A Note from Reverend Peter


Vicar’s Report
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1.3-6
The theme of this report has to be ‘thanksgiving’. We have so much to be grateful for at St Philip’s and in the community of Kelsall. Apart from anything else, we live in a beautiful part of the world! Reading through the different contributions that make up this report, there are many thanks expressed. In previous years, I have made my own list here but I am aware that there would be a lot of duplication within the report if I did so again. At the Celebration of Church Life we will notice just how many people there are to thank; cast your eye back over the previous pages of this report and you will see thanks and gratitude mentioned a number of times, as well as positive words like ‘encourage’ and ‘welcome’. I want to thank every person who has contributed to this report and, in addition, every single one of you who contributes to the life of the church in whatever way. You all make a larger contribution than you probably realise - and for all those positive contributions I am very grateful.
So, thank you. I thank you on my own behalf and I think of the things that, as St Paul says, fill me with joy. For me, your fellowship – what St Paul calls “your partnership in the gospel” – is paramount. So, the times that are really special are when I am able to talk with you, sit with you, read the Bible with you, pray with you, work alongside you, weep with you and laugh with you. Worshipping with you, Sunday by Sunday, is very important to me; and Bishop Keith commented last April how moving he found our worship. I would like to thank
those who shape our worship; our Readers, Lis, John and Andrew, along with placement student Sue and her successor, Trevor. Your partnership in the gospel is invaluable. I would personally like to thank all our musicians (as mentioned in the report), along with visiting organists, for their support, commitment and creativity in the last year. The problems that we faced last year, after Paul’s sudden sad departure in March, needed us to unite in trust and in love. Music at Easter – last year and, recently, this year – was still greatly appreciated by church members, and the remarkable choir assembled for Christmas was a great tribute to our resilience.
During last year, I waited for the legal process to take its course and only in August did we know for sure that Paul could not return to us as an employee – and by then he had resigned. There was understandable shock and sorrow in the wake of this, and I was reluctant to press forward a process to find a replacement until we had had time to process that grief and to begin the important discernment of our priorities for the future. We were also embarking on the busy season between Harvest and Christmas, when we had a lot of special services to create and to resource. By January I was able to bring a job description for a Leader of Music to the Standing Committee; they suggested revisions which were accepted at the PCC meeting in March. That post is now being advertised and I expect that we will be interviewing in early May. My priority is to find someone who will support the creative development of our worship, to the glory of God, welcoming and encouraging the contributions of the other musicians in our midst.
In the context of worship, the contributions of brass and church cleaners, linen launderers, and flower arrangers are greatly appreciated – and come to the fore at festivals. Barbara Walters, Mary Diggle and, in preparing the communion table, Douglas Walters, have all continued to play significant roles in this regard; many others support them and us in our worship. Thank you.
I would also like to thank personally
those who lead our Growth Groups. Alongside worship, Sunday by Sunday, these groups are the clearest expression of our faith life lived out together. In small groups we can grow in knowledge of God and of one another – enabling us to fulfil both the great commandments. If you are not a member of a Growth Group, I strongly urge you to consider joining one – speak to me or to any of the group leaders about making that happen. If you have never done the ‘Christianity Explored’ course, watch out for the next opportunity to do so.
Growth groups encourage our spiritual growth as individuals but also encourage us to grow together as community. Our Care Group is another important expression of our life as a Christian community and we are trying very hard to notice when people have been unable to attend church, arranging visits and, when appropriate, offering home communions. Thank you to all those engaged in pastoral care in the church, and especially to Norma Nixey for co-ordinating this work. If you would like a home visit, please speak to Norma or to me.
I have challenged the PCC to take seriously the challenge to grow – numerically, spiritually and in service to our community. St Paul says to the church at Philippi, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion”; we recognise that this is ongoing work. There are a number of references in this report to people moving into the parish. I know that Irene Skinner, John Jones and Margaret Durbin have been particularly enjoying visiting newcomers; we can all, at the very least, make Margaret aware of new people on the streets where we live, so that we can extend a welcome to them. We can also, in addition, reflect on the example of St Philip who simply said, “Come and see” (John 1.46). I think this could be a very good motto for 2017-18; we need to be extending this invitation to our neighbours in this community;
come and see.
