- World Day of Prayer
- Various united services
- Pet service,
- Music for Holy Week and Easter
- Table talk service
- Hymns and Pimms
- Easter celebration
- Blessing of school bags at the beginning of term
- Fresh fruit and veg. Harvest service
- Baptism anniversary and Godparent Sunday
- Evensong for the day of remembering (All Souls)
- Advent meditation stations
- Christingle & Nativity,
- Nine lessons and carols
- Lent Breakfasts attracted a good number of people of all denominations and none. The theme was ‘Big Questions’. Revd. Mark Bratton does a sterling job in organising very interesting speakers.
- The Good Friday Walk of Witness started at St Peter’s Church and ended at the Methodist Church Hall with a Simple Lunch.
- The Dawn Eucharist started in the Old Hall at Temple Balsall and followed the Bread Walk to hold the Eucharistic service in a clearing in the woodland area.
- Quiet Mornings: Doug Timmis continues to organise these and October marked his 50th Quiet Morning. They are always very well received.
- Coffee Together: Coffee mornings are held on the first Saturday of every month and are hosted by different churches each time. The Christmas Coffee Together was well supported and everyone enjoyed the singing of carols led by St Peter’s choir under the direction of Kim.
- One World Week Supper took the form of a fish and chip supper, after which Dr Claire Walker spoke on ‘Loneliness and Isolation’. Her talk was well received.
- World Day of Prayer was held at the Methodist Church. The service was compiled by the people of Slovenia and the theme was ‘Come, Everything is Ready’.
- The Unity Octave Service was held at St Peter’s. It was written by the people of Malta and the theme was ‘Acts of Unusual Kindness’.
- Prayer Walks were organised by Revd. Jane Braund and were attended by members of several churches.
- Velo Cycle Ride: Both the Methodist Church and St Peter’s Church became ‘Spectator Sites’.
- Donations: During this past year donations were made to:- The Contact Centre, Hosanna Children’s Pilgrim Trust, Indonesia Tsunami Appeal via DEC, Share, Solihull Women’s Aid, Save the Children, Christian Aid, Open the Book, Crisis at Christmas and Tear Fund.
- Eco Diocese Award – Bronze obtained
- Progress report on Mission Apprentices, Growing Younger and Shaping the Future.
- Progress report on ‘People and Places’
- Responding to knife crime
- Our Christian Culture of Mission
- Progress report on ‘Transforming Church’
- Update on ‘People and Places’
- Synod authorised expenditure of £13, 148,818 in 2020 based on a parish stipendiary clergy deployment of 114 with an average of 10 vacancies and an average of 19 stipendiary curates-in-training. An incumbent’s stipend of £26,653(+2.0%) was approved and a staff salary rise of 2.0% with effect from April 2020.
- Merging of deaneries – Solihull, Yardley and Bordesley has been implemented from 1st January 2020.
- Dementia, Disability and Mental Health
- Ways to make your church more inclusive
- The Wall of Answered Prayer – This is an imaginative project to build a Mobius strip from 75,000 bricks, each of which will tell the story of someone’s answered prayer.
- New Christian Communities
- A Covenant for Clergy Care and Well-being
Please find here all the reports from this year’s 'Annual Parish Meeting', so you can see what all the groups associated with the church did last year! Hopefully this might inspire you to join one of them, or to start a new group that will meet a new need.
To see the annual accounts - click on this link to access a .pdf file - you may need Adobe Acrobat to read it.
What’s Happened at St Peter’s Church Balsall Common in the Past Year (2019-20)
- To learn more about any of the groups, or other activities mentioned below, you could let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org
Vicar’s annual report to the AGM of St Peter’s Balsall Common
8th March 2020
I present now my 15th report as your Vicar.
First, thank you all for your continuing support for Christ’s ministry in this place and for your collective devotion to Our Lord Jesus. Particular thanks must go to Moira who has unstintingly supported me in leading this parish and sharing the preaching. Without her dedication and encouragement St Peter’s would not be where it is today.
We are very glad now to have Alison Bennett and Chris Price licenced as readers alongside Moira. We pray for them as they minister among us.
And while I’m on the thank-yous I want to thank Malcolm, our retiring warden and Chris who have served us all so well this past year and also all the PCC. There are many others as well (too many to mention) that have worked incredibly hard to ensure all that we do happens, and for them we are thankful.
