Note: Vicars Reports are issued for the previous year at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) This took place on Sunday 30th April 2017.

Vicar’s Report on the year 2016


Parish Prayer 

Lord, help us to take our eyes off ourselves and turn them to the community around us, so we are less concerned with what we have done than what remains to be done.  Save us from being a parish that is too inward looking. May our vision be enlarged, our strength renewed and our love for you and your children inspire us to do great things for your glory.  We ask this in the name of Christ our Lord.

Parish vision statement 

The people of St Pauls love God, St Paul’s church and love the local community and seek to serve all three. We will accept and welcome in all who want to be part of Gods kingdom, all who want to learn more.  We will seek to be an inclusive God centred church which takes seriously Jesus command to ‘go out and make disciples of all people’

Our attitude will be one of prayerfulness and service, and we will do that we can share the treasure of the Gospel message with all who we have contact.

We will seek to be a an active presence in the community and serve it through local initiatives both in and outside the church.  We will take seriously our duty to care for the world and its resources seeking to maintain our presence in the community by careful use of our resources.

Report for APCM 2017 on the year 2016  

2016 was a year for consolidating rather than growth and to be honest after the hard work of sorting out the church hall roof which was finished in early 2016. I think that is what we needed, a time to collect our thoughts and think about next steps. But we did spend time in 2016 working on the inside of the hall and adding the new Kitchen, the cupboards on the stage and repainting almost the whole building.

The only rooms not to have been refurbished are the office and the Choir vestry so that may be a project to consider fairly soon.

We also created an outside play area, which at the moment is still a work in progress.

We also in late 2015 early 2016 decided to review the way we hire out the hall and so all tenants were given notice and invited to re-apply. Some stayed some left some new ones joined us.

The leavers were The Friday Judo group, the Thursday Dancing classes and the Alphabets pre, post school and school holiday clubs.

The new groups were the Balagokulum group on a Monday night, the Kids rock pre and post school and holiday club and Slimming world on Thursday evenings.

Once the hall was ready to reopen new hire agreements were made so that all paper work is uniform and there is a more businesslike approach to this aspect of our parish life. The PCC decided it would be strategically wise to set aside 10 % of the hall rents each month to help meet future maintenance costs.

The hall is now mostly fit for purpose and is well used. There are a few free slots available for hire and it is bringing in rent which helps not only to pay for the upkeep of the hall but also for the church.

During the year The Kids Rock group who used the hall before and after school asked to extend their hours so they could offer day care for pre-school children, the PCC agreed and so they use the hall from 7 am till 9 am and from 3 pm till 6 pm and the committee room from 9 till 3 each weekday.

This does mean some inconvenience, with everyone who comes  into the hall during those hours needing to sign in to comply with OFSTED regulations and with some of their equipment being left in the committee room, but the rent they pay makes a really big difference to our budget.  I want to say thank you for their co-operation to the Tuesday group and the Men’s society who are the two groups most affected by this change.  In exchange the Kids Rock staff do help to set up for the Babes and Tots and the community choir and once again raised money for the church with the Christmas Grotto and children’s discos.

One of the major concerns of 2016 which was brought to our attention by the 2015 quinquennial report was the need to replace the high level gutters and that project will dominate our building work for the next 3 or 4 years.  But if St Paul’s is to thrive then we do need a sound building to worship in.  Thankfully Brian Kerridge has taken on this project and has put a team together to plan and oversee it and I am most grateful to him and to them for the hours and hours it has and will take up.

During 2016 we continued working on the 5 year plan which was set up in 2015

We are now just over half way through the five years and although some of the work planned is behind schedule most in on track. The areas that need a little extra help are Administration and Mission and Outreach and if you or someone you know has skills in those areas please ask them to come and see me.

There is a small team for each of the 6 areas of the plan who meet about three times each year and discus how to implement the plan and then arrange for it to happen led either by themselves of by someone with the relevant skills. By planning in this way we are trying to make sure every area of church life gets the attention in needs, so that at the end of the five years the church is in a strong and healthy position.

Each of the teams report back to the PCC who are the decision making body.

Now I want to give you some basics from the year 2016

There were 7 funerals 2 at the Crematorium one of those a former Community choir member John Wade, and there were 5 in church four of whom had strong church connections Joan Tucker, John Lees, Effie Holt and Margaret Walker.

