AT tonights meeting of the PCC (the trustees) the following Annual Report of activities was approved.
THE PARISH OF ABERGAVENNY
PAROCHIAL CHURCH COUNCIL
Charity number: 1137751
Annual Report for the year ending 31 December 2013
The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements of the charity for the year ending 31 December 2013. The organisational structure, administration details and governance of the charity are set out further in this report while the activities of the church form the first part.
This year has been a busy one for the Parish, with services, pastoral care and mission and outreach work continuing, the loss of our Associate Vicar, many special services and major events being held, including the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music being hosted at St Mary’s and the Civic Service for Abergavenny’s Mayor being held at the daughter church, Christchurch. St Mary’s received a national award for its guide book and was visited by over 5,000 youngsters and their families and teachers as the schools in the town held their Christingle and Christmas services. Hundreds of people also visited St Mary’s during the Advent to Candlemas Flower Festival, and visitors from all over the world continue to come to the church to see its medieval monuments. All this was done in increasingly tight financial circumstances.
Cllr Sam Dodd robes Cllr Sheila Woodhouse as Mayor
The range of activities for St Mary’s with Christchurch can be split broadly into three categories – worship, prayer and pastoral care; fundraising and fellowship; and hosting events staged by both local and provincial organisations, from schools’ gatherings to concerts and from Wales-wide award ceremonies to art exhibitions.
Worship, prayer and pastoral care
Fr Mark Soady celebrated the first anniversary of his joining the parish on the Feast of Epiphany, January 6. He continues to serve St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church Christchurch as Vicar; St Peter’s, Llanwenarth Citra, as Rector; and Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny, as Priest-in-Charge.
In February, we launched the Young Benedictine project, which will see three or four young people live in community, working with both young people and the wider church and local community. The name was changed to the Holywell Community, as they will live in the Curate’s House in Holywell Road. Work is still ongoing to establish the community and we are planning to have completed the preparatory work and create the first community in 2014.
As well as the usual weekday and Sunday worship during the year, Fr Soady has organised and/or presided over a number of special services:
- In early February, schoolchildren from King Henry VIII Comprehensive, Abergavenny, came to St Mary’s to commemorate Holocaust Day, when victims of The Holocaust and subsequent ethnic cleansings were remembered;
- In March, a special Mass was said for St David; and St Mary’s hosted the town’s Women’s Word Day of Prayer service;
- During Lent a series of Evensong addresses say various ministers talk about their experiences of Christianity in other parts of the world in the One Church, On Faith, One Lord series of sermons. Fr Robbie Dennis spoke of his time in South Africa, Fr Bernard Sixtus spoke of growing up and serving in the army in Germany, Preb. Sam Ashton spoke about the Middle East, the Rev Will Ingle-Gillis told us of worship in the USA; and Bishop Dominic Walker took us to India.
- In April, we again welcomed Bishop Dominic when he brought the Diocesan Pilgrimage Staff to the church on its way from Newport Cathedral to St Asaph at the end of the Year of Pilgrimage;
- Bishop Dominic was back at St Mary’s in June for a service to mark his retirement and a celebration of his decade as the shepherd of the diocese;
“In the light” Bishop Dominic arrives
- It was a much more sombre event in July, when the Armed Forces Day service saw the TA soldiers caught up in the Brecon Beacons tragedy remembered. Two soldiers died and one became critically ill while training in very hot weather;
- A service in October linked One World Week and Suffering Church Action Week with the theme of global justice;
- Also in October, the congregations gave thanks for the bounty with the earth brings at their Harvest Thanksgiving services
- In November, the All Souls Mass, Remembrance Day and the Road Peace service to commemorate those killed or injured in road crashes, took place;
- In December, there were more joyous occasions as local schools used the church for their Christingle and Christmas services – over 5,000 youngsters, their families and teachers visiting the church in the space of a week.