I report now on the spiritual and pastoral side while other matters are covered elsewhere.
First the worship
The worshipping life of our church continues to be varied and the variety was expanded last year so that most Sundays we have both the more formal Sung Eucharist and an informal service.
The average weekly attendance remained static last year even though congregation numbers for some services were lower. This meant that the 8 o’clock has now gone to just two a month. When, however, we take account of the additional services offering different types of worship we are maintaining our numbers. The pattern of people coming to worship is changing, there are less people coming every Sunday but more coming less than every week.
Of the non-eucharist services SWITCH continues to attract young families alongside older members and both the young and older take their part in leading some of the prayers, activities and worship. The service is prepared and led by an excellent team and they work hard to provide a variety of themes and activities and teaching.
There is a new and different team planning and running the new Navigate Service on the first Sundays of each month. They are creatively using the START video-based course to enable people of all ages (0-100) to ask questions and think about faith. We have a steady stream of regulars coming to this.
A further team works similarly for Lighthouse on the second Sunday each month. A theme or topic is picked and developed for learning. A fledging band provides the music accompaniment for the songs. Again, this is an opportunity for all ages to worship together.
Junior church numbers at the Sung Eucharist became very low and some Sundays non-existent hence the introduction of the new informal services mentioned above. One new initiative was ‘Upper Room’ intended to be an easy access informal communion with teaching about the eucharist itself. This trial however did not succeed so a re-think for the 4th Sundays is now taking place. My philosophy is that we won’t know unless we try, it is better to try and not succeed than to not try at all.
We continued with Café Church on the 5th Sundays of the month, some including communion others non-eucharistic. I am eternally grateful for all who work behind the scenes to make all these happen.
We must continue praying for our work with the children and their parents and new people.
Other services during the year included:
Other events of spiritual nourishment.
During the year there have continued to be opportunities for spiritual nourishment, from the quiet mornings and Lenten Breakfasts. There are the ongoing regular groups that pray, study and discuss matters of faith.I am grateful to all those who lead and faithfully meet in the various Exploring Faith groups, and the Mother’s Union. They all provide opportunity for question, sharing and discovery about the faith and are a valuable addition to our life together as a church.
It is important to pray and learn together beyond Sunday worship and to share together in small groups. We are always open to the possibility of new groups forming.
People and Places
The Diocese last year continued developing its new framework for the ministry needs in the diocese and consulting on how to most effectively we can grow the kingdom of God within the diocese given the resources available.This is an ongoing process. At the beginning of this year the deanery of Solihull combined with the deanery of Yardley and Bordesley and we are currently awaiting the appointment of a new fulltime area dean and part time assistant.
We will continue to hear more about it in the months ahead. As a parish we will be involved in helping to shape the future ministry to all God’s people in the Birmingham diocese so our prayers are asked for this process
During the year we have been blessed to have Livia as part of the ministry team encouraging our work with children and families. We have seen the fruit of this ministry but if we wish this to continue beyond the end of this year we will all have to play our part raising the necessary finance to support this work. We as Christians are in the business of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to all generations. We have a responsibility to ensure we invest in God’s mission so the valuable work of the church can continue into the future.
This last year a large group of people from Churches Together continued to do assemblies using the ‘Open the Book’ programme from the Bible Society.They do 4 a term at Balsall Common primary and 2 a term at Springfield special school in Temple Balsall, and 2 a term in George Fentham School.The team are therefore always ready to recruit more to join them.
We ran the Pop-Up Easter experience again last Easter and were also able to do a ‘Christmas through the keyhole’ experience too.This meant many of the school children and indeed nurseries came into church to learn all about the Easter and Christmas stories.Thanks to those members of the congregation who helped with these.
In the community I and Moira take services at Harper Fields Care home, and other home communions.It is lovely to see residents from Harper Fields visiting the church for a little service and tea every other month and now there are others joining in on this.
I personally continue to draw support from our Cluster group (Hampton, Temple Balsall and Berkswell) through the clergy group that meets for sharing, reflecting and prayer, and through the wider Deanery Clergy Chapter and the Bishop’s study days.I await to see how the new arrangement of the united deanery works out.
Say-1-4-Me this year has changed its focus.Congregation members are asked to let us know when and where new people move into the area then we will make a ‘welcome to Balsall Common’ visit and introduce the church and its services and activities and ask if we can pray for them.