We pause for a moment to remember them……  ‘Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and Rise in Glory’ Amen

There were 18 Baptisms in 2016 more than double the number in 2015. There were 11 under a year old and 7 over.

There was just 1 person from St Paul’s confirmed in 2016, Leanne Wheatley.

The confirmations were led by Bishop Peter and held  at St Anne’s with candidates also from St Anne’s and from St Michael’s Bramhall.

There were three weddings in 2016, two I conducted – those of Patrick and Xiaoli (Kiki) and of Paul and Melissa both in May and in June the marriage of her Son Stephen conducted by The Rev Debra Prest.

Our regular weekly services were attended by an average of 9 at the Midweek communion service, 9 at the 8.30, BCP Sunday service, 7 at Evensong and 54 at the 10 am main Sunday service. Evensong the midweek and the 8.30 are almost the same figures as last year and though numbers are small they are viable, though if evensong drops we might need to think at what point do we stop a weekly evensong service.

The 10 am average is down and that is a little worrying, for the previous two years we had seen a little growth in numbers but last year we lost some regular members, two who moved away and some who had changes in family circumstances. I think it is also in part due to less regular attendance especially by the younger members of the congregation, a symptom I think of the business of modern life and the demands for Sunday working and the many leisure and sporting activities available on Sunday mornings which families do want to take part in.

There may be a need to look at when we hold services and maybe add in a service at a different time.

Our junior church has been any number from 2 up to about 7 and is very inconsistent and my thanks do go to those who work faithfully with the children and are often let down when after preparing work there are no children of an age to do it so thank you David, Ann, Rachel and Tilly for all the work you put in.

Festival services at Christmas and Easter in 2016 were a mixed bag with a higher number than ever at the Christingle. The Holy Week services were also slightly up on the previous year but the main services on Christmas and Easter day were not as well attended as I would have hoped and this is a reflection I think of the numbers of people who go away at these times to fit in with school or family holidays, but is it sad that the church family who have worshipped together week by week are somewhat scattered on these most important Christian festivals.

At our services we do have a nice variety of voices with many people reading lessons and leading intercessions and helping lead the service and I do thank those who do such work and thank Yvonne Stevenson for producing the Rotas. Not an easy task.

And I also thank Anne and the Musicians for their contribution and especially the hard work they put in to maintain the high standard they have set for themselves.

And I ask that they would pass on my thanks to those who come and sing with them on special occasions, their support is much valued.

The third Sunday of the month the 10am service has been failing to bring in the young families we hoped it would do and after some thought we have decided that from now on the second Sunday will be the one to experiment with as that is the Sunday we have had most children for the past few months.  We have tried holding some services in the church hall and it has been a partial success, I know some don’t like it, but for a Bible study or practical session it is the best place and we do now have a working sound system in the hall, another of the Hall improvement  jobs we did in 2016. I did find that some who didn’t like the idea of services in the hall actually liked them when they happened, so please even if you are not for the idea, don’t be against but give them a fair trial – you might just be surprised.

And they won’t happen more than three times over the year.

From September 2016 on the first Sunday of the month the usual Taize style service was replaced by a short evensong service then a session from the Y bible series of services which looks at different ways of encountering the Bible, we have looked at Lectio Divina, The Ingnation method, storying scripture, praying scripture, and in December Anne Allen led us on a tour of the Bible and music which was excellent.

There are two more in the series the next on 14th May is visual arts and scripture then in June dramatising scripture. The visual arts one will be led by Graham who painted the panels we used as part of our Christmas decorations for 2016 and which were a great success.

After the Y Bible series ends we will go back to our once a month Taize style service.

We joined in the Churches together in Sale services when there were 5 Sundays in the month though sadly not many from St Pauls attended, they are worth attending and do give you insight into how the different churches work. It is also a very good a way of letting the public see how these Christians do love each other and work together despite their differences an example the world is very much in need of at the moment. There is one such service tonight and the next one will be here in St Paul’s in July when I am hoping we can have a choral evensong.

We also join with churches together for Pentecost and for midday services in the week of Christian unity.

We had two special visitors to our Sunday services in 2016 Mike Kane, our local MP, who talked about his faith and how it led him into politics and Sarah Shelton a Children’s society Representative who spoke to us about their work and presented Sheila Clarke with a gift for all her work for them over the last 25 years.

