Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) Meeting;
18:30; Thursday 08 September 2022; In the Parish Hall
Minutes of Meeting
- Welcome and Opening Prayer.
- Those Present: Fr Martin; Deacon Tony; Linda Last (Chair); Terry O’Brien (Sec’y); Ann Kemp; Brian Lewis; Bernard Segrave-Daly; Jo Hamer; Mike Ellwood; Pamela St Mart; Pam Storey; Sam Barlow; Sue Workman.
- Apologies for absence: Chris Scott.
- Minutes of Previous Meeting. These were accepted as accurate, with no matters arising.
- Parish Administration
Re-organisation. The position of our new priest, Fr Mike Brookes, was clarified. (See the attached note published in the Newsletter of Sunday 11 September.)
Presbytery. Work on refurbishing the presbytery to meet the requirements of an incoming Parish Priest, will be progressed. The Finance and Fabric Committee (FFC) will manage this project, producing plans to meet required standards, with budgets for costs which the parish can afford. As work progresses, FFC will monitor actual progress against the plans and the budget.
It is recognised that the limited funds available may not allow all that is “desirable”, but the “essential standards” must be provided. Modern building regulations must be met and items which can be self-funding – e.g. insulation and double glazing – must be provided.
Parishioner Concerns. The main issues concerned the loss of Masses in the parish – Sunday evening; Saturdays, with Exposition and Confessions; Weekdays; Holydays, Easter & Christmas. The actual costs of bringing in a “locum” for a very small weekday congregation were discussed.
There are also concerns on the practicalities of opening and securing the church on weekdays, and insurance issues with the presbytery being left empty for several months; could a “caretaker” role be established for the interim period?
The limited level of support that could be given by ANY priest on just one day per week was worrying.
The continued uncertainty that existed was also upsetting for many.
Social Activities. With all the changes going on, there is an even greater need to re-vitalise the social life of the parish.
ACTION PLANNED. Meetings with the PPC and FFC have already been called by Fr Mike, for Monday 26 September – the first day after the end of Fr Martin’s tenure! It is intended that firm plans to address the concerns will be produced – and a further set of meetings of FFC and PPC have been scheduled for Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 October to review progress against our objectives.
- Pastoral Care for those in Need
It was recognised that we are likely to have a number of parishioners who will be struggling with financial pressures over the winter months. After discussion it was agreed that we could do more to help, in the following ways
- Encourage those with difficulties to seek help and advice as early as possible.
- Identify sources of help available to any parishioner e.g. State, Regional and District support funds; the Town Council Jubilee Fund; Citizens Advice Bureau. Individuals’ own Fuel Suppliers can help. Banks and Credit Card companies may help with consolidation of debts. We also have our own “St Mary’s Hardship fund”, and the Parish Priest can make referral to the Diocesan “St Edmund’s Fund” for assistance.
- Ideally, it was felt that we should seek to have a single “point of contact” for the parish, who can give accurate advice to those in need.
- Is there a volunteer with some knowledge in this field?
- Health and Safety.
Inspection has shown a significant improvement in the cleaning and the removal of dust at high levels. The porch door was now registered and signed as an Emergency Exit, with the proviso that both halves of the doors must be opened in an emergency. The annual Fire Exercise and Evacuation is planned for a Sunday in October. It was confirmed that “Historic England” staff have inspected our church regarding “listing” and had submitted their report to the Secretary of State; a decision was still awaited.
- Data Protection and GDPR.
A meeting is planned to discuss the implications of the new organisation. An audit of the accuracy of the data held is also being planned.
Fr M is writing to every home in the parish, complimenting us all on the successful “Alive in Faith” campaign. He asks parishioners to consider making their on-going donations through a “Standing Order” to our new parish accounts; they are also asked to complete a “Gift Aid” declaration if they are a tax payer.
It was stressed that the current financial situation and fuel crisis makes it even more important for FFC to produce meaningful budgets and monitor actual expenditure.
- Finance and Fabric Committee.
It was reported that there was no progress on the repairs to the Hall. This was a cause for concern, as water ingress through the corridor/kitchenette roof was sure to be causing damage
- School and Parish Working Together.
Reference was made to the very positive verbal feedback after recent inspections. The formal results of the assessment are awaited with cautious optimism!
The liaison between school and parish is working well – especially regarding School Masses and preparation for First Holy Communion. Experience at Bungay means that this good rapport likely to be continued when Fr Mike starts work here in Beccles.
