St Francis of Assisi, Petts Wood

For it is in the giving that we receive.


St Francis Church – February Newsletter

In Memoriam: Please hold Joan Lawrence, Carole Steadman and their respective families and friends in your thoughts and prayers. Both Richard and Ray were stalwarts of our worshipping community at St Francis and will be greatly missed. “Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them”.


A BIG “Thank You” to all of those who ensured that our December services and social events were successful. 

December was a very busy and hectic month!  It started with a joyous Family Service which celebrated Advent Sunday during which the Junior Choir sang with the main choir.

The following Saturday (9th December) we held a very successful Christmas Fair which raised just over £1525 for church funds – a splendid effort and much fun was had by all. That same evening Petts Wood Operatics Society and the Rotary Club of Orpington and Crofton held a Christmas concert in aid of local charities and over 100 people attended. They were kind enough to donate £100 to church funds!

The Christmas tree, Crib and decorations were then erected for Nine Lessons and Carols on the 17th December. The church looked beautiful, especially as the flower ladies had also done a magnificent job. Well done to Steve for conducting the service in the absence of a vicar and for producing some fine music (and the orders of service!). The PCC thought it appropriate to share the £206 raised at the Carol Service between two worthy causes - St Christopher’s Hospice and Christian Aid.

Later that week, the Parkinson’s singing group, “Health & Harmony”, had its last session of the year in the Lady Chapel which was beautifully decorated by Sarah. It included a mini concert provided by some of the junior choristers, carols for all and a festive afternoon tea.

A few days’ later there followed, what can only be described as, a plethora of services: as Christmas was on the Monday, we had to organise six services over a day and a half, including four Eucharist services, Midnight Mass and the Crib/Christingle service! Clearly, all of this could not have happened without an enormous team effort so, once again, “thank you” to everyone, including those who attended - I think that we can give each other a collective pat on the back!


Christmas Activities with the Families & Children group

As you can see below, there has been much solid work on building and   growing the fellowship within our Families & Children group.  Your continued support for all the children, parents, carers and adult volunteers is very much appreciated. This has been achieved through your thoughts, prayers, time and money. 

There was a very good turnout (12 children and some parents) for the carol singing in Petts Wood which Sarah organised. As in previous years, the Junior Choir was raising money for Demelza and we are currently waiting for a final total (hopefully, many hundreds of pounds!) Due to time constraints, it was not possible to finish the singing in the pub (as is normal practice!) so it is unlikely that we will beat our record total from last year (over £600).  

The Panto trip organised by Sue was enjoyed by the 30 children and parents who attended.

12 Junior Choir children joined the adult choir for the Carol Service. The juniors continue to rehearse every Thursday and two new members have recently joined.

The Little Lambs Christmas party was very successful – 15 attended the nativity story in church, then Krazy K entertained the mums and toddlers before they “tucked in” to their food.

13 children came to help make the Christingles on the day before Christmas Eve. Thank you to Morrison’s for donating the oranges and for the Children’s Society for donating candles, red tape, prayer cards and safety notices. The Crib Service with Christingles was a great success with over 250 children and parents filling the church to capacity. However, it was a bit daunting for the adult volunteers because we were without a priest. Despite this, and with the help of Dave and the support team, we managed to ensure that everyone had a chance to praise God, enjoy themselves and help others through the collection. There was a wonderfully calm, family atmosphere in church and we raised just over £462 for the Children’s Society. A special mention must go to all the children who participated in the service (dressing up, reading, saying prayers etc.). Our slightly revised format meant that the whole service, including building the Crib tableau between readings, hymns and prayers; handing out/lighting Christingles; simple Christingle “sermon”; and the collection was conducted in less than an hour! Well done, team!  

On the topic of our charitable work, we have a positive update to our November “Families and Children” initiative in aid of the Bangladesh DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee) Appeal.  With the matched funding from HSBC and an unexpected donation from a generous parishioner, the grand total now stands at £800. This is a great result which will directly benefit the Rohingya people from Myanmar.


On the 8th January, Archdeacon Paul, Ann Davies and Dave Ince interviewed three candidates. As a result, the Bishop of Rochester is pleased to announce that The Revd Stephen Niechcial, at present Curate of St John’s Sidcup, is to be appointed the next Vicar of St Francis, Petts Wood. 

Stephen is married to Judith and has one son, a step-son, a step-daughter and three grandchildren. Before Ordination he spent nearly forty years working as a qualified Social Worker, in social work education and for the Probation Service before taking early retirement in 2010.  Stephen comes with considerable experience and is looking forward to leading the church family at St Francis in the next phase of its work and witness in the wider community in Petts Wood.

