The Church Council meets monthly and reviews the life of the church across all the areas of church life, and ensures that the Aims and Objectives are respected.
The use of the building by Community and other Groups has increased, and Council has agreed that during 2016, the church will run a Charities Fair, allowing local charity groups a free forum to promote their charities, whilst increasing the exposure of the service of Christchurch to the local community. We also supported Society Sunday in 2015, and were privileged to have our local Member of Parliament, Ward Councillors, the Police Commissioner, and representatives of local schools, health providers and businesses at, and contributing to, our church service at which we celebrated "community" and our society in general.
An Open Church Meeting was held in March 2015 to review proposed Constitutional change necessary to bring the constitution up to date and in line with current requirements of various bodies. The proposals were adopted at the Annual Church Meeting 2015 and went forward to the denominational bodies for ratification. It is expected that the final denominational approval will be received in time for the formal adoption of the Constitution at the 2016 Annual Church Meeting1.
The year saw Val Philips unable to actively continue her role and she has suspended her membership of Council. Council expresses its thanks on behalf of the Church to both for her loyal and invaluable service to Christchurch.
Chris Pearce was elected as Church Secretary. Audrey Staite was elected to Council and has taken on the role of Pastoral Advocate.
WE ARE THANKFUL FOR THE GENEROSITY OF FRIENDS AND MEMBERS
This year we had offerings totalling £40,569 slightly down on last year by £2,000. During a period when everyone has had to tighten their belts, this is also reflected on what the church receives.
This year we received £372 towards the cost of the chronicle, it reflects on how well received the magazine is to members and friends.
Charitable Donations and Appeals
Our twelve charities between them received £1,676 and special appeals during the year raised £747. It appears that the range of charities that benefit fits a good cross section of giving.
We are grateful for the donation of £1,500 from Christchurch Holiday & Travel and all the individuals and groups who have made special donations to the church amounting to £895.
Other Fund Raising Activities
Fund raising quiz night, barn dance, film night, ride & stride, the stompers, John Clargo, concerts and fairs have contributed £2,424 towards church funds. It just goes to show how beneficial your support of these events are.
We have benefited from a change of the gift aid rules The Small Donation Scheme
There has not been much change in these payments as the membership numbers have remained roughly the same.
This is similar to last year and within budget.
This year we carried out upgrades to our health and safety requirements and provided crash bars to our four fire exit doors, including incorporating them in the alarm system.
We also went ahead with the replacement of our aged central heating boiler, and carried out our usual work week maintenance. The amount this year including building insurance came to £4,599.
With Balance of £7,571 brought forward, the total incomings including gift aid was £77,303 and we had expenditure of £72,587 an amount of £3,000 was transferred from reserves to leave us with a current account bank balance of £7,716.
The accounts during the year operated within the confines of the budget which was set at the start of the year.
The COIF Charity Deposit Reserves stands at £18,273 representing three months expenditure.
The COIF Charity Property Reserves stands at £11,136 and the annual amount of £2,500 was transferred into the account.
The Treasurer is therefore recommending to the church meeting:-
1. That the Independent Examined Accounts be accepted.
Howard Francis (Treasurer)
HEALTH AND SAFETY REPORT
During the year, the Church has adopted a new Health and Safety Policy document with associated Guidance. The Church is subject to a quarterly risk review and actions noted are monitored and dealt with in a timely manner. No significant or unusual hazards have been noted. The Lone Working Policy and Safeguarding Policy forms part of the Health and Safety overall Policy.
The subject of Health and Safety is a regular agenda item at Church Council and the Church Meeting has received a presentation on the Policy and members attending took away a handout on the subject. The Policy is clearly displayed on Notice Boards and copies are available for use by church members and leaders of organisations using the church.