Services taken by visiting bishops became a theme for the year, with the Bishop of St Helena, the Rt Rev Richard Fenwick, presiding over the Easter Day Eucharist at Christchurch, while the former Provincial Assistant Bishop, the Rt Rev David Thomas, took the equivalent service at St Mary’s. Both Bishop David and Bishop Dominic presided over a number of other services during the year. We also hosted the Rt Rev David Bannerman, Bishop of our sister diocese of the Highveld, South Africa, on two occasions this year.
Last February visiting 7 Corners, and seeing what they do.
As well as these special services, we continued to try to enable ordinary people to live out their faith as part of our parish community through:
- Worship and prayer, learning about the Gospel, and developing their knowledge and trust in Jesus.
- Provision of pastoral care for people living in the parish
- Missionary and outreach work.
Acts of worship were carried out on almost every day of the year, and pastoral care continued through, in particular, the visiting of, and on occasions taking Communion to, parishioners who through sickness or age were unable to come to church. The average attendance at the main Services at the churches was 150, and the number reported to be recorded on the Electoral Roll for both churches on 31 December 2013 was 266 (2012: 258).
In addition to our regular services, we enable our community to celebrate and thank God in the milestones of the journey through life. Through baptism, we thank God for the gift of life, in marriage public vows are exchanged with God’s blessing and through funeral services friends and family express their grief and give thanks for the life which is now complete in this world and to commit their loved one into God’s keeping. This year, the Vicar celebrated 20 baptisms and took 60 funerals. There were only six weddings, reflecting the national trend of fewer weddings, thought to be because of the ‘13’ in 2013.
The new Bishop’s future daughter-in-law
Bishop & Deacon, prior to the wedding
Eucharistic services were held at care and nursing homes and retirement complexes throughout the year, as well as harvest thanksgiving and carol services at the OAP hall in the town.
The Parish Fellowship held evenings of reflections for Lent and Advent which saw parishioners gather to share poetry, prose, prayer and memories.
Ecumenically, the parish shared services of Compline and Stations of the Cross with the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Michael’s, Abergavenny, during Lent, as well as participating fully in the Abergavenny Council of Churches.
The Civic Service for the Mayor of Abergavenny, Cllr Sheila Woodhouse, took place in Christchurch, where Cllr Woodhouse is a sub-warden. Fr Soady was appointed as her Chaplain.
Mission and outreach work
The year saw church members looking even further outward in their mission and outreach, including:
- St Mary’s becoming an accredited centre for a national marriage preparation course. 7 couples attending the first of these in February, exploring their relationship and what marriage will mean to them.
- Members of our Mothers Union volunteering at a contact centre for children suffering family break-up, which opened this year in Abergavenny.
- The Mothers Union also helping to buy goods for people being re-housed locally; and collecting baby items and food for asylum seekers in Newport.
- Families who had suffered bereavement during the year being personally invited to the All Souls Service, with many taking up that invitation.
- At Christmas, the congregations filling boxes with small items as part of the Shoe Box Appeal, sending presents out to Eastern European countries
- Parishioners contributing staple foodstuffs and toiletries to the Abergavenny Food Bank, which opened its doors in the town this year.
- The hosting of a weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
- Members of the church continuing to be involved with the 7Corners project in Abergavenny, which aims to provide a place for young people to meet. This was done through helping at the project, providing funds and by Fr Soady becoming a Trustee of the charity.
- The large number of motorcyclists who meet at Abergavenny bus station on Saturdays and Sundays being invited to a Road Peace service to commemorate those who had died in road traffic accidents. While their attendance at the service was again disappointing, it provided an opportunity to chat about the work of the church. The service itself was attended by others affected by RTAs.
- Members of the Mothers Union and other parishioners contributing to Velindre Cancer Care by knitting chicks for Easter, which were then sold in aid of the charity.
- The Parish Fellowship also contributing nearly 30 Christmas parcels of items such as toiletries, gloves, and small gifts for older teenagers in Abergavenny who, through no fault of their own, are living by themselves.
