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Next Tuesday marks 100 years since the Church in Wales was disestablished, Fr Tom writes:
This weekend, on Passion Sunday, we should have been celebrating 100 years of the disestablishment of the Church in Wales. Both St Mary’s and Holy Trinity contain a stained glass coat of arms of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A physical reminder that all of our buildings pre-date the disestablishment. Also a key reminder to be careful with our language. It is not 100 years of the Church in Wales! The Church has been busy ministering and witnessing in Wales since the ancient Celtic saints to whom many of our churches are dedicated.
In recent years we have been called upon by our bishops to explore a radically new expression of church, and I doubt whether any of them for a moment considered that we might be in the position we are currently in. This weekend’s centenary should have been a celebration marked by being together in our churches. We were expecting a guest preacher at St mary’s to help us mark the occasion. Instead, we are called to be Church in a very different way.
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I am currently reading a two volume set of books by Dr Sam Wells, the vicar of St Martin in the Fields in London. They are ‘Incarnational Ministry’ and ‘Incarnational Mission’ in which he reflects in each chapter on the incarnation as ‘being with’ a different group of people: ‘Being with God’, ‘Being with ourselves’, ‘being with the Church’ and so on. However there is not much to go on when faced with the current situation beyond ‘being with God’ and ‘being with ourselves’. We are in a brave new world and we are being forced to seek unity and communion using whatever means we can.
It’s very easy to think of those early Celtic saints and think of the beautiful images we see on books connected with Celtic prayer: beautiful beaches, sunsets, cliffs and the sea. We could be fooled into thinking that Celtic Christianity is quite mild. Celtic Christianity, I feel, has suffered something of a disservice. When we think of the celtic saints today we perhaps imagine romantic and mysterious figures on sweeping sandy beaches, or looking out from rocky headlands at the scudding clouds and crashing waves. They don’t have jobs or commitments, but seemingly wafted around in funny clothes doing eccentric things.
The reality is that for their time, they lived in dangerous, out of the way, on the edge places. Perhaps we see these places and have a ‘national park’ mentality that places that are wild are there for our refreshment and pleasure. Like Jesus going in to the wilderness so the saints went to be immersed in wild and dangerous places on the edge of society to demonstrably put their trust in God, to live in his mercy and to marvel not only at his power and immensity, but at his regard for their smallness, weakness and vulnerability. Standing up to your neck in the sea praying all night is a good way to feel small, vulnerable and afraid.
Perhaps we too feel small and vulnerable and afraid at the moment. Perhaps we feel that we are living on the edge of society, isolated in our own hermitages, and the victim of forces we cannot control. But perhaps we can take comfort that we can transform our ‘captivity’ by living in the spirit of the saints who first brought the faith to this land, albeit in a radically different world with radically different needs, and by responding to those needs we can fulfil the call of Christ to take up our cross and follow him day by day.

 

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Following the forced closure of the churches due to the Coronavirus Holy Week & Easter Services will be Facebook Live Streamed on the AACT page

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Jez Thoma painting of Palm Sunday in progress

Schedule

Palm Sunday

10.30am Parish Eucharist

Holy Monday

10am Stations of the Cross
12pm Holy Eucharist
7pm Compline and Reflection from the Holywell House

Holy Tuesday

10am Stations of the Cross
12pm Holy Eucharist
7pm Compline and Reflection from the Holywell House

Holy Wednesday

10am Stations of the Cross
12pm Holy Eucharist
7pm Tenebrae

Maundy Thursday

10am Stations of the Cross
7pm Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper

Good Friday

10am Stations of the Cross
2pm Liturgy of the Day

Holy Saturday

7.30pm Paschal Fire
8pm Paschal Vigil

Easter Day

10.30am Parish Eucharist

 

 

 

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Blessings of the Feast on this a Feast of our Patron Saint the Blessed Virgin Mary.
As we may be struggling with our confinement it is worth noting that the bible records  people   hearing God’s call to them not in the business of the world, not in their work place or the market square, but in a quiet place. Today’s Feast remembers that the Angel Gabriel came to Mary in her own home. It was there that she was asked to bear and give birth to God.
So I encourage you to use these days to deepen your faith and build up your relationship with God.
Take care and keep safe.
Blessings
Mark
Although Fr Mark Soady has moved from Abergavenny he remains Vicar until March 31st. He will be inducted as Rector of Tarleton & Rufford on April 1st. The photo is the Annunciation Window at Holy Trinity Church, Tarleton. 
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Following the advice of the Church in Wales Bishops we are cancelling all services ’till further notice.

