A New Era at St Mark's
THE NEW ERA
The PCC and congregation were looking forward to working with Alison to bring about growth and development of St Mark’s. In the Newsletter of October 2007, The Revd Cox wrote “The task of developing this church to be a vibrant, worshipping family serving the community in which God has placed us is exciting and daunting”.
On Sunday, 4 November, St Mark’s celebrated both the lives of the saints and remembered all those loved ones who have died. Parishioners were asked to bring those who had suffered a bereavement in 2007 or previous years, who may value being able to pray with the support of others around them, and an opportunity was given to light a candle in memory.
The Autumn/Christmas Fair was held on 10 November and, although the turn out was disappointing, we raised £700. Barbara Smart sold home-made Christmas cakes and donated half the proceeds to church as well as all the money from donations received.
Over the weekend of Advent Sunday, our 2nd Christmas Tree Festival was held with the theme “A Christmas Story”. Adamson’s Military Band played for us and we also had Lyndhurst School Choir, Christmas Songs of Praise on Sunday afternoon accompanied by Ashton Town Band who also played a medley of their own tunes, as well as The Willow Wood Singers, to whom Alison presented a cheque as a thanks for their contribution. There were 30 decorated trees in church bringing in sparkle, light and laughter.
The PCC agreed to the installation of a new sound system in time for the Christmas services. The Parish Carol Service held on 23 December was very well attended, as was Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and Holy Communion on Christmas Day.
Once again the church was in need of repair: the church architect identified dry rot and scaffolding was erected to allow specialist contractors access to the timbers and plaster needing attention, a costly programme of treatment. As a result, by May, worship took place in the Church Hall whilst the contractors hacked away at the destructive fungus.
The AGM of the Communicant's Guild was very well attended on 11 February, and the dates and events for 2008 were agreed, The Guild donated £200 to the church following the financial report, which was gratefully received. Alison then entertained with her selection of Desert Island Discs, as well as talking about the various aspects of her life and the music which means so much to her.
The final meeting of the combined St Mark’s and St Luke’s Mothers’ Union was held on 27 February. The Diocesan President, Jean Shelmerdine, came to close the branch which was formed in 1977. This created the opportunity to form a St Mark’s Mothers’ Union. The MU Wave of Prayer was held on 13 March followed by a meeting which agreed to register our MU officially and plan the launch of our new Mothers’ Union branch. Jean lent her support to this on 16 April 2008. Nine members met on 7 May to make plans for the following six months, the main one being to create a “Welcome to our Church” card to be given to future baptism parties.
Fair Trade Fortnight was held in Spring and a Fair Trade Fun for Kids and Coffee Morning was held in the morning, with a Cheese & (Fair Trade) Wine evening on Saturday, 1 March. The coffee morning saw only a few adults and 2 children in attendance but the wine tasting evening was very well attended and £511 was taken.
In 2008, the PCC would be looking at ways of building our ministry with children, and anyone interested in helping with this was asked to speak to Alison. A Baptism Party as held on 9 March when the parents of children who had been baptised at St Mark’s over the past four years were invited to a special service and fun afternoon. Everyone who attended expressed their thanks and said how much they had enjoyed the afternoon. On 22 March, an “Easter Journey” was held exploring the Easter story through craft, songs and fun for children aged 5-11 years.
A children’s corner had been created in the church and it was hoped to have a rota of people willing to welcome and play with the children during our services, particularly at baptism services. Following the success of the Easter workshop, it was planned to hold more of these events and, again, people would be needed to help perhaps with a particular activity, with refreshments, or simply playing with the children.
The Church Magazine in April was “sponsored”. This means that the £10 donation each month covers the costs of printing the issue. Barbara Smart (who was the first sponsor in memory of her sister) co-ordinates the sponsorship and parishioners need to book a particular month with her in memory of a loved one or to celebrate a special occasion.
At the Annual Parochial Church Meeting on 8 April, Sandra Austin and Chantelle Tunnicliffe were voted as church wardens for the coming year, Alan Reiblein having stood down.
Our Patronal Festival was celebrated on 27 April, when The Revd Ron Amis came along to deliver the sermon. After the service, nearly 50 people stayed behind to enjoy a “shared lunch” in the Church Hall, the food being brought by everyone and so there was quite a variety.
The Whit Walks of 2008 were Alison’s first opportunity to experience the Whit Sunday event. It was a gloriously sunny and hot day. We stopped at the Ravensfield school and Lyndhurst School to pray for their new buildings and the welfare of these schools, which are in our parish. In 2009 it would be St Mark’s turn to organise the service on behalf of the churches in Dukinfield.
Earlier in the year, Alison had asked for help to turn the Vicarage garden into a proper garden rather than a meadow. A lot of planning and preparation went into the organisation of the annual Summer Fair held in the garden on 28 June which included a barbecue, afternoon teas, children’s games. There were 10 stalls, a regular flow of visitors and Susan Wilson’s Dance Class gave a performance in the hall in the afternoon. The entertainment was carried on in the evening when Adamson’s Band gave a concert in church.
Life-long member of St Mark's Kathy Staff (the actress known for her role as Nora Batty in 'Last of the Summer Wine') celebrated her 80th birthday on 12 July and the congregation gave her a card, planted tub and, of course, Barbara Smart made one of her lovely cakes. Kathy was thanked for all her support and contribution to the life of St Mark’s. Pauline Clarke held her 50th Birthday party in the Church Hall on 25 July and an open invitation was extended to all church members. Pauline and Mike donated the glasses and tablecloths they used for the function to St Mark’s.
Pauline and friends at her birthday party and (left) Kathy waits to cut the cake which her daughter, Katherine, photographs whilst Alison is ready to start eating it.
A new group called “Praise and Play” started for carers and their pre-school aged children. It begins with songs and a bible story in church and then continues in the church hall with refreshments and play. Young mums - especially those who brought their children for baptism at St Mark’s - have shown interest in this group and it was hoped that it would grow significantly.
The DAC sub-committee (a Diocesan group which checks and approves plans to alter church buildings) came to St Mark’s in May and, in the light of their response to our re-ordering plans, the PCC has agreed to stop using the Lady Chapel and move the altar table across to the north side of the church in order to provide a better display for memorial books. The PCC also accepted the recommendations to remove just two rows of pews at the front of church to create more space around the nave altar and font.
Over the first 12 months from Alison’s installation, the church achieved a great deal: Common Worship was introduced; use of a nave altar; use of Eucharistic ministers administering the chalice; hosting of the first Baptism party; having adult bible study; running an Alpha Course; the re-introduction of a monthly magazine; hosting Midnight Mass and a Christmas Day service; launching the new Praise and Play Group; providing a dedicated children’s corner in church; creation of a dedicated Parish Meeting room; installation of a new sound system; discovery and treatment of Dry Rot (ongoing); development of a new re-ordering plan; purchase of a new nativity set; re-formation of St Mark’s MU; putting on our first Parish Lunch; last, but not least, welcoming the first female priest to St Mark’s.
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