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Annual Review of the life of St Peter’s for the 2010 AGM

 

2009 was the year when Bishop John of Oxford introduced his ‘Living Faith’ initiative, and it was a year when the Christian faith continued to live in many shapes and forms at St Peter’s. One of the highlights of the year was undoubtedly Revd Joy Carter’s ordination as a priest, at a service on Sunday 4 th October in Reading. The St Peter’s Church Choir, led by Marilyn Mitcham and Mark Stanley, had been invited to robe and lead the music for the service, which included a Michaelmas hymn written by Fr Edward, and a good number of people from the regular congregation attended. The following Sunday morning Revd Joy presided for the first time at the Eucharist back at St Peter’s. The preacher was Fr Nicholas Gandy, formerly Vicar, who had first encouraged Joy on the pathway to ordination many years before. A number of other old friends of the church, as well as Joy’s family and friends, were there to support her.

 

Within the past year St Peter’s has also noted and celebrated the fifth anniversary of Fran Childs becoming a Licensed Lay Minister (LLM), and the fifth anniversary of Jenny Loder (also an LLM) joining us permanently, she having previously helped during the last interregnum. The ministry of both Fran and Jenny is widely appreciated, both as preachers and in many other ways.

 

In addition to Fr Nicholas, visiting preachers over the past twelve months have included Revd Paul Mansell, Pam Rolls and Lynda Pugh. A number of students from Ripon College Cuddesdon have been on placement at St Peter’s, both Dom Whitting and Rosie Woodall having preached during the year, and Martin Allwood and Richard Frith involved in other ways. St Peter’s has also benefitted greatly from the supportive ministry of Fr Ernest Adley, a member of our church who has retired but who is still ready to take services when needed.

 

Although for a few the Christian journey leads to ordained or licensed ministry, for everyone it begins with baptism, and a total of sixteen people, many of them babies, were baptized at St Peter’s during 2009. An additional commitment is taken on at confirmation, and a Deanery Confirmation Service was held at St Peter’s on 27 th September, at which Ewan Halford, Kirsty Makin and Sofie Mirza were all confirmed, with Kirsty being baptized at the same service. Earlier in the year, on 8 th March, Chris Jones, Joe Jones-Jennings, Claire McMinn and Richard Shurmer had all also been confirmed at St Andrew’s Hagbourne.

 

One of the wonderful things about St Peter’s is the whole range of people who take part in the life of the church – people of all different ages and backgrounds. The very youngest are to be found at ‘Tuesday Club’, held every week and including a Communion Service. The very oldest are welcomed to the St John’s Guild and to the newly introduced monthly Wednesday ‘lunch, fellowship and worship’ gatherings. On Sunday morning everyone, whether old or young or in between, joins together to worship God and to pray.

 

St Peter’s exists to worship God and to serve the community. For this to be done well, many people give a great deal of their time and energy. Our collective thanks are due to the servers, the sidespeople, the organists and choir, the flower arrangers, those who provide refreshments on Sunday mornings and at other times, the cleaners, the social team, those who care for the building and grounds, those who administer the financial and legal aspects of the church’s life, the Sunday School and Youth Group leaders, those who oversee our charitable and community links, the pastoral care team and ‘church neighbours’, those who oversee the church magazine and website, and those who serve as governors and in other ways at Northbourne Church of England School, especially Jon Driscoll, who took over as Chair of Governors in 2009, and Alan Wilson, whom he succeeded.

 

Every five years the church building is inspected by an architect and a report prepared. At St Peter’s this happened in September 2009, and the news was excellent. Almost all the things flagged up in 2004 had been attended to, not least due to the diligence and hard work of Mark Stanley. In particular the roof and the electrics have been completely overhauled. St Peter’s is in better shape than ever before. The one significant project that remains is the kitchen, an important facility for the various groups that use the church at different times of the week, and Churchwardens Margaret Meardon and Mary Boyle are now considering the best way forward on this. The regular rehearsals of the Didcot Choral Society have now been mirrored by those of the Didcot Community Gospel Choir (on a different evening!), which was established in 2009 by members of St Peter’s and others in the local community. However, with the departure of ‘Mind’ over twelve months ago, the building is now rather under-used, especially on Mondays, so new users are being sought.

 

The church also has a new Vicarage, and the Carters moved across from the old one in May 2009, with a house-warming party soon afterwards. The Diocese have funded the building of the new Vicarage by selling the old one, and the indications are that it has been bought as a family home by its new owners, although planning permission for development is still attached to the site. It was a relief when the builders finally left, and the church car park properly reclaimed.

 

The finances of St Peter’s are sometimes a cause for concern, but in the autumn of 2009 a significant step forwards was taken when a stewardship appeal led to increases in regular giving equivalent to some £5,000 a year. The level of donations to the church is now at an all-time high.

 

Towards the end of 2009 Fr Edward, having been given a second five-year licence as Priest-in-Charge, took some sabbatical leave at the invitation of Bishop Stephen, so was away from St Peter’s during November and December, as well as January 2010. He and his family spent part of the time visiting Australia at Christmas time, where they have friends and relations. In his absence the ministry in the parish was overseen by Fr James Baker, and in January 2010 it was announced that Fr James is to become Vicar at St Michael and All Angels, Yeovil, having served as Assistant Curate at St Peter’s since 2007. He will be installed in his new post in June. It is always a sadness to have to say goodbye, but St Peter’s has benefitted a great deal from Fr James’ ministry over the past three years, as a pastor, in his work with the youth and as Chaplain to the local Air Training Corps, and in so many other ways. With Encarni, Jake and Jessica, he will be very much missed.

 

Within the life of St Peter’s over the past year there have been welcomes for newcomers, and farewells for those departing, for the church is a living and changing community of people. The Christian faith gives hope even in the face of death, but it is always especially sad when a member of the church passes on. In 2009 St Peter’s said farewell to Edna Woodley, formerly a stalwart member of the church although unable to attend in recent years. Amongst loved ones of those who worship at St Peter’s, funerals have also been held for Ian Jones and Marjory Hudson.

 

Bishop John has asked us to focus on our ‘living faith’. At St Peter’s the Christian faith lives in many different ways. May God bless us as we continue on that journey of faith through 2010 and beyond.

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St Peter's Church, Newlands Avenue, Didcot, Oxfordshire. OX11 8PY
Tel:01235 812114

© 2013 Keith Mintern