Annual Report 2022

THE PARISH OF 
HOLY TRINITY MINCHINHAMPTON
with
ST BARNABAS BOX

ANNUAL REPORTS 
FROM 
CHURCH COMMITTEES
AND 
ORGANISATIONS
MAY 2021 – APRIL 2022



RECTOR’S REPORT – Revd Canon Howard Gilbert

In the last 12 months we have been emerging (slowly and not very steadily) from Lockdown and the impacts of Covid 19.  Time and space were given to us and we reflected on what the church is for, and on what opportunities we need to be taking.  

Before that, however, I set us some informal targets for last year:

Paying our full parish share has been a priority, and we saw another excellent response to our planned giving Sunday.  However, despite the remarkable generosity of our congregation, we have seen a number of our donors die or move away, and this means that (like many other churches) we will be significantly short of the parish share we have been asked for next year.  We will share more information in due course, but it is increasingly clear that our existing congregation cannot support our financial outgoings, and that we must work hard on mission and church growth, as well as creative financial solutions.

Encouraging younger people to worship with us is never going to a quick fix, but we have seen some younger people join us in worship, not least through Junior Church and Junior Choir.

Renewing our liturgy and worship has been held back by Covid, but we are in the process of putting back the best bits of what has been, and thinking about how to make it better.  In particular, the Lady Chapel is now back in action (in a new shape), and we are reintroducing incense and the use of the high altar.

We have an excellent pastoral care team, and our clergy are in the process of developing our pastoral visiting.  Please do invite the Rector (or other clergy) for a cup of tea and a chat.

Developing our spirituality has been a key part of lockdown for our church, and this year we ran our parish retreat again.  One thing I would like to develop in our church in the coming year is our prayer life – watch this space!

Engaging in mission to our community has seen great opportunities that we have tried to grasp with both hands.  Now we have taken on the Youth Club and Hub, we have opened a community gym, and with MBC are running three youth clubs.  We are also now looking into opening a number of sports clubs in the sports hall, around the existing users.

Opening up our church building to the community continues to go well.  Warwick continues to put on wonderful concerts, events like Experience Christmas and Easter have been powerful ways to engage with all ages at Minchinhampton Primary Academy, and we are seeing a return of concert bookings as well as new regular users booking into the church and the porch room.

In the last year we have seen significant developments in our staff team, including Coral (our curate), Tracey (on long term pastoral placement from theological college), and Darren (the verger) who is also developing his ministry with us.  We are welcoming into our ministry a number of new retired clergy, and we also saw the retirement (to retired (PTO) status) of Sandy after many years of huge commitment to this parish.

Looking to the coming year, we will be hoping to:
Develop our vision as a church, so we all buy into and commit to bringing in God’s Kingdom together.
Develop our work at the Hub (former youth club and hub).  We are anticipating that the community will take a bigger role in this, and that the gym will really flourish.
Continue with our 6Ps fundraising campaign, now focusing on our organ and windows.
Develop our working relationship with the rest of the benefice, Churches Together in Minchinhampton, and also with our neighbouring churches in Avening and Cherington, bringing more blessings upon each other as we work as a team.

So, looking to the future, we continue to live through interesting times.  It is increasingly clear that we have arrived at a watershed moment for the Church of England, and that things will never be the same again.  Before too much longer the Church of England is likely to see significant structural change and many of our smaller rural churches will be closing in big numbers.  Our church is beginning to feel like God is leading us towards the path that lies ahead, and we trust that as we see what God is doing around us and we join in, we will see times of renewal and growth in Minchinhampton, though maybe in ways that we would not have foreseen, even last year.

The Revd Canon Howard Gilbert
Rector 

STATUTORY REPORTS

ELECTORAL ROLL – Jackie Natt, Electoral Roll Officer

The Church Electoral Roll is our parish church’s register of electors. It is the list of those qualified to attend and vote at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM).
The APCM is where the elections take place for the PCC (Parochial Church Council) and the parish’s representatives on the Deanery Synod. By enrolling, you become a voting member of the Church of England and so help ensure that all the church councils are fully representative of its members.

The Electoral Roll has to be displayed once a year just before the APCM and it has been on the church notice board for the past 2 weeks. 
We take GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) very seriously and the only people with access to the ER are myself (as ER officer) and the clergy.

Our numbers on the Electoral Roll have reduced again over the past year  due to deaths and those moving away and we have only had a very few join.

We are now at a total of 217 people. If you are not on the ER and would like to be a member, please use the application form at the back of the porch room. Once completed, the forms can be left in my pigeon hole in church under ‘N’. 
Thank you.

PAROCHIAL CHURCH COUNCIL – Margaret Sheather, Honorary Secretary 

At the APCM Angie Ayling was re-elected as Churchwarden and was joined by Caroline Thackray.  Judith Cleever and Helen Kay were elected as new members of the PCC but unfortunately personal circumstances meant that Helen Kay resigned in June 2021.  At its first full meeting the PCC co-opted Charlotte (Lottie) Roberts and John Jutsum was co-opted to continue as Honorary Treasurer. Margaret Sheather and Jackie Natt continued as Honorary Secretary and Electoral Roll Officer respectively.

