Annual Trustees Report for 2015 St George of England Parish Church, Toddington
Aims and Purposes St George’s PCC has the responsibility of cooperating with the Incumbent, the Rev’d Anne Crawford, for the mission and outreach of the Church, in worship, pastoral care, spiritual nurture, evangelism, social action and in encouraging fellowship with other churches of other denominations in the Parish. Our vision is to be a vibrant, loving, worshipping community; a church rooted in God, eager to develop our faith, and build on tradition. We are part of a two parish benefice and share our Rector with All Saints Parish Church in Chalgrave, the PCCs working together to support, encourage and resource one another in ministry. St George of England PCC has responsibility for the Wilkinson Church Hall, which is situated in the churchyard and used by the church and various community groups and associations.
Objectives and Activities The PCC produces a Mission Action Plan (MAP) each year to enable Church to grow spiritually and numerically, to be effective in evangelism, mission and outreach, and to provide some benefit to the parish we are called to serve. We work hard to encourage the people of our parish to live out their faith as part of our wider parish community; we strongly believe that the Church belongs to all parishioners regardless of church attendance. We do this by endeavouring to make worship accessible for all ages and stages; we offer traditional Anglican worship on Sundays and feast days, and provide opportunities for prayer, both public and private, keeping our church building open during daylight hours with resources freely available (ie bible, candles, written prayer resources etc). We offer learning opportunities throughout the year so that people can explore the Gospel come to a deeper understanding of who Jesus Christ is and the effect knowing him may have on their lives. The Rector offers spiritual guidance, quiet days and retreats to help deepen and refresh faith. Anne also serves as secretary of the Diocesan Worship and Liturgy Committee which provides training and support in worship provision for parish clergy, musicians and laity across the diocese. She also supervises our ordinand Ian Smith, currently in his second year of training on the Eastern Region Ministry Course. Pastoral care is provided for all people who live in the villages, regardless of creed or culture, with a small team of volunteers assisting the Rector who also takes Holy Communion to the sick and housebound.
The Rector is a governor at St George of England C of E Academy, with other members of the church also serving on the governing body. She visits all the schools in Toddington and Chalton to lead worship and assemblies, teaches a meditation group at the church school and is part of a team which provides RE experiences for community schools in Leighton Buzzard. She regularly welcomes schools to St George’s for worship, and for various RE and community visits. A small team of volunteers work with the Rector each Lent to provide an ‘Experience Easter’ week for school children of all ages. The Rector is also an Anglican representative member of Central Bedfordshire’s SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for RE) and so is involved in the Church’s work with schools in a wider context.
The PCC continues to support the local Foodbank, both financially and practically, and church members play an active role in supporting Toddington Helping Hands. Various groups provide social events for villagers, with a monthly Ploughman’s Lunch being held in the Wilkinson Hall which is especially popular with the elderly members of our community. For the third year running we have hosted a village Harvest Show which brings together the Church, schools and the local farming community to raise funds for the Bishop of St Albans Harvest Appeal, and this is growing in popularity. We hold monthly coffee mornings and other social events which raise money for the church’s general fund as well as supporting various charities.
The Parish Church, being an ancient and historic building, is situated at the very heart of Toddington village, and is a visible sign of God’s continuing presence in our community. Our church building, which is kept open during daylight hours, provides a sacred space which is much valued in the community, and, along with the church hall, offers the facilities necessary for worship, outreach and community support. Both buildings are valuable resources for enabling parish life and work to flourish and to grow and the PCC acknowledges the importance of maintaining the fabric of the Church and its Hall.
