…there is not one gentleman resident in [Hale]

This is a wonderful document from perhaps the late 1860s, thanks to Bob Skinner from the History of Hale:

History of St John's

This is what it says:

Enlargement of The Church of St John the Evangelist, at Hale, In the County of Surrey

The Church of St John the Evangelist, at Hale, midway between Aldershot in Hants, and Farnham in Surrey, was erected in the year 1844, by public subscription.

The late Queen Dowager, who was the first contributor, gave the sum of £25 towards the commencement of the undertaking.

A few years after the opening of the Church, Aldershot, from being an obscure hamlet, became a large Garrison town. The effect of this upon the adjoining Parish of Hale, was such, as almost immediately to double the population.

At the census of 1861, it was found to have risen from a few hundreds, to nearly 3,000 people; the population is now little less than 4,000, and is still rapidly increasing.

With so large a Parish, there is only Church Accommodation for 175 persons; —and besides the regular Parishioners, many Officers and their families are in the habit of attending from Aldershot, and they would do so in greater numbers, could room be found for them. It is therefore proposed to meet the urgent demand for further accommodation, by an addition, of 400 Sittings to the Church, this being the largest increase of which the building is capable.

Plans have been drawn out by Benjn. Ferrey, F.S.A. Esq., of Charing Cross, the Architect of the original structure, for the Erection of a North Transept, the Enlargement of the South Aisle, and an Extension of the present very contracted Chancel.

To carry out those alterations fully, a sum of £1300 will be required, for which an appeal is now made to the christian liberality of churchmen. The Parishioners of Hale, are among the very poorest, in the Diocese of Winchester, and there is not one gentleman resident in the place. The present Incumbent has no private means, and his clerical income is insufficient to meet the demands of so poor and so rapidly increasing population.

The Archdeacon of Surrey, who is the Patron of the Living, will afford any information on the subject.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Incumbent, the Rev. George E. Fox, Hale Parsonage, Farnham, or they may be paid in to Messrs. James Knight and Son, Bankers, Farnham, to the credit of the “Fund for the Enlargement of Hale Church.”

A list of Subscribers will be issued, when the whole sum is raised.

(George Fox was the incumbent from 1868-1875)

A New Vision for the Parish

The PCC have been working on a new vision for the Parish that can be simple enough to remember but can also be a tool to inform the work of the PCC and the work of the congregations. It is:

We are one Parish with three welcoming and inclusive churches.

Our vision is for the growth of God’s Kingdom so we aim to:

  • Grow in Spiritual Maturity
  • Grow in Numbers
  • Grow Younger
  • Grow in Community Engagement

The PCC will be looking at anything and everything that we do and asking how it contributes to all of these (or how it could contribute). If agenda items do not contribute to these then we need to question whether they should be done. There is nothing about governance in the vision – PCC, Safeguarding, Finance, Buildings, Insurance etc. These things are obviously important but they are a means to an end – not the end in itself.

Growing in Spiritual Maturity
We are all called to be Ministers of the Gospel and we are all on a Spiritual Journey. As a church we need to support people on their journey and in their ministering to others. This may be in groups, but different people learn in different ways and groups doesn’t work for everyone.

When we think about spiritual maturity what does it mean?
• Rooted Faith (Do we understand our faith?)
• Working Faith (What does Faith mean to us in the Workplace?)
• Responsible Faith (What are the implications for Social Issues?)
• Sharing Faith (How do we share it?)

There is a group meeting for six weeks to look at questions like this and work out what we can do as a Parish to help people. You are welcome to join, phone Alan on 01252 820537 to find out more.

Growing in Numbers
The numbers of people worshiping on a Sunday are an indication that we are growing in other ways too – a church that engages with the community grows, a church that cares about young people and families grows, a church that cares about spiritual maturity grows. Last year we had a “Season of Invitation” where the challenge was to not only be a welcoming church, but to be an inviting church too. This is scary for many of us, but we are hoping to run this each year.

Growing Younger
We are hoping to grow younger as an average in our congregations – not individually! At a rough guess our average ages are:

  • St Johns = 69 (with Sunday School = 45)
  • St Georges = 47 (with Dragons = 42)
  • St Marks = 39

The average in the Population = 40 (as many over 40 as under)

Now just because we are growing younger doesn’t mean it is not for older people – quite the opposite, it is about being intergenerational – Mission is the commitment of one generation to pass the Gospel onto the next.

Growing in Community Engagement
God’s Mission includes service to the local community with no strings attached. However, our experience is that when we do this then people who are seeking spiritual nourishment join with us on the journey of faith.