It is planned that parishioners (especially parents) will be able to attend School Masses and can also establish contacts with the pupils, under the guidance of school staff, of course.
In terms of families in need, teachers keep a careful eye out for any signs of financial problems. The school has access to state funds and is managing to provide discrete help when needed.
- Any Other Business.
Second Collections It was clarified that the rota for Second Collections was determined by the Diocese and that CAFOD benefitted with two collections per year.
Pressure to contribute No one should ever feel under pressure to contribute to any collection – especially not beyond their means. In fact, with more and more people paying through Standing Order, lots of people do not make contributions into the baskets.
- Date of Next Meetings
– Monday 26 September 2022 at 16:00 in the Hall, (With Fr Mike, to discuss parishioners’ issues.)
– Thursday 20 October 2022 at 18:30 in the Hall, (Extra meeting to review progress);
– Thursday 01 December 2022 at 18:30 in the Hall, (Routine Meeting).
- Closing Remarks and Prayer
Secretary. 12 September 2022
Addendum to Minutes; Extract from Parish Newsletter of Sunday 11 September
Parish Administration Beginning 26th September, Fr Michael Brookes will come over to St Benet’s from Bungay for one day each week – to celebrate Mass with us and to address ongoing issues around the transfer of our parish from Downside Abbey (now ‘St Gregory’s’) to full diocesan control.
Initially, Fr Mike will meet with the Parish Pastoral Council and then the Finance & Fabric Committee, to better understand the concerns of importance to our parishioners.
The post of Administrator, now assumed by Fr Michael for Beccles and Bungay alike, acknowledges that the process of transfer is still under way for both parishes (e.g. aspects of School Administration and buildings maintenance). Bishop Alan hopes to install a priest in St Benet’s parish within the coming months and we join him with our own prayers for the future.
The Bishop’s original briefing about the future of our parish can be seen here on our website.
St Benet’s Beccles;
Parish Pastoral Council (PPC)
Minutes of Meeting
18:30; Thursday 09 June 2022; In the Parish Hall
Welcome and Opening Prayer.
- Fr Martin; Deacon Tony; Linda Last (Chair); Terry O’Brien (Sec’y); Brian Lewis; Bernard Segrave-Daly; Jo Hamer; Pam Storey; Sue Workman.
Apologies for absence:
- Mike Ellwood; Sam Barlow; Chris Scott; Steph & Tim Madden
Minutes of Previous (Joint PPC/FFC) Meeting.
- These were accepted as an accurate record.
- TMOB tabled a proposed copy of the readings for each Sunday, which could also have the communal prayers on the reverse side. (Copy of a revised sample attached.) It was agreed that this should be trialled for the coming quarter.
Health and Safety.
- In the absence of ME, LL reported that the Fire Inspection had been completed in May 2022. The porch door was now registered and signed as an Emergency Exit. It was noted that if the church were to become a listed building, the integrity of the structure would take precedence over any H&SAWA requirements. Regarding “Listing”, it was confirmed that “Historic England” staff had inspected our church and had submitted their report to the Secretary of State; a decision was awaited.
Data Protection and GDPR.
- Nothing further to report .
- BS-D reported that the delay in completing the transfer to the Diocese had prevented any further action or preparation for this initiative. He stressed that the support and commitment of the Parish Priest, and all parishioners, would be essential is the Stewardship Initiative were to be successful. Work was progressing on encouraging “Alive in Faith” donations to be transferred to the parish and, where appropriate, that these would be registered for “Gift Aid”. Bernard emphasised that we all needed to achieve the correct balance between what we use to meet our personal physical commitments, and what we devote to our spiritual well-being. Until we learn who our new Parish Priest will be, and when he will arrive, there is little else we can do.
Finance and Fabric Committee.
- BL reported that there was no progress on the repairs to the Hall. This was a cause for concern, as water ingress through the corridor/kitchenette roof was sure to be causing damage. Brian reported that the “Historic England” inspectors had been very favourably impressed with our church. He added that “listing” should open access to various funds for repair and maintenance.
School and Parish Working Together.
- Reference was made to SB’s report to the Parish Annual Meeting. The recent inspection had given an excellent report for the Religious Education activities of the school and for the links between school and parish. It was noted that an Internet link had been established between the parish and school websites.