Mission Action Plan (MAP) for 2015
The PCC, together with the PCC of All Saints, Chalgrave, enjoyed a day away together in February 2015 at the Cathedral in St Albans. This was a great opportunity to develop friendship and fellowship between the two PCCs of the benefice, and to share the challenges and joys of ministry. We used the time away from the parishes to explore our individual churches’ MAPs, and to re-adjust our goals for the coming year:
Looking at the parish of Toddington and our wider context in early 2015 we identified the following three key characteristics: a) About the parish: There are small pockets of need, often hidden away. (We are actively addressing this through our continuing involvement in Dunstable foodbank). Young families lead busy lives with mum’s often working full time, and many have no church background. The village offers a large variety of social activities, clubs and associations for all ages to belong to.
b) About our church: Our people resources are limited and pastoral care generates a heavy workload particularly for the Rector. We are good at fellowship with the older generation who come along to monthly ploughman’s lunches and Saturday morning coffee mornings and our Messy Church is lively and welcoming to the younger generation and their families. We have very limited financial resources and have a large ancient Grade 1 listed building to care for. We have been unable to pay our full parish share for the last 6 years and are anxious about our future.
In our discerning we summarised our Vision, Priorities and Goals:
Our Vision is to be: ‘a vibrant, loving, worshipping community; a church rooted in God, eager to develop our faith, and build on tradition’.
Our key priorities over the next 5 years we aim to address the three key themes of ‘Living God’s Love’ by: Developing our music and worship so that it helps to deepen our faith and support our discipleship. Financial viability. We would like to increase our income so that we are in a healthier position, able to pay a realistic parish share in full, and resource mission locally. Strengthen our learning , so that we can be more confident in our discipleship and effective in mission.
Our Goals Our five key SMART goals for the next year or more: (SMART = Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Resourced)
1 Create opportunities for learning and encourage attendance and commitment 2 Continue with the Stewardship Campaign begun at Harvest 2013, and build on its strengths. 3 To have effective churchwardens in post. 4 Encourage the building up of a choir and develop and broaden our musical repertoire to enhance worship. 5 Ensure our church building is a clean, safe, warm and inviting place in which to worship and welcome visitors.
This MAP is a working document, and progress has been monitored at every PCC meeting. It was adopted by the PCC on 14th February 2015 with a review scheduled for February 2016.
Achievements and Performance Reflecting on our MAP goals at the end of 2015 Goal 1 Learning: We offered two new Pilgrim Courses during 2015, and this provided very good material for the six adult confirmation candidates as well as those members of the congregations who were wanting to learn more, and deepen and refresh their faith and relationship with God. We continue to struggle in successfully attracting regular congregation members to attend any courses or quiet day, despite responding to feedback and suggestions. People seem reluctant to give up their evenings, especially in the winter, and parents with young families find it hard to give time to their own learning when children’s sports and social activities take priority. In the coming year we, as a benefice, are proposing to join forces with a neighbouring parish, sharing resources and leadership so that we can provide a wider range of learning opportunties.
In January parishioners from both churches in the benefice joined an Evening Pilgrimage to St Albans Cathedral, and this was a wonderful event which people appreciated very much. The combination of historical visit and worship worked well and the cathedral were welcoming and generous hosts.
Monday Bible Study Group. St George’s parishioners are part of an ecumenical Bible Study House Group which meets every Monday afternoon. They use a variety of course booklets to help in the study of scripture and begin each session with a time of prayer and praise.
Goal 2 Stewardship & Finances: Following promotion at work, our Stewardship Officer was unable to continue in his role and a replacement officer had to be found. A new Givings Officer, Karen Calder, came forward from All Saints Chalgrave’s congregation, and she will work across the benefice, using the new diocesan giving scheme. This change has meant that there was little progress in financial stewardship in 2015, other than a continuous raising of awareness of the challenges we face, and to encourage more people to give regularly and generously. We suffered lead theft from the church porch in December, and with the ongoing need for major fabric repairs and a complete replacement of the electric system on the organ, the PCC feel overwhelmed by the pressure and responsibility to produce a quite significant level of income each year. There is a Friends of St George’s group who raise money solely for fabric repairs and restoration and the PCC are able to apply for help in certain circumstances.
On a more positive note stewardship of our time and talents has provided more encouragement. People are beginning to be more confident in offering themselves for various ministries, most especially in assisting the Rector in pastoral visiting and taking communion to the housebound and sick. Members of the congregation are encouraged to contribute to our worshipping life by reading lessons, serving at the altar, helping in the important ministry of welcome and sharing some of the tasks at Messy Church, and everyone is invited to share in the responsibility of caring for the churchyard and in keeping church clean and tidy.
