Annual Review of the life of St Peter’s for the 2014 AGM
2013 was a year of great change for all of us. I arrived at St Peter’s to find it in good heart and well supported over its inter-regnum, but a new priest always means things will change slightly. We don’t do it deliberately; just like everything else in life, we all have our own ways of doing things. Over the past year we have seen a number of new members, and existing members presenting for confirmation – signs of a healthy and growing community.
A balance of worship styles exists at St Peter’s, although there is still some scope for offering a broader spectrum of worship, which may be explored in 2014. The 9.30am Thursday Eucharist is still well supported, as are the Little Fishes on Tuesdays and Youth Group on Thursdays. The monthly celebrations of Wednesday Church and Wednesday Fellowship show how much church can work for groups who are often overlooked. This year we have seen a return to many of the Anglo-Catholic traditions of the parish and the introduction of a new monthly service of Holy Hour and Benediction on the third Sunday of each month. This quiet, reflective service has proven to be an oasis of calm before the start of the working week.
Mark and the choir clearly work hard week by week to offer to God the best worship we can. We are fortunate at St Peter’s to be able to offer choral evensong on a monthly basis, something which is appreciated by members of other churches who come to experience the excellent music that we offer at St Peter’s.
The Great Western Park (and now other areas) development has been the elephant in the room (and from the traffic, seems to be the elephant standing around on all major routes in and around Didcot). A great deal of my time and energy has been absorbed by the possibilities of mission to the new housing developments, with the clergy from other affected parishes. We have recently formed a ‘Didcot cluster group’ – clergy from All Saints, St Matthew’s, Ladygrove and St Peter’s meeting regularly and working together in an informal arrangement.
We are very fortunate at St Peter’s to have such an able Ministry team, although here again there have been significant changes. Over the year we have celebrated the Revd Joy Carter’s ministry and her retirement and have seen Julie Mintern go through the selection process and begin training for the priesthood. The Revd Ernest and Sylvia Adley play a significant role in the worshipping life of St Peter’s and do a lot of work in the background which often goes unnoticed, for which I am very grateful. Our Youth Group has also seen a change in personnel, with both Graham Hall and Bevan Marchand leaving St Peter’s for non-Anglican churches – I am deeply grateful for all that they have done over the years with the Youth Group, and know that the young people who have passed through our doors hold them both in affection. 2014 will see more changes to the ministry team which will hopefully keep us all on our toes.
Several teaching and learning opportunities were offered throughout 2013, but take-up of these has been disappointing. I, and the ministry team, will continue to offer these and hope that our members will find the time and the interest to learn more about the Christian faith. There was also a distinct lack of response to the offer of a spiritual outlet, in the visit to S Michael and All Angels Abingdon to explore their labyrinth, and so a parish Quiet Day has not been arranged. Spiritual direction is still on offer, and anyone interested in occasional one-to-one sessions to develop and deepen their prayer life and relationship with God should speak to me.
The parish finances continue to be a worry and we must all work at ways to plug the gap between our income and the calls on our budget, not least the parish share. At a time when everyone is feeling the pinch the Church of England is no different and unless we can maintain and increase our giving, the Diocese will have to cut staffing levels further – there are already plans to drop two full-time paid clergy from the Deanery. If we are to grow as a parish, we need to continue to work together to build the St Peter’s family further and to grow out and into the community. I look forward very much to exploring with you all how we can make this happen.
We owe our thanks to a wide group of people who quietly get the (often thankless) jobs done. Many of them will appear in other places in this report. They include everyone on the PCC, the ministry and serving teams, the flower ladies and the Sunday School and all those who keep things running in spite of – or perhaps because of – their busy lives. My special thanks go to Margaret and Maurice Meardon, Graham and Rosemary Fry, Ena Dick, the Sheilas (not a group of Australian ladies – just our stalwart social and ministry workers), Henry and Jackie Leighton, Frances Hall, Alan and Debbie Wilson, Keith Mintern, Craig Bull, Mark Stanley and the Church Wardens. My gratitude to them and to all those who do so much for St Peter’s cannot be overstated.
Hannah. March 2014
St Peter's Church, Newlands Avenue, Didcot, Oxfordshire. OX11 8PY
|© 2013 Keith Mintern|