We will continue to find other ways to be church and the Holywell Community will continue to pray the Divine Offices.

Read Bishops’ Advice here

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CORONOVIRUS UPDATE

MESSAGE FROM FR TOM, ASST PRIEST

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Dear friends,

These are interesting times in which we live. Following the guidelines from the government about those who should self isolate from this weekend, we are facing the prospect that none of the retired clergy, our NSM, or lay reader will be ‘in circulation’ to help with services.  We are also anticipating congregations being considerably smaller as more people stay at home.  For this reason there will be one service in the incumbency on a Sunday morning for the next 12 weeks.

This will begin THIS coming Sunday.

The single Sunday morning service will be at 10.30am and follow this rota:

22nd March St Mary’s

29th March Holy Trinity

5th April Christchurch

12th Apr St Mary’s

19th April Holy Trinity

26th April Christchurch

I’m not going to go any further at the moment, but this arrangement is expected to go on until Trinity Sunday June 7th. I have not included St Peter’s for obvious reasons, but we can consider including St Peter’s on the rota when the church building is back in circulation.

The Holywell Community will continue to pray the Divine Office at the usual times. It is my intention to offer the Eucharist as usual during the week, however, when I am away from the parish there may not be anyone to offer cover.

The Holywell Community will pray Vespers at 6pm on Sunday on behalf of the parish instead of evensong.

It is with great sadness that I must announce that the coach to Rufford for Father Mark’s licensing has been cancelled. It is hoped that we will be able to attend a celebration when things return to normal. We will arrange refunds.

Fr Mark is still responsible for the incumbency until the end of the month, and he and I are in full agreement about these arrangements.

Please circulate this information as best as possible. I am currently thinking about ways we can reach out to those of our members who will be unable to be with us. All ideas are gratefully received.

Many thanks for your help and support,

Tom

The Clergy Team offers you their prayers at this time. 

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At the final PCC (Trustees) meeting chaired by our Vicar, Canon  Mark Soady, before he leaves us, the Annual Report for the Charity for 2019 was approved.

You can read the report of another full year in full below.

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PAROCHIAL CHURCH COUNCIL

Charity number: 1137751

Annual Report

for the year ending 31 December 2019

 

Trustees’ report

The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements of the charity for the year ending 31 December 2019.  The organisational structure, administration details and governance of the charity are set out later in this report, while the activities of the church form the first part.

Summary

This year saw a continuation and blossoming of the Proclaiming it Afresh mission initiative, which concentrates on the commission given to all Christians by Christ to proclaim afresh the faith we receive in each generation.  The project saw the creation of the Abergavenny Parables, works of art, study and community engagement throughout the year, activities which will continue into 2020.

As well as regular and special services, thousands of youngsters from local schools, their teachers, friends and families visited both St Mary’s and Christchurch, for Harvest, Christmas and Christingle services.  The Holywell Community continued their service to both church and community.

Worship has been greatly enhanced by the music of St Mary’s Priory Choir, who sang at regular and special services, and by our bell-ringers, who both rang and facilitated visiting ringers from around the country.

St Mary’s, with its daughter church Christchurch, aims to provide regular public worship and the provision of sacred space for personal prayer and contemplation, as well as carrying out pastoral work such as visiting the sick and bereaved, teaching Christianity through sermons and small groups and promoting Christianity through events and services. The church also aims to care for its fine collection of both historic medieval monuments and newly-created works of art, which are visited by visitors from all over the world.