Goal 3 Churchwardens Connie Frost-Bryant was elected as a new churchwarden at the APCM in April 2015, and has done sterling work, especially in the care of the fabric and general admin. It has been very good to have a churchwarden in post after 6 years without and the Rector is especially grateful for all Connie’s support and encouragement.
Goal 4 Choir and enhancing of worship Our organist moved on to pastures new just before Easter and so our goal has been to find and appoint a new organist and musical director. David Owen came to us in time for Christmas and has settled in well, providing the Musical Director’s report for the Trustees:
‘The state of the organ is still very much as contained in the very full report from organ builder Tarquin Wiggins in 2014. The organ is at present playable and able to fulfil its role in church worship, but given its condition, this role is quite limited and its full capacity is not utilised and will not be until full repairs have taken place, certain parts really are being held together by string, nicker elastic and drawing pins. It is my aim to build up a choir to enhance our worship and a fully working and stress free organ will certainly be an enormous help with this. The organ at Toddington is a wonderful instrument that is not being fully utilised, but the proposed electric refurb and the new console will enable recitals to be given. A friend has already agreed to come and give an 'opening' recital when all work has been done, and we can then hopefully encourage young organists in the area to use it for lessons and practice which could lead to an organ scholar being found which would be a great help when the choir is up and running’. David Owen, 22 March 2016
Goal 5 Church environment PCC member Lynne Sheriffs has taken on the responsibility for providing a cleaning rota, and this has worked well. Our churchyard had a makeover in the autumn with professional gardeners working to clear weeds, re-plant and re-shape beds, prune shrubs and clear paths. 200 snowdrops were donated by a kind parishioner and planted in the churchyard for everyone to enjoy in the early Spring. Many visitors comment on how welcoming the church looks and feels. Our plans for 2016 include an exploration of the way we heat the building so that we can provide more warmth and comfort for our congregations in the winter months.
Worship and Prayer
The PCC works with the Rector in providing accessible worship for people of all ages and stages. This year has seen completion of a revision of liturgy and a reprinting of service orders for all the Church’s seasons, as well as an adjustment of the baptism service to take in to account the new alternative texts. People have appreciated more direction in the service orders, and the awkwardness of the building’s layout for Eucharistic services (altar distant from nave, with impoverished sightlines) has been greatly reduced with the congregation now gathering in the chancel for the Liturgy of the Sacrament.
St George’s continues to enjoy a lively and constantly evolving monthly Messy Church congregation. Families with young children find it difficult to come to church for worship on a Sunday (working parents and children’s sporting commitments), and so coming to church on a Friday afternoon, after school, works well. The growing number of toddlers and babies at Messy Church prompted the launch of a new weekly toddler church called ‘Jack-in-the-Box’ in January 2016, and this is currently attracting 20 families with pre-school children.
Occassional Offices: 2015 saw a very encouraging number of people wishing to be baptised across the benefice. There were 16 infants and 4 adults christened at St George’s, and 6 adults were prepared for confirmation at Easter. One family asked for a thanksgiving service for the birth of their new baby. We had 6 weddings at St George’s plus several couples coming to church to celebrate wedding anniversaries or significant events with a service of thanksgiving and affirmation of vows. We held 14 funeral services in church, with another 7 funerals at the crematorium.
Our main Sunday morning worship is a sung Eucharist, using Common Worship Order One, with hymns and accompaniment on organ. Our average Sunday attendance at this service is 30 adults and 4 children. In addition to Common Worship we also celebrate communion twice a month using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, with an average attendance of 6 adults. Our monthly Messy Church congregation averages 26 adults and 30 children.
