This is the third of four chapters of our Annual Report, in preparation for our APCM on Sunday 25th October 10.30am at St Giles’ Church.
Behind the Scenes
Secretary’s Report – Simon McDowell, Churchwarden and Acting PCC Secretary
During 2019, the PCC consisted of four elected members, two elected representatives of the Deanery Synod, two churchwardens and one licenced minister. The Secretary and Treasurer are appointed by the PCC. Since the last APCM, the PCC has met five times in a formal setting and once 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 PCC members plus church members who are experts in property matters and whose help is much appreciated.
During 2019, the PCC were focused on community engagement, safeguarding, and maintenance of the church estate. We had a successful planning application for new flats above the main section of the St Andrew’s buildings and are now beginning to plan for tenders and work scheduling, hopefully to begin in late 2020. St Giles’ had its Quinquennial inspection, which showed that the significant restorations in 2015-17 had solved all the long term problems.
The reports of the other activities that take place in our church community, both at St Andrew’s and St Giles’, can be found elsewhere in this blog. The PCC is very grateful to all the leaders and their helpers who give up their time to make these activities happen.
Also on the website are a summary the annual accounts, which reflect the financial state of the Stoke Poges Church. The Treasurer’s report will describe what’s happened financially in a separate section.
Finances 2019 – John Wheatley, Churchwarden and Acting PCC Treasurer
At the start of 2019, the PCC put into action the financial review we undertook at the end of 2018:
- We reduced our Parish share due to concerns regarding our ability to pay the increased amount. Our contribution to the diocese largely covers clergy stipends and pensions and the training of ordinands.
- We agreed that a minimum of 10% of all planned giving during the year would be mission giving and we are pleased to announce that £1500 was given to both SHOC and NLT.
- We agreed that we would carefully look at reducing our fixed costs relating to buildings whilst at the same time improving our AV systems.
- We also agreed that we would maintain a minimum of 3 Months operating costs in our Bank Account. Thanks to the generosity of our Church members, healthy residential rental incomes and hall hire, I am pleased to announce that we were able to achieve this.
Our restricted funds, e.g. buildings and churchyard, are in a healthy state and our ability to meet our improvement plans at both Churches remain viable.
The above charts show income and expenditure on the General Fund.
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.
We are reliant on our income from rent and lettings and I am pleased to advise that these have grown by over 10% this year.
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.
In addition, each year we write down the initial cost of The St Andrews Church centre, this is not shown in our operating costs but is an annual cost of approximately £27,000.
Whist the above is a general outline of our financial year, more details can be found in the “Report of the trustees and financial statements for the year ending 31 December 2019”.
Burnham and Slough Deanery Synod – John Wheatley, Deanery Synod Representative
In 2019 Four meetings were held : in February June September and November.
Whilst, as in previous years, finance was discussed, it was a year in which other items were prioritised. Synod have four Committees which meet regularly to present reports. These are Education, Standing and Finance, Mission and Pastoral and Treasurers.
The Key items presented and debated at the four meetings held during the year were;
February A centre for outreach
Members of our Synod visited outreach centres in other areas similar to Slough and Burnham, they suggested that we try to create a centre which will incorporate some if not all of the following under a social Justice cafe. Christians against poverty, A food Bank, Computer Classes, and English as a second language.
June Putting out into deep water / plans for the future
In March a conference was held at St Pauls entitled “looking into the Future” key items from this as a synod development tool were
- Social Hub (discussed at last Deanery Synod)
- Lay Community – commit to one year praying together & doing work in community, designed for 20 to 30 year olds who are still working full time
- Mission to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities
- Expansion of Lighthouse ministry to teenagers who come to help.
- School Chaplaincy perhaps a Deanery Youth Chaplain with lay volunteers to offer chaplaincy and pastoral care in schools, creating prayer spaces in secular schools.
And during May members of our Synod attended a conference at High Leigh conference centre, chaired by Bishop Alan. Key items of this were discussed and planned around, these were
A common vision working group. Making a difference Parish Planning and a Synod Development Fund.
September Regeneration of Slough
During this meeting a presentation was given by Councillor Swindlehurst the Leader of Slough Council regarding the regeneration of Slough and how the Church could be involved, once again a key need identified was a social hub in the Town
November SHOC and Foodbank needs in Slough
A presentation was given by Leaders of the Foodbank and SHOC detailing their work, needs and how the Church can offer assistance. Some of the key needs were volunteers, finance and also locations as it was identified that it was very difficult for many people to get to local foodbanks due to a lack of travel resource.
Plans for next year will focus on many of these items.
Churchwardens – Simon McDowell & John Wheatley
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 welcomed John Wheatley as a churchwarden, and he has been very helpful to both Natasha and Simon at finding the humour and God’s message in all we do.
After a couple of years’ of change, we embraced some stability in 2019, acting as a sounding board for Natasha’s many great ideas and offer her support in all that she does. Our roles also have allowed us to support the PCC in taking on the PCC Secretary (Simon) and acting Treasurer role (John), following the retirement of Gaynor from the PCC.
Although we both support both churches, it is sometimes simpler to be ‘responsible’ for one each – so John helps with the running of St Andrews, including the flat lettings and supporting Ann in her caretaker and hall lettings roles, whilst Simon has continued with the maintenance at St Giles, albeit at a much slower pace than in previous years’: thanks to the Mayer legacy, St Giles’ is in its best form for decades.
Many thanks for the help and support that we have received from the congregation and we hope to continue to spread God’s Word in 2020.
The Office – Debbie Langham, Parish Administrator, Heather McDowell, Communications Officer and Richard Beckingsale, Verger
2019 saw a few changes in the church office. In the autumn, Kate Holliday left the office, though not the congregation, after almost 20 years working for the church, to open a (very successful) gardening business. Debbie Langham, our organist of some years and experienced administrator at the Farnhams and Hedgerley churches, took up the reins. We acknowledged Kate’s cheery and faithful service at our Harvest Festival.
Heather spent much of the summer and autumn researching and building a new church website, migrating our church email provider and trying to make all of the different systems link up effectively and securely. A huge learning curve and time investment! The team (including Natasha, some of the PCC and ministry leads) are now able to share information, pictures, music and ideas in a number of ways and the congregation can view the result on any type of device. At the end of 2019 we had:
Friday Newsletter on Mailchimp https://stokepogeschurch.us4.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=bf288e849a2be0799fa3f4431&id=8a197aaef4
Church email addresses and cloud storage for team members such as firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard writes: “When I became the Verger I obtained a booklet that said I must maintain a close working relationship with the Parish Administrator. I quickly realised how right that was and I am pleased to say the Office team have always welcomed me. Making sure that I have the correct details for weddings and funerals has been vital, as has details of services.
Each year we get several queries about our graveyard and I am able to help with those.”
As well as Honorary Verger and Sacristan, Richard is also our right hand man, font of knowledge and volunteer extraordinaire, for whom we are truly grateful!
Our next chapter will go out in a few days time…