The year ended with the news that our Vicar, the Revd Canon Mark Soady, was to continue his ministry in the Church of England, having been appointed Rector of Tarleton & Rufford in Lancashire.  He has also been appointed Secretary of the Committee of Anglican Religious Communities in England.  His fellow trustees wish him well in his new roles, safe in the knowledge that he will leave us having built solid foundations of worship, mission and community.  

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The following report on the churches’ activities demonstrate what the charity has done during the year to carry out these purposes for the public benefit.

 

Activities

The Parish continued to endeavour to enable the wider community to live out their faith as part of our community through wide ranging activities, which can be split broadly into four categories:

  • worship, prayer and pastoral care;
  • mission and outreach;
  • special events;
  • fundraising, fellowship and hosting events.

 

Worship, prayer and pastoral care

The Revd Canon Mark Soady continued to serve St Mary’s Priory Church with Christchurch as Vicar; St Peter’s, Llanwenarth Citra, as Rector; and Holy Trinity Church, Abergavenny, as Priest-in-Charge, as well as Prior of the Holywell Community.  He continues to serve as Area Dean of Abergavenny and as a Canon of Newport Cathedral. He will, however, as mentioned, leave the parishes at the end of March 2020 and we will enter an interregnum.

The Revd Tom Bates-Bourne continues to serve as Sub-Prior and Assistant Priest of Abergavenny while the Revd Jeff Pearse serves as non-stipendiary curate.

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The Clergy at the Paschal Vigil

In its sixth year, the Holywell Community saw a change of members, with Brother Seb leaving at Christmas to pursue other avenues in his Christian journey and Brother Josh returning to his native New Zealand in the autumn.  The new member of the Community is Brother Nicolas, from France, who was commissioned by the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd John Davies, in August.  Br Nicolas will be joined by Brother Nathaniel, also from New Zealand, in spring 2020.

One of the founder members of the Community, the Revd Samuel Patterson, was ordained deacon at Petertide, while former members Br Adrian and Sr Joanna took the next steps in their religious vows – Br Adrian took his simple vows at Mucknell Abbey, and Sr Joanna was admitted as a Postulant at Ty Mawr Convent.

The Community works both in the Church and the wider community, running all-age worship, visiting schools, and at the Little Footprints playgroup.  They also serve at regular and special services and act as Verger at weddings and funerals.

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As well as the usual weekday and Sunday worship during the year, there were a number of special services and events, including:

  • In January, St Mary’s hosted the town’s ecumenical services for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
  • In February, Canon Soady dedicated a new Standard for the Abergavenny branch of the Royal Welsh Veterans’ Association.
  • On St David’s Day there was a bi-lingual service of Holy Eucharist at St Mary’s and a Welsh language Eucharist at St Peter’s, Llanwenarth Citra, on the following day.
  • During March, a series of sermons given by parishioners addressed the question of how they use the gifts God has given them to further their faith and proclaim his Gospel.  Sheila Woodhouse, currently Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council; Jeremy Thomas, artist-in-residence at St Mary’s; Diana Williams, South Wales trainer for Godly Play; and artist and quilt-maker Liz Brown, spoke in each of the four churches.
  • At the beginning of May, St Mary’s hosted the National Association of Flower Arranging Societies (Three Counties & South Wales Area) Diamond Jubilee Year Thanksgiving Evensong, held on National Flower Arranging Day.
  • Later that month, the Thy Kingdom Come initiative again saw prayer trails, devised by the Revd Tom Bates-Bourne, being used in St Mary’s.  Special activity boxes were given to children while adults were encouraged to pray for the ushering in of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
  • In June, Christchurch hosted the Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council’s Civic Service.
  • At the end of July, St Mary’s hosted the farewell service of the Rt Revd Richard Pain, who had recently retired as Bishop of Monmouth.  Over 400 people attended the service, received communion and enjoyed the reception afterwards.
  • Also in July, the Priory hosted the annual Ladies’ Ecumenical Service, where preacher Lt Jenni Pryor of the Salvation Army, posed the question ‘Are you a Mary or a Martha’?66859739_2593229920734787_8367385909460467712_n
  • In August, three people were admitted to the Holywell Community – Brs Josh, Seb and Nicolas – by the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd John Davies. The preacher was the first Abbot of Mucknell, the Rt Revd Br Stuart OSB.
  • In September, the Priory hosted a visit from the newly-appointed World Wide President of the Mothers’ Union.
  • Also in September, St Mary’s displayed a replica of the Turin Shroud during the Abergavenny Food Festival, an exhibition visited by hundreds of people.
  • In October, The Lord Williams of Oystermouth (Bishop Rowan Williams) preached at St Mary’s as he was welcomed as Visitor of the Holywell Community.
  • In October, collections at Harvest Thanksgiving services were taken for the work of the Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy.
  • November, the month of Remembrance, saw the All Souls Requiem Eucharist at which the names of departed loved ones were read out; Armistice Day services at both St Mary’s and Christchurch and in the town; and the Road Peace service, where those who had lost their lives in road accidents were remembered and at which the Standard of the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service was paraded.
  • In December, local schools used the church for their Christingle and Christmas services – thousands of youngsters, their families and teachers visiting the church in the space of two weeks.
  • Other carol services included those for Gwent St John, Tenovus’ Lovelight Service, and Vision of Hope, a local initiative to enable young people who have suffered through abuse and addiction to receive animal-assisted therapy.

