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Parish Priest’s Report
It’s been a joy to join the Parish, work with Rev’d Katie, and to begin to get to know people, and I firstly must thank everyone who has been so helpful and welcoming. The licensing service was simply wonderful and visitors were delighted with the warm and hospitable welcome given. Thank you.
We have a beautiful church, and the care with which it is kept and prepared for services is a credit to the hard work of many. The cleaning and refreshment teams are amazing.
Rev’d Sue continued to take the planned weddings in the church until the end of 2016, when Ian Cruse also retired as our organist. We wish them very well in their continuing ministries (Rev’d Sue is now working with our Area Dean, Canon Jonathan, in the Bumpsteads).
Numbers of weddings in 2017 are much reduced from the 2016 figures. This will have an impact on the church’s income, but will also take some pressure off the choir, bellringers, vergers and our wonderful wedding co-ordinator, who deals with the most convoluted wedding requests with patience.
There are obvious downsides to moving to a non-resident priest, especially until the Nugent room is fully sorted as a work and meeting space. Meetings have mainly been held in the homes of parishioners, for which, many thanks. My preparation work is done in my study at home, half an hour away in an emergency (none so far, I’m glad to report), and the return journey adds an hour, sometimes 90 minutes if the traffic is bad, to the time spent on local services and meetings. This could be significant if I worked only the expected 21 hours a week! On some days I travel twice, for example for a morning and then an evening engagement. We’re grateful to the Diocese for being prepared to pay the mileage for 4 return journeys a week, so there is no cost for this to the parish.
Despite these complications, I hope parishioners have found they can contact and meet me as needed, even if I cannot offer the hospitality of a vicarage.
Our input to the local schools seems to be increasing. The embryonic “Open The Book” team has developed, has now been officially trained, is blossoming and is welcome in the Community Primary School, largely thanks to the contacts opened by one of the PCC who is a Governor. Over 100 of the children chose to take palm crosses home from the last OTB assembly, and I have been into the classroom to teach Years 2 and 3 about Easter, which helped when the whole school had their normal Easter service in church.
Contacts with St Margaret’s Prep School have been more tentative, other than a church visit and their Christmas service, but I am hoping to be able to take assemblies there next term. The Prep Section of Gosfield School has been welcoming for their harvest and Christmas events, and I am taking an assembly for the whole of Gosfield School on their return from Easter holidays. This is very much work in progress.
We sometimes have no children at all in church. On two Sundays a month, Sunday Club is available and is run very professionally and imaginatively, but there are few children to take it up. We are very grateful to the dedicated Sunday Club leaders for their input and care.
There is the possibility of introducing Messy Church to the parish, not to compete with Sunday Club of course but to be another stream of discipleship for youngsters – PCC will be exploring this in due course.
Our congregation numbers (equivalent to about 4% of adult residents and 2% of children) are inflated by wedding and Christening families, whom we are delighted to see, but our regular local congregation is sometimes quite small. Attendance at the Christmas services is mainly local and was however very good at about 10% of the population both adult and child. Midnight (at 11p.m.) and 9 Lessons & Carols were particularly well-attended: the Crib Service and Christingle, less so. I would hope to discover what sort of services appeal to the unchurched majority over the next year!
The Remembrance Service was well attended, and it is hoped to involve more groups in 2017.
Thanks to the kindness of a local farmer, we had a plough to bless on Plough Sunday, and in May we plan to have a Café Church in the Maurice Rowson Hall specifically to invite and thank the village’s numerous volunteers. Also on that day, Bishop Stephen will be passing through the village on his way to Greenstead Green for a service and we hope many will meet him, however briefly.
I hope we shall hold a memorial service at All Souls-tide this year. I should also like to celebrate our patron, St Catherine of Alexandria – there must surely be some children’s work links with the schools to be developed there!
In addition to our webpage, we now have a Facebook page, and services are advertised on those as well as on the Gosfield and Gosfield Grapevine Facebook pages. We hope to make attending church seem normal and not scary, but it’s easy to underestimate the daring needed to cross the threshold when you’ve not been brought up to do so.
The bells ring out across the village and we are very proud of the skill and involvement of the ringers. The choir is a credit to the parish, and important to our worship. It’s good that the choir and the bellringing team have a Team-wide interest and remit, especially when we have a busy wedding season.
Our Lay Ministry team continues to lead inspiring and glory-filled worship. It would be good to formalise some of that ministry, especially as the Authorised Local Preacher training will be led by Rev’d Liz Paxton and Rev’d Sue at Halstead. There may be other potential lay ministers among us – perhaps Pastoral Assistants or Lay Evangelists – or potential ordinands. Please pray for those whom the Lord is calling, that they may hear, be encouraged by all of us, and respond in faith.
Attendance at the Lent Course (in the Nugent Room) on “Casablanca” has been variable! Perhaps it was the wrong course, or perhaps Gosfield doesn’t really “do” short courses. We do however need to have readily-available discipleship courses, and PCC will need to discern what would suit us. It would be good to have more people on the Course in Christian Studies (in Halstead, Chelmsford or on-line next year).
Prayer must be the bedrock of our faith; I hope to develop a system of regular prayer for all the aspects of village life, which all can easily follow, so the village knows it is being prayed for by St Catherine’s people.
I have purposely avoided thanking named individuals as I am sure many jobs are being done without fanfare and without my even noticing, but I do thank you all for your commitment, help and support. Particular thanks must, though, go to the PCC Members and our Officers. I hope you know how much your work and friendship is appreciated.
RevRose 2 April 2017
Naturally you can always ask the Reverend Rose Braisby on 01245 361927, or at firstname.lastname@example.org