Christchurch Abbeydale is committed in providing a safe place for all to come to. We have adopted the Safeguarding guidelines of the Methodist Church. We ensure that anyone involved with children and young people have a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service check) appropriate for the level of contact. Safeguarding is not a "nice to have", it is essential. Policies for Safeguarding Children and Young people and Vulnerable
Adults have been posted in the vestibule. They are displayed so that everyone who comes to Christchurch is under no illusion as to our view of Safeguarding. So if you have not read them please do. And if anyone asks you if we have Safeguarding policies please show them where the policies are. The policies are important as they demonstrate quite clearly that any kind of abuse must not be ignored be it emotional, physical, financial, discriminatory, domestic, neglect, institutional, spiritual, or sexual.
Mike Thomas is our Safeguarding Officer
This is my first report since taking over as Pastoral Secretary. At present we have 19 Pastoral Links, having welcomed Sheila Whitaker to the team. Our thanks go to Babs Clargo for her hard work in sorting out the lists and handing over such a well organised system.
The work of caring for the congregation and wider community continues, very often unnoticed, and there is very good communication between members of the team. Confidentiality is very important to us and we are all ready to listen in confidence to concerns and help where we can. Confidences are not shared with anyone, not even other members of the team, without your permission. Our aim is to make sure that everyone feels welcome at Christchurch, but we cannot help unless we know of a need. A problem shared is a problem halved. We meet regularly with the Minister and meetings include some form of training and discussion.
Every week, two or three bunches of flowers are taken out to homes on behalf of the church, that is about 100 visits every year. This part of our pastoral caring is well organised by Carol Terry. Thanks got to Carol and her team, and also thanks to those who provide the flowers each week.
Finally, "thank you" to all the Pastoral Links for your hard work, and the help given to me over the past year, and especially to my support team of Mavis and Pat.
May God's love be with you all.
CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Our thanks go to all who have contributed to the youth work of the church. Activities are covered by the various reports in this Annual Report. Relevant sections are: Boys Brigade and Girls Association, Experience Easter and Christmas, Junior Church and The Core, and Open The Book.
Boy's Brigade and Girl's Association Report
Firstly we would like to thank the church for its continuing support and encouragement in the ongoing running of our Boys Brigade and Girls Association.
Our numbers continue to be healthy and we have 12 Anchors, 10 Junior’s and 15 Company Section. Our numbers are lower than last year at this time, but we have been growing slowly throughout the year, and continue to have new children joining us. We have been lucky enough this year to have several new helpers join us which has helped lighten the load, particularly as I am also helping to run and organise the Anchors at 5th Gloucester at the moment, who also meet on a Monday night, so I do alternate weeks at each company. I would like to thank Glynis who has stepped in, in my absence at 7th along with Margaret and Kira, our two senior girls, who will soon become officers within the company. We would like to welcome Yvonne Heggs who has kindly come in to help us in the anchor section.
Throughout the year we have taken part in the Gloucestershire Battalion events, District competitions throughout the West Country, including the Scripture Exam for both Company and Junior’s. At National level we travelled to Dunstable, taking two teams to take part in the BB National Ten Pin Bowling, where one of our teams came 4th in the Alley Competition. We also took part in the Table Tennis, and Master team, where at this moment in time we are in the semi-finals for the England Region.
The Company Section children, once they are old enough, take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, and we have had a bronze and silver group working within this for the past year. As soon as Margaret has completed her Silver Expedition she will start working on her Gold Award.
In the autumn we took the Junior’s on a weekend camp (in tents) to a camp site at Newent, with other Companies in the Battalion. It was a very successful weekend, and has become an annual event.
At Christmas the Anchors and Junior’s joined 5th Gloucester for a party with a magician, and finished off the afternoon taking part in the churches Christingle Service. The Company Section went Ice Skating at Malvern.
Company Section went to camp at Broadleas, Haytor, Devon with 5th Gloucester last summer for a week. This year we are going to Kirkham, near Blackpool, and the Juniors are going to Barton Camp which is near Weston Super Mare for 3 nights in the May half term, with the Battalion.
We are doing some fund raising for ourselves this year, and have taken part in the Christmas Fayre at church, and are hoping to book Rikenel Car Park again this year. We are looking to continue fund raising for ourselves in the future if needed.