Fr Stephen will be Collated by the Bishop on 19th April at 7.30pm.  Please hold Fr Stephen and Judith in your prayers as they prepare to move to Petts Wood.

For your diary:  As you can see and, hopefully, experienced, there has been a major commitment from both the PCC, our visiting priests and most of the parishioners of St Francis to ensure continued worship and fellowship. For this we are truly grateful. We would appreciate it if you would make a note of the following dates in your diary.  Please do your best to come to as many of these services as possible - we look forward to your continued attendance, support and prayers.    

Key Diary Dates:

Ash Wednesday          - 14th February at 7.30pm

Mothering Sunday        – 11th March at 10.30am (Family Service with Junior Choir)

Stations of the Cross   – Sunday 18th March at 5pm (readers/helpers required)

Palm Sunday              - 25th March at 10.30am (Procession starting from Hall)

Maundy Thursday        - 29th March at 7.30pm (Last Supper & Washing of Feet)

Good Friday               - 30th March at 12.00 to 2pm (Sung St John Passion on the                          hour and half-hour) then the Liturgy of our Lord’s Passion                               at 2pm

Holy Saturday            - 31st March at 7.30pm (Easter Vigil)

EASTER SUNDAY        - 1st April at 10.30am with an Easter Bonnet competition and                                      Easter Egg Hunt following the service!

Key Diary Dates (continued):

Fr Stephen’s Collation                         - 19th April at 7.30pm with Bishop James of                                               Rochester and Archdeacon Paul Wright

Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM)   - 22nd April at 12pm


Church Volunteers & Visiting Priests:

Thank you for continuing to offer your time, talents and money.  If anyone feels able to help with the “day to day” activities then please let a member of the PCC know. Any amount of time, no matter how small, would be most welcome and appreciated.

We have received a positive response to our request for help during the next period of our Interregnum (January to April).  Apart from one 8am service, all other services have been covered until the end of April, including all of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday).

We are also blessed with the continuing support from Fr David Herbert who has kindly offered to include us in the Stations of the Cross group of churches during Lent.  Please note that St Francis will host “Stations of the Cross” on Sunday 18th March at 5.00pm.  We need volunteers for the fourteen readings as well as for helping with tea/coffee and biscuits afterwards. Please sign up on the notice board at the back of church.

Voluntary Support Group: If you know anyone who would like some friendly company, chats, or some general help with “day to day” activities (shopping, lifts etc.) then please contact Noreen on 020 8289 1902.  Alternatively, if you would like to volunteer then we would love to hear from you. The group already helps over fifteen people and the members find this very rewarding. The group has worked very closely with the Mothers’ Union and this has proved most beneficial.        

Families & Children – Trio “Taster” Session (Serving, Singing & Pizza!!):

This was held on Sunday 28th January in the afternoon to encourage as many young people to join a Junior Servers’ group.  12 youngsters  (aged 10 to 14) attended and it was a great success. After some fun singing warm-ups (thank you, Sarah), the children were shown two basic serving responsibilities – that of Acolyte and Crucifer.  We practised processing with the candles and cross which was not as easy as you might think.


We also looked at the various items and objects which have to be handled carefully e.g. chalices, ciborium, lavabo, wine/water jugs, wafer boxes and collecting plates.

After the hour session, they all decamped to Dave and Sarah’s house for a shared meal and music. It was wonderful to see the youngsters enjoying each other’s company and having fun.  It was also heartening to see that old-fashioned socialising (talking without the aid of a smartphone!) is still possible at St Francis.  Having said this, Alexa started to be confused by the myriad of commands shouted at her! Thank you to the PCC for financially supporting this fun event – the pizzas, garlic bread, ice-cream, cakes and drinks were yummy!

The good news is that three of the servers have their debut on February 4th during the Family Service. Watch out for more Junior Servers over the coming weeks and months and please encourage them – it is not easy to do something brand new in front of a congregation which is constantly looking at you!!

Health and Harmony – the singing group for those with Parkinsons and other medical conditions, continues to meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month in the hall, from 2-3.30pm.  Please contact Sarah Ince if you wish to participate or if you would like to help out as a volunteer (07752 692040).


