Annual Report 2018: Chapter 3

During the two weeks leading up to the APCM, we are presenting an overview of the activities of the church throughout 2018 over four chapters. Printouts will be available to view in both churches and please ask in the church office if you need your own copy to take away.

The glue that holds it all together

PCC Activities
Simon McDowell
Churchwarden and Acting PCC Secretary

During 2018, the PCC consisted of seven elected members, two elected representatives of the Deanery Synod, two churchwardens and two licenced ministers.  The Secretary and Treasurer are appointed by the PCC.  Since the last APCM, the PCC has met seven times in a formal setting and twice where we focus on wider spiritual matters and developing our church community. 

Our PCC has two active working committees:

  • the Standing and Finance committee, comprising the vicar, churchwardens and Treasurer with other PCC members attending as needed.  It meets as required in between formal PCC meetings to address more urgent needs where a resolution is required; and
  • the Property Committee, which is responsible to the PCC for the upkeep of the fabric of both church buildings.   It consists of a majority of PCC members plus two church members who are experts in property matters and whose help is much appreciated.

During 2018, the PCC were focused on the recruitment of our new vicar, and preparing the church and community for her arrival in August and induction service in September.  During the vacancy, one of the churchwardens chaired the meetings, but Natasha Brady took the chair as Vicar from her first meeting in September.  We have subsequently focused our agenda in growing the church in line with our vision and Mission Action Plan.  This will progress during 2019.

Attached are reports of the activities that take place in our church community, both at St Andrew’s and St Giles’.  The PCC is very grateful to all the leaders and their helpers who give up their time to make these activities happen.

Also attached are the annual accounts, which reflect the financial state of the Stoke Poges Church.  Readers will see that we have little ‘unrestricted’ income, in which we can spend the money where we wish, but the ‘restricted’ funds are healthy, thanks to some major one-off donations.  These ‘restricted’ funds can only be spent on the item that the donor gave the money for – e.g. the restoration of St Giles’ was paid for using a donation that was restricted to just that use. 

I would like to thank Alicen Nickson, who acted as Secretary for part of the year, for her help and other members of the PCC for helping me in preparing and reviewing documents after Alicen retired from the PCC. 

Finances 2018
Gaynor Houghton-Jones

The way we manage our finances is underpinned by our Christian ethos. We ensure that money does not languish in bank accounts when it could be put to better use, that expenditure does not exceed income, that we pay our bills promptly, that all sums are allocated to the correct fund whether restricted, designated or unrestricted, that we hold reserves for emergencies and we set aside money and gifts for charity.

Our restricted funds, e.g. buildings and churchyard, are in a healthy state but there are times during the year when general cash flow can be a problem. We are grateful to members who give on a regular basis so we know what income to expect each month.

The above charts show income and expenditure on the general fund before transfers from the designated funds. By way of explanation on the income side, “Fees” include charges for weddings and funerals, “Sales” covers the coffee shop and “Tax” is what we recover from gift aid.

On the expenditure side, “Management costs” includes administration, office expenses, IT support, music licences, training and inspection fees, while “Buildings” includes minor maintenance, insurance, caretaking and utilities. “Church services” includes clergy expenses, junior church materials, organists, verger expenses, costs of candles and Holy Communion wine and wafers.

We are reliant on our income from rent and lettings and I am pleased that we have retained tenants in the flats for most of the year and that lettings income held up after it was decided, upon the departure of the lettings manager, to concentrate on regular hirers only for the remainder of 2018. Much greater detail can be found in the formal financial statements.

By transferring money from designated funds back to the general fund we have ended up with a surplus of £372 and there is £61,000 in reserves.

The PCC has concerns, however, about the level of income and expenditure and will undertake a cost review early in 2019. At the same time, we also have concerns about meeting the parish share in 2019. It is the largest item of expenditure and in 2018 amounted to £69,783 after a small discount for paying by direct debit. This contribution to the diocese largely covers clergy stipends and pensions and the training of ordinands. It amounted to 50% of total unrestricted income.  As we do not anticipate any increase in general income in 2019 and with ever increasing costs, we have taken the difficult decision to reduce our share offer to £60,000 instead of the inflationary increased sum of £72,000.  This will be kept under review and, if we can pay more at the end of the year, we will.

Property Committee
Mark Wells

In early 2018 we focussed on addressing the issues raised in the December 2017 Quinquennial report for St Andrew’s. The high priority items have been addressed.

As reported previously, we want to maximise the usage and income from the site and, with this aim in mind, we applied for outline planning permission for flats above the centre of building between the bell tower and the Youth Block. This application was successful and we are now working on a more detailed planning application for four flats within the planning outline already granted.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow members of the committee and, in particular, Richard Beckingsale for attending to all the odd jobs that come up across our two Churches.

Burnham and Slough Deanery Synod
John Wheatley
Deanery Synod Representative

Four meetings were held in the past year: in May, September, November and February.

Key items discussed during the year were;

  • Training – various training courses were and are being arranged including Mission and Safeguarding, Faith in pictures and Worship. It has been agreed that Training courses will be key to growing faith in years to come.
  • Communications – churches growing through better and easier to use websites were discussed, with Stoke Poges being given as a good example of a website.
  • Mission Action Plan – each part of the Deanery will be formatting a M A P to enable a clearer vision of sharing resources.
  • Finance – much of our time has been spent on agreeing Parish Share from each of our Churches. Unfortunately, the Deanery will have a substantial shortfall this year which has been identified as being caused by a changing demographic mix in Slough.

Simon McDowell & Paul Elderfield

2018 was a year of change for our church.  We said ‘welcome’ to Natasha and her family, as she came to lead us here at Stoke Poges Church.  We also said ‘farewell’ to TJ and Andrew, although it was great to see Andrew installed in our neighbouring parish of Wexham in April 2019. 

Thanks Ann!

As churchwardens, we are responsible for the running of the church, and we are grateful for all the help and support from the PCC, the church office and other church members to enable us to do this smoothly.  During the year since the last APCM, we prepared ourselves and the church for Natasha’s arrival, worked with Natasha as she got to know our church and we were a sounding board for her ideas – which we are excited by and hope that you will be too as she introduces them to the church during 2019.  We were pleased to make the appointment of Ann Sibley as our St Andrew’s church caretaker, and delighted with how helpful she has been since starting, including taking on the church lettings manager role. 

You may remember that we had an opportunity to briefly welcome Natasha at our 2018 APCM.  She did not officially start until the end of August, with her induction in early September led by Bishop Alan.  She had to move for a third time in December as the renovations to our vicarage, flooded in March 2018, were completed.  We are grateful to the Diocese who enabled this to run smoothly and to Graham Saunders, formerly rector of the Farnhams and Hedgerley, who moved out early, thereby allowing the Bradys temporary use of the Farnham vicarage.

Sadly, at this year’s APCM, Paul will retire as churchwarden after seven years, staying on an extra year to help with the smooth transition and induction of Natasha.  Simon remains as churchwarden and looks forward to working with Paul’s successor, to be elected at the APCM.

Our final instalment will follow in a few days…