We have seen Ray Watson, Mary Shuttleworth and Stella Buchan from our congregation join the heavenly realms and we will all certainly miss them. We are also aware that other congregation members have been bereaved during the last year and are struggling with their bereavement. The bereavement support group have a valuable ministry among us and they ran a coping with bereavement course last year which has helped a number of people through difficult times. I remind you all to be supportive of all the bereaved in our midst.
As we go into the future growing God’s Kingdom has to be our focus as we reach out to people where they and their interests are. These things must involve our prayer, dedication, and commitment both in time and resources.I ask your continued support in our shared and evolving ministry to the people of Balsall Common and beyond.In the next few years we will see many new houses built in our community and we need to be fully prepared to serve the incoming population.We are called to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ so let us be fired up with His Spirit.
I remain your faithful servant in Christ for the next few years, if you are all willing to continue working with me in this community.
Father Peter, March ‘20
Children and Families Missioner Report 2019 – 2020
2019 has been a successful year for St Peter’s Church team, especially on regards of working together with other partners, like Balsall Common Primary School, Heart of England School, “Open the book”, the Diocese, and other social partners.
Already a very nice tradition, Pop-up Easter 2019, organized in partnership with Balsall Common Primary School went very well. We welcomed 210 children, from years 4 and 1. The children had the opportunity to learn the story about the last week of week of Jesus’ life, through a fascinating mise en scene in 5 stations, Palm Sunday, Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane, Good Friday and Resurrection. It was wonderful to see how engaged children were! This event would not been possible without the tremendous work of our volunteers!
Other events organized for year 7 Heart of England school took place in 25-27 June 2019, for 6 classes, around 180 youngsters, who witnessed Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, our work In the Community and General support. They enjoyed very much all the sacraments, speaking with the volunteers and seemed very interested about Baptism and Christian life.
A similar event was organized in December 2019, for the Christmas story. Our volunteer team, led by Revd. Peter Thomas, has made all the efforts to receive a large number of children from year 1 Balsall Common Primary School, in order to become familiar with the most beautiful story, in the most rightful place! This effort paid off during Christmas specific services, Christingle, Nativity and Carols, when a large number of families with children attended!
The younger children, who are attending Sunday school at St Peter’s Church, with the help of loving and very talented volunteers Becky Powell, Amy Kershaw, Emily Coles, were really happy and very much involved in several seasonal activities. Before Easter they prepared a puppet show. As in the year before, they were really involved in learning the story and in performing it during Easter Celebration. Before Christmas the same team lead by Becky Powell prepared a Nativity show that everybody enjoyed before Christmas.
Sunday school, one of my favorite responsibilities on the job, due probably to my initial training, had followed 2 main tracks at the beginning of last year: Fruits of the Spirit and Heroes. From September, we followed another format of the services, but it’s planned for this year to have again on the 4th week a regular 9.30am Service with Sunday school, which is good, because we will have again children learning something, worshiping and having communion together with the rest of the Congregation.
The afterschool club was led, from Jan 2019 by Livia Baciu, with the wonderful help of great volunteers Jennifer Trend, Val Winters and Mark McGann. Rock is 2 hours long, every Thursday afternoon. During the 2 hours children attend the admin tasks of registering, help at tuck shop, have a free play, or a led one, attend a craft based activity, settle down for pizza break, and help cleaning the place with a special bin for recycling.
Rock Club grew in registered numbers and attendance, both for children and volunteers. The popularity of the club grew so much, that we needed to create a waiting list. The register shows now around 50 attending children and more than 70 on the book. The activities are free playing, outdoors playing and gardening, seasonal celebration and parties, baking, challenging crafts, like glass painting, pumpkin carving, pipe cleaners ninja, cutlery craft, painting with cotton buds, paper craft, felt craft, bird feeders and so on.
Once the numbers grew, the volunteer’s team grew also, by attracting mothers whose children attend the club, experienced members of the congregation, and even members of the Diocese or Solihull Council Youth worker, who occasionally visited and offered support.