- LL reported that it was unclear what work was needed or desired to bring the presbytery up to modern standards for the new Parish Priest. It was clearly desirable to improve the parish office facilities and separate them from the priest’s domestic areas. She added that it could be an ideal opportunity to create a suitable meeting facility for the parish.
There was some debate on getting the balance correct between what was essential versus what was desirable – and on whether, in the present economic climate, the parishioners would be willing, or able, to raise the funds necessary for anything not absolutely essential. However, it was accepted that the parish had a good record for generating funds for charitable causes – and there should be no reason why the same energy and resourcefulness should not be directed to meeting our own parish needs.
Any Other Business.
- The need for a further “Authorised Person” for the civil registration of marriages was noted.
- It was agreed that now we were recovering from Covid, there was a real need to re-establish our spiritual and social activities across the parish.
Date of Next Meeting
- was agreed to be Thursday 01 September 2022 at 18:30 in the Parish Hall.
Closing Remarks and Prayer
Secretary. 18 June 2022
Sample of the Proposed Readings and Prayers
The Readings for Sunday 26 June 2022;
13th Sunday of Ordinary Time; Year C
The First Reading – From 1 Kings Ch 19: Vs 16, 19-21
The Lord said the Elijah: ‘Go, you are to anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.’
Leaving there, Elijah came on Elisha son of Shaphat as he was ploughing behind twelve yoke of oxen, he himself being with the twelfth. Elijah passed near to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you,’ he said. Elijah answered, ‘Go, go back; for have I done anything to you?’
Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen, and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate.
He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.
The Second Reading – from Galatians Ch 5: Vs 1, 13-18
When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence.
Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.
Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit, you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit. The Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions.
If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.
The Gospel – from Luke Ch 9: Vs 51-62
As the time drew near for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem and sent messengers ahead of him.
These set out, and they went into a Samaritan village to make preparations for him, but the people would not receive him because he was making for Jerusalem. Seeing this, the disciples James and John said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and they went off to another village.
As they travelled along they met a man on the road who said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
Another to whom he said, ‘Follow me,’ replied, ‘Let me go and bury my father first.’ But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’
Another said, ‘I will follow you, sir, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’
PAGE 2 The Prayers
I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned; In my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do;
Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.
Therefore, I ask blessed Mary ever Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good well.
We praise you; we bless you; we adore you; we glorify you; we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. AMEN
The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father, before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate , he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. AMEN
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory, Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
The Agnus Dei
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
The Invitation to Communion
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
St Benet’s Minster. Beccles;
Minutes of the Parish Annual Meeting (PAM)
19:00; Wednesday 18 May 2022; In the Parish Hall.
1. Welcome and Opening Prayer
2. Those Present
Fr Martin; Deacon Tony; Terry O’Brien (Sec PPC); Hilda Jackson (Sec FFC); Pamela Saint-Mart; Neville Kyrke-Smith; Jo Hamer; Pam Storey; Helen Hemming; Bernard Segrave-Daly; and 12 other parishioners.
Apologies for absence
Linda Last (Chair PPC); Brian Lewis (Chair FFC); Mike & Mary Ellwood; Sam Barlow; Tim & Steph Madden.
Introduction by Fr Martin
Fr M opened the meeting with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. He then welcomed the good news that the CBCEW were happy that it is now possible to return to the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Feast Days, with effect from Pentecost Sunday, 05 June.
Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The minutes were accepted and there were no matters arising not covered by the agenda.
( Pamela Saint-Mart)
The 2021 Finance Report is for the full year January to December. The Offertory collections are improving but still low compared to pre pandemic. The 2021 accounts show a surplus – partly due to some generous bequests from deceased parishioners.
The bank balance is healthy for the moment; however, there are renovations to be carried out at the church and Presbytery. The £58,000 funds available may not be enough for what needs to be done. This amount includes a recent gift of £5,000 from Downside, as well as a further £5,000 loan which has no interest payable, and which may be retained by the parish as long as it is needed. Those responsible for the renovations must schedule the outgoings so that we do not run out of funds.
The opening of the new bank account with Lloyds Bank has been approved. We are now waiting for the bank account details and it may take two to four weeks for the bank card and accounts details to arrive. The account name will be “Saint Benet’s Parish” and we will be notifying those donating by Standing Order of the new name and numbers as soon as possible.
It was clarified that the Presbytery renovations would be required to meet modern building standards, as well as those set by the Diocese and influenced by the wishes of our new Parish Priest. Church stonework repairs were also becoming urgent, as was the refurbishment of the Hall.
