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