There were four members of Deanery Synod.  The Synod brings together all the clergy and representatives of the laity from across the Stroud area.  It provides a forum for sharing ideas (or problems!), hearing about developments across the diocese and is a channel of communication through from the parishes to the leadership of the diocese.  It elects representatives onto the Diocesan Synod and onto the General Synod.  Following the resignation of Jamie Dalrymple-Hamilton, Alison Wood was elected at the APCM to join Jackie Natt, Julian Elloway, and Margaret Sheather as our representatives.

The Parochial Church Council has met nine times during the past year with all meetings this year able to be held in person. It has a total membership of 16, of whom 9 are ex officio (clergy, reader, wardens and deanery synod representatives).  Average attendance was 12.

Ministry in the Parish was carried out by Revd Canon Howard Gilbert as Rector and, from July 2021, Revd Coral Francis as curate.  Linda Jarvis has continued as Reader. They were also supported by a number of retired priests.

PCC meetings covered a wide variety of issues which were thoroughly discussed. 
•   Continuing to adapt our worship arrangements in response to the level of Covid restrictions in place at each stage
•   The further development of the Vision, which was then shared more widely at Vision Days in November and March.
•   The various significant development of the Minchinhampton Community Hub
•   Approval of a Dignity and Respect Policy to ensure we work and relate well to each other
•   Agreement to go ahead with an appeal for funding the necessary work on the organ and two large windows
•   A range of fabric matters, including improvement to our liver-streaming arrangements for which a faculty has been submitted.  Linked to this a Privacy Policy and Live-Streaming Policy have both been approved to meet our obligations under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
•   Completion of the work on Vestry Cottage
•   Development of relationships with Avening and Cherington parishes
•   Proposals for the creation of a “Friends of Minchinhampton Church” organisation which can draw on the wider community to support the costs and activity required to maintain our building and churchyard.

The Treasurer provided quarterly finance reports and at the meeting held on 23rd March he presented the year end accounts which were agreed.  Regular reports were also made on safeguarding and Deanery Synod.

Warm thanks are due to Simon Ritter whose term of office ends this year.

Further detail of the parish’s activities can be found in the reports from Committees and Organisations later in this report.

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS – John Jutsum, Honorary Treasurer

These are provided in a separate report.

FABRIC REPORT –Angie Ayling and Caroline Thackray, Church Wardens

6Ps progress

Organ recital and presentations to our 6Ps Royal Patron, Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral, Sir Tim Laurence attended a concert and presentations at Holy Trinity Church in July 2021 to celebrate the final completion of the first phase of 6Ps restoration work and to anticipate the next planned phase. 
Although we were still operating under strict covid procedures, this was a joyous occasion and a wonderful celebration and recognition of the 6Ps achievements to date. The progress of events was fully described in a presentation by Mandy Jutsum, former Church Warden. Revd. Canon Howard Gilbert followed with a presentation on the condition and conservation needs of the stained glass windows, and Warwick Cole, Director of Music, gave a fascinating presentation about the historic church organ. 

Looking ahead. The organ and stained glass windows will be the focus of the next phase of 6Ps work on the fabric.
Current focus is on the urgent need for repair of our historic organ A small project group has been set up, chaired by Leonora Rozee, to concentrate on fundraising, and a scheme has been approved to restore the organ to its Victorian character, as conceived by the original builders (Nicholson and Lord, 1887). The faculty process is well advanced, and an outcome expected soon. 

Existing fund-raising includes valued donations from a number of sources (concerts, parish breakfasts, coffees, donations and gift aid). A ‘Sponsor a pipe’ scheme has already raised over £6,000. Total funds available to date, including those carried forward from existing funds amount to £70,163. Approximately £205k is required to be raised for the project. Grants are being vigorously sought by the organ group, with some pledges already made; others are hoped will follow. To help in grant applications both for the organ and in the windows project, a simple questionnaire was devised to assess community value. 

Progress on the project is good, but there is still a long way to go to achieve our goal. Please contact Leonora or one of the Church Wardens if you are able to help. 
The large stained glass window above the high altar in the Chancel and the rose window in the south transept are also19th-century in origin (Hardman & Co, Birmingham, 1869 and 1873), and a high priority for repair. An initial assessment by specialist conservator, Dan Humphries, was received in May 2021. A further, detailed inspection was completed in February 2022; a report is awaited. This will inform discussion with the quinquennial architect, specialist conservator, and advisory bodies to view options and begin a process of planning and prioritising future window restoration work.   