The Company Section have also been fund raising for others in the form of a car washes, for the shoe boxes. The whole Company took part in the Poppy Appeal at Morrison again this year in November, and joined in the Remembrance Sunday Parade at Hucclecote.
In September we will lose both Margaret and Kira to university, and they will be sadly missed within our Company, but we wish them well, and will see them on their return in the holidays. Kira is going to Cambridge, and Margaret is hoping to as well.
All in all, another busy and successful year, for 7th Gloucester Boy’s Brigade and Girls Association.
Diana Dale Captain
Christchurch Walkers and Strollers
(With a few OWLS (Older With Less Speed))
March 2015- Walkers set off from Duntisbourne to Woodmancote through a secret valley and the Cotswold Park, returning along Halfpenny Hill. There were no stiles! Weather cloudy but dry.
April 2015- 14 walkers set off from Maisemore to the church of St Giles, into the Deer Park and along the River Severn, crossing the point-to point course, a walk of 4.5 miles with two stiles. It was a dry sunny day.
May 2015- 12 walkers left Haresfield beacon car park to walk across fields and through woods to Randwick. We has a picnic in a beer garden before joining the WAP Festival. Return walk was through bluebell woods on a dry and sunny day.
June 2015- Walkers set off from Winchcombe railway station for a level walk to Toddington, visiting the village, church, manor and mill. We had a picnic at the GWR station , catching the steam train back to Winchcombe and its 1950's Tea Rooms.
July 2015-10 walkers went to Frampton-on- Severn and Saul, visiting two churches, two rivers and two canals, with a picnic lunch feeding the ducks! It was a dry sunny day, with ice creams to finish.
August 2015- 14 walkers went to Dean Forest Railway, Norchard, catching the train to Parkend. We walked to Mallards' Pike Lake and picnicked at the "Go-Ape" shelter. We returned past old colliery and railway sites to Parkend, catching the train back to Norchard, in time for ice creams. Another dry sunny day.
September 2015-7 walkers went to Coombe Hill Canal Reserve, visiting the River Severn, Apperley, Fletcher's Leap and the River Chelt. We picnicked at Haw Bridge on a dry sunny day.
October 2015-13 walkers went to Barrow Wake Car Park at Birdlip. We walked along farm tracks, country lanes, visited a long barrow and passed an old radio station. Lunch was at the Royal George Hotel. Another dry sunny day.
November 2015-Walkers set off from the Rising Sun, Moseley Green in the Forest of Dean, following tracks to Cannop Ponds and then the Gloucestershire Way through a nature reserve. We walked through Parkend and followed the tracks back to the start. We had heavy rain when we set off but it cleared halfway around. This was a walk with no stiles!
December 2015- "Ian's Christmas Walk": 10 walkers enjoyed the walk up to the Royal William for lunch and drinks. After they walked to the Beacon for the views, returning via Watery Lane. It was a dry but cloudy day.
January 2016- Walkers went to Barrow Wake car park in Birdlip and walked along tracks, fields and lanes, visited a long barrow and passed the old radio station. It was a dry sunny day after a hard frost (the mud was frozen). Lunch was at the Royal George Hotel, Birdlip.
February 2016- Walkers enjoyed a dry, cloudy day with easterly winds, walking from Cranham to Sheepscombe far end, Ebworth Center (Spirit of the Woods) and Overtown (Lily Allen's House). Lunch was at the Black Horse, returning in time for International Rugby!
"CAN TWO WALK TOGETHER EXCEPT THEY BE AGREED?" Amos 3v3
The Church magazine is produced ten times a year. It has a monthly circulation of around 170 copies and is often 40 pages – in fact limiting it to 40 pages to contain costs has become increasingly difficult! Most material is readily provided by church members and this includes information on the outside organisations they actively support. This enables the Chronicle to reflect Christchurch Life both within the church and outside in the wider community.