Finance and Fabric Committee (FFC) Report
(Fr M pp Brian Lewis)
The FFC are very well aware of the state of our premises and the urgent need to sort the issues out before serious damage occurred to the fabric of the buildings
Given the delay with completion of the transfer of ownership of all our premises, and lack of formal agreement on the use of the Hall, the MAT are unable to secure the funding for the urgent remedial work that is needed. Once the legal positions are clarified, the MAT and Diocese will reach an agreement on the use of the Hall by the school and the parish, and the responsibilities for paying for the remedial work and for on-going maintenance, will be clarified.
Urgent roof repairs to the Church have been carried out by a very experienced, professional contractor and BL is identifying contractors to carry out the required remedial stonework repairs.
It was confirmed that the FFC were seeking Grant Assistance from various bodies but were “proceeding with caution” until the issue of “Listing” was resolved.
On the question of financial help from the Diocese, Fr M explained that if this were made available, it would be in the form of a repayable loan. In terms of the 2017 “Alive in Faith” campaign, at that time we were a Benedictine parish, and our contributions had been restricted to raising funds for priestly maintenance (excluding contributions to, and subsequent access for, project funding.)
Synodal Pathway Submission and Action Plans
Neville reported that the meeting on the Diocesan Submission at the Cathedral had been positive, and our views had been well received. Further discussions had been held during a break-out Deanery group, looking at what we could all learn and what action we should be taking to move our parish forward.
There was a clear need to continue to make our “Welcome” at the back of the church real and meaningful, but appropriately discrete at the same time. We must remember the need to prepare to celebrate the Mass fully, as it is the “Source and Summit” of our worship.
A shared concern, in all parishes, was the low response from the younger generations; there is a real need to get them involved. The engagement at the Liturgy was questioned and the need for deeper understanding, through faith formation (catechism), was emphasised. It is good that we in St Benet’s are working with the school towards reinstating the “Children’s Liturgy” and also the “Family Mass”. We recognise that more must be done with parents, grandparents, and children.
Neville said that it is not all bad news! Our wide-ranging charitable works show us to be outward looking – living and demonstrating our faith by our actions. Our greeters, our readers, our altar servers, our music, and our homilies all do us proud.
However, there was a widespread “nervousness” when talking about our Faith and our practice of it; frequent references to “child abuse” and “impossible beliefs” put many of us on the defensive. This could be attributed to our own lack of education and knowledge, as our own “R. E.” had probably stopped at secondary school level.
Fr M said he was keen to get “Catechesis” underway and it is hoped a confirmation course will start this winter, to complement the “Children’s Liturgy” and the school’s involvement.
For adults, it is planned to take up an offer from a parishioner to host a meeting, at the end of June, to discuss what we feel we want to learn. For instance, “What Actually Happens at Mass” was one suggested topic. It was pointed out that there is a wide range of learning aids available on the Internet
NKS added that a recognition by Pope Francis of the ‘ministry of Catechists’ has been created within the wider Church, which will give important recognition to this vocation.
NKS thanked everyone present for their engagement and expressed his gratitude to all parishioners for their contributions. There is a lot to build on and a fuller action plan will be developed in consultation with our parishioners and, of course, with our new parish priest.
Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) Report.
(Jo Hamer pp Linda Last)
Linda reviewed the experiences we had all shared throughout the Pandemic – including being unable to say a last farewell to our deceased parishioners – and she noted that we appear to have weathered the storm. The contribution of many parishioners was worthy of comment, as we learned how to cope with the unexpected restrictions by working together.
A particular need that remains, is for an acceptable form of small meeting room – which could even serve as a mini-chapel for weekday Mass during winter, to save on heating costs. We really need all our parishioners to give us some feedback and tell us what THEY want – and to commit to working to help achieve it.
Now we are settling into the Diocesan ways of working and we were re-assured recently when our Bishop took the time to meet with your representatives and allay many of our fears. The big question remaining is, of course, whether Bishop Alan will be able to manage his priestly resources and find us the Parish Priest we need and – we think – deserve. We live in hope!
Neville and Bernard, in their presentations, will give us some guidance on the way ahead. Amongst all the challenges, we must put our Spiritual Life at the forefront of all we do.
Finally, can I ask you to show your appreciation for Fr Martin who has led us through the most difficult period imaginable, in out parish life. He has done a fine job and will be a great loss to us all.