2014 – A year in Review

At the APCM on 26th April we reviewed last year:

What was new in 2014?
In many ways 2014 was a momentous year for the Parish. The team was restructured into a Parish without Districts which makes the governance much simpler (fewer meetings) and also takes away the ‘us’ and ‘them’ feel that the two districts seemed to reinforce. Then the suspension was lifted which means we cannot be ‘pastorally reorganised’ (eg joined with other parishes or split in two). For the first time in what feels like forever we paid our Parish Share which is what we owe the Diocese for giving us a vicar, a house for the vicar, training new vicars, employing diocesan staff and a host of other things. Also:

  • We Planted a Community Orchard at St Mark’s
  • We started having All Age Services at St John’s
  • We improved outward communications (articles in the press, e-newsletters, new website, new noticeboards, better Facebook communication).
  • There was a very moving WWI Commemoration Service at St John’s
  • We had our first Christmas Fayre at St George’s
  • Jane Voake and her team have done tremendous work running courses and support for parents of children with challenging behaviour, (often those with ADHD), especially on Sandy Hill.
  • Open the Book was started and is a way of telling Bible Stories to children during times of Collective Worship – it has been magical.
  • Messy Church is a new congregation on Thursday afternoons after school once a month. It has had congregations of 80.
  • Mindfulness has been running, led by Suzette Jones, the Diocesan Health and Spirituality Advisor. It is a way of becoming more present, less anxious and more accepting through simple meditations focussing on the breath.
  • The ‘Real Me’ is a talk Suzette gave for us both at St Mark’s and St John’s on Mental Health.
  • Dave Tomlinson is an author of many books but he came to talk to us about ‘A Bad Christian’s Manifesto’.
  • The Sumner Room at St John’s was redecorated.
  • St John’s had two Vision Days looking at putting together a Growth Strategy and both times decided that children and young families should be the priority.
  • At the PCC a new Vision was discussed and decided upon – more later
  • We had larger congregations in 2014 compared with the previous three years.
  • We had more children in church

Sunday Attendance
2014 was a year of growth for most of the congregations. St Mark’s in particular grew by a massive 41%, St George’s grew 3%, St John’s grew by 1%, the Youth Service reduced but that is a bit of a statistical anomaly due to it being termly. Family Praise also reduced, perhaps because all the churches now are offering more for children in the Communion services.

Note – all the numbers below are the number of people per Sunday…. So Family Praise is every other week – you have to double the number to get the congregation. Messy Church is once a month. Youth is three times a year. All the other Sunday services are weekly.

It can be seen that the growth in 2014 was 3.1% which is not bad considering the Church of England tell us that congregations are generally elderly and therefore to stand still we need to grow in real terms by 10% on a Sunday to offset the people going into residential care etc.

Number of people worshiping each Sunday (with all the specials, baptisms etc stripped out of the data):

sunday attendance

The number of under 16s has been growing for the last three years:

under 16s

Where does that leave us?
If we were a school then back in 2011 we were in “Special Measures”, we are doing a bit better now – probably in the “Requires Improvement” category. Across England the average Sunday attendance in Church of England parishes is 1.48% of the population, in our parish it is 0.81%. It would take another 88 people to worship with us every Sunday before we are “average”. Still – that leaves us plenty to go at and hopefully we will continue to grow.

Thank-you to everyone who has worked so hard in 2014 – it has been a tremendous year and a great joint effort.

You can read the full report here and see the presentation slides here.

More plants and a bug hotel!

On Sunday 26th April twenty members of the local community met to plant 400 wildflower plugs in the Community Garden at St Mark’s Church. These included Red and White Campion, Greater Stichwort, Foxgloves, Violets, native Bluebell, Sweet Woodruff, Red and White Deadnettle and Hedge Woundwort. Once established, this area will be managed as a spring meadow with the grass cut in July after flowering and seed has set. The cut grass will be cleared off, composted and used to mulch around the fruit trees in the newly established orchard adjacent to the wildflower planting. The new wildflowers will encourage pollinating insects to visit the garden and orchard.

You may also notice a ‘bug hotel’ in the grounds that was built by the church youth group “Adventurers”, which meets on Monday evenings. This hotel will further encourage a diversity of insect life into the garden.

Finally there is a flower bed near the Upper Hale Road entrance to St Mark’s with spring flowering bulbs that have given a wonderful show. The congregation of St Mark’s sowed, Cornflowers and Poppies in the flowerbed as part of their Patronal Festival celebrations on 26th April.

The project has been funded thanks to a generous donation of £1000 from the Farnham Institute.

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A new Vision at the APCM

Please come to the APCM on Sunday 26th at 7:30pm at

St George’s Church,
Badshot Lea,

and hear about the new Vision for the Parish.