- Contributing to the Bishop of Monmouth’s Lent Appeal.
Much of the parishes’ mission and outreach work was organised by the Abergavenny Anglican Churches Together group, established from all four churches in the Rev M.Soady’s incumbency during 2012.
St Mary’s Priory Choir went on their annual Singing Week in July, becoming choir in residence at Coventry. The choir continued to participate fully in church services, including singing Vespers and Compline on some Friday evenings and Choral Evensong at both St Mary’s and Christchurch.
The Choir singing in Coventry Cathedral
The choir has also introduced choral scholars to its ranks, providing training opportunities for young people of sixth form age, who might otherwise not either be involved in choral singing or come to church. The choirmaster is working with the music department of our local comprehensive school to recruit potential scholars.
Members of the congregation again joined fellow pilgrims from all over the country for the annual Fr Ignatius Memorial Pilgrimage through the Llanthony Valley in August.
The Herbert Chapel tombs
St Mary’s was visited by people from all over the world and from nearer home, with many groups such as U3A, local history organisations, Mothers Union and other church groups booking tours to learn about the collection of medieval monuments in the church – said to be one of the finest in the country – and to sit quietly in a church which has been a place of prayer for nearly 1,000 years.
The church bells, described as the finest ring of 10 bells in Christendom, were rung each Sunday, at funerals and weddings, and on special occasions. They were also rung by a number of visiting groups of ringers.
In February, the Church Monuments Society presented St Mary’s with the award for the Best Church Guide Book in the UK, judged by Sir Simon Jenkins. The award ceremony including two lectures on the monuments in the church.
In April, St Mary’s hosted the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music when those who contributed greatly to the musical life of the church throughout the Province were honoured.
During Lent, the church hosted Risen: Art of the Crucifixion and Eastertide, an exhibition of some of the work from the Methodist Art Collection and the Dean of Monmouth, the Very Rev Lister Tonge, used took the opportunity to lead a session on using art in meditation and prayer.
One of the paintings from the Methodist Art Collection
The Priory Centre Hall and Christchurch Hall continued to be resources for the community. As well as hosting church fundraising events and after-service fellowship, Christchurch Hall was used by an art group for vulnerable youngsters and as part of the North Street Open Gardens Scheme. The congregation at Christchurch is encouraging the local community to make more use of the Hall, including running a coffee morning each month.
The Priory Centre provided the venue for various fundraising activities and celebrations, including St Mary’s Patronal Festival lunch and the parish’s Christmas lunch. We also held a fashion show, a sparkling afternoon tea on the Vicarage lawn and again provided refreshments during the weekend of Abergavenny Food Festival. These fundraising events were as much about fellowship as raising much-needed funds.
In June, the church and Priory Centre courtyards were taken over by a Medieval Fayre, organised by the Learning Service, part of the St Mary’s Priory Development Trust. The day saw musicians and archers, stalls and games, as well as our Vicar being put in stocks and pelting with wet sponges to raise funds.
St Mary’s itself hosted a number of concerts, including those by the Gwent Bach Society and the Crickhowell Choral Society.
Only Boys Aloud
The church also hosted two concerts in aid of the St Mary’s Winston Appeal (SMWA), which aims to create a stained glass window in the Lewis Chapel in memory of the Very Rev Jeremy Winston, former Vicar of the Parish. Early in the year, Keith Davies appeared as Elvis in a concert of both gospel and rock ‘n’ roll music, while later in the year renowned pianist Peter Lutter gave a recital. In May, Only Boys Aloud appeared at Abergavenny Borough Theatre to raise funds for this cause; they were joined by soloist Simon Pratt, a member of St Mary’s Choir, and the chorus of the WAWWA Musical Youth Theatre from Newport.
