St Giles’ hosted the Deanery Confirmation service on Sunday, where four Stoke Poges candidates were joined by five from other churches to be confirmed by the Bishop of Buckingham, The Right Revd Alan Wilson.
In his sermon, Bishop Alan encouraged the candidates and all of us to look to Jesus to find our best selves – that confirming our faith in Christ frees us, rather than constrains us. Although we need to be out in the world, meeting people where they are, being members of a Christian community helps us to keep our compass pointing towards Christ: doing our best to love God, one another and even those “out there”.
Congratulations to Tara, Jamie, Rachel and Oliver on their confirmation and thank you to everyone front of house and behind the scenes, both from our congregation and the rest of the Deanery for creating a spirit-filled and ceremonial occasion.
On Sunday 29 April, Natasha welcomed people to her first APCM as our vicar. It’s actually her second APCM with us, as she was the guest of honour last year. After a lovely bring-and-share lunch, we got to the meeting, which is a chance for the church leadership (vicar, wardens, the PCC) to share with the wider church membership how we’ve been doing over the past year.
There are some formal bits in the APCM, to do with election
of new PCC members, re-elections of those retiring by rotation after three
years, the approval of the electoral roll and sidesmen and women. The
appointment of the churchwardens happens in an entirely separate Parish Meeting
in the middle of the APCM – such are the vagaries of Church Law!
We said farewell to two long standing members of the PCC –
to Tony Bunce, who stood down from the PCC after 50 years and to Gaynor
Houghton-Jones, who has been our Treasurer for over a decade. The PCC are
immensely grateful to both of them for their many years of service to our
church community. In Tony’s place, we welcome Rachel McCarthy to the PCC
for the first time and hope that she’s still here in 50 years to break Tony’s
Also stepping back from a role, but fortunately not from the
PCC, is Paul Elderfield, one of our churchwardens. Paul has been a calm,
yet humorous churchwarden for the past seven years, working alongside firstly
Nigel Lowe and then Simon McDowell to ensure that the church runs
smoothly. He stayed an extra year beyond the normal six years for a
churchwarden to help Natasha settle into her post, and both Simon and Natasha
are grateful for his wisdom and guidance. Paul remains in the PCC,
as a member of the Deanery Synod, alongside John Wheatley and Mark Wells.
John also replaces Paul as churchwarden: his powers were immediately tested
with a water leak at St Andrew’s!
In Gaynor’s absence, Simon gave the financial report,
stressing that although the church seems in good health, most of our money is
tied up in ‘restricted’ funds, which limit the spend of that money to
restricted items. Our General Fund, which is unrestricted, just about
broke even last year and we need to continue to be careful on how we raise
income and spend money to ensure that we can increase our Diocesan Share again,
having had to reduce it for the first time in 2019. With no official
Treasurer, the role automatically falls to the churchwardens. We are therefore
grateful to have the support of Richard Beckingsale and Jamie Brady to help do
much of the day-to-day financial roles.
Finally, we had some questions in advance from
parishioners. We are grateful for their thoughts and consideration in
getting them to us before the meeting so that we can get the required
information to give a full reply. Our meeting finished with Natasha
thanking the parish for the welcome that she’s received since starting here and
with an inspiring video on what we can be as a church community.
Further details of our activities in 2018 can be found in
both the previous editions of this blog and on the church website.
Please help to contribute to the church’s successes in 2019 – whether that’s by attending events or supporting us with your time to help with the organisation of those events or through your giving. Thank you.
The Annual Report of the Trustees and Financial Statements can be viewed in the Church Office and the full proceedings of the APCM can be listened to as an audio file. The minutes will be available by the end of May.
Finally, with apologies for the omission…
Addendum to the Annual Report: St Andrew’s Worship Group – Tina Edwards
In 2018 we found ourselves with singers but much fewer worship leaders and musicians – in fact just 2 musicians and 3 leaders. So far we have been able to lead worship at every service.
In services where it isn’t possible to have a live musician we have, through trial and error (thanks for being patient with us St Andrew’s folks) developed a way of using MP3 music files on a phone played through the PA.
Another blessing for us in 2018 has been Lindsey and David Mackie who come, on loan, from St James’ Gerrards Cross. Lindsey has not only lead worship but introduced new songs and coached singers and musicians in leading worship and microphone technique. David has introduced a new PA desk and trained a small number of volunteers on how to operate it. Oliver McDowell has proved a real asset to the team with a good ear for sound balance and logical thinking when things go wrong.
We are also thankful for John Wheatley who often finds himself operating both the PC for the words and the sound desk – a second pair of hands here would also be helpful.
Our prayer for 2019 is to see more musicians join the team, more singers prepared to lead worship and more people willing to be trained on use of the PA desk and the PC.