Vicars Annual Report

Annual Parochial Church Council Meeting

Priest in Charge’s Report for 2021 2nd April 2022

This is my eighth Annual Report for All Saints Church in Kirk Hallam, as I think back on our previous APCM in June 2021, I realise how ever changing the restrictions on what we could and could not do actually were, the constancy of God’s love was central for me, to getting through such challenging times.

Because of the pandemic our services and the schedule of social activities were greatly affected, as were the occasional offices.  In 2021 we had 11 baptisms, almost double from 2020 but still only a third of our average, we had 8 weddings, but still less than most years.  Financially there was a about £2,000 less for the church from the fees of weddings and well as £2,000 less for Derby Diocese for their apportionment of wedding fees.  Although baptisms are free, we do well with collections, so that was at least £1,000 down too. 

Funerals services were 3 in church followed by a burial in the churchyard, 3 at the church then onto the crematorium, 12 at the crematorium only, 1 burial only, 8 ashes interred and 2 at church and then on to Park Cemetery.  This was, understandably, lower than the previous year.

My thanks go to our two Church Wardens, Janet Wheeldon, and Linda Gregory, who have been supportive with advice, guidance and gentle wisdom as we interpreted the laws and guidance from Derby Diocese.  Added to this we now have completed the in-depth Terroir and it has been signed off and approved by the Area Dean.

It was with sadness that I said ‘Goodbye’ to Rev’d Caro (and Simon Hemmings).  As they left in April 2021 to start their next chapter of their lives in Australia, having Caro as my curate made me a ‘lucky, lucky training incumbent’!  Unexpectedly I became a Training Incumbent again as Fr Julius Anozie joined us, initially on a placement in November, that this was made permanent by Bishop Libby.  He has settled quickly into the community and I am excited to see God at work in his life and how he enriches our ministry team.

I want to express my sincerest thanks to David (and Beryl) Pickworth, the things he does for this church and the churchyard is incredible, and far too many to mention, thank you David, you are appreciated and valued so much.  The Quinquennial report highlighted how well looked after our building is and my thanks go to David as well as our Church Wardens and PCC for their governance.

It was lovely to have social activities again, and my thanks go to Joyce Lewis and the team, I must admit at times it has been ‘walking a tightrope’ of emotions, hoping enough people come to make it worthwhile, but not too many that make it feel unsafe.  My thanks go to our team of Flower Arrangers who at central festivals have amazing floral displays, as well as the weekly regular vases of flowers in the building.  The Viking Village Day on 2nd October had to be postponed from the previous year, but despite the constant rain over 500 people came and made it a most memorable day.  The ownership of the historical sword blade is now transferred (by Faculty) to Erewash Museum to be part of their permanent collection.

I want to extend my thanks to Alan Judd, who as well as taking services and preaching in the evening has also been able to take funeral services on Fridays at the Crematorium so I can have a day off as well as being our most entertaining auctioneer at the fetes.

In 2021 Carrie Middleton has grown it her new label of ‘ordinand’ and lead us in an on-line Lent course based on the film ‘The Greatest Showman’.  She will be leaving us to start her curacy in July 2022.  I’ve also stayed in touch with Sian Parker who is in her second of three years training at Durham.  I feel it is probably their fault, (because they were of a high standard going forward to selection for ordination) that I was asked by Bishop Libby to be one of her advisers on the national Bishops’ Advisory Panels – where potential vicars of the future are prayerfully interviewed and assessed.  This is rather a substantial role and will involve being out of parish from Monday to Thursday several weeks a year plus days taken up with ‘Carousel Conservations’ assessments – mini-interviews on Zoom.

It is reassuring that the Saturday Prayer Meetings and the Tuesday House Groups started again, but it has made me aware in a post-Covid world how unsafe Friendship House is for the large groups we used to have in there, also I am aware of the problems with the flooring, and how our temporary building is wearing out.

I have been so proud of our Mothers’ Union branch, and my thanks go to Jane Mortimer and her team that make it all run so smoothly.  Our branch has contributed to many projects, raising funds for the MU as well as having some lovely times together too.  The meetings are now in the church, and it has been great to be together again.