Rock Up & Cafe Rock
Rock Up was aimed at youngsters in the school year 7 age band. Led by Claire Reid in the previous year, with the great help of volunteers Adrian Murray and Graham Robinson, Rock Up was one hour long, every other Thursday, 6-7pm. During the hour the youngsters attended and the admin tasks of registering completed, they settled down with ‘High Point Low Point’, followed by activities in relation to the theme of the day. Due to lack of attendance, in spring 2019, Rock up was canceled, but we manage to rebrand it and restart it, as Cafe Rock from September 19. We started with 6 girls and now there are 9 or 10 girls who are attending regularly. The initial volunteer team increased with Chris Price, and occasionally Melissa and Adam (from Church of England Diocese). The format is a Youth Cafe, we are serving hot chocolate and cake, but we follow a theme every session, in relation to girls interests like; Mystery game, TikTok, Disney night, Harry Potter, and Christmas carols. Now that the trust has been built, for this year, we hope to approach more “serious” themes, like climate change, social charity, being safe online, having fun activities of their choice as Talent Show. The youngsters really seem to enjoy this although they are still learning the art of listening to each other. They have mastered the talking part quite well. This is a good opportunity for them to get certain things off their chest that may be bothering them and also share things they are proud of.
Lighthouse carried on as usual, on the second Sunday of the month, with a regular number of 11-20 persons, children included. Lead by CFM with the help of Revd. Peter Thomas, the volunteer team includes Graham Robinson, Emily Coles, Judith Wilson, Mary Partridge and we hope, for the future services, Becky Powell and Sarah Roth will join also. Some of the themes of the Services were season related like, Bonkey Day, or Making choices, and others were suggested by members of the Lighthouse team, or even the children who are attending the Service, like Are you loved?, Why do we sing in Church?, Do we still need the Bible?, and so on. We hope to grow Lighthouse service in numbers this year, by attracting more people with challenging discussions around tables for adults, beautiful crafts for children, and even more topical themes.
Livia Baciu, CFM
Hon. Secretary’s Report 2019 – 2020
Much of the activities and discussions of the PCC have been communicated in the AGM reports from the Church groups, so I will be brief and apologise if anything is repeated here.
The PCC has sat for 5 meetings over the past year.At the first meeting in May we welcomed Christine Hunnisett as a Co-opted member, and elections were held for the various posts of the PCC.
During the year the PCC, sub groups & working parties, and individual PCC members, have worked on many tasks, such as the creating the new service booklets; applying for, and achieving the Silver Eco Church Award; supporting the changes in the Church services; arranging for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the parish, to name but a few.
Every meeting held in the year acknowledges reports from Churches Together, the Diocesan Synod & the Deanery Synod, and Safeguarding is an on-going agenda item to ensure that we are up to date with any training and changes to policy.The Church Hall, as an important income source, is reported upon, thus ensuring that any issues with the fabric of the building, its security, internet etc are dealt with in the most appropriate manner, and we have regular updates on communications to make sure that people in the parish as well as the congregation are receiving any necessary information.
Discussions have been held throughout the year about ways to fundraise for St Peter’s itself and for charities, particularly the need to change the way we fundraise for Christian Aid Week, which we hope to see in action this year.
The Treasurer’s report and annual accounts were prepared for audit and presented to the PCC at the February meeting; these were accepted subject to audit.
Thank you to the Chairman and Committee members for all their team work during the past year.
Susan Clinton, Honorary Secretary PCC
Church Wardens Report 2019 – 2020
This year was completely different to the previous one. Having Chris Hornsby as a second Church Warden has made the job so much easier. Her enthusiasm, industry and organisational skills have been exceptional. I am extremely grateful for her presence. I find it hard to believe that it is already four years since I first became a Church Warden. This final year seems to have flown by.
The Warden's role includes completing various surveys for the diocese including Statistics for Mission and the Archdeacon's Articles of Enquiry. I have been very grateful for Chris's I.T. skills and her ability to complete the forms on line. The annual inventory of moveable items in the church, known as the Terrier, was completed at the beginning of the month. This task took longer this year because the reorganisation of the forms was long overdue. My thanks again to Chris for putting the new format on to the internet. Thanks also go to Guy for his invaluable help in locating some of the more obscure items located in the vestry. Please let us know if you borrow an item from church and return it as soon as you can. If you are not sure where an item should be located please ask.
We have completed the rotas for Sidesmen and cleaners. These have been operational since the beginning of the year. Our thanks go to all those who volunteer to arrive early on Sundays to serve our congregation and provide a friendly and cheerful welcome to new and regular members of the congregation. Thanks are also due to the volunteer cleaners who work extremely hard to maintain the cleanliness of the church so that all who attend each week see it at its best.