Other fabric matters

New drainage provision north of exterior wall of Chancel – A worsening problem of damp penetration in the Chancel, damaging the floor tiles and wall plaster and deriving from a drainage issue outside the north wall was addressed through a project in March/April 2021. As required by the Faculty, an archaeologist evaluated the site. In the process he discovered and carefully recorded and removed a number of historic burials. New drainage provision was designed by the architect and provided by the building contractor, Nick Miles. The interior Chancel wall was re-plastered and once dried out, repainted. Floor tiles were replaced. All was completed and tidy in time for the royal visit in July. The project was largely funded through a Covid Recovery grant (Historic England).

The human bones from the excavated burials were scientifically assessed and analysed and are fully described in the project report. They have recently been returned to the church and will be respectfully re-buried in the churchyard with a blessing from the rector. 

The Porch Room kitchen – Repairs took place to the windows in June/July (Nick Miles, builders). The masonry lintel above the windows was repaired to prevent damage from water leaks, rust was removed and once the plaster had dried out, redecoration took place. All was complete in time for the kitchens to re-open in July after the end of the first covid ‘lock-down'. 

Result of nave ceiling inspection last March – Following a close inspection in March 2021, the architect’s report indicated that the cracks that had been identified previously did not need urgent attention, but he recommended ongoing monitoring. The state of the cracks will be reviewed at the next Quinquennial later this year, 2022.

Live streaming & GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) – During March 2021, in common with many other churches, we identified a need for improved live streaming of services, concerts and other events. A project was developed and a quotation approved with the contractor, DM Music, to provide fixed cameras, more microphones and an extended console box from which to operate them. A full faculty petition was submitted by the previous Church Wardens in April 2021. The progress of this faculty has been delayed for many months, along with similar applications from other churches in the diocese, pending specific diocesan guidance on live streaming. This was finally received from the Registrar towards the end of January 2022, with a requirement that we provide a ‘live-streaming policy’ and a ‘privacy policy’ that accord with the Chancellor’s new guidance. Preparation of these is now well advanced and will be complete by the end of March and duly submitted both to the Chancellor and to our generous private donor who is kindly funding the project. 

Vestry Cottage – Repairs to Vestry Cottage took place from April 2021. This was a joint project undertaken by the PCC (lessees) and the Parish Council (owners) with shared costs and responsibilities. The purpose was to restore it to good order and enable a new lease and occupation by our own tenant, the Verger and his family. A good deal of repair was needed, and some delays and unforeseen expense incurred, but the project finally ended satisfactorily in September, when the new lease and occupancy were successfully achieved. 

The Churchyard – Special efforts were made during Spring/Summer to enforce churchyard regulations to keep the graves tidy and safe. Health and safety was a particular concern where an increase in inappropriate items (eg. glass containers and hard kerbing) were posing problems for mowing. This now appears to be working better, and the guidance is now clearly displayed on our church website. The churchyard is currently looking lovely with the Spring bulbs providing a wonderful, naturalised show. We would encourage more!

The lime avenue is due for pollarding, but funding was not available for this year. Their condition was checked by a professional tree consultant from ‘Five Valleys Arbor’ in January 2022. He advised that they could safely be left until the autumn/winter of 2022-23. 

Some damage to the west churchyard wall has been assessed by a stone wall specialist, a quotation and funding agreed, and the work is due to take place in April.
We are continuing to hold twice-yearly Spring and Autumn ‘Churchyard tidying’ days. These are popular, with willing volunteers invited to come and join in efforts to prune shrubs, remove damaging ivy and weeds, tidy paths and clear encroaching vegetation and mosses from drains and gullies. Shared mid-morning refreshments and opportunities for a good chat make this a particularly enjoyable day, and there is a satisfying end product in a visibly tidier churchyard. If you have already been part of the ‘team’ for this – thank you so much, and if not – please come and join us next time!

Fabric committee – This committee was re-established in July 2021 with partial new membership. It has already been a great help as a specialist advisory group, and is a continuing support to us in caring for the church fabric. We are very grateful for its work.

DEANERY SYNOD – Synod Representatives

Stroud Deanery Synod continued to meet three times a year in May, October and February. The May meeting via Zoom was notably better attended that normal in-person meetings and with a well-focused discussion. We rejoiced in the appointment of Linda Jarvis as Sub Warden of Readers for Stroud Deanery.

The Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ project has been a constant during the year. Back in May 2021 it was intended that our own benefice would run one of the courses, but this never happened. We were able to participate instead in the deanery’s own version of the course in Cainscross in January and February 2022. This was led by Margaret Sheather; two other members of our congregation (and one former Rector!) were among the participants.

Throughout the period, finance and the parish share continued to be a subject of concern. In May 2021 the shortfall in parish share contributions for the 2021 calendar year was predicted to be over £160K; in fact the shortfall at the end of the year was ‘only’ £130K. However, commitments made by parishes at the time of writing suggest that the 2022 shortfall could be nearly £175K

Each meeting also included contributions towards the deanery’s strategic plan, and specifically what the church in our deanery is going to look like in five years’ time. Agendas, minutes and supporting documents are publicly available at http://www.stroud-deanery.org.uk/docs.html . The current Deanery Synod representatives are Julian Elloway, Alison Wood, Jackie Natt and Margaret Sheather.

