter Maltby and Gillian Sims. An additional £2000 is needed to cover restoration costs. The Viridor grant decision will be made on June 18.
F. Future Services – It was concluded that the services in May and June have been set and staffed. It was proposed that the Harvest Festival be on 2nd October, with the Harvest Supper on the 22nd October. Elaine is hoping to arrange with Peter Merry to have the Classical Music concert on the 1st October and consensus was that this would make for nice weekend in conjunction with the Harvest Festival
G. Item “C” from the Agenda, Parish Survey, was not discussed.
Next meeting: The date of 29th June was agreed, but subsequently changed when it was discovered that two PCC members not at the meeting would also not be able to attend on 29th June. The final date selected, after consultation with everyone, is 19 July, at the Church, 7 p.m.
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