Standing Committee

Rectors Report to Churchwardens Standing Committee 28 November 2017


As we approach one of the busiest times of the year it is a real joy to welcome the New Year of the church with so much happening.  Each of our churches has so many activities and they are truly involved at the heart of each community.  It is wonderful to see how much the work, commitment and faith of individuals conveys the message of Christ.

I love the Christmas season, and particularly the message being shared with young and old alike.  Christmas is a time when traditionally families, children and young people have most contact with the church and hear the message of Christmas.  It is a time when we can truly express the fact that the message of the church - of Christ - really is good news.  It is up to us to be excited, and to appear excited.  We need to step beyond any feelings we may have bemoaning changes in society's approach to Christmas, its commercialism and secularism, and adapt to give good news in a way which can be heard throughout our community.  Every other religion and pressure group in the world would give their eye teeth for the opportunity that the Christian church has every December.  Much of the world turns to the celebration and festivity of Christmas - we simply have to remind people of why we celebrate and what Christmas means to all people and each individual.

Ultimately, all the practicalities of maintaining our buildings, raising the money to pay our common fund, ensuring that safeguarding and personnel issues are dealt with properly, and all the other many items of business that take up so much time, are subsidiary to our purpose of serving God and proclaiming his message. It is so good at Christmas to be given a head start in sharing that message within the whole community. May we find as many opportunities as possible to do so at this time.

AVMC – Planning and Visioning

The ‘Visioning Day’ on 21 October 2017 seemed to go well.  The venue at Kilmington Baptist Church was extremely welcoming, accessible and appropriate for the 50+ people who attended.  The notes of the day have been written up and sent out to churchwardens.   I hope you might have had the opportunity to glance through them.  At five sides of A4 they are quite comprehensive.  I have had them independently proofed to try to ensure that they make sense and are accessible.  The intention is to make these widely available in hardcopy in our churches and on our websites.   Alongside the notes we will provide feedback forms inviting additional comments and thoughts.

Mission Community Website

One of the issues which came out strongly at our 'Visioning Day' related to communication, and one specific was making better use of modern electronic media.  Doing this effectively does require an element of expertise - but also a desire to engage.  I am pleased to confirm that the promised Mission Community Website has gone live and is ready to be developed further.  It can be accessed via :

www.axevmc.com

Please do go to the website and have a look.

Any website is only as good as the information it contains.  I have put together a few items and these have been uploaded - but it is by no means an exciting website at present.  I'm pleased that we have some help in addressing the site.  Mr Colin Frier, who attended the Visioning Day, is helping to upload material to the site and to continue developing it for the present.  However, working remotely is completely dependent upon information being passed to him to upload.  If anyone has material which they feel would benefit from being made available on the site, please pass it through me.

Please do use the website.  It is through frequent use that the site gains precedence on search engines - the more hits we get the higher the profile.  Please set the website in your favourites bar and keep going back to look at updates and news.

Licensing of Ministers to AVMC

Following previous discussions and the agreement of the churchwardens on behalf of their PCC's I am pleased to confirm that Rev'd Cate Edmonds has met with Bishop Sarah at and received her license as a minister attached to the Axe Valley Mission Community.  Rev'd Mary Harding and I will meet with Bishop Sarah on 19 December for Mary to receive her license. Bishop Sarah will then lead a service of celebration on Friday 16 February at the Minster.  At this service the licenses will be read and we look forward to a celebration of their formal addition to the ministry team.  We hope that all of our churches will be involved in the service and that it will be a real joy for all of us.

Axminster Churches Together (ACT)


At the recent AGM of the Axminster Churches Together Rev'd Ian Kirby, who had been chairman of the group for the previous three years, stood down. Ian and his wife leave the URC Church and the town over the Christmas period to take up new posts in Wales.   At the AGM Ian was very much thanked for his work and presence in the town, and with ACT.  Rev Kay D’Albertanson was elected unopposed as the new chairman, and I was elected as her deputy and Vice Chairman.  I understand that this is a three-year appointment.  I am certain that Churches Together will continue to thrive under Kay’s chairmanship.  I hope that our churches will continue to contribute and that we can form closer links and improve communication so that the work of this group progresses over the coming years.  It does strike me that we need to improve communications between Axminster Churches Together and our own churches and especially our church members. I hope that we will be able to achieve this together.

Safeguarding

I would like to record my thanks and appreciation to Maureen D’Albertanson and Rita Holt for the fantastic work they have been doing in addressing safeguarding issues within the mission community.  I know it has been time-consuming and quite complex to ensure that Rita is appropriately registered, trained and logged on to be an information checker for safeguarding and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) purposes.  It has taken real perseverance to get this far.  Once again it reiterates how fortunate we are to have someone of Rita's ability doing so much on behalf of The Mission Community.  

Maureen has also worked hard to make the DBS process and training as easy as possible for us.  Many will consider that this is an excessively bureaucratic and complex system, but I can assure you it would be far more complex if it were not for the work of these two ladies.  I would also thank you all for taking the time and effort to engage with this system.  We can only hope that the work which is undertaken now will ensure that the process is simpler and more streamlined in the future.  

 Parish Giving Scheme

Following the visit of Katie Stevenson from the diocese to discuss the Parish Giving Scheme, I am pleased to confirm that  we have arranged for Katie to come on Wednesday 10th of January at 6:30 PM in the Parish Rooms to discuss the Parish Giving Scheme and its potential benefits to our churches.  We would initially extend the invitation to attend this meeting to all of our treasurers, and churchwardens.  Should anyone else particularly wish to attend the meeting, please let me know and we can consider arrangements. It should be an enjoyable evening and is expected to last around an hour to an hour and a half maximum.

Conclusion

As we continue into the Christmas season I pray that it may be a time of goodwill, enjoyment and purposeful sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Whatever else we may discuss in our PCCs and churchwardens meetings, it is essential that we maintain our focus on the true priority - summed up in the mission statement adapted from that of the diocese :

Growing in Prayer

Making new disciples

Serving the people of the Axe Valley with joy


I would be grateful if you would share this Report with your PCCs.

May God Bless us all in our service to Him.

Clive Sedgewick       28 November 2017



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