COMMITTEE AND ORGANISATION REPORTS

ST BARNABAS CHURCH, BOX – Colin French

Covid continued to affect us during the year but gradually it has had a lessening influence as the year progressed.    The church has remained open during each day for passing visitors and for private prayer. We continue to be grateful to Sarah Moseley and her volunteers who keep the church decorated with flowers throughout the year. It is a joy to visit and we receive many compliments from visitors.  At present the outside area is a feast of daffodils due mainly to the efforts of Jacquie and Berris Hanks, who also ensure that the church is opened each day.  The sale of donated plants and preserves from a small stall outside of the church continues to generate money to support the fabric of the building.

The congregation on Sunday remains relatively small  in numbers, usually about a dozen.  However, holidays, illness and family visits can reduce this number. It is sad that few of our congregation actually are current residents within the village. When we have a pianist available we have re-introduced hymns and sometimes when we are feeling brave we sign unaccompanied!  Nevertheless we continue to search for a volunteer who would play for us once a month for our 9 o'clock service.    

WORSHIP, PRAYER AND SPIRITUALITY COMMITTEE – Margaret Sheather, Chair

With worship starting to return to something closer to its former patter, the Committee met in June and September 2021 and January and March 2022.  Each meeting addressed how we wanted to move back towards familiar patterns of worship but also took the opportunity of the Covid interruption to consider what changes would be appropriate.  During the year a regular Prayer Group has been established and the Lady Chapel has been re-arranged and stocked with material to support private prayer.
We have been fortunate that throughout the period of the pandemic and emergence from it the flexibility of the church layout has enabled worship to be safely maintained from the earliest possible date.

STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE – Tim Mowat, Chair

The following were the members of the Stewardship Committee: Tim Mowat (Chairman), the Rev’d Canon Howard Gilbert (Rector), Peter Lapping, John Jutsum (PCC Treasurer), Angie Ayling (Churchwarden).
In 2021 stewardship receipts were below forecast by £ 3,063.00.
 Our 2022 forecast returns (figures for 2021 in brackets) are:
Number of regular contributors       - 145                (163)
Total pledged incl. Gift Aid                 - £110,970      (£122,583), 

We are very grateful to existing donors who generously increased their donations. These increases did not make up for the reducing number of donors unfortunately.
For 2022 we hope to raise the profile of Stewardship further during a campaign in the Autumn. We hope to increase the number committed to the Parish Giving Scheme. I hope that we can promote a Legacy appeal to our congregation too.

On behalf of the Stewardship Committee, Tim would like to thank all who have supported the churches over the past year, not only with their money but also their time and talents. The committee members are grateful to you all. 

We hope to see support for our living church increase in 2022/3.

PASTORAL CARE TEAM (PCT) – Linda Jarvis, Co-ordinator

Another strange year but as soon as we were allowed back into each other’s homes, members of the PCT began cautiously visiting once again. We also resumed taking communion to both Cecily Court and Horsfall house, but on several occasions Horsfall house had to cancel the visit at the last minute due to a Covid outbreak.  

The PCT met twice in the year, the first to reconnect after lockdown and at the second meeting Jo Smith came to talk to us about Alzheimer’s and how it can affect people.
In 2021, Jo Smith, Louise Thomas, Roy Wilson and John Walden decided that it was time to leave the PCT and I thank them for all of their hard work over the years, however I am pleased to report that Sylvie Thomas has now joined the team increasing our number to fourteen.

Howard and Linda would like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the Pastoral Care Team for their continued and much appreciated support, especially in these unusual times.
For your information here is a list of all those who are currently DBS checked and who are on the PCT.
Paul Boon                     Judy Lucas (Box)             Margaret Sheather              
Mick Evans                   Jackie Natt                       Sylvie Thomas
Sandy Emery                Gill Price                          Alison Whitaker                              
Christine Gibson         Lynne Swift                      Jane Walden
Linda Jarvis                  Cheryl Ritter                    

Please phone Linda Jarvis on 01453 884545, if you know of anyone who would welcome a visit. 

HOSPITALITY AND SOCIAL EVENTS COMMITTEE – Mary Codling, Chair

The Hospitality group has partially resumed its activities since the summer. Sadly the numbers have decreased by four due to relocation, health and (hopefully) temporary absence from the area.

The belated celebration of Sandy’s time with us and Coral’s induction, the latter achieved by serving wine from trolleys wheeled around the Church, were a sign that events would be able to take place again.

Wine and Canapés were provided for the Flower Festival Preview evening with coffee, tea and cake provided over the weekend of viewing.

The usual pre - Christmas events went ahead but refreshments were not provided at all events because of the renewed Covid threat. 

Soup and rolls were served at Vision Sunday 1 and at the Wedding Day preparation course.

We look forward to next year’s activities especially as three extra members have been recruited to the group. If anyone would care to join the team they would be very welcome.