The Chronicle is also distributed to members who are housebound and unable to get to services
The Chronicle Team covers all aspects of production ‘in house’ and thanks are due to this extended team.
The Craft Circle has had another busy and happy year. "Greenfields, Africa" is still our main charity, with "Hand in Hand Syria" and "Pied Piper" (based at Gloucester Royal Hospital) also receiving two large bags of premature baby knitted items. The following items were sent abroad: Cardigans, 107; Jumpers; 33; Hats, 35; Scarves, 13; Booties, 5 pairs; Mittens, 4 pairs; Blankets, 14; Teddies, 11; Premature baby sets, 4.
Financially we supported the following: Christchurch, £115.65, The Strawberry Tea, £29.40 (all raised through the sale of items) and direct donations as follows: Nepal Earthquake Appeal £10.00, Cheltenham Oncology Unit and St Leonards Church Repairs, £20.00 and Christchurch Tea/Coffee Fund £10.00.
We are very grateful to have such a generous band of ladies who give their time and talents to help those in need and our heartfelt thanks go to each one of them. A special mention is due to Pat Dettmer. Whilst I was housebound, Pat covered Thursday afternoons faithfully, so much so that everyone has said they prefer her tea and coffee to those of the writer! Many thanks Pat.
We pray that all our work is for our God, and everything made reflects His love and ours.
We are once again running a regular crèche although at present we only have one toddler. We do occasionally have visiting children/babies which can be a bit difficult due to lack of helpers. We are a team of only three and making it work can sometimes be a problem. We really could do with more help – please! Grateful thanks go to the Core Group for giving up the large room and moving into Shalom thereby giving crèche the space we desperately needed.
Experience Easter and Christmas
Again this year we were delighted to welcome Heron School and Abbeymead School to Christchurch for Experience Easter and Christmas. These were well received by both pupils and staff and those from Christchurch who were involved thoroughly enjoyed it.
Fellowship and Fairs Committee
The new team under the leadership of Alison Apperley have been busy with a number of different fellowship activities, and have organised two Church Fairs. We are very grateful for the support of all helpers who support our fellowship-related events and for the financial contributions made. 2016 promises a busy programme including quizzes, fairs, barn dances, beetle drives and fashion shows as well as a Flower Festival. A new initiative will be trialled this year where families of those baptised in the church are invited back for an afternoon tea and reunion.
Our fellowship and fairs activities are open to the wider community and are an excellent way of developing contacts with those around us. Our buildings are a welcoming space and used for a number of external community activities.
We continue to support the important work of the Food Bank. In the year ending December 2015 we donated 595.55 kg of food and related materials. It represents an important part of our giving and this is recognised at Morning Communions where the Food Bank Hamper is brought forward with the offertory.
Friday morning Coffee and Chat
Coffee & Chat continued regularly throughout 2015 with the same faithful ban of helpers. Our thanks to Gavin and Audrey, Greta Knowles, Pauline Corcoran and Ron, Pam Kelly and Val Doll. We missed Pam and Greta at the beginning of the year and Val towards the end of the year through illness. We are delighted that they are all feeling so much better and are back with us again now. Numbers vary but we always enjoy our time together. We should be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to join the team and help us occasionally.
Holidays and Day Trips
During 2015 there were two holidays- a 5 day breaks to Weymoth, and a seven day holiday to Gilsand on Hadrian's Wall. We had Dave Glover from Little Coaches who has been driving us for a number of years and took us to Weymouth, and who will be with us on all our holidays in 2016. We were joined by our old friend Derek Armstrong who came down all the way from Gilsand with his grandson to pick us up, and who then drove and guided us during our week away.
We give our thanks to John Flemons and David Jaques for films and photographs, and especially David and Christine Hoare for the lovely reports in Chronicle after the holidays, as well as the films we all so much enjoy at our Holiday Reunions.
We all enjoyed another Day Trip and Holidays Open Day in September with more slides and films, and hope people who would like to find out more about our holidays and day trips will come along to meet us and ask questions.
