St James The Great

​Old Milverton, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Churchwarden's Report 2020

The Churchwardens’ Official Report is included in the Annual Report & Financial Statements of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) for the year ended 31st December 2020; one of the reports distributed together with the Agenda for the Annual Parochial Church Meeting. That report includes details of the activities at St James in what was a year, unlike any other.

A huge thank you is due to our clergy who enabled us to open during the Covid Pandemic when it was legal and safe to do so. Judging by the increasing numbers who came to worship during these periods, despite the social distancing and other requirements, this decision was appreciated by many of the congregation, including some people new to us. A special thank you must go to Rev. Sue Fairhurst for all her work in carrying out the risk assessments and identifying the mitigation measures needed to ensure that we complied with all the relevant rules and regulations. 

Despite the pandemic, which has limited our activities, we are indebted, as in previous years, to the very many people who are actively involved in the life of St. James. A big thank you is due to all those involved in what ever capacity: members of the PCC, visiting clergy, organists, the members of the various rotas and others. Despite the lack of in person meetings the various groups involved have continued to operate more or less as before. We have adapted to using Zoom for meetings and for some social activities. People’s time and hard work during what was a difficult year for many is really appreciated and life at St. James would not run as smoothly as it does without such involvement.   

Things do change however and we will always need new volunteers so please speak to us if you can help in any way, or have any ideas you would like to put forward that could improve the way St James operates.

One subject that comes up for discussion each year is the contribution (“Parish Share”) that we make towards the cost of the clergy and the wider work of the church. The Parish Share Review Group will report later in 2021, so the system for calculating these costs will not change before 2023. The appointment of an Area Dean – Rev. Richard Suffern (early in 2020) helped with the process of agreeing our Parish Share for 2021. 

Finally, to paraphrase what we said last year as it is still appropriate; thank you to all of you for your continued willingness to help and for encouraging the feeling of goodwill and ‘family’ that continues to exist at St. James.

Michael Rayner and Carol Lane, Churchwardens.

Communications APCM Report 2020

Our Aim:
To consider how well St James communicates to our church community, formally through our church services, magazine, the PCC, notices, posters, flyers, website and informally through all our social events, including after-worship coffee, the welcome we offer new members of our congregation, new brides and grooms, baptismal families and the support we give to the bereaved.

Our Team:
Liz Burkinshaw, Rev Sue Fairhurst, Ali Foster, Sue Frost, Simone Brunson 

During this very strange year we have:
Struggled to meet formally at all during this year due to COVID lockdown restrictions. The main source of information has been through Sue Fairhurst’s monthly emails and online newsletters, which have been also been posted to those not online.
Continued to reflect current events whilst setting our church within a historical and village context through our website. This is regularly and creatively updated and maintained by Liz, We have received an average of 1169 hits per month; and an annual average of 14431 hits from all over the world.
We have also continued to manage all the enquires.
Circulated promotional leaflets, in the parish and wider afield, sharing details of special  services (e.g. Christmas and Easter)
Been aware of our annual budget 
Regularly reviewed and updated the information boards in the porch. 

The team would like to thank all fellow PCC members who have been actively engaged in discussing all our ideas and adding thoughts of their own.

Ali Foster

Fabric Committee APCM Report 2020

2020, what an interesting year. Nevertheless, we managed to navigate our way through a chaotic mix of the planned and the unexpected, including

Attention to the church electrics including: Lectern light refitted with new “old” fittings and LED bulbs, Organ knee light replaced with LED tube, Quantek torch replaced, assorted additional 13-amp electric plug sockets, two additional wall heaters and the air curtain over the porch

Phase 1 restoration of the Tower stone work completed in early July
Tower clock five-year routine service completed
Sound system five-year routine service, lapel microphone replaced and system enhanced
Gutters cleared – thank you Anna.
The arrival of a new supersized wheelbarrow – thank you Carol
October visit by the Community Unit to clear the overgrown area in the old churchyard

Eventually managing to get the churchyard grass back under control following the “cease and desist” order on volunteers cutting the churchyard grass during lockdown.

Our thanks are again due to so many; it is only through the skills and expertise of the craftsmen who come to work at St James, Louis and his team of stonemasons, Paul the electrician, Peter the clock and Dan the sound, together with the continued support and physical labour of the congregation and particularly the efforts of the Community Unit that we are able year on year to meet our responsibility of maintaining St James.

