On Sunday 23 April, Rev Deborah’s sermon served as her report on the past year for our Annual Parochial Church Meeting.

Another year on, and we are once again and, in a short time, will be having our APCM.  The APCM is a time to look back and reflect on the year, giving thanks to God for all that has happened and also a time to look to the future and what we would like to see happening in the coming year.

So, what has happened in the past year? What are the things that we celebrate? What are the things that we want to develop?

One of the major pieces of work that we completed in the last year was our mission action plan. This is a diocesan initiative which aims to encourage growth, nurture and service in parishes across Manchester.

For us at St. Margaret’s our priorities are

  • Growth in numbers and spirituality
  • Increased involvement in the life of the church
  • Increased involvement and outreach within the community of Prestwich and beyond
  • Improved communication, including social media
  • Continued development of partnerships including the Prestwich mission partnership. The Prestwich and Radcliffe deanery and Prestwich and Kersal Churches together.

How do we intend to do this?

Our mission action plan has two parts.

  • On-going mission which incorporates all of our priority areas and
  • a year dedicated to each of our top priorities

2016                Year of Fellowship

2017                Year of Spiritual Growth and Giving

2018                Year of Mission

2019                Year of Service

As you know, this year we are focusing on the year of spiritual growth.

Worship has to be at the centre of all we do as we seek to serve and follow Christ. Our services over the past year have been varied and creative ranging from traditional Holy Communion to the more contemplative, reflective services. Weekly Stations of the Cross throughout Lent, Quiet afternoons, Holy Week services, special services, Bible fellowship, Peregrini Prayer and our annual retreat been some of the opportunities to deepen our faith throughout the year.

I would also like to thank the Sunday school leaders and those who help at the PMP Youth group for their role in nurturing and developing the spirituality of our children in church. Over the last year the children’s singing in lour worship has blossomed and is beautiful. Thanks you to both adults and our young people.

I would like to thank all those involved in the planning and implementation of our worship. Thanks to Geoff, who has recently retired – for his musical skills and talents which have been crucial in leading our worship, to our talented Tom who plays so well for us (thanks Tom, for all you did during Holy week and Easter) and to Misha who has just started with us. Thank you to our servers, acolytes, crucifers, lay assistants, intercessors, readers, to Ray and Pat who work so hard in preparing the church for worship, our flower arrangers, gardeners and cleaners.

It has been good to see new people attending our services both at St. Margaret’s and St. George’s and we pray that it will continue. It has also been good to see the continuing growth of our Wednesday morning Holy Communion and fellowship service where we have between 20 and 30 on a regular basis.

So what has happened in the past year?

On August 30th our curate Revd. Caroline was licenced at St. Margaret’s for a period of 15 months. Whilst being here she has had a wide range of experiences including occasional offices, schools work, messy church, leading worship, parish office and in the general responsibilities of running a busy parish. Caroline has also contributed greatly to our refugee and asylum seeker friendship group, being responsible for developing a multilingual poster and improved communication systems.

Caroline has also been responsible for the Christie banner project, an initiative that Caroline initiated, developed and co-ordinated. She has brought together people from different faith groups to make a banner, designed by a pupil of Parrenthorn School, for the Christie hospital. Together, with the creative director, Lucy, the group has made this splendid banner which will be presented to the Christie hospice on 22nd May.

Thank you Caroline for all that you have done for us and brought to us.

In terms of vocations Sue has started her ordination training and has just finished her first placement and we have Andrew Ginn who is currently exploring ordination.

A big thank you Christine, our reader for all the contributions that she has made to our worship throughout the past year.

A big thank you also needs to go to Carol, in her role as ALM both in pastoral care and spirituality. Carol has regularly led our healing and wellbeing services, Peregrini and mediation both in our parish and at Church house and she has led our quiet afternoons. She has also helped to co-ordinate our pastoral care.

As well as worship of our Lord we are also called to be a missional people. So how have we done this over the past year?

One of the key areas that has been developed by Carol Porter, is that of social media. Our new parish website has been developed and can be found at https://stmargaretsprestwich.wordpress.com. Together, with facebook (St Margaret Prestwich).  twitter (@StMaggieP), Instagram (stmargaretprestwich) and Tumblr (St Margarets Prestwich, @StMaggieP) accounts we are able to engage with the wider community and further afield, especially with the younger generation. An innovative development in our social media communications strategy is the parish app which can be downloaded free from both the App Store and from Google Play. Carol has also delivered training on the use of the website, our social media streams, and on line safety to both congregations.

Our church magazine is an important part of our outreach to the community and I would like to thank Mark Gale for all that he has done as magazine editor and for Richard Ashurst who has taken on that role. Thank you to all those who contribute to the magazine.

