The work of the Vestry
Summary of the work of the Vestry
Vestry report for 2019 to 2020
The church’s year (which started at the end of September 2019 and ran to the end of September 2020) started normally enough with a pet service conducted by Tony and Deborah on 7th October. 20 people and 9 dogs attended which was many more than previous years due to better publicity. Evensong continued, attracting some visitors as well as our own congregation. Three of us filled shoe boxes which had already been covered with festive paper for Eastern Europeans. Alan Billington painted the exterior of the vestry window and the south east door. He also put the first coat of new paint on the hall walls and made a shelf for light bulbs and cleaned the light shades as well. The stain on the outside of the church’s south wall has also been painted over. The new acoustic tiles were put on the hall ceiling in January and made a great difference to people being able to hear each other over coffee. Then the Covid 19 shut down happened and services stopped immediately but the clergy kept everyone in touch by e-mails and also by personal phone calls which were very much appreciated. Alison still sends us the collect and readings each Sunday with a reflection from one of the clergy + a prayer diary from Jenny + a link to a Eucharist service on-line. Olwen puts these on our web-site and Janet puts them on Face-book. Cathy and Stuart started a weekly sung Compline service by zoom every Sunday night which was enjoyed by us and also by some people outwith the congregation. Our last normal vestry meeting was on 18th February (with 2 in January and one in November before that) then nothing until 7th July when we started having many vestry meeting by zoom so that we could plan the re-opening of the church as the Covid 19 restrictions began to ease. We were bombarded with information by the diocese but told there was no pressure to re-open. Anne Bridgen (who was co-opted to the vestry after the last AGM) did a risk assessment, Andrew told the insurance company and the cleaners returned and did a deep clean as they were able to do nothing during lockdown. We measured the church with a 2 metre pole and found that unfortunately, the pews are 1 yard apart rather than 1 metre which meant we had to leave 2 pews empty and cordoned off between each used one, further limiting our capacity which is 22 at the absolute maximum. Jan ordered Personal Protection Equipment and stickers for the floor, the bookcases were turned to the wall and some things were removed from the church. In the meantime, Alison and Richard had devised a questionnaire which was sent out to everyone to see what their preferences were. We finally re-opened on 30th August. People have to book a seat with Alison any time from the Thursday before and so far we haven’t had to turn anyone away. A “welcomer” makes sure they are well, are wearing a mask, use hand sanitiser and have the same service book which they take home with them each week. The books given to visitors or to people who have forgotten their book are put in a plastic box for 3 weeks to decontaminate them. 2 doors are left open, masks are worn all through the service except when someone is reading and there is no singing except for Cathy and Stuart who have sung and played beautifully for us at every service. A good system has been devised for receiving Communion. After the service, the clergy and welcomer have to wipe down light switches, door handles and the toilet and wash basin with antiseptic. The cleaners come every week. The hall is not open for business. Because nearly everyone lives more than 5 miles from church no-one could travel there during lockdown so the church grounds became very overgrown; afterwards Andrew arranged for a gardener to do a thorough tidy up. He also arranged for a temporary patch to be put near the entrance of the carpark. We had hoped that James Gordon could make the alterations to the back of the church but lock down stopped that; we hope the work will go ahead in the New Year. The quinquennial review had been arranged for late April. It was eventually done in September and we were given a good report with few things to address. We thank Johnnie Grant for providing a lovely Christmas tree again and everyone for the work they have put in for the common good and include Geoffrey who cuts the grass, Lynda for her flower arranging, Jan for looking after the hall and Traidcraft with Sue Sykes, Richard Green for his auditing, Peter Mackay for clearing the hall gutters and Janet and Ian for controlling the beech hedge.
We are fortunate in having the services of Stuart Palmer our organist who has helped with the introduction of regular ’Songs of Praise’ and Evensong‘ services. The Carol Service, which takes place both in St John’s and St Columba’s has become an institution. Stuart has also introduced three different forms of music for the Eucharist.
The hall is used regularly and is managed by Jan Goodall.
Other members of the congregation have their responsibilities. Geoffrey Cobbett is in charge of both controlling the heating of the church and cutting the grass. Lynda Coles arranges the flowers. Olwen Billington produces the regular Sunday pewleaflets.