St Francis of Assisi, Petts Wood

For it is in giving that we receive.

Vicars report to PCC
November 2019

Worship

Our  once a month Evensong continues to be well supported, the  service of Benediction which follows less so at present, but still with 3 or 4 attenders  The Taize service (which we have now held six times) continues to attract people from other churches.  I have agreed with the URC Minister Nadene, that from Jan 2019 we will run this service in our respective churches on alternate months, keeping to the third Sunday of the month, and starting in January at URC. I think this this will be one of several valuable links strengthening ecumenical working together in Petts Wood. Masses on Tues, Weds, Thurs, continue to have regular attendees.  Morning Prayer in church daily is at 7.45, Evening Prayer time fluctuates. If anyone wants to attend on a particular day, I am very happy to change times, ‘one off’ or regularly. It is certainly helpful for my prayers if others are able to join me. I ring the bell for the daily services. We continue to have the invaluable help of Father Bob  most Sundays, maintaining the  general pattern of concelebrating at 10.30 most weeks, his preaching at 10.30 once a month, celebrating and preaching at 8.0 am once a month, and of course cover for me when I am on leave.

The use of our Family Service format for services including baptism is an improvement, but I still feel this service is too long and need further shortening.

It was wonderful that we were able to hold a Confirmation Service at St. Francis with five young people and one adult from our parish. These numbers are a great testimony to all who have contributed to our children’s work over the past few years, and our thanks go to them for all the generous and hard work done. 

Our Patronal Festival was much better supported this year, but attendance at our All Souls Mass very low. I think that next year I will aim to publicise it more widely and perhaps turn it into a more general memorial event for those who have lost loved ones during the year.  

The British Legion remembrance Service will be held at URC, this year, and we will be celebrating a Requiem Mass as an alternative form of commemoration. It is likely that some of our congregation will choose to attend the URC service. One of congregation members has expressed strong disapproval and disappointment that the Remembrance Service is not being held at St. Francis this year, otherwise I have received no comments.  In the meantime, I have spoken with the Secretary of the British legion to make it clear that they are very welcome to hold the service at St. Francis next year if they want to. From the conversation, I get the impression that they might be considering a three year cycle of St. James, St. Francis and Christchurch. To my mind, that would be an ideal solution as it would allow three different traditions to shape and enrich remembrance worship.    

I did not call a meeting of our Mission group in October as planned, but various mission ideas have emerged which I am working on. Examples are- using a churchyard tree as a prayer tree, having a ‘coffee and chat drop in’ at the vicarage, using a self-standing ‘sandwich’ board at the church entrance, drawing attention to the fact that the church is open and inviting passers-by in (I have purchased this). I am also hoping to announce a family event with a date on the Christmas Service sheets when the maximum of families will see them. I will be shortly be contacting the parents of those confirmed to see if there is an appetite for an on-going young people’s group. I will reconvene the Mission Group after Christmas.     

Having discussed further with Steve and Sue about further churches to our Ordinary Time service sheets, it was decided that proposed changes would create undue extra work, so we will continue as at present. Many thanks go to Steve for creating a set of standard service books for our major festivals. This will greatly reduce printing costs and preparation time in the future.   

We have continued to use an organist for Mass at least once a month. An advert for a permanent organist will appear in the RSCM magazine coming out on 1st December (we narrowly missed the last deadline). The advert is on their website already. There have been some ‘nibbles’ of interest. In the meantime we have had a kind donation of £3.5K, initially restricted to pay towards organist costs.     

Our sound system crackle problems seem finally to have been solved with the installation of a new mixer. I am hoping soon to repair the hearing aid loop which has not been operative for some time. There are some other minor improvements to the sound system to be made and we have the budget to do these. I will action as soon as possible. 

Two long-standing members of our church, Andrew Clark and Adam Martin-Lawrence have announced they will be leaving us. Both Andrew and Adam have contributed enormously to our church life over a number of years. We are very sorry to see them go, and wish them every blessing in finding new places of worship. We will arrange an appropriate occasion to thanks them and wish them well.     

Children’s work

Sarah continues to try and generate interest in a new Junior Choir.  I continue to hold  Sunday lunch parties for baptism families with the intention of introducing them to other younger church families. Clare (Lilley) helpfully suggested that emailing families to alert them to Family Services would be useful, and I have set up a list to do this.  

Communication and Outreach       

Our Bereavement Cafe continues to run and meet a need.  Churches Together have joined in a scheme to expand the initiative by creating a Bereavement Point in the Methodist Church in partnership with St. Christopher’s Hospice. This will be staffed by volunteers from all the churches and several have already come forward including our own Ann, Jos and Noreen. The hope is that the Methodist Church is much better placed than we are to attract passers-by to ‘drop in’. We will continue our own Bereavement Cafe for an overlap period. 

We had a substantial item in the Diocesan Newsletter this month on our new kitchen and toilet facilities and their usefulness in outreach. 

Our Christmas services will be advertised on the Churches Together Christmas Card and in the Gazette 

Please keep supporting the Facebook page.  This ideally needs new material two or three times a week to make it engaging. We have to be mindful of GDPR and Safeguarding, but photos gathered from any church related events anyone is involved in and emailed to me would be greatly appreciated. Also please, if you are on Facebook please let me know so that we can ‘Friend’ you. A summer newsletter has been published.

A winter newsletter is being prepared. 

Development

I compiled and circulated comments on the re-ordering of the back of the church and would like to convene a separate (short) meeting of the PCC to consider these. As a minimum we need to get the rear of the church a little tidier before Christmas.

 The new study group continues to meet with 7 regular members fortnightly on Wednesdays from 8 to 9.30 pm. New members are most welcome. 

Irene and I both attended a training on domestic abuse. We have been asked by the Diocese to conduct a review of any historic abuse cases, and an email will go out about this.  

Occasional Offices 

In the past two months I have officiated at two funerals, with a further three to come this month.  We have had two baptisms, with no more booked currently. We have one wedding confirmed for next summer, with another one provisionally arranged.    

Pastoral Work

Home Communion continues regularly to four housebound members with regular visits to a fifth. 

My Air Training Corps chaplaincy in Penge continues, though temporarily suspended waiting for yet another DBS to be reviewed. I have taken on the role of hounary chaplain to the Guild of Servers of the Sanctuary.     

Social Activities and Fund Raising

Suggestions for 2020 are a concert by those who played for us this year, a cabaret style event of food and theatre music in the hall, an enlarged Summer Fair with a dog show, and a family Barn Dance. The Bromley Boys Choir, have replied to say that they would like to perform in our church in December 2020 

We have a pilgrimage planned to Assisi for March 2020 with to date, 7 definite, and two provisional.    

Personal

Judith and I will be away from 15th to 17th Nov  inclusive.  Taking into account days off, this brings the total of Annual leave taken to 30 days. This figure has been amended from the September total to account for days off not taken. I was laid up with a nasty infection for a week earlier this month. Whilst I am much better thanks to antibiotics, tests results are not normal and reveal that I may need further treatment. 

Father Stephen sig

Fr. Stephen
November 2019.