Annual Church Meeting: much to be thankful for

St Mary’s Annual Church Meeting

This took place on 15 Sep., delayed by Covid from April. The Parish is governed by a constitution that recognises that St Mary’s; Weaverham is Ecumenical church comprised of Anglican and Methodist denominations. This shapes the Agenda which comprises three legal meetings.

The 2019 Annual Report including finances is available on the downloads page here. It was encouraging to see in the Groups Report that there are (at least) 26 different groups and activities that bless both church members and the Weaverham community. A list of groups and contacts are available here.

Formal minutes will of course be written but here are a few headlines.

Appointments and thanks

Ted Smith has come to the end of his time as Churchwarden and his hard work over six years was much appreciated and thanked. Colin Weeks and Vicky Rushton were elected Church Wardens.

Jules Sanders said there were 140 people on the electoral roll (formal membership of the church) and encouraged everyone connected with St Mary’s to “Join up and join in”. She was also warmly thanked for creating the weekly newsletter and “At Home” services over lockdown.

The Vicar Paul Withington thanked our treasurer John Freeman, who gave the financial and Deanery Synod report with his usual humour; and the congregation for quickly raising the funds for a curate. Phil Bishop was welcomed as our new curate and many others were thanked for their support of Parish life, notably the Methodist Minister Chris Pritchard.

Vicar’s Remarks

Paul challenged us to see beyond our preferred worship styles and remember that the church exists for those who are not yet its members. “If nothing changes, nothing will change”, he said, and challenged the church to recognise that the major Christian festivals of Harvest, Christmas and Easter bring many visitors who are not regularly at church, and therefore are our best opportunities to communicate our faith and hope in Jesus Christ who chose to live with and die for us, so that we can share in His full eternal life. He quoted a previous Bishop of Stockport; Robert Atwell who once observed that Christians often find it easier to respond to the commands to love God and love our neighbour, than the command to go and make disciples.

It has been a difficult time, loosing people we love and facing many challenges. But there was much to be thankful for: we have stayed in touch through the newsletters; we have held Zoom services; we have cooked meals and distributed food; we were one of the first churches in the deanery to worship back in church.

By having just one Sunday service, many have appreciated bringing together the organ and the music group as well as worship videos, a “mixed economy” of music. Lockdown is a challenge but also a God given opportunity for change and to learn from one another. We are called to bear each other’s burdens and trust God even when it doesn’t suit us.

The meeting closed with this slideshow reminder of all we have done and achieved, many events and activities and adaption to a new normal.

Finally, Chris Pritchard gave a heartfelt thanks to two people who had not been thanked: Paul’s wife Georgina; and Paul, who has led us through these challenging and unprecedented times.