My thanks are offered to Ken and Margaret Udall for all their work, and adapting to the new ways of supporting others in this stressful time.  Added to this I know the contributions from others including Monica Glover, Carol Waterfield, Hilary Hampton and Fred and Cynthia Parkes and I thank them for this.

One of the things I missed in 2020 and grateful to have back again in 2021 is music and singing.   My thanks go to Christine Buxton, Ian Massey and David Draper for playing our organ.  I offer my thanks to Christine Hindmarch for organising and leading our lovely choir, it is such a blessing and great to have new members with Norma and David Wild.

Sadly in 2021 I was not able to go into schools to take assemblies until September.  However, I kept a presence with the Head Teachers plus with the holiday hunger ‘Stay and Play’ activities at the Community Centre. 

All Saints has a beautiful, well-kept and well-loved Church Yard and it is a sense of pride for the whole community, my thanks go to the Gardening Gang for their dedication.  Sadly the Horse Chestnut tree on the drive appears to be dying after being cut back, hence it is something to be address.  It is with sadness and a few tears that I had the privilege of commending to Almighty God a few members of our extended church family including Carol Bryan, and Ella Fletcher.

My sincere thanks go to Pat Doyle for keeping our finances in order and the regular reports she prepares for the PCC, and thanks to Alan Judd our Gift Aid Officer and to Peter Watts our External Independent Auditor.  We are not a rich church, but by their careful and close monitoring of our finances we are well informed for all decision making.  With respect to our Parish Share, in 2021 we have been able to pay £18,000, in 2020 we were able to pay £20,886.  The Diocese is requesting for 2022 a Parish Share/Common Fund a total of £30,914.

I would like to thank Ken for his work on the monthly magazine, with 450 being printed each month, it is a source of mission and appreciated by more people than we realise.  Special thanks go to Esther Colington for her management of our web site and her support of the Church and Church yard, along with her many other roles in Ilkeston, and for her passion about the history of Kirk Hallam.  I would like to thank Alan Judd in his role as PCC Secretary and thanks to Joanne Burrows for up-dating our Facebook page.  Towards the end of 2021 more volunteers were confident to help out at the Community Centre, hence my commitments have been reduced, but still pro-active, especially with the children’s’ ministry.

The small project I started in 2019 with Lindsey Rice – Every One Eats, has grown; as well as two annual events – combining free music and free food for everyone, it also has established a food bank, where food parcels are taken directly to peoples’ homes.  The majority of requests come from young families who the financial consequences of the pandemic have affected.  The group has been blessed with many volunteers who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, I hope my presence will be a source of mission in a variety of ways.  The project has won several awards and now aims to become a registered charity in 2022.  My regular show on Erewash Sound community radio station, has been fun, and again it has been a great tool for mission in a gentle way.  I pray these seeds will germinate, as well as being a great way for me to make sure every event our church has gets lots of free mentions on the radio.

Now I will repeat myself, as I have said in previous years my apologises go to anyone who feels annoyed that I have not mentioned them or thanked them, as I would like to thank everyone who makes All Saints, Kirk Hallam that little bit special, it is an amazing place where the beauty of the building is only surpassed by the kindness of the people – so once again I pray that some of that kindness can be extended to myself if you feel I have forgotten you.

Thoughts for the Future – 2022 and onwards

Things in the Church of England are very uncertain, and the pandemic has highlighted many issues, especially financial.  As a member of both the Deanery Synod and Derby Diocese Synod I am made aware of the need to re-deploy clergy, but in a one-to-one conversation with Bishop Libby was given her reassurance that I do not have to move (unless discern so to do) and as Kirk Hallam, and indeed all Ilkeston parishes are, identified as parishes of multiple deprivation, there will be no reduction in the number of clergy posts locally.

In summary, as we come out of the Covid restrictions, God has blessed us in unexpected ways in the past two traumatic years.  We have been able to proclaim his Good News in new and unexpected ways, such as on-line worship and a literal as well as spiritual meaning ‘feed my sheep’ via the Every One Eats Food Bank, and so concluding, as I’ve said before, and certainly still feel, there is something very special about All Saints Church in Kirk Hallam and it is a privilege to be your Priest in Charge.