SAFEGUARDING – Deborah Smith, Safeguarding Officer

During the last year the PCC have been sent links to required Safeguarding courses which most of them have now completed.

The main safeguarding issue that has arisen in the last year is the launch of the youth club, so obviously those who help with their activities need to have an enhanced DBS check. I met up with the safeguarding team from the Baptist church and it was decided that volunteers from the Baptists would have their DBS checks done by MBC and I would do the checks on volunteers from the church. Danny Brown, Associate Minister of MBC, will liaise with me about any new volunteers. The gym is the responsibility of the diocese.

I have looked at groups within the church and the leaders have had a DBS check where appropriate. These include the tower captain and assistant, because they train young bellringers, junior choir and music group. The pastoral care group only needs checks if individuals are visiting vulnerable adults weekly. Anyone involved with children in church activities needs to have an enhanced check, although Messy Church is attended by children who must come with an adult, so although most of the helpers have had a check for other roles we don’t have to check all of them.

I realised that other churches have more than one person in the safeguarding role so I have got a volunteer to work alongside me and we will sort out our respective roles over the next month or so. Although the DBS checks are essential they will only pick up people with a record. It is more important that everyone is aware of warning signs of inappropriate behaviour and is aware of good practice, as much to protect themselves as any children or vulnerable adults they may come into contact with. With this in mind I will from time to time circulate the courses that are available on line from the diocese.

MUSIC – Warwick Cole, Director of Music

Although Covid has continued to cast a shadow over the musical life of the church, there is much good news to report. Existing activities have been renewed and new ventures have been inaugurated.

The choir has continued to contribute to worship on a weekly basis and has developed both in terms of the numbers and technical level of the singing. It is pleasing to note, too, that the monthly choral evensong has been well attended. Every month, too, the music group has contributed to the All-Age services on the first Sunday in the month supporting the newly reinvigorated children’s choir. The participation of a couple of junior instrumental members is a particularly encouraging sign.

Elsewhere we have been enjoying supportive audiences at the monthly Tea-Time Concerts which have been raising money for the organ restoration appeal. Our YouTube channel Music at Minch now has well over two hundred subscribers and continues to attract viewers from across the globe. And over the August bank holiday, we mounted our first Minch Fest - a celebration of music in the liturgy aimed at encouraging young singers to experience sacred repertoire which they would otherwise be unavailable to them. Plans are currently underway for another Festival later in the year.

BELLRINGING – Angie Ayling, Tower Captain

After 15 months of ‘online ringing’, we resumed ringing the actual bells as early as we possibly could following the opening up after ‘lockdown’ on June 21st: we had to set to and practise, as we needed to be sufficiently accomplished to ring a quarter peal for the 70th birthday of our Ringing Master, Tony Natt, on June 26th. 

We currently have a band of just 8 regular ringers, one of whom has been ringing for only about 6 months and is a valuable addition to the team.  Progress made in ‘method ringing’ during lockdown has transferred in part to ringing the real bells and we have benefited greatly from one of our ringers no longer travelling regularly to China for work but being available for weekly practices. Our youngest ringer, Denzil, has been ringing also with the local youth band, which has given him the opportunity to ring with people his own age.

We were pleased to ring a quarter peal in October for the golden wedding of Mr and Mrs Hurst, for which they had bid at the Auction of Promises in December 2019! (We were one year late, due to not being able to ring in 2021.)

We continue to be keen to welcome new or returning ringers to the team – full instruction is available.

FLOWER GUILD – Kathy Hurst, Co-ordinator

During the Church year we have provided flowers for Easter, Harvest Festival, Remembrance and Christmas.  We also helped with Experience Christmas.

We supplied flowers for 2 weddings but the income from this only amounted to £71 – mainly due to the rising cost of the flowers.  We also raised £125 from the flowers we supplied at funerals.  This year there are 9 weddings booked in Church so far, so we are hoping to achieve some revenue from these.

We held a successful exhibition in Church during September entitled “Art & Flowers”.  However it was very hard work for everyone but we have achieved enough revenue to help us through the next year.  We must thank David Homer for helping with locating and putting up all the display boards.

Hilary Bellhouse has kindly offered to share proceeds of her Yoga classes held in Church with 50% being donated to the Flower Guild.  Thank you very much Hilary.
We hope to organise a special display of flowers for the Queen’s Jubilee taking place at the beginning of June.

Our next event is on Friday the 8th July when we will be holding a Coffee Morning with a raffle and stalls.  This will be held at Little Acre – Mandy & John Jutsum’s lovely garden on The Park.  We hope you will all come along.

Finally, a big thank you to all the Flower Guild Ladies for their wonderful displays and their willingness to help.

SACRISTANS – Alison Whitaker (Senior Sacristan)

During the last two years I have prepared everything for our altars and still continue to do so to keep everyone safe. I’m pleased to say at Sunday 8am, Tim Mowat, Paul Boon and Mick Evans have resumed being Servers. Christina Gooch serves at BCP Wednesday 11am. Virginia & Geoff Lloyd and Marilyn Browning help with Sunday 10am services, also to thank Darren too. 