The SMWA completed the process of choosing a designer for the window, firstly choosing a shortlist of three from the 24 who expressed an interest, before finally appointing Helen Whittaker, the creator of the Queen’s Jubilee window in Westminster Abbey, as designer. The process of applying for both grants and faculties for the work on both the window and on the restoration of the Lewis Chapel is ongoing.
The Festival of Flowers: Advent to Candlemas
In November, members of the Abergavenny Floral Arrangement Society designed and staged the Advent to Candlemas Flower Festival, which saw over 70 arrangements depicting Biblical events and local history created by arrangers from all over South Wales. Many hundreds of people visited the festival, which raised £8,000 to be used for the Lewis Chapel restoration. A number of events were held during 2013 to raise funds in preparation for the Festival, including a flower arranging demonstration and a fireworks party.
Reference and administration details
St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church, Christchurch, is in the Parish of Abergavenny, in the Deanery of Abergavenny and the Diocese of Monmouth in the Church of Wales.
Incumbent and ministers
The Incumbent is the Reverend Mark Soady. He was assisted by Associate Vicar, the Reverend Dr Bernard Sixtus until the latter announced in February that he would be joining the Ordinariate. The Diocese agreed to replace Dr Sixtus with a stipendiary minster who would split his work between the parishes and the Holywell Community but no-one has as yet been appointed. The worship in the parish has been made possible through the on-going contribution of Licensed Lay Ministers Jeff Pearse, Gaynor Parfitt and David Meredith.
As well as the assistance given by the bishops mentioned above, worship was led by the Canon Andrew Willie and the Rev Frances Buxton, both of whom have retired to Abergavenny, and the Rev Malcolm Lane, who will return to the parish in 2014 after five years away as house-for-duty priest at Michaelston y Fedw.
Objectives and activities
We review our aims, objectives and activities each year, looking at what we have achieved and the outcomes of our work in the previous twelve months. The review looks at the success of each key activity and benefits of activities in a wide variety of cultural areas. The review also helps us ensure our aims, objectives and activities remained focussed on our stated objectives. We have referred to the guidance contained in the Charities Commission’s general guidance on public benefit when reviewing our aims and objectives and in planning our future activities.
When considering our activities for the year, the incumbent and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have considered the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit and, in particular, the specific guidance on charities for the advancement of religion.
The objective of the Charity is promoting in the ecclesiastical parish the whole mission of the Church. Encouraging and facilitating the practice of the Christian Faith by the Churches includes the following:
- The provision and maintenance of the fabric of St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny, and of Christchurch, Abergavenny and their associated buildings;
- Conducting regular Christian worship in both Churches;
- The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, including on a daily basis at St Mary’s Priory Church; marriages, funerals and baptisms;
- Leaving St Mary’s open to the public to enter and benefit from personal spiritual contemplation; and to be able to view the medieval monuments and learn about the Benedictine foundation of the Church and its place in the history of Christianity and of Abergavenny;
- The maintenance of Christian burial places;
- Promoting the study of Christian teaching, practices and Scriptures;
- The provision of means and encouragement to promote fellowship within the membership of the Churches and the wider community;
Detailed restoration work underway
In addition to the above, Christian devotional acts and outreach work is carried out, including:
- Visiting the sick;
- Administering the Sacraments to those unable to attend regular acts of Worship, to the sick and dying;
- Supporting pastoral work;
- Fostering ecumenical links between differing Christian denominations;
- Supporting the work of other charities through, among others, the Mothers Union and Mission and Outreach Committee.
Further achievements in the year
Monies were raised by freewill offertory, fund raising activities and specific appeals. These were used to support the work and administration of the churches and wider mission. Volunteers, who helped at each act of worship to support the clergy, have donated their time. The churches expect to continue with their acts of worship and pastoral care during 2014 and will continue to actively try to increase its Electoral Roll, through its mission work in the community.
The activities of the committees and groups within the churches continued during the year. The monies raised contributed to the general income of the churches. These activities are expected to continue during 2014. All those involved in group activities and who assist with the main functions of the churches are volunteers.