The PCC in December 2017

The PCC met on Wednesday 6th December and much important business was discussed in a very positive and collaborative manner. Some topics included:


We were pleased to welcome Steve Martin-Lawrence who reported on the various options for St Francis regarding music.  The PCC discussed and then voted unanimously to agree the following four recommendations which Steve had made:

1. That the current process for church music be retained until at least the interregnum is completed.

2. That any advertising for an organist be suspended until a new priest is installed at St Francis.

3. That the PCC consider the purchase of a church iPad not only as a better contingency for when the Choirmaster is absent, bur for other benefits that it would have for the church as well (secure centralised cloud storage for Church documents, creation of church email address, templates, forms, etc.)

4.That the Choirmaster look into possible solutions for the church sound system, but that no commitment or decision be given in that respect until the earlier of a new priest being installed or the current sound system fail completely.


In his Churchwarden’s report Dave Ince explained the next steps of the interview process and that he was hopeful that a new vicar would be in position by May 2018.   He asked that a request from the 8am congregation (that the statue of The Virgin Mary be moved back into the Lady Chapel) be considered and the members of the PCC unanimously agreed to this. After discussions with Clare Lilley, Dave introduced an important topic of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which will apply from late May 2018 and he asked for a volunteer to analyse them and to explain to the PCC how St Francis will be affected.  Dave welcomed Myra to the servers’ team and said how helpful her contribution was.

He reported on the fund raising achieved by the Families and Children group and that Sophie’s stall at the Fair would be in aid of Bromley Welcare and the Felix Project. The PCC agreed that the PCC donation to Bromley Welcare this year would be the difference between the amount raised by Sophie for Welcare (excluding matching funding) and £750.


We also discussed the Diocese’s ‘Dignity at Work’ policy.  We will be voting on whether to adopt this at the next PCC meeting (Tuesday 23rd January).

Treasurer’s report

Terri presented tables showing receipts and payments up to October. DS said that, largely due to DI’s success with Hall lettings, we were currently a little better than budget, but the Vicarage decorating costs would mean that the deficit for the year would be worse  than that in the budget.

DS presented his report on  the Treasurers’ conference (previously circulated) and said that we would have to debate our Diocesan Offer for 2018 when we received the Diocese’s ‘’indicative offer’’.

DS proposed that a few changes be made to our Financial Procedures:

a) Responsibility

The PCC is responsible for managing all church income and expenditure. It appoints a Treasurer to bank receipts, make payments, keep records, make financial reports to PCC, manage bank accounts, and prepare annual accounts, but the overall responsibility still remains with the PCC.

b) Receipts

After each service 2 sidespersons will open giving envelopes, record the amounts contained on each envelope, count open plate collection, complete and sign the weekly record sheet and place envelopes, cash and record sheet in a bag in the safe. Church wardens or persons appointed by them can act as sidespersons for these duties.

Other receipts must be passed to the Treasurer.

Where arranged with the Treasurer, receipts may be paid electronically to the PCC bank account.

c) Payments

All payments will be made by the Treasurer, by cheque or electronically. Cheque payments require signature by 2 authorised persons. All payments must be supported by an invoice or other documentary evidence to support the payment being made. Regular payments by direct debit will be approved by the Treasurer, but other payments should be approved by the person incurring the expenditure before being passed to the Treasurer. All payments exceeding £300 should be approved by, or reported to, the PCC. Exceptions to this may be authorised by the Wardens with the agreement of the Treasurer.

All these procedures were agreed.


Deposit Account Mandates

Following the change in Treasurer, new mandates were needed to authorise transactions on our Deposit accounts. It was proposed that Theresa Hull (Treasurer), Anthony Burlace(Vice Chairman) and David Sayburn (Secretary) be authorised persons to make transactions on these accounts on behalf of the PCC. This was agreed unanimously.

The PCC in January 2018

The PCC met on Tuesday 23rd January, 2018.  This was a very long, yet positive, meeting. Please find below a basic summary of this meeting:

It was agreed that St Francis adopt the Diocesan policy on Dignity at Work.

The Bishop’s latest initiative, “Called Together’’, was discussed and a number of PCC members were invited to a meeting to learn more about it.  The meeting will be held an Saturday 3rd March (10am to 1pm) at St Olave’s School.

A child at Bright Beginnings had burnt their hands on the guard of one of the Hall heaters. Warning notices are in place and the guard manufacturers are investigating, but it was agreed that other measures should be taken. Dave and Tony are to investigate replacing the guards or possibly installing new heaters with better safety protection.

Hall cleaning was discussed and it was agreed that cleaning and removal of unnecessary material should be arranged for the Easter holiday period.