As of early 2021 the church and churchyard remain in a satisfactory state of repair and maintenance. Obviously, there is always maintenance work to be done but the fabric committee feel that we are reasonably on top of the challenges we face in maintaining an old historic building. Ongoing work for 2021 and beyond includes phases 2 and 3 of the tower stonework, churchyard path, finding a solution to the “damp” wall above the vicar pew, increasing our efforts under Geoff’s leadership to up our Eco credentials, leaving areas to long grass, compost bins, collecting rainwater, bike park etc.

The churchyard clearing days were somewhat curtailed this year with the April and June days cancelled due to lockdown, the August and October days while socially distanced were well supported. Grateful thanks go to all for their efforts. It’s always a case of the more the merrier, everyone welcome, bring your own tools.

We formally record that the necessary record keeping, policy updating and risk assessments allocated to the fabric committee have been completed and as required signed off by the PCC.

Although we were unable to hold our usual fabric meetings in person thanks go to the members of the Fabric Committee including our new recruit John Clark who has taken on the responsibilities of churchyard and mowing.

Gus Marshall Fabric Chairman

Safeguarding APCM Report 2020

Safeguarding for Children and Vulnerable Adults continues to be a key piece of statutory documentation that guides practice in all churches and is necessary to support all public establishments.  

Safeguarding has been one of the essential parts of managing the safety of all parishioners throughout the COVID pandemic.  

The pandemic and its associated ‘lockdowns’ and limits on the gathering of the church community has been sustained throughout by the Diocese Safeguarding Team providing a range of guidance, risk assessments and advice for all churches in their day to day ministry and also offered additional support for those that might employ or take on extra volunteers to help with extra community work and projects linked to COVID.  The effect for us at St James has been to limit some of our outreach activities but to add an extra layer of safeguarding to other elements of our work.  The safeguarding understanding, training and practice that is embedded within our team has demonstrated that it is central to our ministry. 

The House of Bishops continue to review their support for churches and deliver clear guidance on how to provide a safe environment for all children and vulnerable adults, whilst also supporting all volunteers from malicious accounts.  

Challenges thus far:
Safeguarding in the daily ongoing considered application of policy and guidelines that we, as a PCC, maintain and demonstrate in our daily mission within the church of St James;
Safeguarding set within the COVID 19 pandemic.  

As the main decision maker the PCC has responsibility for everyone’s safety.  So this dual approach has made huge demands upon the community of our church and has generated spirited debate.  Our outreach work might contrast with the potential that larger churches and their communities might be managing, but for our small team of volunteers the impact of the changes of practice has been significant.

The current Diocesan Safeguarding Team comprises:

Sarah Price - Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser and the Team Leader
Vacancy - Assistant Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
Deb Jennings - Assistant Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser
Sophie Hawton - Safeguarding Training and Support Officer

The Safeguarding Team can be contacted on 02476521345.

The diocese have continued with their training and provided online modules for us to access and these can be accessed by clicking the following link: 

The Safeguarding Action Plan for St James has been updated and reviewed.  It is a working document and gives direction to our practice, systems and processes, and should always be consulted and updated as and when guidance or change demands. This is available on request from the safeguarding officer. 

During this year our church has: 
Completed all necessary Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks 
Continued to monitor DBS checks
Five people who have completed training
Had no C0 training led by the PSO
Had Safeguarding as an agenda item on all PCC meetings so that any questions can be addressed or matters reported on
There have been no safeguarding incidents reported to the DSA
Absorbed new safeguarding systems and established all new structures and procedures within our practice particularly in relation to recent COVID directives 
Regularly updated and submitted our Safeguarding Action Plan to the Diocese
Used the Coventry Diocesan website for guidance documents and policy 

Future actions:
To think creatively so that St James PSO and other safeguarding officers in the immediate deanery can resume regular contact (maybe through zoom) – when COVID allows. 
To facilitate any necessary training / DBS certificates 
To work with the Assistant Safeguarding Officer for the Diocese - Deb Jennings
To continue monthly checks for training and DBS requirements

Ali Foster

Deanery Synod APCM Report 2020

Deanery Synod is an institution within the Church of England and other Anglican churches. A deanery synod is a synod convened by the Rural Dean (or Area Dean) and/or the Joint Lay Chair of the Deanery Synod, who is elected by the elected lay members. It consists of all clergy licensed to a benefice within the deanery, plus elected lay members.  