The Church’s work with children includes All Age Worship every other Sunday, school assemblies and Little Footprints, a parent and toddler group held every week during term time. During the year, Godly Play sessions were started at St Mary’s and Holy Trinity churches on weeks alternate to All Age Worship.

 

Acts of worship, including some of the Benedictine Offices, were celebrated on almost every day of the year, and pastoral care continued throughout, in particular, the visiting of, and on occasions taking Communion to, parishioners who through sickness or age were unable to come to church.  There is an active pastoral visiting group of both clergy and laity who carry out these duties. The average attendance at the main services at the churches was 112 (including children) 103 (those over 16) , and the number recorded on the Electoral roll for both churches on 31 December 2019 was 205.

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 welcome new disciples into the life of God’s family and, in marriage, public vows are exchanged with God’s blessing.  Through funeral services, friends and family express their grief and give thanks for the life which is now complete in this world and commit their loved one into God’s keeping.  This year, we celebrated 19 baptisms and 12 weddings in the Parish. There were a total of 52 funerals in St Mary’s and Christchurch and our priests officiated at a further 35 in other chapels, churches and crematoria.

Ecumenically, the parish participated fully in the Abergavenny Council of Churches, including the now-annual Scratch Nativity, telling the story of Christ’s birth while walking through the streets of Abergavenny town centre and market, complete with two donkeys.

 

Mission and outreach work

Much of the parishes’ mission and outreach work was organised by a dedicated group from Abergavenny Anglican Churches Together (AACT), established during 2012 with members drawn from all four churches in the incumbency and co-ordinated through the Joint Wardens’ Meetings.

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Bishop Charles from the link Diocese if the Highveld (right) study’s Jez’s (left) art work

Our Proclaiming it Afresh mission campaign saw a number of new events and year-long initiatives take place, including:

  • Local artist Jeremy Thomas producing artworks throughout the year which tell the Gospel story, now displayed at St Mary’s and online before, hopefully, going on tour around other churches, schools and pop-up exhibition spaces.  In November, Jeremy, our artist-in-residence, moved his studio to the Tithe Barn following the departure of the Tourist Information Centre.  His presence there has led to people visiting him, to hear him talk about the project and about his faith.
  • Pupils at Cantref Primary School produced The Abergavenny Parables, where Fr Tom, Jeremy Thomas and Diana Williams explored some of the parables with them, before the children retold those stories through art, cartoons, models and the spoken word.  This was then celebrated at a special service in St Mary’s and their work put on display in the church.

