Writing this on Easter Sunday I am looking back on a wonderful day as we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection at church this morning. Many joined us today with old friends and new and all ages. It was a real joy and very heart-warming at the end of a very full but at times a challenging year – please see my report below. The church interior was looking particularly beautiful as our flower ladies and their team excelled themselves once again with flowers and greenery literally bursting out everywhere! As we now come to the month of May we will have held our Annual Parochial Church Meeting after the 10 o clock service on April 30th and so this month I felt it appropriate to share my report as PCC Chair as I looked back on the past year. I hope you find it interesting. I hope that you found the leaflet outlining our ‘Giving Programme’ of interest as well. If for any reason you did not receive one please do pick a leaflet up in church just inside the door.
With my love and prayers
Chair’s report for 2016/17
Parish life has continued to flourish throughout the year despite some setbacks and difficulties during this last year. Everyone has been working very hard in all the many and varied roles in our church’s life and most especially in the area of finance and the fabric of our church building and surrounding churchyard and walls.
Walls and brickwork were in fact the theme for many weeks during the second part of 2016 as the PCC received some worrying news about the condition of the church walls. We also had just begun tackling the churchyard boundary walls which in some places are falling down and in a bad state of repair. All of this has been well catalogued over the last year so I will not go into too much detail but will leave it to the Churchwardens to summarise in their report. However, one thing we were delighted to hear at the beginning of this year following a visit from the DAC otherwise known as the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches and Churchyards, was that in their opinion we would do well to leave the walls alone for the time being and concentrate on the rainwater goods, guttering and downpipes, so to protect the stonework for the foreseeable future. This will still mean quite a large amount of funds will be needed to maintain our beautiful building but it will not be anything in the region of the £250,000 we thought we would have to fundraise for. So a great relief all round!
Some of our PCC have been working on writing bids for funding grants, attending building project days, studying mortar and much more. This is now developing into a building committee. We will be continuing to fundraise specifically for the church building repairs and of course the churchyard boundary walls for which we are hoping work may begin this summer. Thank you to all those of you who have contributed so far – it is all adding up and every penny is much appreciated.
Fundraising for our ministry costs and the running costs of our church has also been a matter of discussion and concern. You will have noticed that we have produced a stewardship leaflet which we have tried to distribute to all the households in the parish outlining the current shortfall. All churches rely totally on money given to them from their parishes. Churches do not receive funding from The Church of England as an institutional body. This may come as a surprise to many.
So building and finance have been a major part of PCC business this last year which was not easy as we had not been able to successfully fill the office of PCC Treasurer. This has meant that finance becomes the responsibility of our Churchwardens and so Dineke not only begun her first year as a new churchwarden but volunteered to become interim treasurer too. It has been a huge challenge and one which Dineke has managed professionally and very capably. She and I are now pleased to report that we will have a new treasurer taking over the accounts from September this year. We look forward to welcoming Debbie von Bergen onto the PCC at the APCM and then as our Hon. Treasurer in September. I also would like to thank John Ashwood and Joy Harman who have assisted in the day to day paying in and paying out.
So it has been a tough year in many respects but throughout, the PCC have met regularly to deal with the business before them with great patience and diligence. The church has continued to run smoothly as it always does providing weekly worship, occasional offices and regular activities such as Capel teas, choir, and art group, bible study groups not to mention Messy Church and Café Church and the special services of remembrance in November. One particular highlight of the year was the Queen’s 90th birthday in June 2016 which we celebrated by a special service in church followed by picnics on the Recreation Ground and royal teas in church.
Another highlight was our harvest festival last year when a small group of our members rehearsed and performed a murder mystery play in the Village Hall for our annual harvest supper. This was done very much in good humour and definitely not to be taken too seriously and was a great success! We are hoping to build on this success again this year as once again a play will be performed set in the context of a village cricket club! Not to be missed. A huge thank you to Yvonne Featherstone and Sylvie Beckett for masterminding this once seen and never forgotten event!
Another not to be forgotten event was the knobbly knees competition at the Vicarage Fete last year. Inclement weather meant that we held the fete in the Village Hall and this turned out to be a very wise decision. As the rain lashed down we were treated to some very knobbly knees paraded before us on the village hall stage provided by some very good sports! The theme of the fete was a Teddy Bears Picnic and we had some beautifully dressed bears, lots of fun and raised a good amount of money for our local schools.
Ministry wise we have welcomed new people into our congregation young and old, through our regular Sunday worship and occasional offices of baptism and holy matrimony. We have also accompanied and supported those whose loved ones have died through conducting funerals in church and local crematoria. We have enjoyed some different services over the year with a Pet Service where several dogs sat beautifully on the pews and gazed at me as I led the service. It was pure delight! We had a Songs of Praise service too which was a popular event where we sang favourite hymns and listened to one another’s stories. We had a puppet show at our harvest service which was great fun and welcomed more animals as two local donkeys joined us for our annual nativity service. That turned out to be a slightly messier affair than the pet service!! Never mind, the donkeys returned for another first just recently when they led our Palm Sunday procession down the street to church which may just turn out to be another annual event.
We are a third of the Surrey Weald Team and so clergy continue to meet and pray once a week led by our Team Rector Andrew Coe. It is so good to be able to meet regularly with clergy colleagues and this year our church has hosted the team Advent Service where Archdeacon Paul officially licensed me as Half Time Stipendiary priest. We also hosted the team Maundy Thursday Eucharist just recently. It would be good to work more together as a team and the team council meets quarterly to try to make this happen.
There have been several new initiatives in this last year. One is our new monthly faith based publication named InSpire which has been created and developed by Suzanne Cole. InSpire complements the Village magazine which provides the church and local community with news and comment. InSpire is available in church or online at another new initiative which is our new Capel Church website capel-church.co.uk. Do stop and take a look at both. Communication is key and these two initiatives are great vehicles in which to convey helpful information and great inspiration.
We have so much to be thankful for in Capel. There have been many challenges, some of which I have shared with you here and some which I have not. Ministry is demanding and so is running a 21st century church. There are so many people involved in keeping St John the Baptist the village church you all enjoy and treasure so I wish to convey my thanks on behalf of everyone who enjoys it to all our members who work so hard to keep the church and the churchyard clean, beautiful and welcoming throughout the year. Thank you too to the bell ringers who faithfully ring every week without fail. Challenges but most of all there is much joy and this year is another year when I can truly look back and think what a lot of things we have achieved once more and how have we managed to fit it all in! As someone remarked to me last week as they were tasked with an unexpected job:
‘it’s such fun coming to church – you never know what you are going to be asked to do next!’ Amen to that!!
Revd Liz Richardson