The Deanery Synod serves as an electoral college to various bodies, including the General Synod, Diocesan Synod and Area Councils. Area Deans. An Area Dean is an officer of the bishop. They are joint chairs of their deanery synod along with the lay vice chair.

The Area Deans’ duties include: 

The care of vacant parishes
Convening the deanery chapter
Caring for the clergy of the deanery.

The delegates represent all parishes within Warwick and Leamington Spa deanery.  There are 69 clergy and lay delegates who are meant to meet regularly throughout the year. 

This year due to the Area Dean vacancy and the COVID restrictions there were no meetings between October 2019 and November 2020.

In November 2020 with the appointment of the new Area Dean we met for the first time by Zoom.

The group was chaired by Rev. Richard Suffern as Area Dean and Rev. Jonathan Jee as Assistant Area Dean

There has been, throughout the year, a vacancy for Lay Chair.

During the year the Deanery Synod met only once and the agenda included: 

News and views from around the parishes
Parish share updates and discussion
Speakers of interest

Speakers included:
November 2020 by Zoom Archdeacon Barry Dugmore - Diocesan Strategy for Growth

Ali Foster

Worship APCM Report 2020

The word that instantly comes to mind for our activities in 2020 is challenging.  Our pattern of worship was inevitably very disrupted and when we closed the church just before Mothering Sunday, none of us realised how long that closure would be and how complicated re-opening would prove.  The year took shape as follows:

January to mid-March:  we held our normal pattern of services in church and continued our regular pattern of worship at Helen Ley Care Centre and Priors House.

Mid-March to the end of July:  church was closed.  Funerals continued at the Crematorium only and with very restricted numbers.  All links with our residential homes stopped and, as yet, these have not restarted.

August:  church was open for private prayer followed by a short, said service twice a week. From this point forward, numbers were restricted to allow for social distancing and everyone was required to wear a face covering.  Average attendance on these occasions was less than twelve.  Track and Trace procedures were put in place.

September and October:  our normal pattern of services, but with everyone being required to book in advance and with social distancing/ face coverings / Track and Trace.  Numbers remained very small.

November:  open for private prayer only on a Sunday morning

December:  a return to our normal service pattern, but still with social distancing in place, face coverings worn and everyone being required to book in advance to provide us with Track and Track details.  The Light a Candle evening went ahead as normal but we did not hold a face-to-face Carol Service or Nativity Service.

Occasional Offices
Funerals have taken place throughout the year.
Baptisms could only take place before mid-March and during August and September.
Weddings were not possible between mid-March and the end of July.

From mid-March, all these services have been subject to strict limits on numbers and Track and Trace details have been required.

In total during 2020 we conducted:
4 Baptisms
2 Weddings
11 Funerals at St. James, Oakley Wood or Banbury Crematorium
5 interments of ashes in the churchyard

On-line Worship
We have been so fortunate to be able to join William and St Mary Magdalene for their regular online worship each week.  Particular thanks must go to William for facilitating three services specifically from St James:  Ascension Day, our Patronal Service and the Carol Service.

Sunday Club
The Sunday Club has not met since the end of February 2020.  Sue has kept in touch with the children via family emails and offered ideas for activities at various points during the year.

Maintaining a Safe Environment for Worship
We have a detailed risk assessment in place that everyone adheres to, covering all aspects of cleaning, handling books, social distancing etc.
Everyone is required to book in advance if they wish to attend a service
Face coverings must be worn inside the building
Track and Trace details are held in accordance with government guidelines for all services.

In 2020, our worship was inevitably very different, with both gains and losses:  spending more time in silence was appreciated by some but we also missed singing the hymns and canticles.  As we progress through 2021 the style and frequency of our services are still having to adapt in response to changing circumstances and new guidelines, but the opportunity to come together to pray and praise God continues to offer both joy and solace to those who feel comfortable to attend.  Huge thanks go to our churchwardens Carol and Michael for their oversight of all the government and Church of England guidelines and for their unwavering support for Felicity and Sue as we have tried to keep our worship going throughout these difficult times.

Sue Fairhurst

Electoral APCM Report 2020

The numbers on the Electoral Roll comprise a total of 85 persons comprising:-

RESIDENTS:               5
NON-RESIDENT:        80

DELETIONS:              2 (due to deaths in 2020)
ADDITIONS:              1

This report has been provided by the Electoral Roll Officer who understands this to be a true representation.

Claire Drage - Electoral Roll Officer

PCC AGM 2020 Report