In order to continue to foster increasing unity between the different Churches and congregations within Fr Soady’s Incumbency, regular meetings of the Wardens from all four Churches were held. In addition, the joint PCCs held a quiet day at Ty Mawr convent, Monmouth, to explore how we could work more closely. The Rev Mark Lawson Jones, Vicar of Cyncoed, led the day, which centred around the meaning of the Trinity.
Archbishop & Vicar in Procession with Church Wardens
The trustees who served the Charity during the period from the Annual Vestry Meeting in April 2013 until the end of the year were as follows:
The Reverend Mark Soady Chairman
Mr Anthony Aurelius Christchurch representative
Mrs Janet Battersby Deputy People’s Warden, Representative on the Deanery Conference
Mrs Sheila Davies People’s Warden, Representative on the Deanery Conference
Mrs Margaret Dodd Representative on the Deanery Conference
Mr Stephan Grabner Representative on the Diocesan Conference
Mrs Anne Griffiths
Mr Clive Jones Parish Treasurer
Mr Steven Lamerton Gift Aid Treasurer
Mr Vernon Lewis
Mr David Marsh
Mrs Eunice Marsh PCC Secretary
Ms Louise McLeod Safeguarding Co-Ordinator
Mr Jeff Pearse Licensed Lay Minister, representative on the Deanery Conference
and the Diocesan Conference
Mr Andrew Powell Deputy Vicar’s Warden
Mr Tim Pratt
Mr Robin Smith Vicar’s Warden
Mrs Hazel Watkins
Mrs Sheila Woodhouse People’s Sub-warden at Christchurch, Christchurch Treasurer
Ms Caroline Woollard Vicar’s Sub-warden at Christchurch, representative on the Diocesan Conference and member of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales
In addition (from January 2013 to the Vestry meeting in April 2013):
Mr John Auty
Mrs Anne Parr
Mr Robert Phillips
Mr David Williams
In May, Mr Clive Jones died. He was a long-standing member of the Church community, having sung in the choir as a boy, served as churchwarden and sacristan and having been treasurer for many years. As it was so close to the Vestry meeting, it was decided to re-organise the wardens’ responsibilities. Mrs Sheila Davies became Vicar’s Warden, Mrs Janet Battersby People’s Warden, Mr Andrew Powell remained Deputy Vicar’s Warden, while Mr Robin Smith took over the responsibilities of the Treasurer and Deputy People’s Warden.
Structure, governance and management
The Parish of Abergavenny is part of the Diocese of Monmouth within the Church in Wales. The Church in Wales is a Province within the Anglican Communion and, as such, exists to advance the Christian Religion through world-wide mission. The object of the Parochial Church Council is to ensure that the life and work of the Church within the Parish helps to fulfil that mission, both locally and more widely.
The Representative Body of the Church in Wales holds the land and property of the Church in Wales, including St Mary’s Priory Church, Christchurch and other church buildings, and including the Garden of Rest at St Mary’s, and their contents. The Representative Body is an exempt Charity and was set up under Section 13(2) of the Welsh Churches Act 1914. It acts on behalf of the Province in paying the stipends of the full time clergy, and administers the Church in Wales scheme of covenanted and gift aid giving recovering tax on behalf of the parishes.
The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is not a body corporate, its composition, procedure and powers being regulated by the Constitution of the Church in Wales as amended from time to time by its Governing Body set up under Section 13(1) of the Welsh Church Act 1914. Elections are held at an Annual Vestry Meeting which must take place on or before 30th April each year. All persons whose names are entered on the Electoral Roll are entitled to vote and stand for election. Before assuming office, every member of the PCC publicly makes a declaration that he or she will be bound by the Constitution. The Members and Officers of the PCC, including the Incumbent, on appointment become Trustees of the “Parish of Abergavenny Parochial Church Council Charity”.