I am very grateful to all of them for their help and support and would welcome anyone who would like to be a Sacristan.

WELCOME STEWARDS (Sidespeople) – Caroline Thackray and Angie Ayling

Our teams of Welcome stewards have once more given us wonderful support and goodwill in another rather difficult few months following ‘opening up’ in July.  With the effects of the coronavirus still very apparent and on occasion very restrictive, the stewards have continued to be flexible and ‘upbeat’, responding to changes without fuss and continuing to offer a warm welcome at 8.00am and 10.00am services and special services throughout the year. Since July 2021, as we have begun to emerge a little more confidently from the pandemic, the rotas and the routines that we follow have had to alter and adapt to new circumstances. 

For 8.00am …..  Particular thanks are due, once more, to Paul Boon, who has valiantly continued in the role of co-ordinator of this rota and general ‘’overseer’! He is supported by a team of two people each week, who perform a number of varied duties to assist in preparing the church for worship, ensuring that readers are in place, organising service sheets and  the collection plate and ‘meeting and greeting’ those who attend. The current team includes Darren and Tracey Clements, Diana Farn, Alison Whitaker, Paul and Rosemary Boon, Martin Dence, David White, Alison Weller and Gerry Robbins. 

We extend our thanks to you all. Particular thanks are given here to Roy Wilson, who has recently stepped back from being a welcome steward after many years of active support at 8.00am services. Martin Dence has kindly taken Roy’s place – thank you both very much! 

At the 10.00am service, we regularly have a team of two welcome stewards each week, normally supported by at least one Church Warden. Darren, our Verger, is normally there to help and support, too. Welcoming duties remain much the same, with the essential difference that the Eucharist is no longer carried forward and the offertory plate is not handed round, but remains on the table by the font for contributions, and is taken into the sacristy after the service. Our team this year has included some former welcome stewards – Sylvia Thomas and David Thackray, Judith and John Cleever, Kathleen and Mike Gwilliam, and Pauline Brayne and Jackie Natt. Rachel Cole, Eleanor Woolfenden, and Julie Britton have all joined us as new members of the team. We are very grateful to you all and take this opportunity to thank you - hoping, too, that you will please continue with us into the year ahead. There may be one or two new volunteers to join you – we are always keen to find extra support, even if only to fill temporary gaps during holidays or weekends ‘off’! 

Whether you are new to the congregation, or an ‘old hand’, it’s a great way to meet people and for us all to feel comfortable together. Please do speak to one of the team or a Church Warden if you would like to become a welcome steward. Even if you are not able to help regularly in this way, we’d like to think that we nurture a ‘culture ‘of welcome in our church – and for that, we can all help! 

A very heartfelt thanks to all of the ‘welcome team’ - and to those who occasionally step in at little or no notice to fill an unexpected gap - for carrying out this valuable role and for extending a welcoming hand to all our visitors and regular attenders on all occasions. Optimistically, we look forward to a good year ahead. Thank you all!

WORK WITH CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE – Revd Coral Francis

Although we don’t see lots of children attending our Sunday services, there are a variety of ways that the church is interacting with local children and families.  Some of these are obviously ‘church’ events and others less so, yet they all have a Christian presence.  
•   Junior Church.  Since January our Junior Church have been divided into three groups.  The pre-school and early primary years (up to 6yrs) meet in the Porch Room, as before, mostly following the lectionary readings for their story and activities.  The 7-11year olds meet with the Minchinhampton Baptist Church (MBC) children in the Hub or in the MBC church offices and then come back to church in time for the Eucharist.  The Sunday that I helped out, I noticed that the children who met with the MBC children really benefitted from doing so, as they were able to engage with others from a similar age, so could play more games and have age-appropriate teaching and engagement.  It also means that those staying in the Porch Room can have more age-appropriate teaching too.
•   Junior Choir meets on Friday evenings from 5-6.30pm.  There are a growing number of children who meet for singing as well as games and refreshments.  They have taken part in a number of All Age Worship services and even helped to lead the singing at Messy Church (with actions!).
•   School Work. 

   Collective Worship.  Minchinhampton Primary School has a church-led collective worship (or assembly) each week.  Twice a month they are led by Danny and Steve at MBC and twice a month by Howard and I.  Since October, due to Covid, the school have decided not to have the whole school in the hall at the same time, so we have two assemblies one after the other – first the older half of the school and then the younger half.  Although we tend to give the same talk twice, it does mean that we can tailor the talk and questions a little more according to the age of the children, so that they can engage more with the topic.  This term the school chose the topic of ‘courage’.  

   Experience Christmas.  In previous years school year 5 and 6 have come into church during the last week of term before the Christmas holidays to ‘experience’ Christmas.  This year the teaching staff asked if the whole school could come in to take part in the experience.  Howard and I took them round the displays, one or two classes at a time throughout that week and really appreciated the way that all the children engaged with what they saw.  The questions that the children asked showed that they were genuinely reflecting on the Christmas story.  And the nursery even came into church that week to have a look at one or two displays.  As I write this, we are making plans for ‘Experience Easter’ in a similar vein and reflecting on what other ‘experiences’ we can engage in with the children in future.  