We mark the Church’s seasons with a variety of worship, both traditional and contemporary in style, making use of liturgy from Times & Seasons and New Patterns for Worship. Advent is marked by the journey of the Travelling Crib around the parish, with the Holy family finding lodging in all sorts of places including homes, schools, medical centre, library and shops. We celebrated Epiphany in 2015 with a Messy Christingle service raising money for the Children’s Society. Lent and Holy Week was observed with special liturgies, including a Seder Meal on Maundy Thursday, followed by the eucharist with footwashing and stripping of the altar. In addition to the usual traditional worship on Easter Day, we gathered with the congregation at All Saints Chalgrave just before dawn for a Sunrise celebration of the resurrection in the beautiful Churchyard, followed by breakfast around the new fire. We joined with others from around the diocese on Easter Monday for the Pilgrimage Eucharist at the Cathedral, and those who stayed at home enjoyed a Messy Egg Hunt. We celebrated Harvest with our newly established annual Harvest Show, which includes baking, craft, fruit and veg competitions, and comes to a close with Harvest Songs of Praise. We held a traditional service for All Souls, reading out names of loved ones departed, lighting candles and planting Spring bulbs in the churchyard as a lasting memorial. At Christmas we celebrated with carol services for church, schools, and Scouts and with our ecumenical partners in Churches Together in Toddington & Chalgrave and accompanied by Toddington Town Band, we hosted an informal carol service in church. There are often opportunities to meet particular pastoral needs creatively and sensitively and the Rector provides liturgy and prayers for special family celebrations and for times of sadness and distress.
All of this ministry takes place with the support of a small army of volunteers. Special thanks must be given to Glenis Turner, sacristan and verger, for all that she does in preparation of worship and in all the day to day administration which supports the Rector in her priestly ministry; to June Barton who takes care of wedding administration and ensures that a wedding ceremony takes place smoothly and professionally; to David Owen our new musical director, to John Pask, server and bell ringer and all round maintenance man; to Lynne Sheriffs for her ministry, support and encouragement of young families at our new Jack-in-the-Box mini church, and to Glenis, Patricia Keymer, Sue Russell, and Helen Mindenhall for all that they do in support of Messy Church.
St George’s church has been at the heart of the village for almost 900 years and we are fortunate in being able to leave it open during daylight hours. People find this a comfort and appreciate being able to come in to a still, sacred space for reflection. We provide a prayer corner in the Chancel, and prayers can be left in a dedicated prayer book with the promise that they will be included in the prayers offered by the Church at the end of each day. In the summer months we have people from all over the world visit church and explore our Christian heritage and sometimes research family history.
Pastoral Care The Rector visits the sick in home, hospital and hospice. She takes holy communion to the sick and housebound. Good pastoral care often opens the way for people to return to church after a long time away, or even to come to church for the first time, and we have seen a small increase in the number of people coming to church because supportive and welcoming relationships have developed. Anne is happy to visit anyone in need and people are very appreciative of her ministry. The congregation care for one another well and support each other prayerfully and practically.
Bell Ringing: Peter Boon is Tower Captain and has provided the following report on the bell ringing activities at St George’s during 2015:
‘Over the year, the membership of our band has remained constant, and our learners (from Harlingtono) are continuing to make progress. On practice nights we still benefit from the assistance of visiting ringers. On Sunday mornings, owing to a shortage of bell ringers in Toddington, we still resort more often than not to the use of the mechanical chimes rather than carrying out proper bell ringing, but I believe we are now putting in a few more sessions of true ringing.
On the hardware front, I’m pleased to report we’ve experienced no major breakages, such as the fracturing of clappers, which have been a feature in recent years. However, some of the ropes are showing signs of wear and tear. Although we can ‘mend and make do’ for a limited time – thanks to the splicing expertise of John Pask – it won’t be too long before we’ll need to replace some or all of these items. [Current cost: about £100 a rope] Fortunately, we maintain a bell fund – a registered charity – which is there for the repair and improvement of St George’s eight bells.’
Our thanks go to Peter and the band of ringers for their commitment in keeping the bells ringing, and for the part they play in parish life, calling people to worship on a Sunday, and in helping the village mark celebrations and special events in our nation’s life.
