Click here to read minutes of previous meeting (28 April 2019)

Annual Report – 2019

The 2019 Annual Report is published below. Part one will is sent to The Charity Commission (CC), part two are other reports that the CC do not require.

PART ONE

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Vicar’s report APCM 2020 

Read Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 8

Can you remember what I said in my report last year? It seems to have been prophetic! Just let me read part of it to you and then comment. “There are times and seasons in the world around us. They occur in our individual lives and in the life of the church too. I was interested to see the field across Column Road at the end of Grange Cross Lane was ploughed up recently – in spring rather than autumn. I don’t know if you learnt anything about crop rotation at school or if from your gardening experience you know that you can’t always grow the same things in the same place year after year as the ground gets depleted and less productive. What may be needed is a fallow time – where nothing is planted, a time of rest, of ceasing to actively grow something, perhaps a time of emptiness and waiting. We live in a society that is on the go 24 / 7 52 weeks of the year with targets to meet, achievements to fought for, a world of evolution, change, the newest, the latest, the greatest and so on and so on.”

The challenge of this APCM, coming towards the end of 2020 and after the initial impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic, is to stay with 2019 and look forward into 2020 as it would traditionally be done, or to accept where we are in 2020 and look forward to 2021. When New Year’s Eve came last year I was happy to say goodbye to 2019 and look forward to 2020, but none of us expected it to be the year it is.

Lockdown may have been that ‘fallow time’. What I said last year was

“One thing I have learnt this year is to hold on to God in the fallow times, to rest in him, to be patient and to be gentle with myself. It is hard to step out of the expectations of the world around us and the desire to be busy and achieve things. But to be God’s children, we need to work with his timetable and not fret when his pattern is different to human values. It is costly to bring down the barriers and excuses we hide behind to truly engage with God – even if that engaging is simply to hold on by the fingertips.” Perhaps in Lockdown and the ensuing local restrictions, God is speaking to us about resetting our expectations and re-evaluating the way with live at every level.

What may be true in our personal lives may also be true in our church life. What might God be saying to us through this Pandemic? What do we need to treasure from the past / let go of from previous practice / take forward as a new way of being church in this new Covid-19 world?

This is an opportunity to allow God to be at work in us, a chance to listen more carefully to what he wants us to do so that our energy is not dissipated on what may be worthy things, but are not the things he wants us individually or collectively to focus on at this time.

Last year I concluded “What might appear to be a fallow time, is actually a time for replenishing, refilling, restoring, renewing – a time of recovery and preparation, a time to nourish and feed, so that we are re-formed more like Jesus and prepared for the next season that will follow in God’s timing. It is an opportunity to deal with some of the things that have been holding us back from being who God intends us to be and doing what God intends us to do.

As a church family, we have been through a number of seasons together. Can I encourage you as we move through the present season to collectively and individually to allow God to replenish, to nourish to feed and to prepare you for whatever season he has ahead for us.” I believe that this holds true for us today. 

Vote of thanks 2020

First of all to our Warden, Kate, who has done so much as a single Warden and has taken on the role with such enthusiasm and commitment. I know that she would want to thank Martin for all the support he has given her in this role and I too thank him for the difference that he has made.

To Ailsa, our curate, for what she has done professionally and personally to support me and the parish.

To Revd Lindsay Owens and Revd Elaine Ollman for their practical help and encouragement.

PCC members with whom it has been a privilege to work this year and from whom I expect great things this coming year.

Ivor as secretary

Julie, our treasurer

Betty – Finance Officer and Giving Recorder

And it is to Betty that particular thanks are given as she is stepping down from all roles she has held in the parish, deanery, diocese and in the national church. We are giving her a special presentation because she has undertaken just about every aspect of lay ministry at St Michael’s from Parish assistant, to Sunday School leader, to treasurer and latterly Finance Officer and Giving Recorder over 40 years. Words are insufficient to recognise her dedication over such a long period and the wisdom, wise counsel and perspective of the wider church that she has brought to our church. I have appreciated her encouragement and understanding in my time here. Thank you Betty – enjoy your garden and the freedom that comes from laying down responsibility.

Then to those whose work may be unseen, but whose loss we would feel if they didn’t faithfully carry out their tasks:

Those who prepare and clear up tea & coffee – especially as we try new things!

Pauline & all Cleaning teams – especially for Pauline, stepping down after a long time at the helm!

Ann & Gardening team

Jean & Lesley Flower team

Pam – weekly sheet and all the supporting photocopying

Graham and the counting team

Angela heading up First Wednesday and overseeing so many of our social events

Heather and Eileen for Summer and Autumn Fairs

Julie for managing the bookings of the Centre

Andy for tech advice and input

To those who work in any way with our children and young people:

Open the Book team

All who help with initiatives in schools eg Experience Christmas.