   School visits.  Howard and I were able to accompany the year 5 and 6 children recently as they came to visit our church.  They had been learning about how churches and cathedrals had been built ‘to the glory of God’ and wanted to explore how the church shows that God is holy and loving.  It was good to be able to reinforce some of what they had learned in class with some actual examples around the church.

•   Messy Church.  In the past we have put on a Messy Church event once a term and MBC have done the same.  In November we started working with MBC to put on a joint Messy Church.  Our November theme was Remembrance, December was Christingle and February was Courage (the school value for the term).  We have had 30-60 children and their parents engaging with Messy Church and many of them staying for tea afterwards.  We have seen a really good interaction between church members and those Messy Church families and a good partnership with MBC members and our church members.  We have had 10-15 helpers, which is great.  But we would welcome more.  If anyone feels able to help, even if it is not on a regular basis, do please speak to me or Deborah Smith.  
•   Youth group.  This is a group of mostly 14-18 olds who meet in the Porch Room for discussions.  There are up to 7 of them, who meet fortnightly on Tuesday evenings.  

At the Hub and Youth Centre
•   Minchkins.  This is a mother and toddler group meeting in the Hub on Tuesday mornings.  It was set up to provide support and services for parents of pre-schoolers.  It is not specifically a church event, but there are church members who help out.
•   Kids Club.  This is a new club, that was set up in November, and meets on a Tuesday early evening for 8-10 year olds.  Howard and I help to run it with members of MBC.  There are normally 10-16 children.  They play running around games, do craft and have a story time.  
•   Younger Youth. This is for 10-15 year olds and is the most popular children’s club with 30-40 children coming on a Wednesday evening.  
•   Older Youth.  This is for 15-18 year olds meeting later on a Tuesday evening.  There are not many who meet at the moment, but those that do, really appreciate the chance to socialise together.  

I have found it really exciting to see the connections made between regular church-goers and those who are on the edge of church – especially between school, kids club and Minchkins.  Relationships are being formed, trust is being established and families look forward to coming to church or to the hub for events.  My prayer is that over time these families would continue to be open and grow in their relationship with God.  

TRAIDCRAFT – Deborah Smith

Another year of restricted activity due to Covid has meant that we really didn’t sell a lot of lovely fairly traded goods. However thanks to a few faithful customers and our pre-Christmas Coffee Morning we had an income of £3,241.78 and were able to send £550 from this year’s trading to Traidcraft Exchange. I am always willing to take orders by phone or email and the website is worth looking at as there are frequent Sales. www.traidcraftshop.co.uk 
We intend to resume our regular sales on the first Sunday of the month and hope that circumstances will allow us to have some fund raising events to support this hugely worthwhile charity.

 
           Minchinhampton and Amberley Summary of transactions
       2021   2020   2019   2018   2017
       £   £   £   £   £
Sales of Traidcraft products, raffles, donations and coffee mornings       3241.78   3,823.25   3,597.93   4,997.09   7,113.57
Cost of goods sold = Goods purchased PLUS stock brought forward LESS stock in hand at year end       2867.79   3,461.05   3,287.08   4,377.08   4,993.97
SURPLUS on year's trading       373.99   362.20   310.85   620.01   2,119.60
                       
Add cash and goods brought forward       1112.66   1,250.46   1,439.61   1,619.60   
Less Donation to Traidcraft Exchange                            550.00                        500.00                    500.00                   800.00                   500.00 
Balance carried forward                            936.65                     1,112.66                1,250.46                1,439.61               1,619.60 
                       
Cash Floats                              25.00                           45.00                      45.00                     45.00                   115.00 
Bank balance       711.65   917.66   605.46   794.61   308.96
Approximate value of unsold stock at end of year                            200.00                        150.00                    600.00                   600.00               1,195.64 
                            936.65                     1,112.66                1,250.46                1,439.61               1,619.60 

 

SERVERS – Margaret Sheather, Senior Server

The servers’ role is quietly to support the dignity and the drama of our worship, whether at a routine Sunday Eucharist or one of the major festival services of the church’s year.  We have been very pleased to be able to resume our duties in recent months, even if in a limited form initially in order to maintain social distancing and Covid safety appropriately.

As we return to more “normal” patterns we would be delighted to welcome new members of the group.  No previous experience is necessary as training will be offered and, in any case, we are all re-learning what we used to do!  Do contact me or any member of the serving team if you are interested:  m.sheather@btinternet.com 

MASASI GROUP – Stephen Jarvis

Towards the end of 2021 the Masasi Group started a new initiative, the Friday lunches, in order to fund raise for a bee keeping project at Rondo School. These have been very well supported and will continue in 2022. We are aiming to raise £2000 towards a scheme to site 100 bee hives over the Rondo Plateau, with students at the school being taught the appropriate skills to manage and maintain, the hives. This is in addition to the poultry project started in 2020 to broaden out the students’ knowledge and practical skills, as well as add eggs to their diet.

