Having completed my
first year in the Parish, I now have the opportunity to reflect on the
life of the Parish during 2015.
From my point of view,
it has been a very busy year. I find myself constantly trying to be
realistic about what can be achieved in my part-time role as Priest in
Charge. In fact, the operation is only possible because of the
tremendous support from other members of the Ministry Team, the
Churchwardens, and so many other people within the church family. It is
not possible to name them all, but they know who they are !
Last year, I made
particular mention of our two Self Supporting Ministers, Colin McCarty
and Peter Gill. They have given me tremendous support during 2015, for
which I am very grateful. In March 2016 Colin laid down his Licence to
the Parish. Although no longer formally linked to the Parish, I hope he
may be available to help us occasionally when the need arises. Our two
Lay Readers, Susan and Phillip also provide great support not only in
leading services and preaching, but also being involved in so many other
activities in the Parish.
We still have the
benefit of four Lay Elders assisting in the leadership of services. When
Janet Langham decided to step down as an Elder, I was delighted that
John Sparrow agreed to become one, and since his Commissioning by Bishop
Martin in September, he has very comfortably fitted into his new role.
I thought it would be
interesting to revisit my report last year, and review progress on the
hopes and aspirations I had in arriving in the Parish in early 2015.
I had in mind a Five
Year Plan for the Parish – in terms of enhancing our Worship of God, in
ways of growing our own Christian faith, and of others who may join us,
our Outreach into the Community and the upgrading of our Buildings.
In fact, the Plan is
still in draft form, and to a certain extent has been overtaken by
events. However, I do believe that much progress has been made during
Our Worship in both St
Martin’s and St Philip’s continues to be of a high standard. The musical
input from our Director of Music, Christine Conway Jarrett and her
Deputy, David Pugh are an important aspect of our regular Sunday
services, and those at Festivals. We had a training morning at St
Martin’s in July for those involved in the various aspects of our
Communions services. During 2016, Peter Gill and I will be reviewing all
the Liturgy Booklets (many of which have been in use for the last 15
years or so).
The Family Services at
St Martin’s have evolved during 2015, with a new style and a change of
musical input, and 2016 sees another exciting development with a change
of timing to 9.30am, preceded by Breakfast from 9am. He hope and pray
that this new format will attract newcomers, and more young families, to
The Evensong services at
Landwade during the warmer months were well supported, with a high
calibre of visiting preachers, including our new Diocesan Bishop, the Rt
Revd Martin Seeley.
Our outreach into the
Community is already significant, but 2015 has seen the reintroduction
of a monthly Communion service at Kingfisher House, in addition to that
already provided at Exning Court by Marion Roberts. Our work in the
local schools, primarily led by Susan Allison, has continued strongly
during the year, and we are planning to take ‘Open the Book’ assemblies
to both Exning and Laureate Schools during 2016. Susan and Peter Gill
have also been into Paddocks School, and we hope to build on that link
in the coming year. Our traditions of such things as the Crib &
Christingle service, and the Annual Duck Race, foster much goodwill in
the Exning community, and this was enhanced this year by the
introduction of our first ever Christmas Tree Festival, which was a
great success. MBC continues to be an important aspect of reaching out
to those outside the church, as are the various events at ECCH,
including Exning Cinema, Tea & Entertainment, and this year, the Murder
We are always looking at
ways in which we can get more involved in the large housing estates
which fall within the Parish. I have recently starting attending a
Social Group which now meets monthly at the Studlands Social Club, and I
hope that we can build on the links made through that.
On the Pastoral front, I
know that some wonderful work goes on in the background, and I am
grateful to Peter Gill who has agreed to keep a watching brief on this
aspect of ministry within the Parish. Much of the visiting to the sick
and elderly is done informally, but I would particularly like to thank
Pam Morter, who is so good at keeping in touch with those in need, and
of course for the work she does in organising the ever popular monthly
‘Songs of Praise’ service at St Philip’s.
In terms of our
Buildings, 2015 has seen the beautiful new carpet in the Chancel at St
Martin’s, and a refurbished Kitchen in ECCH. Work has also continued on
the removal of the rendering to the exterior walls of St Martin’s, which
greatly improves its visual appearance, and we have to allow time for
the walls to dry out, but I hope that in the longer term we will be able
to redecorate the interior. Also at St Martin’s during the year we have
obtained two Archdeacon’s Temporary Licences, firstly to position the
Godly Play Cupboards in the Chancel, and secondly to re-arrange the
layout of the Lady Chapel. Towards the end of 2016, we will need to
decide whether these changes should be permanent, in which case we shall
have to make formal applications for a Faculty. The proposal to locate
the Exning War Memorial in St Martin’s Churchyard will also be
progressed during 2016. At St Philip’s it was expected that the work to
the roof would have been carried out during last Summer, but having
consulted the Diocesan Architect this has not yet taken place.