Dave discussed many of the key points contained in this Newsletter. He also discussed that St Francis faced many challenges and some of these related to limited manpower. He thought that we needed to identify suitably skilled parishioners who would be able to help existing volunteers in the “day to day” running of the voluntary groups.  In addition, there was a noticeable “disconnect” between some of the successful “Families & Children” initiatives and the actual attendance at Sunday Clubs and at church.  


The 2017 Stewardship Renewal had resulted in one new person joining planned giving and 8 increased pledges by existing members, giving a total increase of £1300p.a. This, however, was offset by people leaving, so that our current level of giving is less than in previous years and still insufficient for our needs.


Terri presented tables showing receipts/payments for 2017. Our deficit of - £5558 was close to budget because the unbudgeted work on the vicarage was offset by hall receipts.

A draft budget was presented for 2018 and, after discussion, amendments were made to increase expenditure on oil and on Hall maintenance.

Diocesan Parish Offer

In the past this has been a contentious topic; however, the PCC was unanimous in the approach which St Francis should take.  It was confirmed that, in normal years, we accept our responsibility to pay the cost of our priest and make a fair contribution towards other Diocesan costs. However, in our current interregnum we had suffered loss of revenue and incurred additional costs e.g. the redecoration of the vicarage. In view of this it was agreed that our offer for 2018 be reduced by £6000 to £45,450. The Secretary would write to the Diocese informing them of this and saying that it reflects the financial effect of the interregnum and will be reviewed in future, taking account of the Diocesan’s suggested parish offer and our financial position after the interregnum.

[Please note that we have just received positive confirmation from the Diocese regarding our revised Parish Offer: “We acknowledge that your present aim is to return to your past practice of meeting the costs of your priest and making a fair contribution to other Diocesan costs as soon as you are able to do so. May I take this opportunity to thank the parish for its generosity in supporting the mission of the Diocese.”]


It was reported that the major development work on the kitchen and bathroom was ongoing with planned completion of before Easter. The Diocese will arrange an upgraded alarm system. The grant towards garden costs (£500) has been received from the Diocese and part of this will fund a skip to clear garden rubbish.

Hall Sub-committee

BT has now been told that the Hall phone connection is no longer required. It was reported that casual Hall lettings were very positive for the 1st quarter and that two additional WI groups having now committed to monthly bookings.

Building Sub-committee

A grant application had been submitted to All Churches Trust and we have been told it will be 3-6 months before we learn whether it is successful. David Sayburn had stated in our application that our schedule involved us raising the required funds and obtaining the faculty and competitive tenders for the work by 31.12.18 with the view of completing the work by 31.3.19. He said that we needed to submit many grant applications to different organisations and he asked for help in doing this. It was agreed that details of organisations which made grants to Rochester Cathedral in recent years would be passed to David S.



Social Sub-committee

DI presented his previously circulated note. The Summer and Winter Fairs will be held on Saturday 23 June and Saturday 8 December respectively. CL confirmed that these dates did not clash with Crofton School events which would be 9 June and 2 December. DI said he would manage arrangements for a social event on Saturday 28 April and MA will explore musical arrangements for a Barn Dance on 13 October.  


AD said new guidelines for Sunday Club and young servers were needed. Eligibility for DBS checks and safeguarding training were discussed.

Children and Families

CL presented her previously circulated report. Much of this can be seen earlier in this Newsletter. There was still the challenge of low attendance at Sunday services and Sunday Clubs which needs to be addressed with our new vicar. CL asked for any ideas on increasing attendance to be passed to her.

Data Protection

The previously circulated report, ‘GDPR-General Data Protection Regulation Q&A for PCCs’, was discussed. AD was appointed Data Compliance Officer and the subject will be a standing item on future PCC agendas.

2017 Annual Report and Accounts

DS presented a draft of the Report to which DI and SML must add Warden’s Report and Finance Review respectively. The draft Annual Accounts prepared by SML were presented and discussed. DS commented on that production of full accounts so quickly after a year when there had been two changes of Treasurer was a remarkable achievement. The PCC expressed its thanks to SML and welcomed his ongoing role in assisting financial record keeping, accountancy and reporting.  It formally approved his access to all financial information required for this purpose.

A final version of the Report and Accounts will be presented to the next PCC meeting.

Notice boards & Plaque

The PCC discussed the need for a new, large notice board at the corner of Greencourt Rd. This was generally agreed but it was felt that the style and wording should be discussed with the new vicar.  It was suggested that a plaque in memory of Ray Steadman be placed at the foot of the Christmas Tree in the church grounds. Thi