Malcolm Leighton, Church Warden
Deanery Synod Report
The Deanery Synod has met its usual three times this year, including a social get-together with all the churches of the Deanery; an open meeting at St Mary’s Acocks Green, where we met churches of Yardley & Bordesley Deanery. The third was just this week, on 5th March! Meetings combine worship, social activity and discussion about policy developments, and learning what our neighbouring churches are doing. Solihull recently merged with Yardley & Bordesley Deanery so we shall be making friends with several more parishes along the A45 and A41 routes into Birmingham!
REPORTS OF CHURCH GROUPS TO THE AGM OF ST PETER’S, BALSALL COMMON
SUNDAY 8 MARCH 2020
Afternoon Tea and Cakes:
I have been really encouraged by the growth in our Afternoon Teas and Cakes, which started very much as a service to those who live alone in our community, and who might welcome the opportunity to have a chat over a cup of tea and homemade cake. This has now been running for 4 years and is a real outreach to many in our community who are not part of our regular congregation.
We meet on the 2nd Thursday of each month between 2.30 and 4pm and now have an average of about 30 people coming. We do not charge, but people are very generous with donations which more than cover our costs. Over the last 12 months we raised £241.18 for church funds!
On alternate months we also have a short service of familiar hymns, a reading and prayers, and this has proved increasingly popular both with the residents of Harper Fields and a growing number of other people.
I feel that the Tea and Cakes is a great opportunity for our church to reach out to our local community, and am very grateful for the help of so many willing church members who bake cakes, serve the tea, and especially to Jen who is always there to wash up! Thanks also to Eileen who plays for the services and the members of our choir who come and support the services with their singing.
Balsall Common Bereavement Care Service
The Bereavement Group offers comfort, support with the aim of helping individuals in our church and wider community who have experienced bereavement.
Again, this year we held a remembering service combined with Evensong at All Souls tide.In the service there was time for reflection and the lighting of candles for those we knew but are no longer with us.
This year we also ran a 6-week course, The ‘Bereavement Journey’, in the autumn. Nine people attended the course, most of whom we had had no previous contact with, and all said that it had been helpful. We met with the group again after Christmas and understand that they are continuing to meet together to offer support to each other.This appeared to be an unmet need and we aim to run the course again in the autumn.
Margaret L Eyre, Bereavement Care Project Co-ordinator
Churches Together in Balsall & Berkswell (CTBB) has had another interesting year during which the following activities have taken place:-
The church communications including the weekly newsletter under the management of Margaret Eyre, and the Magazine (reported on by Bryan Marlow), continue to work well, and our notice boards seem to fulfil their task, although we are starting to rearrange those at the back of church! Much of the ‘new activity’ has been on the internet and social media.
Our website is working well, and gets a lot of hits, along with the linked ‘A Church Near You’ site which runs in parallel; since they offer different facilities, including links to national resources and campaigns.Anyone searching for St Peter’s, or ‘a local church’, will find us and our activities easily.We also maintain an active Twitter feed with 192 followers, a Facebook page with 219 followers, and ‘St Peters’ Church for Kids’ which has 114 followers, and all of these have grown in viewers since last year. Our most popular Tweet was a report on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, seen by 1068 people (52 ‘engaged’ with it!), and a report on the Reader Licensing service at the Cathedral was seen by over 430 people; the Facebook advert for the Jumble Sale was seen by 740 people. We are grateful to the White Horse Pub and the BalsallCommon website who re-broadcast many of our notices!Our Website and the Google Business pages also attract a lot of correspondence and enquiries – over 8000 visits a month – in January 130 people used the Google site to get directions to us and the site also generated 7 telephone calls – the number of visits has more than doubled since last year! Twitter also keeps us in touch with several local churches and the activities of the Diocese of Birmingham.
A new venture this year was setting up an Instagram page – we already have 51 followers – so I’m hoping we are reaching a new demographic this way. Nice photos are always welcome.
Many, varied topics are discussed at Diocesan Synod. Here is a summary of the main discussions in 2019.
Exploring Faith Group (Tuesday)
This small group meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month to explore their faith. During the past year we have been following the following York Courses which have resulted in some very interesting discussions.