Papers will be available in church on Sunday, but if you prefer to be paperless then all the documents are below:

Annual Report (find out all about the Parish)
Financial Report (find out all about the Finances of the Parish)
Minutes of last year’s APCM
Minutes of last year’s Meeting of Parishioners (where we elect the Churchwardens)
New motion to change the way we are governed going forwards

Photo accreditation: Georgie Fry

Wildflower Planting in the Community Orchard

P1020922On Sunday 26th April at 1pm, the congregation of St Mark’s Church and various Community Groups will be undertaking the second phase of the Community Orchard planting. Eleven fruit trees are now in bud, and it is time to plant the wildflowers that will grow beneath them. Everyone is invited to come along with their spades and trowels to plant some of the 400 wildflower plants that are going to help create a beautiful garden for all in Upper Hale. The project has been funded thanks to a generous donation of £1000 from the Farnham Institute.

Paul Sowden, a member of St Mark’s Church who heads up the project said, “We have a vision to make the churchyard a place of beauty to be enjoyed by all in the local community. Already people have commented that the bulbs that we planted at the same time as the trees have offered them a place of peace and tranquillity.”

John Ely, a local resident who engages in many community projects in the area said, “It takes commitment over a number of years to develop an orchard and garden, like to one at St Mark’s. I believe that it is important that we work together as a community to create these spaces. We can already see the benefits of such a project.”

The Reverend Lesley Crawley commented, “Yesterday someone told me that they look for excuses to pop out of their house and go to Tesco’s so that they can walk through the churchyard at St Mark’s. I laughed. It struck me that the extravagant beauty of the flowers is like a form of grace – God’s love for us – just given freely and extravagantly. But of course there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes. If anyone would like to join the gardening club then they should contact me – they don’t need to have a faith, a spade will do… in fact we can provide the spade!”

The Beauty of St John’s Churchyard

Churchyards are special places. They often contain a rich diversity of plant and animal life, they are important places for archaeology and history, they often have distinctive and veteran trees and they provide a tranquil place for quiet reflection. The churchyard at St John’s Church in Hale is kept immaculate by a band of hardworking volunteers and their dedication is recognised and enjoyed by many.

Last year, a man wrote this letter to the Revd Alan Crawley, Joint Rector, and accompanied it with a bunch of flowers for a couple of our volunteers, “Since 2008, every four weeks on a Saturday I have driven past St John’s Church in Hale on my way from Kent to Hampshire. Without fail, come rain or shine, snow blizzard, fog or blustery gale, I am always amazed to see two people, …sweeping, cleaning, brushing, washing, collecting leaves and debris, unravelling and coiling extension cables, wheeling barrows and keeping the entrance to the church clean and tidy. Their hard work and dedication is a shining example and a credit to your community.”

The Mayor of Farnham, Cllr Jeremy Ricketts says, “It is always a pleasure to visit Hale Churchyard and see the inspirational work carried out by the volunteers. It brings community together in a fun, thoughtful and spiritual way. It represents the living heart of the Hale community for all to see and enjoy.”

The Revd Alan Crawley comments, “Often people ask me whether it is the best kept churchyard in Surrey. Of course, I don’t know. But I have been told that when the current team started maintaining the churchyard the grass was three feet high. The hours and they dedication they put into keeping it tidy is a credit to them and to us. My fear that the day they stop doing it we may find the grass three feet high again!”

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No Rota at St Mark’s!

St Mark’s Church in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale has grown by over 40% in the last year and the new people are mainly families with Primary School aged children. The ethos of St Mark’s is that every member is equal – in particular the children are fully included in the service and all the activities of the church are open to all on an equal footing.

Until recently there had been a rota for all the jobs – sidesperson, server, intercessions, reader, coffee making and so on. However, it tended to be only the more established members of the congregation who could commit to the rota – families preferred to remain flexible, and in particular most of the jobs were inappropriate to give to children.

So the congregation of St Mark’s are trying something new. They have made lots of cards with various jobs on them, for example ‘Light the Candles’, ‘Take the Collection’, ‘Tidy up after the Service’, ‘Server’, ‘Reader’, ‘Intercessor’, ‘Make the Coffees’, many of the jobs can be done by children. Then each Sunday there is ‘Host’ who is one of the established members (who can commit to a Sunday) and they bring the biscuits, open the church and put out the box with the jobs in. As people come in they help themselves to a card, if they wish to.

The Revd Lesley Crawley, who is a priest in the Parish said, “Getting rid of the rota has been brilliant – it has made the church even more inclusive and even zanier. I never know who is going to step up to do the reading or help me by serving at the altar. It definitely wouldn’t suit a place where the vicar needs to be in control! But it works for a church like St Mark’s where people invite their friends by saying, ‘Seriously, I bet our church is nothing like any other church you’ve been to!’ I would encourage every church to try it for their All-age services.”

Quiz Night Fun!

Every chair was taken and every table was used at St George’s Church Rooms last night as we packed in for the Quiz Night. No real idea how many people were there – over a hundred. Carrie and Jason Grafham, helped by Mat and Christine Brown put on a great evening. The idea wasn’t to make money – it was to have fun – but I think somewhere between £400-£600 pounds was made for church funds. Thanks to all who helped!

Here are the photos of the evening:

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