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    A pupil at Cantref School explains the Parable story  re-imagined to the High Sherrif

  • Members of the church exploring the Bible during the Lent study course created by the Bible Society.
  • Godly Play taking place during services twice a month, at St Mary’s and Holy Trinity.
  • Enabling and encouraging children and adults to take part in Thy Kingdom Come

 

The year also saw church members continue their work of previous years, including:

  • Again running a marriage preparation course, with eight couples exploring their relationship and what marriage will mean to them.
  • Members of our Mothers’ Union continuing to volunteer at a contact centre for children suffering family break-up.
  • Members of all four churches in the incumbency collecting baby items and food for asylum seekers in Newport, the initiative again being run by Mothers’ Union.
  • Families who had suffered bereavement during the year being personally invited to the All Souls Service.
  • At Christmas, the congregations filling boxes with small items as part of the Shoe Box Appeal, sending 100 boxes to orphanages in Romania.IMG_1608
  • Parishioners contributing staple foodstuffs and toiletries to the Abergavenny Food Bank.
  • 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 safe place for young people to meet.
  • Church members contributing over 50 Christmas parcels of items such as toiletries, gloves, and small gifts for ‘looked after’ older teenagers and young adults in Abergavenny who, through no fault of their own, are living by themselves, again an increase on last year’s total.
  • · Contributing to the Additional Curates’ Society.
  • Working with Syrian refugees living in the town
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  • Using the Jesse Window, in particular the Advent Jesse in the tracery, together with a devotional guide, to reflect on the Advent journey.
  • At our services over Christmas, we gave £380 to the Christian Aid Christmas Appeal and £400 to the Archbishop of Wales’ Fund for Children.  The former was collected at the incumbency-wide service on the Sunday after Christmas, the latter at the packed Christingle service on Christmas Eve.

In December, members of the congregations sang carols in three of our local care and nursing homes, although a plan to sing carols outside pubs in the town was cancelled because of torrential rain.

Our mission and outreach stretches beyond the four walls of the churches or even the town, with our online presence.  Our website (stmarys-priory.org) features sermons from services throughout the year, while our facebook and twitter accounts keep people up to date with what’s going on at the Priory.  There has been a great deal of interest in the work of our artist-in-residence with comments and appreciation coming from all over the world.

 

Music, bells and visits

The work of the church is greatly enhanced by St Mary’s Priory Choir, under the musical directorship of Tim Pratt.  This year was again a busy one, with an ever-increasing repertoire and many calls upon our time, including singing at a total of 108 services in the year, averaging more than two a week. They also went carol singing four times before Christmas. There was a significant recruitment drive in the autumn, and it is encouraging to be able to report that six new choristers, four of whom are boys, joined as a result.

In early June, five of our choristers were entered for the RSCM singing awards and all did extremely well.  Alexander Hemington, Daisy Bayliss, Ffion Boyce and Sophie Sevenoaks all achieved their silver award, whilst Elizabeth Hemington achieved Bronze.  Once again, St Mary’s was the only church in the south of Wales to enter young people for the silver award – they were presented with their awards at the RSCM Choral Festival, held at Llandaff Cathedral.

The choir’s annual singing week saw them going to sing for five days at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.  For many of the choristers this included their first flight, and their first trip to Ireland.

Finally, at the end of August, the third Festival of Liturgical Music.  On Monday night, St Mary’s choir sang the services of Vespers and Compline, and then across the rest of the week choral Evensong was sung each night (Tues-Sun) moving from the 16th to the 21st century.  There were five lunchtime recitals along the way.  There were four visiting choirs during the week, who made the experience even more special.

The church bells, described as the finest ring of 10 bells in Christendom, were rung on Sundays, at numerous funerals and 10 weddings.  On Remembrance Sunday, they were rung half muffled for the Service of Remembrance.  Nine peals were attempted by visiting bands of ringers, seven were successful and two failed.  In April, our ringers were visited by a group of French motorcyclists who were interested in both the Church and the bells.  A quarter peal was run prior to the service for the retirement of Bishop Richard Pain; the tenor bell was tolled for 20 minutes in sympathy with the people affected by the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; and in December the bells were rung for the Tenovus carol service.

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.