Our occasional offices, baptisms, funerals and weddings have been opportunities for both and mission and pastoral care. Over the past year we mourned the loss of several long standing members of our congregation. We give thanks to God for them and their contribution to the life of the churches at St. Margaret’s and St. George’s. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

In the annual report there are the facts and figures in terms of attendance. Over Christmas St. we were pleased to welcome Margaret’s School, Parrenthorn School, St. Margaret’s Pre-School and Holyrood Nursery who used St. Margaret’s for their Christmas productions. We have also worked of the premise of ‘if people don’t come to us, we will go out to them’. This meant that we had five Christingle services at different venues – geared to the different groups.  In the run up to Christmas over 1,600 people heard the Christmas message in different ways.

Both our Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Easter Day services were well attended with over 100 attending St. Margaret’s on Christmas Eve and Easter day and over 40 at St. George’s on Christmas Day.

Schools work has been an essential part of our outreach work. We led assemblies on a weekly basis at St. Margaret’s School and on a monthly basis at Heaton Park School. At St. Margaret’s we have a prayer and reflection group that meets on a weekly basis and the Peace Hut is open twice a week. This provides the children with the opportunity to come and talk to either Caroline or myself. In addition several members of the congregation have the important role of being governors in school. Thanks go to Gail Prosser who, until recently, was our chair of governor and to Diane Hill who now fulfils this role.

In the lead up to Easter we went into Parrenthorn School to introduce some Y7 and Y8 pupils to Stations of the Cross. The resulting conversations and art work were impressive and many of you commented on the quality of the art on display that we had at the back of the church.

Heaton Park School, St. Margaret’s School and Parrenthorn School have also visited St. Margaret’s Church as part of their curriculum. St. Margaret’s KS2 classes (Juniors) attended St. George’s for their Easter service and Y6 had a very successful Christingle afternoon at St. George’s Church.

Messy Church has been a great opportunity for new people to attend church and we have had between 20-30 children and adults who attend on a monthly basis. Thank you to all our volunteers who help with the messy activities and in making the food. I can recommend Joan and Barbara’s fish finger butties!

Our outreach has also included the deanery refugee and asylum seekers group. Before Christmas this dwindled down to just a few guests. We re-launched this with a multi-lingual leaflet and social media offering classes in English and food. Initially the uptake was good but it has dropped again. It is due to be reviewed by the deanery. Many thanks to all our volunteers, especially those at All Saint’s, Stand and St. Hilda’s who have worked very closely with us.

We have continued our missional activities with porch boxes, Christian Aid (Lent lunches), Children’s society, Leprosy, Life Share, Tear Fund, MU charities, Barnabus and the Home Essential Deanery Project providing practical household items for refugee and asylum seekers. Recognition should also go to those individuals who co-ordinate the above and those who seek to serve by the social action work they do outside of church.

Our fellowship and social activities continue to thrive and I would like to thank everyone who helps in this way. The social circle, mother’s union, social events committee, staycation, the Christmas Fair, St. George’s Festival, young at heart party, Sunday School anniversary BBQ (a reminder that this year on the Saturday we will be having a skiing session up at Rossendale for our children young people and adults who feel up to it!) concerts and events at church and the vicarage. We are so fortunate to have so much going on.

So what about the future?

This year there are different opportunities to deepen our faith, and many have commented on our Lent, Holy week and Easter opportunities. Next year we will be looking at mission and exploring ways in which we can reach out more, in different contexts. In Bishop David’s latest book ‘God’s Belongers’ he mentions different sorts of belonging – those who attend on a weekly basis, those who perhaps come on a monthly basis, those who come through occasional offices and those who come only on special occasions. We need to explore what that means to us in terms of how we can provide and enhance opportunities for people to come to church for whatever reason and for us to reach out to those who possibly won’t come into church by bringing the message of God’s love different contexts and venues.

We want to continue to see our congregations grow and to fulfil our mission statement of welcome, worship, fellowship and service. We would also like to see more people involved in the life of the church.

We would also like to continue to develop our Prestwich Mission Partnership and deepen the relationships that we have with St. Gabriel’s and St. Mary’s and to continue working with Churches together in Prestwich and Kersal and of course our deanery links.

Thank you all those who have taken on positions of responsibility over the past year, our treasurer Anne, child protection officers – Jacqui and Andrew, to Jean and to Carol, who have taken on the role of secretary, Hedley, Angela, Gillian and those involved stewardship and gift aid, PCC members and our wardens and deputy wardens. I would especially like thank Zandra and Carol for all that they have done as wardens over the last year here at St. Margaret’s and to Joan Knott for all that she has done at St. George’s. All have put in many hours, many hours of hard work and dedication to St. Margaret’s and St. George’s.

Please accept these flowers as a small token of my thanks to you for what you have done for our churches, and for your support over the last year.

I was going to apologise for the length of this report – but I am not because it shows just how much has been done in the past year and the number of people that take an active role in the life of the church, both at St. Margaret’s and at St. George’s. We have much to celebrate and to give thanks to God for. We pray for God’s continued guidance for the future of St. Margaret’s and St. George’s.

And so I would also like to say a big thank you to all of you and all our congregations. It is all of you who make up the church of St. Margaret’s and St. George’s, we the body of Christ in this area of Prestwich and I am proud to be part of this Christian community as we all seek to follow Christ through our welcome, worship, fellowship, and service. Amen.

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