Itchen Valley APCM 2016

I am not sure really whether APCMs should be fun.  It doesn’t tell you in the book on Practical Church Management, but certainly last night felt almost more fun than it should be!  Of course, it would be difficult not to have enjoyed any evening at Avington Park on a beautiful Spring evening.  The beautifully cut lawns running down to the almost invisible ha-ha and the fields beyond; the beautiful 18th century architecture, decoration and furniture.  Thank you so much Charlie and Sarah Bullen for you kind hospitality.  What a privilege to be able to meet in such surroundings!

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The hall filled with Itchen Valley parishioners drinking some really excellent red and white wine (thank you Andrew Impey for organising) and eating the delicious nibbles to which that so many of the parish had contributed under the wonderful guidance of Jill Croft (thank you so much, you are amazing) and and she provided a flower arrangement as well, wonderful!  Very Itchen Valley!

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Thank you so much to all those who helped wash up, distribute drinks and canapés and move chairs about.  Its a huge help that so many people just come forward and get these things done!

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We had about half an hour of chatting and then finally needed to get to the meeting itself.

The atmosphere of the meeting was really positive and the meeting was skilfully led by our Rector.  David Anderson spoke about our finances and Lucy Pease took the minutes which will, in due course, appear on the Public Documents page of this website.

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But what I think was most striking for me, when looking round that room of friends and neighbours, and, listening to Amanda’s exciting vision for the Valley (immediately below), was how the Lord has already provided us with all the skills and talents that we need to be just the church that he wants us to be, if only we will open our ears to his call and our eyes to see what He is doing and if only we will recognise what He intends our part to be in it.

What we are doing here is important; its God’s work and that there are lives all over the Valley and beyond which can be transformed by who we are becoming and what we do.

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Many thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening.

Revd Alex Pease

APCM Itchen Valley 20th April 2016 Looking Ahead

by Revd Amanda Denniss

I would like to begin by saying thank you.  Thank you to everyone who has been so kind and encouraging to Oliver and I over the last year as we have made our home in the Rectory and been welcomed into the family of the church.

As we saw in our reading, the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church speaks of the church being like a human body.  Like a body, the church is made up of many parts.  God gives each of us different gifts and skills.  The church works best if we all work together and play the part that God has called us to.  Over the last year many, many people have been serving in so many ways and working together to bless the church and bless our community.  I am deeply thankful for the way that so many people have contributed to the life of our church.  There are far, far too many people to mention by name but please accept my heartfelt thanks.

As I prayed about what to what to speak to you about this evening, I was drawn back to the words from Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church that I spoke to you about last year at the APCM.  Paul writes, ‘I want to know Christ.’ (Phil 3.10)

If I read a book about someone, say Angela Merkel, I can learn a lot about her.  I can learn about her background, her opinions, her achievements, what her interests are.  But I won’t really know her.  It will just be head knowledge.  When the bible speaks about knowing someone, it means more than just knowing about the person.  It means having an intimate personal relationship with that person. To know someone is to have a living relationship that develops and grows.  That is the sort of relationship that Paul wanted with Jesus.  Paul didn’t just meet Jesus once on the Damascus Road.  He entered into a relationship with Jesus that grew and deepened.  It was a relationship of love and friendship and intimacy.

At my Induction last year, Bishop David committed to me the Cure of Souls in our parish.  I take this commitment very seriously.  At the centre of my ministry here, is the vision for us in the Itchen Valley to enter into and grow in a living relationship of love and friendship with Jesus.  As we grow in this relationship, our lives and our relationships will be transformed.  We can then, like Paul, speak to people of the Jesus that we know and love and who is part of our daily lives.

My vision for us in the Itchen Valley is to know Jesus in that way.  For Jesus to be not just at the heart of our services in church, but for Jesus to be at the heart of our lives.

  • At the heart of CAMEO where we reach out to older people
  • At the heart of Little Rainbows where we reach out to toddlers and their parents and carers
  • At the heart of Free to Be that reaches out to people with mental health concerns
  • At the heart of our families
  • At the heart of our friendships
  • At the heart of our conversations
  • At the heart of our workplace and employment

This journey of knowing Jesus-where our relationship with him grows and deepens-is a journey that we are called to make together as the body of Christ.  We are also called to invite others to accompany us on our journey.  Jesus wants us to invite other people to be part of his family.

  • Each of us has a part to play as we journey together as the body of Christ.
  • Each of us has been given gifts by God.
  • Each of us is called by God.

At the moment, there are certain roles that are important to the healthy functioning of our church that need people to take them on.  We need churchwardens for both Avington and Itchen Abbas.  In Avington, I am so grateful to Sarah Shirley who has worked so hard over the last year in informally fulfilling so much of the wardens’ role.  Wonderfully Theo has offered to act as a coordinator in Itchen Abbas in the short term to help the DCC and others at St John’s to together take on the work that would normally done by the wardens there.