The PCC is, then,
planning for growth – and it is good to see from Cliff’s report that we have 7 new names on the electoral roll. We are very pleased to have you worshipping with us. I am sure that new members of the church will testify to the importance of the welcome they have received. A critical role that we can all play is supporting the services when we know there will be more ‘visitors’ present; services such as the Memorial Service, Christmas services, the annual Duke of Edinburgh Award service and the SPACE events. Your presence on these occasions makes a real difference – it gives a greater sense of community, of welcome and of the service or event being worthwhile. We have had some real encouragements at the SPACE events – especially at Christingle – and I would like to thank Andy Wisbey and the team for continuing to organise and promote these times of fellowship. They are also times of experiment and discovery and I am sure we still have a lot to learn, which is exciting.
The church growth conference I attended in November emphasised some significant factors, beginning with
prayer. I remain concerned that we don’t often pray together except on a Sunday – but prayer can be a hidden force and I don’t want to underestimate the power of the prayers of St Philip’s members, offered day by day in different ways. So, thank you for your prayers. And, should you feel moved to join us, we are still meeting for prayer, fellowship and breakfast on the first Saturdays of the month, usually in the Church Lounge.
One of the ways in which churches grow is to meet socially and in celebration. Next year, when we celebrate the church’s
150th anniversary, will give us plenty of opportunities for this. A planning group has been meeting to make plans for 2018 and we are already advertising a photographic competition so that we can create our own calendar. We are also linking our 150th anniversary with the exciting re-ordering project for the church building. Geoff Roberts mentions in his report the work that has been done on the church lounge and I would echo his thanks to all the people he mentions. Brian Rischmiller and team have now focused their energy on developing the project for the church. We have come a long way with plans since the annual meeting last year and we are poised to launch an appeal for the funding that will be needed to commence the work. Our current estimate is that work will start in late 2018 or early 2019.
Brian is also part of the finance team – with Norma Nixey and Anne Kershaw – and we are very grateful to them for all their work. As we have reviewed our accounts this year I have been particularly struck by
the increase in our income. For a number of years, income from offertories hovered around £41,000 and as the parish share rose we slipped into deficit. But after a major stewardship campaign and with a determination now that we will review our giving annually, we now see that in 2016 our income from offertories was £56,489. Although we were in deficit again last year, the gap is now closing and, with your responses to Promise Sunday this year, we are now budgeting to break even. I can only say, once again, thank you – and thank God for your commitment.
Whilst I am on this practical note, I would like to thank Heather Leather for continuing to do some of my routine admin and Andrea Edwards for taking over as PCC secretary. We are also hugely indebted to Geoff and Kath Roberts – for Geoff has been carrying the burden of church warden on his own, officially, but with much support from Kath. They also continue to edit the Parish News with increasing creativity and immense patience. Thank you both.
We worship regularly with KMC and have just shared in some meaningful services in Holy Week. We are still wondering whether there are things we could do better together – outreach, particularly, or work with children and young people. In fact, we already work closely with KMC on the Hope Journey project, three workshops a year offered to local schools, and the Holiday Club which, as Jacquie Macaulay mentions, is a true highlight of the year. I was so glad to be back in 2016, having missed the 2015 Holiday Club! The 2017 club is booked for 26-30 July. We are going to talk to KMC about working together with the children who will be transitioning to high school this year, as we will need to make provision for them beyond SPLASH. Youth Club is now benefiting from the leadership of Bethany Spray, who volunteered to take over Ann Barnett’s much appreciated work. Andrea Gray has skilfully stepped up our commitment to safeguarding, which includes vulnerable adults as well as children, and I thank her for her quiet but determined work in this area.
On a personal note, Jo and I have benefited this year from the replacement of the Vicarage kitchen, paid for by the diocese but with the parish contributing the costs associated with the utility room. Anyone who has had experience of tied accommodation will know the pitfalls of this system – but also the pleasure it brings when we feel valued in this way. So, thank you for your care as expressed by the PCC in this matter. In this, my seventh year in the parish, I am excited by the future, enjoying the present and grateful for all we have shared. I close with these words of St Paul:
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1.9-11
Peter Mackriell
April 2017