Sunday Club, The Ark helpers and leaders of Venture

Kathy, Dot and the staff of Little Angels

To all who take part in preparing, leading, enabling the services:

Martin and Anthony – faithfulness in preparation and delivery, & their encouragement

Sacristan – Liz, ensuring we have all we need

Those who administer the chalice, read or lead intercessions as they demonstrate something of what it means for us all to be involved in worship

Taize – Joan & Ian

Deputy Wardens & sidespersons – preparing church & welcoming people

Julie & Sally, and Andy – for their particular contribution to our services.

Ian – the time and expertise that goes into putting services etc on screen, and to those who are joining the team to support him

Sarah & Sadie Acts 435 advocates

Ian Casson – who brings a thorough, careful and caring approach to Safeguarding

Jean Walters – electoral roll

All those who submitted reports

I apologise now if I have missed anyone out – it is hard to look back on the whole of 2019 at this point in 2020! To all of you, who by attending, praying, giving and supporting form the substance of our life together, even if it may be unseen – thank you and keep on going!

PART TWO

Curates Report 2019

2019 for me has been a year of consolidation with putting skills learnt in my first year of curacy into practice, helped enormously in being priested at Chester Cathedral in June, a wonderful day where I was supported by so many from the parish, my previous parish, former colleagues and friends and family.

This was followed the next day by my celebrating my first Eucharist which I found incredibly emotional and again, I enjoyed the support of so many, thank you. 

I undertook my first solo funeral at the beginning of the year at Landican with a follow up service in church then later in the year conducted my first burial. 

Other firsts were two weddings, both joy- filled, at Burton Parish in August and October and a baptism in March.  

This year I made the decision to withdraw from formal academic study to allow more time to focus on my parish ministry.

I have organised to main events this year the first, another first for the parish was the Pate, Puds and Poetry evening and later in the year a Harvest Barn Dance.  Both were well attended from within the congregation and the wider community.

I also did another run (only a 10k this time) raising over £400 from the congregation for St Michael’s and I am grateful to all those who supported me with this.

In May I enjoyed a Pilgrimage along the Camino walking across Spain to Santiago de Compostella.  It was a very moving and challenging time but also very enjoyable.

May was a busy month when we also celebrated with my children milestone birthdays, Charlie reaching 21 and Alfie 18.  I was joined by the community at St Michael’s, as well as friends and family, in praying for Alfie’s career threatening injury to be healed, and we were overjoyed and thankful (as is he) that he recovered “miraculously” and was able to return to the Army.  

I am grateful for the prayer and practical support from the congregation at St Michael’s throughout this time and will never forget this, thank you.

I went on retreat with my curate colleagues in February to Foxhill and on a “working retreat” with a friend to St Bueno’s in September.  Both provided refreshment and rest.  

I continue to enjoy the support and encouragement of our Vicar Cheryl with relation to my preaching.  Cheryl gives me a great deal of freedom to deliver in relation to preaching and is a huge encouragement.  I have tackled many difficult issues this year through my preaching including suicide and mental health with encouraging feedback from the congregation.

Our Celebration of Creativity at St Michael’s was a great success and I was able to support in raising funds through baking a series of creative cakes which were raffled.

I was also able to support at both St Michael’s Fayre’s with my own stalls this year.

I was nominated by the Diocese to convene, plan and run the Bishop’s Book group this year which has been a very rewarding, if at times, challenging experience.

I have led my first school assemblies and am really starting to enjoy this part of my role.

Another first for me was leading and presiding at the Christmas Eve (midnight) service which I found immensely moving.  This followed joint delivery with the vicar of our Christmas Eve service which saw my leading my first Christingle activity and supporting with the pop- up nativity – great fun.

I continue to take an active role ecumenically supporting our Churches Together in West Kirby, organising a prayer walk starting from St Michael’s which was enjoyed by lots of people from different churches in our grouping.

In January I attended my graduation service in Durham Cathedral which was truly a momentous occasion for me and am now the very proud owner of a BA in Theology, Mission and Ministry.

I feel very much part of the team at St Michael’s and am grateful for the support of my Reader colleagues Martin and Anthony as well of course, our Vicar Cheryl.  Thank you to everyone for all you support and encouragement. 