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HTV Wales reported on a visit from our French twin town after the Notre Dam fire

Among the organised school and group visits and many impromptu guided tours of the Church conducted by our volunteers, this year there were visits from the Friends of Cathedral Music, who sang Evensong and heard a talk by St Mary’s director of music Tim Pratt about the place of music at the Priory, and by the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, which works with expert charities on a range of projects, from sponsoring medical electives in leprosy-hit areas of the world to supporting local initiatives in India, Nepal and parts of Africa.

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.

 

Special activities

Fellowship, fundraising and Hosting Events

A number of concerts, for both the Church and outside organisations, took place at St Mary’s, including those by the Gwent Bach Society.

The Priory Centre Hall and Christchurch Hall continue 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 adults and as part of Cantref Open Gardens Scheme, the latter raising money for Target Ovarian Cancer. The monthly coffee mornings held at Christchurch are well supported by both members of the congregation and people from the community.

In June, families from the All Age community spent a fascinating day at Bristol Zoo.  In August, members of the parish visited Frogmore House, a secluded royal residence in Windsor Great Park, and the nearby Savill Gardens, a most enjoyable day rounded off by a fiercely contested quiz on the coach going home.

The Priory Centre provided the venue for various fundraising activities and celebrations. We hosted refreshments on the Vicarage Lawn during Abergavenny Food Festival, which featured both traditional cream teas and food cooked by Syrian refugees now living in Abergavenny.  The Centre is used for, among other events, concerts, meetings, conferences, blood donor sessions, parties and rehearsals of the Rock Choir.

In July, we gave breakfast to police offices from the Gwent, South Wales and Dyfed Powys forces, who met at St Mary’s for bacon and eggs to set them up for the remainder of that day’s stages in their charity cycle ride in aid of COPS (Care of Police Survivors) which supports families of police officers and staff who have lost their lives on duty.

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In October, we held An Evening with Gerald Davies, former Wales and British Lions rugby legend. In the week he was appointed President of the WRU, Mr Davies spent an hour regaling the packed audience with tales from his life, his career and his thoughts on subjects as wide ranging as comprehensive education, how to weld together a disparate team like the British Lions and whether Wales would win the World Cup.  Funds raised were split between St Mary’s and St Peter’s.

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In December, the church became part of the MENCAP social networks trail around Abergavenny, providing a space where visitors could hear oral history, interviews and conversations between friends and partners speaking about their struggles interacting with people and society.

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Reference and administration details

St Mary’s Priory Church and its daughter church, Christchurch, is in the Parish of Abergavenny, part of Abergavenny Ministry Area and Deanery of Abergavenny and the Diocese of Monmouth in the Church of Wales.

 

Incumbent and ministers

The Incumbent is the Reverend Canon Mark Soady. He was assisted by the Revd Tom Bates, the Revd Jeff Pearse and members of the Holywell Monastic Community.

The worship in the parish was made possible through the on-going contribution of our Licensed Lay Ministers David Meredith and Gaynor Parfitt; retired ministers the Revd Malcolm Lane, the Revd Canon Roger Williams and the Revd Canon Andrew Willie. Sadly, Mr Meredith, a long-standing and much-loved member of the ministerial team, died suddenly in September.

 

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 objective.

When reviewing our aims and objectives and in planning and 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:

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  • Conducting regular Christian worship in both Churches;
  • The celebration of the Holy Eucharist, on seven days each week at St Mary’s Priory Church;
  • marriages, funerals and baptisms;
  • The provision and maintenance of the fabric of St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny, and of Christchurch, Abergavenny and their associated buildings;
  • Opening St Mary’s daily for 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;

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 AACT’s Mission and Outreach Committee.

The work of the Church is governed by safeguarding policies of the Church in Wales, responsible adults are required to have DBS checks and the joint parishes have appointed a safeguarding co-ordinator who liaises with the Provincial safeguarding officer if necessary.

 

Further achievements in the year

Monies were raised by freewill offertory, fundraising 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 will continue with their acts of worship and pastoral care during 2019 and will continue actively to 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 2020. All those involved in group activities and who assist with the main functions of the churches are volunteers who have freely donated their time, energy and skills. In order to continue to foster increasing unity between the different Churches and congregations within Canon Soady’s Incumbency, regular meetings of the Wardens from all four Churches were held.