Redecoration of the interior there will need to be delayed until the
situation regarding the roof has been resolved.
There have been various
problems with the radio microphones ever since I arrived, and there has
been much discussion during the year on improvements to the Audio
systems at both churches, and the introduction of Monitor Screens at St
Martin’s, as finances allow.
We have made some
progress on our communications and publicity, including the setting up
of a parish Facebook account, but there is still more work to be done.
Something which has been done very well is our excellent Parish Website,
which John Saville has very competently managed for a number of years.
John has expressed the wish to step back from this, and I am delighted
to say that Adrian Whitaker has agreed to take this on during 2016.
I mentioned last year
the Parish’s tradition of fostering vocations to various forms of
Ministry. During 2015, the process of putting John Pascall forward for
Lay Reader training started, and I expect that in 2016 this will come to
fruition. There are one or two others who are considering different
vocations, and these may develop further during 2016.
Our close cooperation
with our friends in the adjoining parish St Mary’s had started before I
arrived, but has been further developed in the last year. We have had a
meeting of all the Churchwardens & Treasurers from both Parishes, and on
Advent Sunday we had our first joint service at St Mary’s, and in May
2016, a similar joint service will take place at Martin’s and we plan
two more during 2016 on Fifth Sundays, which we expect to be at St
Philip’s and then St Agnes’. We also held a well-attended ‘Pilgrim
Course’ and plan to have another one, possibly next Autumn. I n March
2016, representatives from both Parishes attended an Away Day at Clare
Priory, looking at the ‘Growing in God’ initiative from the Diocese. The
results of that will form part of my report next year.
In some ways, this has
been a rather sad year, with the health of some of our church members
deteriorating, and for some losing their battle, and moving on to be
with the Lord. I am very aware as a newcomer of the many people who in
the past have made this church community what it is today, and I give
thanks for all of them for their individual contribution to the life of
I very much look forward
to 2016, which I expect to be very exciting year with many new
initiatives in prospect, and I am grateful to you all for your
enthusiasm and support.
Revd Andrew Rycraft
(Priest in Charge)
PARISH OF EXNING
ANNUAL MEETING 28th
REPORT FROM THE
PRIEST IN CHARGE
Firstly, can I take this opportunity to thank all of you for
giving me such a wonderful welcome to the parish. It has been very heartening to
be so warmly received, and within a very short space of time you have made me
feel at home here.
For obvious reasons, I am not in a position to report on the
Parish for the year 2014, but I do owe a debt to all those who have kept the
Parish going during the vacancy, so that when I arrived in January 2015 I was
delighted to find the parish in such good heart. I know that a number of people
have contributed to this, and I am anxious not to name names through fear of
leaving someone out, but I think particular mention needs to be made of the two
Self Supporting Ministers, Colin McCarty and Peter Gill, who have very
competently kept the ship afloat since my predecessor, Joyce Williams left in
2012. Not only have they led the regular Sunday services, but they have also
conducted a large number of Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals during that time,
and been generally available when needed.
I have also been impressed by the work done by the wider
Ministry Team of Lay Readers and Lay Elders, who add such richness to our
Worship and other activities.
As I am not in a position to reflect in detail on the Parish
during 2014, I propose to take this opportunity to convey my vision for the
future of the Parish over the next few years.
Although I have only recently arrived, I am very
enthusiastic about the potential for the Parish, and would like us to consider
formulating a Five Year Plan – in terms of enhancing our Worship of God, in ways
of growing our own Christian faith, and of others who may join us, our Outreach
into the Community and the upgrading of our Buildings. The latter will I believe
have the effect of facilitating the other aspects of development.
As a first step in this process, I propose that we establish
some Committees – reporting to the PCC but not restricted to PCC Members. I
don’t feel particularly comfortable with the word Committee, so I would be
interested if anyone can suggest an alternative word which sounds less
bureaucratic. This approach will I believe enable smaller groups of people to
consider issues in more detail than is possible at full PCC meetings. I have in
mind committees to cover: 1. Worship 2. Mission, Pastoral & Outreach 3.
Buildings. We already have a Finance Committee, the Hall Committee, and a
Standing Committee, as the need arises.
In terms of enhancing our regular Worship of God, I would
also like to initiate some training for those who lead Prayers, and for those
who assist and lay the Altar for Communion. I would not propose to change
anything just for the sake of it, but I do believe we should set ourselves high
standards in our approach to the worship of God. Some discussions have already
taken place within the parish about the possibility of an alternative service,
at a different time from the regular services, which might suit those new to
church, or those who prefer a more informal type of worship. The monthly Family
Services at both St Martin’s & St Philip’s are both well established, and since
I have been here I have experienced these services led by Susan Allison, and
have been most impressed. I think we could do more to publicise these services,
and I shall be discussing how we can do this, and also how we can encourage, by
personal invitation, young families to attend. Baptism families are an obvious
source of contact, and I have initiated the idea of Baptism Visitors, to visit
and befriend baptism families so that they feel warmly welcomed into our church
family, and I see that as not only an important part of our outreach into the
local community, but also an opportunity to encourage young families to join us
on a regular basis.
