The Rector Writes...
“There is nothing certain except change” said the ancient philosopher Heraclitus… and that has certainly been true of life in Melton Mowbray Team Parish this past year.
Personally, the year began with the disappointment of deferring my Sabbatical (again!) due to Alyson’s illness and operation, as has happened again this year due to Mary’s accident two days before Christmas. It is good to see her slowly getting back into parish work, since Palm Sunday, but this is a gradual return and I could not have gone away with a clear conscience with no-one full-time at the helm.
However, although the diocese have not yet agreed to me having the Sabbatical next year, I have pencilled the three months after Easter into my diary… as we’re already getting requests for me to take weddings, attend meetings etc. this time next year. I think “use it, or lose it” will be the motto in 2020!
The past four months have been full-on and I am, once again, very grateful to the whole of the ministry team for their help and support but especially to those who have taken on extra services and “other things” during this period. Those “other things” have involved numerous
funerals (many of long-time church members), extra school assemblies, and the lead thefts at Sysonby, St Mary’s (Hearse House) and, especially, Thorpe Arnold Church — we pray for the Wardens and people there, as we consider how to move forward the work which now needs to be done on, and in, St Mary the Virgin.
During the year, Revd Debbie Starling decided not to continue her involvement with our team. Her main interest is issues of disability and her diocesan role now reflects that. Jill Milner also stepped down as Pastoral Assistant due to ill health and we are grateful for all the work she has done as PA over the past ten plus years.
It was good to have the first full year in the newly re-ordered St Mary’s, and we’re still learning how to use some of the “bells and whistles” of the sound, projection and lighting systems! But highlight of the year was the re-ordering of St James, Burton Lazars, which re-opened again in December, followed by a Re-dedication service, which Bishop Martyn attended, this past January. Well done to Wardens and the team who made that happen.
And, talking about Wardens, thank you to all our Church Wardens for their hard work this past year but especially to Mel Greaves (stepping down at Freeby) and Roger Kirby (stepping down at St Mary’s) and to Colin Beavis, who “kept the show on the road” whilst colleague Peter Franklin was recovering from an operation. Good to see you recovered now, Peter! And thank you to all those who have fulfilled any kind of
Parish-wide ministry, especially Lorrie Foreman, who is stepping down as PCC secretary.
The Samworth Centre, a parish asset, has gone through a difficult “patch” this past year but is soon to re-brand. Thank you to the Manager, Chef and the management team. I suppose it’s a good sign when we can’t have a church meeting in our own building because the rooms are all rented out!
Two items of concern/challenge to finish with. The background is where we’re up to with staffing. We have not been allocated a curate this year and, I suspect, we may not have another one for a while. The lack of offered help from the diocese when Mary broke her arm is of concern, and I think we need to assume that we will continue with, effectively, one and two thirds stipendiary clergy for the near future. This means we need to pray about and rethink the way Mary and I function in the parish, and the role each of us plays - to use our time in the most fruitful and productive way.
Now, the two items:
1) I suspect the “gifts” we offer to the diocese this year will not meet the £110,000 we need to cover the cost (including housing, on-costs etc.) of two stipendiary clergy. In other words, we’re not “paying our way”.
2) I’m not sure what the results of the finance return and skills audit we did recently with our “Give Because You Can” campaign will be (if you’ve not returned yours yet, please do so asap) but we will need to use them, as we consider the best and most viable “Way Forward” for our team parish.
Please continue to pray for your PCC members, who will have some important decisions to make in this coming year.
(*This article is a summary of the Revd Kevin Ashby's report to the Annual Parish Church meeting).
Revd Kevin Ashby