Summer 2019 - ‘Glimpses of God – Hope for Today’s World’
We considered this question – ‘Why in a world which Christians see as created by a good and loving God, do such appalling disasters happen to innocent people?’
Autumn 2019 - ‘Life to the Full’
We considered what it might mean to actually experience fullness in the midst of our messy lives. Why is it so elusive? What might it look like? How can we help others to experience this fullness?
Spring 2020 – ‘Superstar’
Having watched the rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, we are exploring how the issues of the last days of the life of Jesus are as relevant today as they were when this rock opera was written fifty years ago.
If you are interested in joining a small group to explore your faith you are very welcome to join us. It is not essential to attend every session, just come when you can. Details of times and venues will be in the Church newsletter.
Exploring Faith Group (Friday)
I have always felt that small groups are really important in the development of our faith and sense of belonging within our church family. They provide a safe space where we can explore together, ask questions and express doubts.Talking about our faith in a safe space can also give us the confidence to be able to talk about what we believe in our normal day to day lives and helps us to be better able to answer other peoples’ questions.
Over the last year we have looked at prayer – what help us, what we struggle with and indeed how we pray. We then looked at “Women of the Bible” and were struck by how God has used very ordinary women to do his work. We are currently looking at the Gospel readings for Lent and trying to see what is relevant to us today and how God might be challenging us. We meet on alternate Friday evenings from 7.30pm and finish promptly at 9.00pm. New members are always welcome, we are not a closed group, and people come when they can!
Exploring Faith (Sunday Group)
The Sunday evening ‘Exploring Faith’ Group is made up of a small group of ladies varying in age from young mums to grandmothers. We aim to meet fortnightly in term time only in our members’ homes from 19:30 to 21:30, however we are flexible and work our meetings around the busy lives of our members.
We started the year using the format of a bible study programme linked to a popular film. This year the film was ‘The Greatest Showman’. The study was written by Rachel Mann, an Anglican Priest, poet and a writer of theological books.
We then decided on a break from the film based study format and have embarked on the series, ‘Life on the Frontline’, written by Neil Hudson from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, through which we are encouraged to equip ourselves to be whole-life disciples.
Each session is self-contained, so it is not necessary to attend every session.
Friends at St. Peter’s
During the year we had a varied programme covering several subjects. We had illustrated talks on bat conservation and old Coventry. We learnt of the valuable work of Troop Aid and part of the history of entertainment. We re-lived our childhoods remembering “Just William”. We enjoyed 2 members’ holiday “film” shows and our annual New Year Supper, and we also played bingo, had quizzes and LOTS of chat!
Our Church magazine continues to flourish under the stewardship of its three-person editorial/production team and appears to be well received by Church members and indeed the wider community.The team produced ten issues of the 28-page magazine during the year and worked especially hard to produce a 32-page December/January edition in time for Christmas!
Our editorial policy is to focus on matters of Faith and Ethics – with the intention of ‘making people think’. Our centre-spread Photo Feature pages celebrate the wide variety of activities within the Church family.
We are immensely grateful to our regular contributors who deliver their copy without too much chasing! However we are sure there is more ‘latent’ journalistic talent out there, so please do have a go - our ‘Mystery worshipper’ articles are an easy way to test your talent.
‘The Key’ continues to make a significant contribution to the finances of the Church and, thanks to the efforts of our Advertising Manager Peter Lee, we now have a full complement of advertisers.
Continued thanks also go to our Distribution Team leaders, Linda Marlow and Kaye Thomas. Through the efforts of their team of Distributors they ensure copies are available in the Library, Village shops and offices and Care homes.
Contributions for – and comments on – the magazine are always welcome and should be sent to email@example.com .
Anne Sleath, Mark Johnson, Bryan Marlow
Mothers’ Union (MU) has had a variety of meetings this year and has been fortunate to be able to call on current members for talks, and to lead meditations and discussions.
We were pleased to welcome Agnes Mkoko, MU member from Malawi, during her visit in September to stay with Claire.We were pleased that Claire was able to take Agnes to speak to both the Malawi Task Group and the Mothers’ Union Worldwide meeting at Colmore Row, Birmingham.Agnes also spoke at Café Church at St Peter’s Church and received gifts from the congregation.