Ecumenical relationships St George’s has hosted ecumenical services for Churches Together in Toddington and Chalgrave, and with the Bishop’s permission we have offered our church building several times to the Roman Catholic Church in Toddington when St Elizabeth’s has proved too small to accommodate large numbers of mourners at funerals. Hope Church have also used our church and hall for their carol service at Christmas. We work with the Methodist, Baptist and RC churches in Toddington in providing various events throughout the year, including a fun day for Father’s Day, a carol service on the Village Green in December (which moves in to our church building if the weather is bad), and a Poverty Lunch on Ash Wed. We join with the other churches on Good Friday for a Walk of Witness through the village. Churches Together in Toddington and Chalgrave provide a bi-monthly magazine which gives news of each church’s activities, and advertises worship, services and events. The ministers from each denomination take it in turn to write an article for each edition which reflects on aspects of faith and religion.
In 2015 the Rector worked with the Toddington branch of the British Legion to review the Act of Remembrance which is held at the War Memorial each year. A new order of service, used nationally and provided jointly by the British Legion and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland was accepted and used for the first time in November, with the British Legion taking a more active role alongside representatives from all the churches in the village.
Deanery Synod Toddington parish is part of Dunstable Deanery, and St George’s has two elected representatives on deanery synod: June Barton and Richard Woods, with Richard also serving as deanery treasurer. Rev’d Bernard Minton, team vicar of Linslade in the Ouzel Valley Team serves as Rural Dean. Deanery Synod met three times in 2015 and talks were given by visiting speakers from The Childrens’ Society and The Alzheimers Society. Concerns were raised about increases in population due to the large urban extension north of Houghton Regis and the effect this may have on ministry in the deanery. We reviewed our Deanery MAP and received regular reports from General Synod.
Electoral Roll As at 5th April 2016, we have 82 names on our current Electoral Roll, of whom 6 are non-residents of the Parish. Since the APCM in 2015, 5 names have been added to the Electoral Roll and 6 names have been removed. Lynne Sheriffs, Electoral Roll Officer, April 2016.
Wilkinson Church Hall In 2015, with the help and commitment of PCC member Patricia Keymer, the hall has, for the first time since it was built 20 years ago, earned enough income to be self-supporting and has provided a small excess to support the Church’s ministry. It is to Patricia’s credit that she has managed the bookings and attracted new hall users so successfully. She is diligent in ensuring all bookings are invoiced and receipts given on payment, and she has gained a reputation for being helpful and efficient. The hall is in need of some decorating now, and in the coming months we hope to be able to replace rotting window frames, and make repairs to the floor. The electrician has reviewed the heating system, and replaced and repaired some of the lighting both inside and outside, and the fire extinguishers have been serviced. Helen Steadman continues to clean once a week during term time. The hall is a great resource for our mission and outreach as well as providing an income, and the PCC is committed to ensuring it is maintained to a high standard.
Financial Review St George’s struggles to meet its parish share payments and continues to owe a substantial amount of money to the diocese to meet the costs of ministry. This state of affairs is of great concern and anxiety to the PCC and to the congregations. There was a slight increase in income over the year, but a relative increase in expenses cancelled out any real benefit, and we received no significant bequests or donations this year. A gift aid refund of just over £4,000 was applied for and received, but not in time to appear in the end of year accounts. A new gift aid officer has been appointed and gift aid refunds will now be applied for regularly throughout the year. A £4000 refund was applied for in 2015, and is included in the end of year accounts.
It is PCC policy to carry in reserve enough money to pay the bills and expenses for one full year. With quinquennial repairs to be addressed in the coming year, plus urgent and expensive work needed to the organ electrics and the console, we feel it is important to have some cash in reserve to meet unexpected and unforeseen expenditure, especially as we are custodians of a Grade1 listed building which is almost 900 years old and requires constant maintenance. The Wilkinson Church Hall is now earning enough money to self-fund and pay for its own maintenance and running costs, and so is no longer a drain on church finances.
When planning our activities for the year the PCC have considered the Charity Commission guidance on public benefit and in particular the specific guidance on charities working for the advancement of religion; this is our ethos: as Christians we are called to take the love of God out in to the world around us, to do good and to love our neighbours as ourselves, telling others about Jesus Christ through all that we do and say. The PCCs role is to enable the whole Church to engage in this ministry.