There were ten day trips covering an area from Weston-super-Mare to Bromyard, Oakchurch Garden Centre near Hereford to Lechade and Brampton (the film location for Downton Village in the TV series, Downton Abbey). The Forest of Dean College Catering Department was again our venue for a wonderful Christmas Lunch.
Our thanks go to Airedale Tours in Ossett who helped us arrange all the holidays and Michael Davis Travel and Adrian from Mitcheldene who provides the coach and driver for the day trips.
Once again, as in the past few years, we were able to hand over £1,500 to Christchurch Fund Raising Account at the end of the year.
Mike and Judy Potts
Last year we were pleased to welcome back Rita Borcherds to the group and shared the joy of Frank and Yvonne's wedding.
Besides our regular services we were pleased to take part in the Saturday Night at the Movies (2) concert in June, especially our rendition of the Sound of Music's 'So long, farewell!'
In October we took a trip out to lead worship at Lydney URC, which is always a joy. They must have been appreciative as they immediately started discussing dates for 2016! This was followed by sadness as we had to say 'au revoir' to Daniel, who is taking some time out from the group to concentrate on his studies. We miss him, but continue to wish him well. However we have been truly blessed to have received the talents of Brenda Hamilton-Cowley, who is very kindly acting as pianist. Her sight-reading skills are to be admired and her repertoire of songs has rapidly expanded. We really appreciate her time and dedication to the group.
We have appreciated being able to participate in leading worship at Christchurch and trust that our contribution has enhanced your worship as we praise God together.
Junior Church and The Core
We are very grateful to those who lead and help our children and young people each Sunday. There is a prepared rota to ensure that each group has a leader and helper each week.
The Junior Church group meets most Sunday mornings during the 10am service. It caters for children of infant and junior school age. Many different activities are provided for the children. These include reading Bible stories, acting out Bible stories, prayer time, quizzes, games, puzzles, discussions, crafts etc. The sessions are organised by a number of leaders on a rota basis and there is always another adult helper present.
The Core caters for those young people at Senior School and joins in with family services in the same way as the younger children. During our normal Sunday sessions we explore the Bible stories through board games, quizzes and various activities, sometimes using computer skills. Our numbers are small but time spent with the young people is very beneficial to both leaders and helpers.
There are All Age Worship services about once a quarter when sometimes the children take an active part such as at Harvest and Christmas. Christmas 2015 saw the children lead the story of the Tree of Life which was based on the fact that Santa would bring the gifts of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.
Crèche is also available for babies and pre-school children.
The children are a very important part of our congregation and we show we care for them in many ways including birthday cards, and gifts given at Easter and Christmas.
We are in urgent need of extra helpers and leaders so we can maintain the two separate groups each week. At present they sometimes need to meet together because of lack of help available. This means that a 6 year old and a 14 year old are in the same group which is far from ideal, so please prayerfully consider whether you could help in any way.
Pauline Evans and Sheila Whitaker
Another year and we’re still going strong, with my faithful regulars continuing to turn up regardless of weather conditions. During the year we gained four newcomers, all non church folk, but also lost four churchpeople due to other commitments. So our numbers remain about the same. The outside notice boards and the website seem to be popular source of information. Monday still the most popular day and if it continues to grow my running joke of moving into the car park may just come true one day! As always the donations towards church funds are very generous and the camaraderie between the group is heart warming to see. Everyone makes an effort to get to know each other and they are always willing to listen when someone needs to talk which means we all get to exercise our vocal chords as well as our bodies!
