St Mary’s annual meeting

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Anne Grainger receiving her flowers

The annual parochial church meeting took place after the communion service in St Mary’s Church, Rye on Sunday, May 22. The meeting began with the election of two churchwardens, and Graham Hurley and Shelley Jebb were duly elected to carry on in these posts.

A full report of the financial state of the parish was presented to those attending the meeting with a paper version available to all. Card readers had been introduced for people to donate and this had proved to be a very valuable source of revenue.

The chairman, Rev’d Paul White gave his report:

“The slightly strange thing about church APCMs is that, although they take place in April or May each year, they relate to the previous calendar year, i.e. the year which finished on 31st December 2021. As I only became the rector of this magnificent parish on 25th November 2021 I was only in place for approximately six weeks of that year – most of which were taken up with Advent and Christmas.

“Firstly, I want to say ‘Thank you.’ Thank you for inviting my family and I to come and live and minister amongst you. We have long loved Rye and we are loving living here.

“Thank you also to everyone who worked so hard to keep this parish functioning during such a challenging time. You had to deal not only with Covid but then with an eleven-month interregnum. To find yourself as a church in those circumstances means not only trying to keep the services going week by week, but also means dealing with writing parish profiles, negotiating with archdeacons, interviewing candidates, planning the induction service, getting the house decorated, looking after the new rector and much, much, more.

“Of course, I know that dozens of you were involved in each of those things, and I daren’t try and name everyone for fear of forgetting someone, but I do want to extend my particular thanks and appreciation to Shelley and Graham – they have been true pillars of strength to this church and to me and I want to say a heartfelt thank you to them now.

“I am delighted that they are continuing as churchwardens for this year, to help get me fully in place, and I pray that this time next year they may be able to move onto a bit of a rest.

“The only other person I am going to directly name this morning is Anne Grainger, the parish administrator. After over a decade of keeping St Mary’s on the straight and narrow Anne has decided that the best thing to do is now move a couple of hundred miles away, back to her native Derbyshire. Most people have no idea quite how much administration a church requires, but let me tell you it is huge, so this church and I owe Anne a huge debt of gratitude for all that she has done over the years, we thank you and we bless you on your way both on holiday and then into a well-deserved retirement.

“Finally, a huge thank you to literally all of you – each of you in your different ways has kept St Mary’s going during one of the most challenging periods any of us has ever known and the very fact that we are here now and able to think and plan for the future is a testament to all that has gone before – thank you all, in whatever role you play in church life, you are appreciated.

“I am not going to spend a great deal of time talking about what I have been up to for the last seven months because, as I say, that is not strictly the purpose of this meeting. However, I will say this: I love this church and all the churches and parishes of the team. They are not perfect, and I am not perfect, but if we continue to work together with the same spirit that got you this far then I truly believe that can achieve great things together over the coming years.

“I was greatly heartened by the PCCs willingness to think creatively about changing things around in church, and that is a job of work we can now get on with, and I also think there is a genuine desire to restore the worship we offer here to the fullest form possible. In the last few weeks, it has been great going back to the chalice and the procession, it was great at Easter celebrating at the high altar, it has been good seeing more people in church, including the return and growth of our serving team. I would love to see the choir grow again, when we had just a few more voices recently it made such a difference. Please put out the word that we want choristers, and we want to be a place of beautiful worship.

“But, most of all, we also need to be a place of Christian love, peace and friendship. We can do all the pomp and circumstance with the best of them, and better than many, but to misquote 1 Corinthians 13, if it is not underpinned by love – love of God and love of one another – then all we do is simply a clanging gong, nice when it stops. All the rotas and committee meetings in the world mean nothing if what they express is not rooted in our faith. We must do all the surface stuff, but let’s also dig deep into our collective and our individual relationships with God and with one another. If we get that right, then everything else will follow.

“So, thank you for having us, and I hope and pray that we shall journey together with joy for many years to come.”

Anne Grainger was thanked for her hard work and presented with flowers, cards and a gift.

Six people were elected to be on the PCC and as there were no matters in any other business the meeting was brought to a close.

Image Credits: Kt Bruce .

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