We continue to hold the Annual Summer Dinner which is always popular and supported by a number of non-members from the congregation.This year we also organised a Christmas Lunch at Haig’s Hotel which was well supported by members and friends from the congregation.These also raise valuable funds for MU Projects such as AFIA (Holidays for families under stress), and the MU work Worldwide.
Early this year many of us went to Birmingham Cathedral where two members, Alison Bennett and Chris Price, were licensed as Readers.We are very proud of them and send our congratulations to them both.
The monthly card stalls have proved very popular and sales have risen.
Sadly this year saw the death of one of our much-loved members, Mary Shuttleworth.Mary was always very generous of her time to Mothers’ Union, knitting, more or less continuously, clothes for premature babies, teddies, blankets, etc.Mary also knitted the Nativity set that we use to travel round families at Christmas time.We are very grateful for all that she did.
Although a small branch we continue to raise funds for the various Mothers’ Union Projects.Members also give support to both Mothers’ Union and the wider church with knitting, sewing etc and many are active in the life of St Peter’s Church.
Service is an important part of membership in Mothers Union and we are proud of the members who continue to serve in prisons, chaplaincy and church etc.We are grateful also to members of the congregation who have supported us during the past year.We have a 4 million strong membership worldwide and welcome to membership all who support the Aims and Objectives of Mothers’ Union.
St Peter’s Mothers’ Union Committee
Hi All – sorry for the brevity!Thanks to Peter and Moira along with Mark Johnson for their support during the year; and thanks to Eileen Lamb and Graham Robinson for covering me, organ-playing, in my absence; thanks to Pat and Miriam and all the other helpers who sort refreshments after our services at Christmas and Easter.HUGE thanks to the choirs (to the Juniors and Seniors who combine with Hampton for our Nine Lessons and Carols service and to the Seniors for their talents shown in the Easter services) ... for their continued support and attendance at practices and Sunday services.
Special thanks to those members of the choir who travel long distances for the choir events – to Gill Lee, Steve Blaber, Julie Wyatt, Louis Rawson and Anton Rawson ... they help out because (i) they enjoy the music and (ii) they know we need as much support as possible (subtle eh?) and thank you to Sue Clinton, Julie Birchall and Ken Dickens for sitting in on the Junior Choir practices.ALL very much appreciated!!
It was with great sadness that we bid farewell to Jill Eddy during the year – she’d been in St Peter’s Church Choir for a large number of years – we thank her for her support in all that time and wish her all the very best in her retirement.It was very sad, too, to say our farewells to Ray Watson, who passed away after a long illness.Jill and Ray are both sorely missed.
Now, long-story-short – we need more singers in the two choirs, PLEASE ... The Junior Choir is now down to just FOUR singers (I’ve never had to call our junior choir a quartet, before!) and the Senior Choir need more ALTOS, TENORS and BASSES (we have just two, one and two, respectively) – I ask every year but rarely do we get much of a response (crossing fingers whilst I type – impressive, eh?!).Only requirements are a love of singing and some commitment.
Junior Choir meets Thursdays 6.30-7.30pm
Senior Choir meets Thursdays 7.30-8.30pm
Lastly, thanks to the congregation for their kind comments about the music which we sing and play.It all helps!
Open the Book
‘Open the Book’ continues to flourish with a dedicated team from the following churches – St Swithin’s - Barston.St Mary & St Bartholomew – Hampton in Arden, The Methodist Church, St Peter’s Church. We continue to read and dramatise Bible stories to Balsall Common Primary School (Years 3 & 4 in one session and Key Stage 1 in another session), Springfield House and George Fentham Endowed School. We visit each school every half term. Half the stories are taken from the Old Testament and the other half are from the New Testament.
Topics for this school year are:-
Autumn term 2019:Samuel Hears a Voice
The First Christmas
Spring Term 2020:The Wise Men’s Visit
David the Giant Killer
Summer Term 2020:Jonah the Groaner
The Marvellous Picnic (Feeding of the 5000)
If you enjoy reading stories or acting we would love to hear from you. We need more people to join our team. We always come away feeling uplifted.
Premises’ Committee Report
During the last year, the Premises Committee has been involved in the usual range of maintenance issues typically associated with the church and the hall, but there has been no significant expenditure. Work undertaken during the previous year to March 2019, including replacement of all of the lighting (with the exception of the stage) and the roofing repair work left us in a very good position. During the recent significant storms, the hall was pretty much water-tight, indicative of the success of the repair works undertaken. The hall remains a popular and well used church and wider community facility and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure that it remains safe and properly maintained, from fire alarm and emergency lighting testing through to daily cleaning and attending to building faults.