The PCC also appoints the Priory Trustees, a body set up under a 1925 Deed of Trust to administer certain lands and properties held by the Representative Body as Custodial Trustees on behalf of and for the benefit of the Parish. The Trustees report to the PCC and their accounts are kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.
The St Mary’s Winston Appeal also works under the auspices of the PCC and its accounts are also kept separate but consolidated with those of St Mary’s and Christchurch within the Charity Accounts presented with this report.
Property administered by the Priory Trustees includes the Priory Centre, the Tithe Barn and the Curate’s House. The latter two have been purchased in recent years and their freehold values are shown in the Accounts of this Charity.
Commercial operations undertaken in the Priory Centre and the Tithe Barn are administered by The St Mary’s Priory House Company Limited, a Service Company registered with Companies House and in which the Priory Trustees, on behalf of the PCC and the “Parish of Abergavenny Parochial Church Council Charity” hold 51% of the shares.
The PCC has conducted it own review of the major risks to which the Charity is exposed and systems have been established to mitigate those risks. The risks facing the Charity include the state of repair of the Churches and the financial requirements to meet its stated activities, including payment of its Annual Parish Share, bearing in mind the fall in the numbers of regular worshippers and the reduction in regular giving. The structure of the Churches is continually monitored by the Fabric committee and the Church architect, and the finances are controlled by careful budgeting and encouragement and appeals to the worshippers and visitors.
There have been no serious incidents or other matters relating to this charity over the previous financial year that we should have brought to the attention of the Charity Commissioners but have not.
The PCC is responsible inter-alia for promoting the mission of the Church, the parochial budget and all expenditure there under, the care and maintenance of the fabric of the Churches and of the Garden of Remembrance, and for action on any other matter referred to it in accordance with the constitution. The PCC is also the normal channel of communication between the parishioners and the Bishop of the diocese. All members of the PCC are volunteers.
In addition to the election of members, the Officers, i.e. The People’s Warden, the Deputy People’s Warden (St Mary’s) and People’s Sub-Warden (Christchurch) are elected at the annual Easter Vestry; the Vicar appoints the Vicar’s Warden, Vicar’s Deputy Warden (St Mary’s) and Vicar’s Sub-Warden (Christchurch) at the same meeting. New representatives are told of their responsibilities and of the issues facing the Churches by existing representatives, and receive such additional training as required. Other Officers, including the Secretary, Treasurer and Safeguarding Officer are appointed at the first meeting of the PCC after the Vestry Meeting.
As indicated, members of the PCC also serve as representatives on the Deanery and Diocesan Conferences and the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. St Mary’s and Christchurch are active members of Abergavenny Council of Churches and volunteers help run the Christian Aid Fortnight activities in the town, organise Lenten study groups, and stage a town centre carol service.
The Churches are run entirely by volunteers as the clergy are remunerated by another charity from the Share payments made by all the Churches in the Diocese. Without the work of these volunteers, who, for example, enable St Mary’s to be kept open every day for members of the public to visit and to pray, the Churches would not function.
The PCC met nine times in 2013 but between these meetings, a number of committees meet to support the work of the Churches:
- The Mission and Outreach Committee (members of which are from all four churches in the incumbency)
- The Finance Committee
- The Fabric Committee
- The Fundraising Committee
Regular inspections and maintenance of both Churches, plus the other buildings and the grounds, were carried out during the year as required.
Experts and Vicar consult
The Parochial Church Council (PCC), through its finance committee, has considered the most appropriate policy for investing funds and agreed to achieve the best available rate from our Bankers, e.g. through the use of three-month Bonds, within the constraint of maintaining rapid access to funds in the event of a call on them.
Lloyd Bank, 54 Cross Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5HB, and, HSBC Bank plc, 2 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AF.
Dorrell Oliver Limited, Linden House, Monk Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5NF.
Michael Bartosch, of Bartosch & Stokes, 1 Bath Parade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7HL
Approved by the Trustees
and signed on their behalf
by The Reverend Mark Soady, Chairman