In terms of growing our Faith, I am impressed by the
existing Bible Study group, and the quite recently established ‘Topical Teas’. I
shall seek to encourage and develop these groups, and also to consider whether
the time is right to start Faith Development courses, such as Alpha, or the
latest CofE ‘Pilgrim Course’.
In terms of buildings, I was interested to read Simon
Pettit’s Annual Report of 10 years ago. He reported on the recent addition of a
toilet at P & E, and work starting on toilets and disabled access at the
Community Church Hall. He did say at that time that attention needed to be
turned to some smartening up of St Martin’s. I assume that this then resulted in
the addition of the kitchenette, and the work on the Vestry. As a newcomer, I do
see St Martin’s building as ripe for some further improvement. The new carpet in
the Chancel will be the first step I believe in the next stage of development,
all of which will need to be discussed by the PCC. I would like us to discuss
ways in which the interior of the building could not only be improved in
appearance, but perhaps be made more functional for worship and any other
activities. The outside appearance of St Martin’s has clearly been much improved
in recent years by the exposure of the attractive flint external walls, and
there remains more to do, as finances allow.
I am delighted that it’s possible (thanks to the volunteers
who lock and unlock) for St Martin’s to be open at least for part of the year.
This is even more reason why we should want to be proud of what people will
find, and the impression they will get that this is a flourishing church
community, seeking by its witness and worship to be the Body of Christ in this
As you all know, St Philip & St Etheldreda’s has a rather
special and intimate atmosphere. The building has been lovingly maintained, and
has excellent facilities. The re-roofing, which will take place in the next few
months, should ensure that it will be wind and watertight for many years to
come. The monthly Songs of Praise is much loved by those who attend, and always
seems to be full to capacity. I am aware that a lot of hard work goes into
making all this happen. St Philip’s is also a very comfortable meeting place for
PCC meetings, Music Builds Communities etc.
Exning Community Church Hall is also a great asset to the
parish, and to the local community, and it’s a wonderful way in which the church
can be seen as a key element in the community, by having the Hall available for
public use, and also by the events and activities, such as The Cinema, Tea &
Entertainment, the Community Concert etc. laid on by church members but
supported by the wider community.
I am aware that the parish has a history of fostering
vocations to different forms of ministry. I shall certainly do my best to
continue that tradition. If anyone feels that God may be calling them into a
particular type of ministry, be it pastoral visiting, working with children &
young people, being a Lay Elder, Lay Reader, entering Ordained Ministry, or any
other aspect of Christian service, please do come and see me to talk about it.
Also, if anyone believes that someone else might be being called in this way,
similarly please have a word with me.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those people
who, for various reasons, are laying down a particular role in the life of the
parish. Firstly John Pascall, who has been Churchwarden for many years, and
taken the church through some difficult times, is taking a well deserved break.
Janet Langham, a long-standing Lay Elder, feels it’s time to step down, but I am
delighted that she has agreed to assume the title of ‘Lay Elder Emeritus’ and I
hope that in that role we will not have seen the last of her assisting at
services. Also, Janet and Joan Datson have looked after the flowers at St
Martin’s for the last eight years, relinquishing this task after the magnificent
displays which have graced the church this Easter. Sarah Price is also taking a
break from her work with young people at ‘Rock Solid’.
I think it’s a sign of a healthy church when the same people
don’t have to keep doing the same jobs for ever. It gives the opportunity for
other people to come forward to fulfil those roles, and enables people to change
direction if appropriate.
Some of you may remember my first sermon preached both at
St Philip’s and St Martin’s back in January. I emphasised those words ‘Come &
See’ which Philip said to Nathaniel. I really feel that God has given me these
words as a focus for my ministry in this parish. But it’s something that you all
need to join in with. As I said in my sermon:
‘If you’ve found something good in coming to Church and following Jesus Christ,
don’t keep it to yourself. Think about whether there is someone that you want to
say to :-‘Come and See’. Just like Philip said to the very sceptical Nathaniel
‘Come and see’ – Come and see for yourself. And the challenge for us all is - to
make sure that if someone does ‘Come and See’ they find something that is worth
coming to see – by welcoming them, making them feel at home, making them feel
loved, and helping them to meet Jesus for themselves’.
We also need to expand how we publicise what is happening in the churches –
certainly by the use of the Notice Boards, but also I would like us to consider
making more use of up to date methods of communication such as social media, and
making full use of our excellent parish website.
I very much look forward to being with you for the next few
years, and enjoying what God has in store for all of us.
Revd Andrew Rycraft (Priest in Charge)
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