 

The Trustees

The trustees who served the Charity during the period from the Annual Vestry Meeting in April 2019 until the end of the year were as follows:

The Revd Canon Mark Soady               Chairman

The Revd Tom Bates-Bourne.               Asst Priest

The Revd Jeff Pearse

Mr Robin Alldred

Mrs Sheila Davies                                    Representative on the Deanery Conference

Mr Lyndon Evans                                    Assistant Vicar’s Warden

Mr Alan Freebury

Mr Sam Hunt

Mrs Catherine Jones                                Assistant People’s Warden

Mr Steven Lamerton                               Gift Aid Treasurer

Mrs Jenny Lloyd

Mrs Eunice Marsh                                    PCC Secretary

Mrs Jenny McPherson

Mrs Wendy Pendry

Mr Tim Pratt                                               Vicar’s Warden

Ms Patricia Ransome

Mr Robin Smith                                         St Mary’s Treasurer

Miss Ann Louise Tuxworth

Mrs Sheila Woodhouse                             Vicar’s warden at Christchurch, Christchurch Treasurer

Ms Caroline Woollard                               Parish People’s Warden, representative on the                                                                               Diocesan Conference and member of the                                                                                         Governing Body of the Church in Wales

In addition, Mr Andrew Powell and Mr Huw Shurmer served as a Trustee from January 2019 to the Annual Vestry Meeting.

 

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 Trust’.

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.

Property administered by the Priory Trustees includes the Priory Centre, the Tithe Barn and the Holywell Community 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 were administered by The St Mary’s Priory Trustees.  The Tithe Barn continued to be used as a Welsh Centre of Excellence, as a legacy from the National Eisteddfod held in Abergavenny in 2016, and by the Aneurin University Health Board and Canolfan Y Ddegwm (The Tithe Centre in English).

 

Risk Review  

The PCC has conducted its 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 Finance & General Purposes Committee and the Church’s professional advisers and the finances are controlled by careful budgeting and encouragement and appeals to the worshippers and visitors.

The Trustees have started to develop an evacuation plan in the event of a major incident. This plan will include the safe removal of both people and major artefacts.

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.

 

Organisational Structure  

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 associated buildings 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 and the Assistant People’s Warden are elected at the annual Easter Vestry; the Vicar appoints the Vicar’s Warden and two Vicar’s assistant wardens 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 Gift Aid Treasurer 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 mission events in Abergavenny, including activities for Christian Aid Fortnight, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Easter and Christmas.

The Churches are run entirely by volunteers, as the clergy are remunerated by another charity from the Parish 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, and the Churches would not function.

As of December 2019 the Charity employed three people (two full-time equivalent).

 

Committee structure

The PCC met seven times in 2019 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 working under the auspices of AACT.)
  • The Finance and General Purposes Committee
  • The St Mary’s Co-ordinating Committee, set up as a liason committee between the work of the church and that of the Tithe Barn/Priory Centre .

FABRIC

Reflecting the extremely tight financial situation of the Charity throughout the year, no new major repair schemes have been embarked on in 2019. Instead two projects from earlier years have been concluded and only on-going routine repairs and maintenance have been undertaken at St Mary’s.  However, a major repair at Christchurch, identified in 2018 as urgently required, was carried through to completion.

The two schemes concluded at St Mary’s during the year were:

  • The erection and capping of the new wall that overcomes the difference in height between the lowered North Walkway, running alongside the north wall of the Church, and the adjacent Garden of Rest.  This was funded in part by a Grant from the Diocesan Churchyard Fund.
  • Final commissioning of the two new boilers installed in 2018, including reinstatement of the floor in the boiler room to replicate the patterned tiles elsewhere in the Church.

 

The major scheme undertaken at Christchurch comprised:

  • Removal, repair and reinstatement of the east window of the Church along with repairs to the walls and flooring below the window which had suffered from the ingress of water due to the previous deterioration of the window and its surrounds. This work was funded through a number of Grants and a £2,000 donation, made in memory of a recently deceased member of the congregation.

