Vicar’s report for St Ippolyts APCM 2015
Once again I have decided to give my Vicar’s annual report in place of a sermon, then if you are not able to stay for the annual meeting at least you will have heard from your Vicar! (However I hope you will all stay for the meeting). There will be printed copies of this report for people to read after the service if they have come along just for the APCM.
First of all I would like to thank my Churchwardens Roger and Michael for all they have done over this last year, looking after the church building, the churchyard and their Vicar. Especial thanks go to Roger today as he retires from being a Churchwarden after nine years. For all his time and talents he has given this church and this Vicar! Of course Roger you don’t actually retire until May when the Archdeacon’s Visitation service is, so we still have you as our Churchwarden for another couple of weeks. Roger does a lot of things for our church and community in St Ippolyts which are not part of the duties of a churchwarden so I do hope Roger that you will continue with some of them, thank you.
This year I will try not to put thank you’s to too many names as there is a risk in forgetting someone, but I do want to express my thanks to all the members of our PCC for their attendance at our meetings and for their work for this church, and my thanks go to Howell Davies and Pat Fry our two Readers in our Benefice for the services they lead and take part in, and for our friend The Revd Paul Lanham who comes every second Sunday of the month and takes the communion service here, this enables me to go to Great Wymondley where they have a service at the same time as we do.
To all of you who have a part to play in the life and mission and ministry of St Ippolyts Church, this is my chance to record my thanks, there are many, many jobs that need to be done for a church to
a) have a building that looks so lovely and well cared for
b) have so many welcoming services that run smoothly
so to all of you – thank you.
Over the year of 2014 in St Ippolyts we welcomed folk to 8 Baptisms and 11 weddings, and sadly we have hosted 16 funerals, at the church, churchyard, cemetery or Crematoriums. These are always occasions when I as your Vicar get to walk alongside parishioners at important times of their lives and it is for me a great privilege to share such moments. We have 6 wedding booked for this year and already 2 booked for 2016.
As a benefice in 2014 we continued to join with the congregation of St Mary’s in Great Wymondley every time there was a fifth Sunday in the month, and 2014 was our turn to host the benefice service for Ascension day morning. Whenever we have a service for the Benefice please know you are all welcome to come even if it isn’t in St Ippolyts Church. Up until the end of 2014 we supported Great Wymondley church as it was the smallest congregation in our benefice, but since that congregation is now growing, which is good news, I have decided that this year 2015, all the Benefice 5th Sunday services will be in Little Wymondley to try and help support that congregation. Our first this year was Palm Sunday when we had a procession with two donkeys through Little Wymondley village, thank you to all of you who supported that event.
I continue to take Holy Communion to the two nursing homes in our parish, once a month, and occasionally I have been called by family members or nursing home staff to say prayers with residents who are near death. At Gosmore care home we had a special service for Christmas Carols and for Harvest festival. In 2015 I would like us at St Ippolyts to host an afternoon service on a weekday for the residents of our two nursing homes, since we now have our disabled access and it would be easier for the homes’ staff to bring residents into church. I think this may happen in July 2015 so do please look out for details and support that if you can.
This would be one way we could make our faith more visible on days other than Sundays. For the church, that’s you and me, does not exist just on Sundays, anymore than our Christian faith only exists on Sundays. Sundays are important I know and worshipping with others is important, but worship exists at other times than Sunday mornings or evenings. Take Toddlers’ services, every Friday during school term time, the numbers attending are never huge but over the course of a year these services give a time and place for our very young and their carers to come and worship at ease, Friday is their Sunday and that is good I think.
Wednesdays during Lent and the first Wednesdays in the other months, is in a way becoming a church, a gathering of like minded people – those who enjoy good food and good company. If you have never come along to a community lunch do please think about it, interestingly, just like church, some people sit in the same seats every month at the lunches. Unlike church services there are no hymns or prayers, but the cooks praises are sung every time and concerns expressed for each other, especially if someone has missed a few months through illness, prayers indeed but in a different way from formal ‘church’.
Tuesday mornings in school term time we host a coffee club here in this church building, mostly the people who come are Mums or carers who have just taken their children to St Ippolyts school, but like all our events and services here in church, it is not an exclusive club, anyone can come. It would be lovely if some of you older ones would come, with years of experience of children and the growing pains etc, you may just have some good tricks of the trade to pass on to the young mums.
Wednesday mornings at 11am we have a communion service here, numbers vary from 6 -11, it is good to have a quiet service when there isn’t the rush for your vicar to get away to another church as happens most Sundays. We often share joys and sorrows and ‘chew’ over the scriptures too. If you have never been, why not come along, especially if you are not able to come one Sunday.
Wednesday evenings if you listen out you can hear our bell ringers practising. Our bell ringers call us to prayer and call our church and faith to the attention of our community, and on some days across the wedding season they announce to the world a marriage has taken place and a new couple have been added to our family and register.
So you see we as a church do operate on other days as well as Sundays, and at other times than 8am, 9.30am , 11am or 6.30pm.
We are well known as being a welcoming church to new comers but how well do we really get to know those who come to church as new Christians or enquirers. Perhaps there is someone you have seen a couple of times but are not sure of their name, why not ask them, chat to them and involve them in an activity you already help out in. It may be cleaning the church, mowing the churchyard, hoisting the flag at festivals, making the refreshments after the services or helping with fundraising events. If we always keep everything to ourselves and fail to share the workload one of two things happens, either those who are doing the work, wear out and give up or those who are new think everything is fine because nobody has asked them to join in. Neither of these two are my preferred way of being church.
For just as Jesus was and is there for everyone, so is St Ippolyts church. Yet again the Vicar’s report has turned into a sermon. I make no apology.
Two more things,
When it comes to the presentation of the accounts, that have already been accepted by the PCC, you will notice we do have some money in reserves and investments, however, our day to day income is still less than our day to day expenses, so may I take this opportunity first to thank you for your generosity to the mission and ministry of the church and to the upkeep of this church building, secondly to ask that every year you revisit your giving, it’s so easy to keep putting the same amount in each time you come to church, but as we all know from our general housekeeping costs continue to rise, so if you are able to, please think about increasing your giving
One easy way would be take out a standing order from your bank to St Ippolyts Church bank account, this way it means that there are less envelopes to open and record by sidesmen and women after the services, less paperwork for our wonderful Treasurer, there is less cash kept on church premises, always a good thing for security purposes and we wouldn’t need to buy so many envelopes so there would in fact be a slight reduction in the church expenses. I would urge you to give the subject some thought. We do not pay to worship God, we give because God gave us his Son, Jesus, and because we want to show in our lives what we know to be true that we are made in God’s image, a God who gives because he loves us so much.
And finally I have a challenge to you; I really would like to see a kitchen and proper accessible toilet facilities within this church building, especially as we now offer accessible entrance via the north door and slope. So if there is anyone out there that might rise to the challenge of such a building project please let me know. When we met with our new architect last year he quickly came up with an idea of where we could site a toilet without too much building work, it is just someone to grasp the vision that is needed, and I am sure money as well as drains would flow.
I have gone on long enough for another year, But thanks for listening, and sharing with me in the mission and ministry of the church.