We also need a new PCC secretary.  I will speak more on that in a moment.

Our Parish Mission Action Plan (or pMAP for short) sets out four priorities for this journey that we are making together as a church.  It doesn’t encompass all we do as a church family but it does set out our mission priorities over the next three years.  We’ve put the pMAP leaflets on your seats (see Parish Mission Action Plan page on this website).   The leaflet summaries these priorities.  In Annual Report I have reflected on how we are getting along in these four areas.  Now I would like to briefly look at the next steps we are hoping to take.

SPI  We grow authentic disciples

This priority acknowledges that many of us do not feel confident in sharing our faith with others and would welcome being equipped to do this more effectively.

My hope for us as a church is that as our own relationships with Jesus grow and deepen, we will become more confident in speaking about our faith.  We will be able to speak of Jesus as a friend we know.

In April and May we are going to run a course on five Tuesday evenings where we will explore some of the big questions of faith.  It has the catchy title: My faith: How do I reply when people ask me why?  We are going to look at questions like

  • ‘What about evil and suffering?’
  • ‘Do all paths lead to God?

The first one is on Tuesday 26th April (next Tuesday) and I’d encourage you to come along.

SP2  We re-imagine the church

 We want to continue to value our existing congregation and to strengthen our relationships in our community.  Over the next year, a particular focus will be improving our connection with families and young people.

Families and children are not well represented in our congregation.  When I began my ministry here, in some Family services only one family with children was present.  As I mentioned in the Annual Report, Alex visited many of the families that we have connections with to consult with them about this.  As a result of these conversations, we are seeking to involve both parents and children more in all aspects of our All Age worship.  Since the beginning of the year, the attendance at the services has increased and more families are getting involved.  It is very encouraging.

It is also important for us as a church to find ways of involving families not just in the All Age service once a month, but throughout the year.  As part of this we are going to do a further consultation and have conversations with families about this.

SP3  We are agents of social transformation

This priority is about sharing the love of Jesus in practical ways both in our local community and beyond.

As I mentioned in the Annual report, it is vital to undergird everything we do both within the church and the local community beyond by prayer.  Prayer is key to sharing the love of Jesus in practical ways.  Prayer connects us with the heart and love of Jesus.  If we are not connected to him-then we are simply doing good things in our own strength.

I would like to encourage you to come along to one of our midweek prayer meetings if you can.

  • On Mondays we have begun Midday Prayer which is a more formal way of praying using a simple liturgy. Midday prayer is at 12 noon and rotates between the four churches in a regular pattern.
  • On Tuesday mornings during term time we have begun an informal prayer meeting at 9am at St John’s. We sing worship songs and pray in an informal way.  Informal Prayer is open for everybody and is especially good for parents who have just dropped their children off at Itchen Abbas School.

Our hope is to establish small discipleship groups with a missional focus.  These discipleship groups will meet together to read the bible, pray and support one another.  Each group will have an outward focus e.g. night shelter, local schools, elderly.  Do let me know if you would be interested in being part of a group.

SP4  Stewardship and generous giving

 Sharing our resources and giving to the ministry of the church are part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  This priority is about on our need as a church to increase our level of regular giving to match our running costs and to allow us to expand our outreach and mission. David has spoken about this already.  I would like to join with him and encourage you review your regular giving and to consider moving your regular giving to the Parish Giving Scheme. (leaflet on Giving Page on this website)

We have now set up a parish office at St John’s which is known as The Hub in order to facilitate the ministry of our church.  Lucy has begun work as our administrator.  She works part time as a volunteer.

The vision for the Hub and for Lucy’s role is for it to be a central place which can resource and coordinate many of the practical ministries of our church.  The vision is not for Lucy to take on all the work.  She does not have the time and it would not be healthy for us as a church if she did.  We each have a part to play as members of the body of Christ.  I am encouraging Lucy to put together a list of things that people can do help with the practical work.  It might be a small thing like folding Church Matters each week or it might be a larger commitment.  We do have a need for someone to take on the role of PCC secretary.  Lucy has taken on these duties temporarily but it means she doesn’t have enough time for the resourcing and coordinating role that we have a vision for.  I would welcome her being freed up more fully for this role as so much of my time is taken with the admin needs of the parish.

We are on journey together as the body of Christ where we are invited grow in our relationship and friendship with Jesus.  We are also called to invite others to accompany us on our journey.

  • Each of us has a part to play as we journey together as the body of Christ.
  • Each of us has been given gifts by God.
  • Each of us is called by God.

Revd. Amanda Denniss

Rector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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