Lunchtime Fellowship We celebrated our seventh birthday in January and still have most of the members who started with us all those years ago. Numbers vary but there are usually 18 to 20 of us who sit down for lunch together and then share a time of fellowship before enjoying listening to a speaker or sharing experiences, or some of the wonderful talents with which our members are blessed. Our special thanks go to Pam Kelly, Ron, Snooks, Doris and Clarrie, Dot, Val Doll and Jane and Sam Sims for their help in the kitchen and dining room, also Janet Brett and Ruth Horton who man our stalls and make the beautiful greetings cards which we sell for church funds at every meeting.We sadly said Good Bye to Sam Sims who had to leave us at Christmas and Pam will not be able to help us so regularly this year. They have been wonderful help and we shall miss them. We are therefore in urgent need of helpers at our monthly meetings and would like to hear from anyone who feels they could help on the second Wednesday of the month.
We were delighted to be able to donate £300 to church funds.
Methodist Women in Britain - Gloucester Churches Network
As usual, we were delighted to be able to host the annual Gloucester Churches "Spring Event" and served cream teas on the second Saturday afternoon in March.
Our special thanks got to Kath and David Barber and their helpers for all their hard work behind the scenes.
Our thanks to everyone who supports the annual Easter Offering Appeal. The Easter Offering Dedication Service for 2016 will be at St John's Northgate Methodist Church on Sunday 24th April 2016 at 6.30pm.
Monday Afternoon Bible Study Group
We have had an enjoyable year studying a number of old and new testament books of the Bible as well as biblical themes. We spend time in prayer and fellowship with a cup of tea or coffee as well as study time. We are a small group and you are welcome to come and join us at any time. We meet from 2pm - 3.30pm on Monday afternoons.
Open the Book
The Open the Book Team continue to operate on behalf of Christchurch. We present the story of the Bible to approximately 520 children each month at Abbeymead and Heron Schools. All the children look forward to us coming and are really excited when we arrive. We have a good rapport with the schools and the teachers. There is nothing more rewarding than telling Gospel stories to children. We held a training course for Open the Book at Christchurch in February which was attended by 80 people from all over Gloucestershire, which shows how the organisation is expanding through the Bible Society. This makes us all the more grateful that Christchurch has been able to offer this service to schools over the last eight years. Sincere thanks go to the current team. I took over as coordinator during the last year and thank Val Stephens for stepping in when we are away. Some weeks the story requires only a small team but other times we need up to twelve people so any offers of help would be welcomed. Whilst we do appreciate a regular team, it doesn’t have to be a regular commitment every month.
Rare Rocks Group
This Group meets every 2-3 months when we talk about new gemstone finds and the difficulties facing miners and geologists in their search for rare gemstones. Sometimes we have a DVD or demonstration of jewellery making- there are so many different styles and methods. We finish with a cream tea and raffle. The Jewellery making section of the rare Rocks Group meet two or three times a month to mend or repair jewellery and try out new methods and designs to add to our seasonal collections.
Once again T @ 3 had a very successful year, with a varied programme each month. We started appropriately with a talk on “Rabbie Burns,” (quite a rascal!). Three talks on local subjects, “History of Gloucester's Theatres,” “The Cotswolds” and “Barnwood Then and Now” proved popular as did more distant subjects such as Chile and Botswana. Revelations of “Years in the Life of a Clergyman” from our Minister were also well received. These were interspersed with musical afternoons, one provided by our own “Jubilate,” with us finally ringing down the curtain on the year with a programme of Christmas music provided by the Silver Singers which was rounded off with the inevitable mince pies and Christmas cake enjoyed by all! Monthly attendance has varied from a high of 45 to a low of 24 with an average of 35 through the year. If this has whetted your appetite, please come along and join us, the majority of the folk who come have little or no other connection with Christchurch. These afternoons give us a valuable opportunity to reach out to our community and you would be very welcome to help us to extend the hand of Christian fellowship to these folk and maybe encourage them into a deeper involvement with our church. Why not give it a try?
David & Kath Barber.
Wednesday Prayer Lunch
A small group continues to meet on most Wednesday lunchtimes for a half hour prayer time after which we enjoy our sandwiches together. Our prayers range over many subjects, from local and church concerns to world church matters and issues highlighted in the Christian Aid weekly newsletter. If you are free and would like to spend your lunch hour in this way then please come. You will be most welcome.