 Revd Ailsa Whorton

St Michael’s Rambling Group

The Rambling Group continue to meet monthly and have enjoyed a variety of walks this past year. Our walks take us mainly to areas in Cheshire, North Wales as well as our local area here on Wirral. It is a time of good fellowship and many of the walks usually finish at a café! – some even start with an early morning coffee.  Thanks must go to the people who plan and lead the walks and guide us around the mud at times. 

In October we spent an enjoyable weekend at the HF Centre at Malham in Yorkshire and thanks must go to Graham and Lesley for planning this weekend. It was lovely to have Ailsa and Derek join us for the first time and thanks to Ailsa for leading our daily worship there. 

We ended the year with a walk around Parkgate and finished with an enjoyable meal at the Old Quay Pub. Thanks to Tom Owens for organising this.  I must also thank Eirian for being our coordinator for the past three years and for all the work she did making sure all the walk details were distributed as well as putting our programme together. 

I have now taken over this role and I know we all look forward to our next programme of walks. If anyone would like to join us please speak to me. Details of our walks are on the shelf in the book Corner in Church. 

Pam Stackhouse.

Little Angels Report 2019/2020

The Little Angels Group meet each Wednesday morning from September to July during term time in the Church Centre.  We continue to have many new Mums/Dads/Carers attending with their little ones, we also have two new volunteers, making a total of seven team members and when needed Kathy is always willing to assist.  In December we held our Christmas Party with thirty children attending each received a present from Father Christmas. In July we also held a Teddy’s Bear Picnic theme party. Most of our monies is donated to the church funds, we do keep a small amount for emergencies, and this year we have been able to donate £300. Unfortunately due to lockdown we had to close at the beginning of March. 

We would like to express our thanks to Matt Coverley for setting up the tables and chairs and replacing them when the session is over, his help is really appreciated by the team. We do receive many compliments and thanks at the end of each morning. Hopefully when the country is free from the virus we will be able to reopen again.

Dorothy Garner/Carol Marsden.

Connect Magazine

Connect magazine was launched in December 2019 and has been well received. 2000 copies were printed in an A4 format on glossy paper and will be published as near to quarterly as Easter allows.

 The magazine is financed by donation and distributed by volunteers, as outreach, free of charge, to the parish.

Liz Jarvis

Taizé 2019. 

The group continues to enjoy our monthly meetings of quiet meditation, prayer and song, providing a welcome break from the bustle of daily living. We have welcomed a new member and enjoyed the group fellowship which the Taizé form of service affords. We often discuss what the Taizé service means to us as individuals and how it can often help to focus our minds and give us that calm in times of stress.  

Please feel free to join us on the first Monday of each month in church at 7.30 in the evening. You will be made most welcome. If you would like more information on the Taizé services, give me a ring on 625 6213 or speak with Ian or myself.  

Joan Stephens and Ian Gilmartin

Ventures Report

I run the group with the help of Jane Gittens.  We meet every fortnight during the 10:30 service on those Sundays when there is no Café Church.

Last September two of our Sunday Club youngsters came up to join us. Also recently one of the older youngsters decided to leave and join the morning congregation.  The group is a pleasure to be with – they are very loving and supportive of each other even though there is such a wide age range (currently 12 to 18).

We continue to find that Scripture Union material suits the group well.  We have recently completed a series on Elijah and another on well-known psalms.  The format of the group is to have a Bible study/discussion and then a relevant fun activity, which varies each week and can be a game, drama, craft etc.

Mair Rimmer is in the process of being CRB-checked so she can lead occasional sessions when I am not available.  This is good news as we only have myself leading the group currently and so need to miss some Sundays when I am away

I would value your prayers for the youngsters, that their faith might continue to mature into an evermore, active, living faith, which will help them with the joys and challenges of teenage life.  

Carolyn Hart.  

Prayer Chain Report 2020

At present we have 24 members on the Prayer Chain.  The members receive the prayer requests and then pray for the situation for as long as they feel it is right. Everything on the prayer chain is confidential.

We have recently changed the arrangements for communicating the prayer requests from text messages to a WhatsApp group.  The advantage of WhatsApp is that anyone from within the group can pass on the prayer requests, rather than it having to go through myself.  This means the prayers requests can go around the chain a lot quicker.  It also means, for the majority of the time, that the group runs itself.  This is especially useful when I am holiday.  There have been a few teething problems with this change but hopeful they will be overcome in time.

It is a great privilege to pray for personal, specific needs and I know it is a great encouragement to the whole team when we hear our prayers have been answered.  We know too that our prayer support is greatly valued.

The service we provide is open to anyone who is content for us to pray for his or her needs.  We pray for all sorts of things, from health issues within the congregation to problems friends and relatives are suffering.  If anyone would like to join our group of prayers then please let me know. 

Carolyn Hart.