We also in 2016 answered the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call to a week of prayer which was titled ‘Thy kingdom come’. It was good to have the church open and the resources provided for prayer both in church and at home. It is hard, if not impossible to judge the outcome of such a week but the people I spoke to who would otherwise not have come into the building were pleased by it and some good conversations were had. I hope people will join in with it again this year. And given that it ends on June 4th just 4 days before the general election what a good opportunity to pray for our country and it’s possible leaders.

There were two sets of Bible study in the year and again we used the Pilgrim series. They were both well attended and attendees did enjoy the style and the content of the booklets.

The social life of the church this year has again included some summer concerts, a   Chinese new year concert and two Sale Chamber Orchestra concerts all opportunities to hear some really high standard live music, the chance to show of the church as a concert venue and for us to show how welcoming and friendly we can be.

We had our usual children’s discos and harvest and pancake parties, and also had a celebration tea for the Queens 90th birthday. We had our second outing of the Christmas grotto and of course our heritage day.  All of these had many complimentary things said about them so thank you to all who helped in any with them or with any aspect of our social life and to Carol who leads the team and to Michael for his heritage day work.

The regular church groups, the Men’s society the Tuesday group and the badminton groups have met during the year and thanks to those who keep them going..

St Pauls is also involved as every church should be in charitable work.

With both monetary gifts and through practical engagement with the Food bank and the Mustard tree, as already mentioned Sheila’s work with the Children’s society

And with Christian aid, this was for many years led by Jeff Cooke, but this last year he has stepped down and handed over the reins to Anita. So thank you to Jeff for all his hard work and welcome to Anita as she takes this work forward. I hope you will all support her and all of those who work hard to make sure St Paul’ takes a share in caring for the poor and needy.

Last year we were asked by Anne Allen to help support a group called Medic Malawi and we did so to great effect. I am always humbled by the generosity and the good heartedness of St Pauls people, so thank you to all who contributed in any way to the charities we support and for the support you give to the church.  Both the practical support and the monetary.

Which brings me neatly to finances. St Pauls has been unable to pay its parish share in full for a number of years and while there has been no pressure from the diocese I myself have been very aware that once I retired or moved on then St Paul’s would be unlikely to be able to appoint a full time incumbent. So with that and my own family circumstances in mind I decided to ask both the diocese and the parish if they would let me change to part time working.

It was decided that I would stay at St Paul’s and work 31 hours a week plus Sunday services.  The Diocese did offer to let me move if St Paul’s did not want me part time, but thankfully they were happy for me to stay.

So from January 1st 2017 my hours changed. It remains to be seen how this will work out long term, in the first few months it has been quite hard to adjust and I want to say thank you to those who have reminded me I should not be working on my days off!  But the nature of this work is that sometimes I will need to and am quite prepared to.

Though it is best I think for the parish to get used to an incumbent who is only on duty part time.  It means that others will have to be ready to step up and take on some of the work. We already have Michael who as Reader is able to take most of the non sacramental services and Ann as reader emeritus could do the same and we have Rob hopefully beginning Reader training in September

There are also two Pastoral assistants Yvonne and Karen who can help and Tilly is coming to the end of the foundations for ministry course.

Quite what role Rob and Tilly will play in the parish can’t be decided of course until they have completed their training but it is good to know that they are training. If anyone else feels they have a call from God to take on some of the parish work or a particular ministry then please do come and speak to me about it.

Now I want to thank a few particular people, the sidespeople for the work and welcome they proved each week, Joyce and her team for the flowers to enhance the worship, my sister for her support and her work as Reader Emeritus, Michael for his work as Reader, Yvonne and Karen for their work as Pastoral workers and Harry and Yvonne for their work as Church wardens.

I want to thank the officers of the church for the work they do, Brian and John for the work on the Finances and Rachel for her work as secretary, Eileen for her role as Church hall booking officer and the PCC members for their service and wise advice.

It takes the work of all of these and the faithful worship and prayers of the whole congregation to enable St Paul’s to fulfil its mission statement and I hope that we do continue to Serve God and the community for foreseeable future.

The other reports appear below

Pastoral Worker – Yvonne    Pastoral Worker – Karen    Tuesday Group

Trustees   Music   Men’s Society   Children’s Society   Badminton   Babes & Tots