As part of the fund raising for the bee project we had a very successful sale of Bees-wax lip balm in December. Thank you to everyone who bought our lip balm.

As I write the Lambeth Conference in 2022 is still planned to take place, and there is a hope that Bishop James, and his wife Veronica, will be able to visit Minchinhampton in August 2022. There is a concern over the need to have an appropriate insurance in place to cover their whole stay against any medical emergencies, and depending on this becoming available will determine if the visit can proceed.

The Cornwall Bursary is supporting three students at Rondo, who are doing well in most of their studies, although they all seem to need some help with their Mathematics. 

Thank you to everyone for supporting our friends in Masasi, they really appreciate our link and our support, both in prayer, and in what we have given financially.

MOTHERS UNION/ MINCHINHAMPTON LADIES’ CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP 2021 – Deborah Smith

At the beginning of the year the committee discussed whether we continue as the Mothers Union, ie part of an international sisterhood going back to its founding by Mary Sumner in 1876. We sent a letter to the membership and here is an extract from it: 
“One thing we have been discussing is the possibility of separating our group from the MU umbrella. As a group we feel that we are a thriving and mutually supportive fellowship which, since Julia Gerard re-launched it in 2013 has gone from strength to strength, with around 20 members, although the email list includes another 20 names of people who are interested in keeping up with our activities. If we decide to separate ourselves from Mothers’ Union we would continue in much the same style. We would continue to meet regularly, our meetings would start with a prayer, we would still have interesting speakers – often charities, or people talking about their faith journey – and perhaps most importantly we would still share fellowship and nurture friendships. We would need to form a committee and decide on a new title. There is a bank balance of around £400 mostly due to money brought forward from the old MU account so that should be paid over to the MU – possibly in lieu of this year’s subscriptions. 

Mothers Union worldwide is very active and benefits and supports many people, particularly in African countries as we know. However some of the language used and seeming attitudes do not sit comfortably with more liberal western faith practices. For instance, the ideal of a family as portrayed in some of the prayers and articles in the MU magazine seem to assume a model of the family which is rather archaic, and could even be off putting for potential new members. Also for some the title Mothers Union seems to exclude men and women who for whatever reason have no children. 

We appreciate that some of you have a very long-standing loyalty to the MU and we are concerned that we do nothing to cause division or upset anyone. Please let us know your feelings – if you REPLY ALL everyone will see your opinions. If you prefer to comment privately then simply REPLY. We will then have some sort of ballot before we make a final decision.”

The response was overwhelmingly that we separate from MU. We consulted the membership regarding the name and ‘Fellowship’ seemed the key word so we restarted as:
 Minchinhampton Ladies Christian Fellowship (LCF)

At the start of the year we had very few actual meetings because of the covid restrictions, and several booked speakers had to be postponed. Eventually we met on Wednesday 15th September for a purely social evening when we all contributed things we had done to help us get through lockdown – many crafts that we had had time for, much walking and gardening, and much laughter and joy at being together again. 

A month later we met again to hear Andrew Watton speaking about being a pastor on the streets of Stroud. He was very interesting so we were glad to be able to make a donation to the work of the street pastors.

When Jayne Morriss came in November the Covid infection rate was on the increase again so very few of us turned up to hear her and watch her creating 4 lovely Christmas flower arrangements which were raffled. Our December whist drive was cancelled to keep our members safe for Christmas. Our meetings follow the same pattern they always did – opening with prayers, occasional meditations, speakers from charities – essentially an inclusive Christian Fellowship and we have plenty of interesting speakers lined up for 2022.

PARISH MAGAZINE – Angie Ayling, Editor

11 issues of the magazine have been written, printed and delivered throughout the parish (and beyond) over the past 12 months. Some copies are still emailed – as were very many the previous year, during ‘lockdown’.

Thanks are due to Diana Lapping who organises all the deliveries, to the 40+ people who carry out the delivering to 700 or so houses and to Tim Mowat who sends out the email copies.  Thank you also to Peter Holmes who has just stepped down as Advertising Co-ordinator; a new co-ordinator is still being sought. 
I have, after 4 years, passed on the role of Editor to John Mounsey.  I have enjoyed my time in the role and wish John every success!

CHURCH CLEANING GUILD – Angie Ayling, Church Warden

The hoovering and cleaning of the church has continued to be carried out by a very diligent team of volunteers, and the church wardens are most grateful to all those who have helped out in this regard. We are sorry to have lost a few of the hoovering volunteers but are very grateful to those who have newly stepped up to the role following some requests for assistance in the Parish Magazine.
Cheryl Ritter does a wonderful job cleaning the kitchen and loos and she keeps an eye on the expendable materials, replenishing as necessary; we are enormously grateful for all that she does.