Further to our Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) last Sunday and our PCC meeting last night, I wanted to write to update you all about a number of developments. Firstly, I am very pleased to report that we now have four new members of the PCC – Leanne Turner, Gemma Tocher, Sarah Lavelle and Roxy Jones – and Kate Forrest has been appointed to serve as assistant warden alongside Ian Knight. This a welcome development, however we still have one churchwarden vacancy to serve alongside Lynn Parish (who was re-elected as warden), four PCC vacancies and three vacancies for Deanery Synod. If God might be calling you to stand to serve in one of these ways, do let me or Lynn know.
Secondly, I gave an update at the APCM about our finances for this year and where we expect to end it. Our finances have taken a big hit due to the impact of coronavirus. Wedding, funeral and baptism income has all been down as some services have either not taken place, been postponed or held with very few people able to attend. We have also suffered a drop in our giving on the open plate and through those who pay by envelopes, as some people have not yet been able to return to church. Consequently, we have been projecting a £40,000 deficit this year. The good news is that we have been told we will receive an unrestricted legacy of £25,000 which the PCC has decided, in the circumstances, to use to address our deficit. This, once received, will still leave us with a £15,000 shortfall and we are waiting to hear back a response from the Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee regarding our ability to pay less share in this and future years. So, these remain very challenging times for us a church, and I invite you to pray about this and if you would like to respond financially, then to do so.
Thirdly, I also gave an update at the APCM about our building extension and cark park project. We are still currently waiting to hear back from Warrington Borough Council and the Diocesan Advisory Committee their response to our plans, and I sincerely hope that I will have some more news to share with you shortly. In the meantime, we have a significant funding gap between the anticipated cost of the project and the funds from the sale of our former church hall. The PCC is looking into the possibility of employing a fundraiser on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis and we are also considering inviting the congregation to give an indication of their pledged support for the project sometime early next year. I appreciate that these are not easy times financially for some of us, however the longer we wait to do something, the higher the cost of the project becomes. So again, I invite you to pray about this.
Separate to the APCM, I’m delighted to say that Bishop Paul will be coming to St.Mary’s to conduct a confirmation for two of our members – Jane Hampton and Kathryn Hayward – plus five members of St.James’ on Monday 16 November at 7.00 p.m. Unfortunately, numbers (as ever at present) will have to be restricted to those being confirmed and their friends and families, but please do pray for Jane and Kathryn, and those from St.James’ awaiting this important moment in their lives. Speaking of Jane, I’m also pleased to tell you that the PCC has appointed her to be our interments co-ordinator (alongside her role dealing with weddings) and she will take responsibility for arrangements in our Garden of Remembrance and Cemetery. And speaking of the cemetery, whilst there will be no public ceremony there on Remembrance Sunday this year, we will be having a service in church and one on zoom, starting at the slightly later time of 10.30 am this year, in order to incorporate a period of silence at 11 a.m.
Those of you who have been able to get to church recently will I hope have taken advantage of the opportunity to try out some new sample chairs which the PCC is looking to buy using money we have been given by the Co-op. If you have not yet done so, and are able to, please complete a questionnaire available at the back of church by Sunday 1 November and then the PCC will make a decision at its meeting next month.
Finally, a reminder that our Team telephone befriending scheme (which offers a weekly call to those who are feeling isolated at present) continues to operate. If you would be interested in helping out or know those who might benefit from such a scheme, please do contact Heather Copperwheat, the Administrator, at email@example.com
Take care and stay safe.
Pioneer Team Vicar
P.S. Our annual Team memorial service takes place on Sunday 1 November at 3.00 p.m. on Zoom. We have invited the families of those we have taken services for this past year to join but anyone is welcome. If you would like the zoom link, please let me know