Nicola Brown has been the PCC’s treasurer since July 2014, but is standing down at the APCM to devote more time to work and family. We thank Nicola for her contribution to the work of the PCC over the last two years.
Administrative Information St George of England Parish Church is situated on Station Road, Toddington. Correspondence address is c/o The Rectory, 41, Leighton Road, Toddington. LU5 6AL. It is part of the Diocese of St Albans, and is a parish contained within the deanery of Dunstable. The PCC is a body corporate (PCC Powers Measure 1956, Church Representation Rules 2006) and charity currently excepted from registering with the Charities Commission.
PCC members in 2015: Rev’d Anne Crawford (Chair)
Mrs Connie Frost-Bryant (Churchwarden and PCC secretary)
Mrs Nicola Brown (treasurer)
Mrs Lynne Sheriffs (electoral roll officer)
Mrs Patricia Keymer (Hall administrator)
Mrs June Barton (benefice wedding administrator and synod rep)
Mrs Glenis Turner (sacristan and verger)
Mr Richard Wood (synod rep and Christian Aid co-ordinator)
Mr Mark Williams (organist and website manager). Resigned April 2015
The PCC holds meetings in January, March, May, July, September and November with extra meetings convened as necessary. The method of appointment of PCC members is set out in the Church Representation Rules.
PCC Secretary’s Report for 2015 In 2015 the membership of the PCC remained fairly stable, with one member (Mark Williams) resigning. Again much of the business of the PCC has been taken up with church fabric issues as the organ electrics continue to fail, and the repairs to the south aisle identified by the quinquennial report become ever more pressing. It has been however pleasing to see that the north porch roof replacement is now complete following the faculty application process and that the south aisle works now have full funding committed from the Friends. The rest of the business has largely been taken up with ongoing issues relating to the lack of resources both ‘people’ (especially the lack of two fully committed churchwardens) and financial. The church still struggles to meet its parish share from congregational giving, but has now taken the positive step of setting up a monthly standing order payment to the diocese, meaning that a proportion of the share owed is paid on a regular basis. Connie Frost-Bryant April 2016
Churchwarden’s Report for 2015 This has been my first year as Churchwarden and my first task was to set about filing and reorganising paperwork which had not been ordered in the absence of a Churchwarden. This was completed with the addition of new folders and plastic wallets to make finding documentation for the annual inspection a much easier task.
There were several annual maintenance tasks outstanding and these were completed thanks to the help of Glenis Turner who was on hand when the various contractors carried out their work.
The next challenges centred around the building repair works that were required to replace the stolen lead on the north porch roof with anodized steel and to progress the south aisle works identified as critical in Quinquennial Report prepared this year by our architect Michael Dales. Both needed faculty applications which I helped to prepare and while the roof was funded by the insurance, the south aisle works needed to be grant funded. In the summer, I and other PCC colleagues had a very productive meeting with ‘The Friends of Toddington Parish Church’ and it was agreed that they would fully fund the works and leave another portion of funding in reserve for the organ works, providing funds set aside for the south aisle works proved sufficient.
It has been particularly good to have David Owen the new organist in church this year. His excellent playing has really enhanced the Sunday services after a period where we lacked accompaniment for singing.
I would particularly like to thank the band of people who undertake many of the practical tasks that need doing e.g. washing the linen, counting the collection money, locking and unlocking church and general maintenance to keep the church running. Without them my limited administrative contribution as Churchwarden would not nearly be sufficient to keep the church running smoothly. I would also like to thank our readers, intercessor, sidesmen and chalice assistants; without all these people our worship would not unfold as smoothly as it does. They are all equally important in their individual ways. Special thanks also go to Richard Wood for organising the reading and sidesman’s rotas so everyone knows what their role is on any given week.
While we move into another church year with faith and hope, unfortunately I will be stepping down from the post of Churchwarden due to increasing work commitments. I feel proud that I have atleast tried to help deliver some of the tasks of a churchwarden and am grateful that I have been able to work with people who are so generous with their time. Connie Frost-Bryant April 2016
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