Every year is a memorable year for St Peter’s church but this year more than most.
It’s really surprising how much goes on in the church and in the community and it’s only when it all comes to a sudden halt that it strikes you quite how much activity there is.
Coronavirus Covid-19 forced us to close the church on March 17th 2020, instantly halting the use of the church building for services and prayer and forcing the cancellation of community events in the village hall such as the Flower Festival Lunch and Harvest Supper.
Undaunted, the Rector, the Rev Canon Richard Thorniley and the Rev Chris Sheehan, have used the internet to continue holding services. Daily morning services are held via Zoom with anyone who wishes to join in being able to take part.
Sunday Services have been constructed each week to serve the ARCH Benefice and the Inkberrow group of churches, working together as the North Avon Group. Contributions (prayers, readings, sermon and hymns) are recorded in individuals’ homes and sent via Dropbox to Brian Telford at Inkberrow who edits them together into a video available on YouTube each Sunday.
Spiritually the church has been able to continue its mission. Financially, Covid-19 has been a big blow.
Income from collections at services stopped instantly. Our big two fundraising events, the Flower Festival Lunch and the Harvest Supper will not take place this year leaving a substantial hole in our income , while we, of course, have ongoing costs in running the church building and churchyard and in contributing our Parish Share to the Worcester Diocese to go towards the salaries of clergy. Every year we need to raise in excess of £10,000.
We still plan to replace the steps at the entrance to the churchyard. We were planning to apply to the Diocese for a Faculty for permission to proceed, but that has been placed on hold while Government restrictions on church use still exist.
So what had been happening before Covid-19?
No More Rising Damp
The biggest development of the year was the French Drains project, costing almost £10,000, which was started in the summer 2019 and completed in December. It was vital to stop damp rising, particularly on the north side of the church and there are already visible improvements to the condition of the walls.
The old concrete-lined drains were installed in the 1950’s and had broken down. The new soakaway system is more in keeping with this ancient building and more sustainable in the long term. Plastic guttering has also been replaced, where necessary, with a cast iron system similar to that in place in previous times.
We are enormously grateful to a number of individuals who very generously made donations to the cost of the work.
It’s been a busy year for our churchwarden Kevin Clarke, overseeing the French Drains Project and I would like to express here our gratitude to his service
I would like to thank two people in our Financial Department… to Lynne Pemberton who has carried out the role of Treasurer since Terry Brewster stood down in March, presenting financial reports to PCC meetings with the solid support of Tim Jones who draws up those reports and so brilliantly looks after all our financial workings. Tim has now taken on the role of Treasurer and we don’t know where we would be without him.
Our Flower Fund pays for bouquets of flowers or plants to give a morale boost and a pick-me-up for those in the parish who’ve been ill enough to have spent time in hospital. We’d prefer never to have to use it but life’s not like that and every recipient has told us how much they have appreciated the gift. Roma Jones looks after our Flower Fund and we give her our grateful thanks.
Flower Arranging: we thank so many people who take their turn to create the floral arrangements which make the church look so beautiful. Peggy Clarke has been in charge of the rota of those volunteers for many years but this year she decided it was time for someone else to take on the task. We are enormously grateful to Peggy, a stalwart of the PCC. We’re pleased to say that, although she is not a member of the PCC, Gill Barker has taken on the role.
Flower Festival and Lunch: The 2019 Flower Festival once again saw the church beautifully decorated and we’d like to congratulate everyone who contributed to this floral display. The annual Flower Festival lunch was really splendid. Huge thanks go to organiser Lynne Pemberton and to Roma Jones for her innovative way of serving Coronation chicken on a bed of little gem lettuce. The lunch made £480.13 which was a little down on the previous year’s £515.50
Harvest Supper was a very good evening with 63 attending including some new faces in the community. Our thanks once again to Lynne Pemberton and all who helped in any way. Bar profits were up, food costs were slightly up but raffle profits were down by £300. Total profit was £1,035. (compared to £1,463 the previous year).
Carols on the Green went into the church because the amount of rain we had in December meant the village green was not in a good enough state. There were a large number of singers in church and a fabulous atmosphere.
The Carol and Gift Service was enhanced by the making of Christingles. The candlelight brought a special atmosphere to the church and a huge number of gifts were taken away for distribution by Action for Children.
The Christmas Eve service is an essential feature of the year was well attended
As well as family services every fortnight and Holy Communion services each fortnight St Peter’s holds special services at various times of the year.
The Remembrance Service was led jointly by Lynda Payne and Colin Pemberton and thanks were given to Terry Brewster for the many Remembrance Services he has superbly led over the years.
Mothering Sunday was delightful and well attended with posies of flowers distributed by children to mothers in the congregation.
A Rogation “walking service”, was held in May, working our way through the village, giving thanks for the elements of creation such as livestock, field, orchards and gardens.
The PCC would like to thank all those people in the parish who diligently and willingly lock and unlock the church on a daily basis. That so many are prepared to be on our unlocking rota is a heartening sign of a community giving to others and our thanks go to Lynda Payne for her work in gathering people together onto the locking rota. Fewer and fewer churches remain open all day every day and it’s something we aim to continue at St Peter’s. Sadly Covid 19 enforced a closure.
New Parish Giving Scheme
The PCC voted to join this relatively new scheme of making monthly donations to St Peter’s by Direct Debit instead of putting money into an offertory plate. It was agreed that members of the PCC would trial it initially to iron out any snags, then we would seek to encourage others to take part eg those at the moment doing covenants, replacing their Standing Orders.
For two month’s at the end of 2019 our Rector, Rev Canon Richard Thorniley, embarked on a sabbatical: Rev Chris Sheehan took on the cover required during Richard’s absence. .
The Year Ahead
The coming year should see us starting work on the next big project, the long desired replacement of the main steps. A lot of preparatory design work has already been done by our architects and a Faculty application will now be made as soon as we can. This project will cost in the region of £8,000 and we hope for generous support from the community.
About the Parochial Church Council
The Parochial Church Council of St Peter’s, Abbots Morton is a charity which cooperates with the incumbent in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the church… pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical (PCC (Powers) Measure 1956). Members:
• The Reverend: Canon Richard Thorniley
• Churchwarden: Kevin Clarke
• Elected members: Lynda Payne, Lynne Pemberton, Colin Pemberton, Peggy Clarke, Roma Jones, Terry Brewster.
• Treasurer: Tim Jones
• Electoral Roll Officer: Lynne Pemberton
• Honorary Secretary: Colin Pemberton