As reported last year the Quinquennial inspection was undertaken at St Mary’s in November 2018 and the Report was received in early 2019. The PCC reviewed the contents and concluded there were two major schemes that must be undertaken as soon as appropriate grant funding can be identified and obtained. The more recent plague of immoderate rains has also created the need for a third major scheme to be added to this priority list:

  • The pinning of the cracks that have developed in the walls of the circular access staircase in the north east corner of the North Transept, and the underpinning of the adjacent external buttress.  The cracks are being monitored and if movement restarts, it will be necessary to shore up this part of the church until the full scheme can be financed.
  • Repairs to the Grade 1 listed external wall between the Church Forecourt and the Prince of Wales Courtyard. The wall is bulging and may also need to be shored up.
  • Repairs to the north slope of the North Aisle roof where the recent storms have dislodged some 30 slates and the previous deterioration of the guttering has been compounded.  Full scaffolding of the whole roof will be needed to undertake the work safely.
  • RESERVES POLICY The Parochial Church Council recognises the need to hold reserves to ensure funding is available to provide continuing mission should income levels fall. Reserves are also required to meet the future maintenance programme for the Churches and Church buildings.A minimum level of reserves also needs to be retained to ensure the PCC can meet its legal commitments should the Charity be unable to continue due to a lack of a sustainable income stream. The Officers of the PCC have established a policy whereby the unrestricted funds not designated for specific use by the PCC or invested in tangible fixed assets, ie the free reserves held by the Charity, should ideally be between three and six months of the resources expended in general funds.

    The Charity is dependent on donations, grants and investment income. The economic climate remains uncertain and interest rates continue at historically low levels, both of which factors are likely to have an on-going negative impact on future income streams.

     

    INVESTMENT POLICY

    Despite the continuation of historically low rates of interest, the PCC (through its Finance & General Purposes Committee) has concluded the most appropriate policy for investing funds remains to achieve the best possible rate from our Bankers, commensurate with maintaining the capability of rapid access to the funds in the event of a call on them.

     

    Bankers

    Lloyds Bank, 54 Cross Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5HB

    HSBC Bank plc, 2 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AF

    Barclays Bank, 57 Frogmore Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5AT

     

    Independent Examiner

    Dorrell Oliver Limited, Linden House, Monk Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 5NF

     

    Professional Advisers (Historic Buildings)

    Arnold Bartosch Ltd, 1 Bath Mews, Bath Parade, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL53 7HL

     

    Approved by the Trustees and signed on their behalf by The Reverend Canon Mark Soady, Chairman on March 17th 2020.

 

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Farewell to Fr Mark

EAB317E4-112C-4ABC-823A-FF533ADB1974This morning parishioners, civic leaders and townspeople gathered at St Mary’s Priory Church to say Goodbye and give thanks for Canon Mark  Soady’s eight years of ministry among us.

The service started with the Priory Choir singing Trust in the Lord  which was originally composed by our Director of Music Tim Pratt for Fr Mark’s Collation Service that started his ministry among us on the Feast of the Epiphany 2012.  The Introit is based on words from the Book of Proverb’s chosen by Fr Mark :      “Lean not on you own understanding, but Trust in the Lord”. The service contained another Pratt composition for the Communion Motet the choir sung  King of Mercy King of Love. The Sub Organist Judith Pendrous draw the service to a close with Henry Thomas Smart’s March in G.

Fr Mark conducted the service and preached. In his sermon he reflected back on the challenge given by him in his first Sunday’s sermon and asked how much of it we had “achieved together in eight years”.

I

During the service he conducted his final act as Prior of the Holywell Community, as  he admitted Nathaniel Hood as the Community’s second Concentor.

After pronouncing the Blessing Fr Mark handed over the Prior’s Pectoral Cross to the Sub Prior  Fr Tom, as he handed over the care of the Community to him.

 

Following the service a Reception was held in the Priory Centre, at which Fr Mark was presented with gifts.

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