We were pleased to be involved in the application for the Eco Church award and a silver award was successfully gained towards the end of last year. Maintenance and improvement of the facilities will continue to be undertaken with all consideration given to the environment and some changes have been made such as the scope of grounds maintenance and the provision of increased wildflower areas. A future piece of work will be to look at options for replacing the radiant heaters in the hall. Whilst they remain fully operational and give off a lot of heat, they also inevitably consume a significant amount of electricity and aesthetically are looking increasingly dated.
In the hall, work on the horizon includes replacement of internal doors, many of which have seen better days, with new fire rated doors that will provide better protection to the building and its occupants in the event of an emergency. The toilets are not of the standard that we would like, with the ladies toilets particularly suffering with unsightly condensation and damp due to them being more exposed to the elements on a corner of the building. Finances permitting, work will be planned to enhance the current offering including installation of new extractor fans, replacement of the heaters and redecoration. Some of the car parking lighting was replaced at the end of 2019 and further additional lighting is due to be installed at the Holly Lane end of the car park.
I feel very privileged to be able to serve as a Reader licensed to this parish. Reader ministry is primarily one of teaching and preaching within a pastoral context, and I have tried to fulfill this role as best I can, across the range of age-groups and different types of service at our church.
I preach once a month either at the 9.30 service or at Evensong and continue to be involved with the development of our housegroups. I lead one ‘Exploring Faith’ group and I also try and encourage and support other small group leaders.
I am licensed to take non-Eucharistic Services and I lead the monthly Switch Service with the support of our Switch Planning Team. I also lead some Evensong services and the monthly services at Harper Fields Care Home, which now attract about 30 people every month. I have also been able to develop more of an input into the Dementia wings, where many of the families value the spiritual dimension which this brings to their relatives’ care. This link with Harper Fields has meant that some relatives and carers have felt able to ask me to pray with someone who is unwell and I have also been asked to conduct some funeral services for residents with whom I have built up a relationship. I am very grateful to Pat and Ken, and others from St Peter’s, who come to assist with the services.
I also lead the bimonthly short service in church on Thursdays, which is followed by Tea and Cakes. This service was originally requested by Harper Fields but the number of people attending this service has increased and it seems to fulfill a need for a short non-eucharistic service during the day.
Much of my role also involves visiting those who are housebound or sick, and when Peter is away, I visit those who have Home Communion, and take the Reserved Sacrament to them.
I am licensed to take funerals, and I have found this part of my ministry very fulfilling. It has been a great privilege to be able to walk alongside people at this time.
As part on my ongoing training I have attended various Diocesan courses which have been very valuable. I am also one of the Tutors for Readers currently in training which is challenging but very fulfilling.
One of the highlights of this year has been to watch Chris and Alison grow in their calling to be Readers in this Church and their licensing service at the end of January was a wonderful occasion. The tremendous support from St Peter’s at that service shows just how loved these two new Readers are and we look forward to working together and serving this church over the coming years.
I personally am very grateful to those members of our congregation who give me so much support and encouragement. They are too many to mention by name but the support and encouragement means such a lot. Thanks also must go to Peter for his continued support and guidance.
Safeguarding takes place against a national background of the Independent Inquiry into Childhood Sexual Abuse, which reported recently. The national Church has responded to public concerns by strengthening the requirements for training, record keeping and reporting and all Parishes now have a ‘Dashboard’ to keep up to date with matters such as these and ensuring that our PCC members, as official Trustees of the charity, are aware of their responsibilities and maintain, and review, a set of policies to cover a range of issues. We continue to work closely with the Diocesan team who provide advice, training, and model policies. Safeguarding Team members attend update training events organised by the Diocese, and all PCC members and volunteers are expected to at least follow some basic on-line training to raise their awareness of the issues, resources, and risks. We ensure that all new volunteers and workers are properly checked through the DBS system before being allowed to take full responsibility.All PCC members have also been ‘safeguarding’ checked. There are regular online updates and new practice guidance issued, and we have appointed Moira as Co-ordinator for the new Domestic Violence policy and support scheme. We liaise with and support our neighbour churches as necessary. I am happy to report that we are compliant with all the policy requirements!