And definitely finally – can I say that I am looking for a successor to take on the chair of the PPC. Don’t all rush at once . . .
(Fr M pp Sam Barlow)
Fr M said he was delighted to report that a very good relationship was developing between the school and parish. In particular, the preparation of the youngsters for their First Holy Communion, due to be received this weekend, was very rewarding.
There was also real commitment to develop the attendance at – and participation in – the Family Masses – once the fears of covid had receded. Meanwhile, the School Masses were well supported by pupils and by some parents, too.
It is also pleasing to note the number of improvements that have been made to the premises and the physical surroundings of the school
Local Charities (By Pam Storey) This year’s fundraising, via the Weekly Market, will be in aid of Clinks Care Farm; May Centre; and Waveney Centre. Your financial hep was much appreciated – but actual offers to help these organisations is also very important. We need to work as a team. Can you help?
Mary’s Meals (By Helen Hemmings) The 2019 donation was £1,695; 2020 Lockdown affected! was £1,135 and 2021 was £2,365 – including one personal donation of £500. With YOUR help, Mary’s Meals are now feeding 2,279,941 school children every day The 2022 campaign already has £123 in the kitty, and it will start on the first Sunday of Advent.
Congo School for Peace. (By email from Mary Ellwood) Your generous donations continue to be well spent on essential school materials. In addition, the Sisters have been able to purchase land for the provision of additional toilet facilities. All the children seem fit and healthy.
(By Bernard Segrave-Daly)
We are all still frustrated that the legal delays in the transfer mean we cannot get started with our parish training until 2023. In the meantime, we can start thinking what sort of parish we want to have and what we want from it – as well as what we can give to it, of course!
In terms of Gift Aid, we encourage existing givers to collect and use their box of envelopes. Note that the additional undated envelopes can be used for certain of the Diocesan and Parish second collections and thus attract the same 25% bonus.
Fr M pointed out that as well as being the collection of essential funds for our church, the offertory is a key part of the Mass; we are making a gift to God, in return for all He does for us. It would therefore be appropriate for those whose Gift Aid Donation is collected by Standing Order, to place their weekly envelope in the basket as a symbol of their gift to God
Any Other Business
Missalettes It was asked if we intended to return to the use of the paper missalettes. There are advantages in that everyone can follow the Prayers and Readings – with the disadvantage that the priest is tied to the prayers chosen by th publisher, which might exclude a choice more suited to the person or cause for whom our Mass was being celebrated.
In many ways, the ideal is for everyone to have their own Missal (£9 upwards from the repository!) – but some find them confusing to use. Another option – for those with smart-phones – is to use the QR code at the doors of the church to get the readings from the “Universalis” website – free of charge
A “straw poll” of those present showed an even split. Please let us know “What do you think?” – and we will review the result after the summer.
14. Date of Next Meeting
It is proposed that the next Annual Meeting will be at 19:00 on Wednesday 03 May 2023
15 Closing Remarks and Prayer led by Fr Martin
Terry O’Brien. Secretary PPC. 20 May 2022
Notes of the Meeting of St Benet’s FFC and PPC with Bishop Alan Hopes;
at The White House, Poringland; on Thursday 31 March 2022
Bishop Alan Hopes; Deacon Tony Felton, Linda Last, Terry O’Brien, Hilda Jackson, Pamela St-Mart, Gabriel Doll, Jo Hamer, Ann Kemp, Sue Workman, Chris Scott, Pam Storey, Hilary Wells.
Bishop Alan welcomed those attending. He explained that contacts and discussions with Downside had been on-going for over a year. However, he understood that there were concerns in the parish about a number of issues:-
- – the appointment of a new Parish Priest – or the possibility of a merger of St Benet’s parish with St Edmund’s, Bungay, with a shared priest;
- – the possible sale of the presbytery and/or the adjacent plot of land;
- – the planned renovation of the presbytery;
- – the ownership of the Parish Hall.
Bishop Alan pointed out that arrangements for Bungay had been dealt with first, as Father Charles had been due to retire. Father Martin had been a real asset to the parish and to the Deanery and he had volunteered to remain in post at St Benet’s until summer 2022. This gave some time to look at the issue of his replacement. He added he would return to this issue later.
Possible Sale of Any Property
Bishop Alan said he understood that the Abbot of Downside had pointed out that there was no intention to sell any property. The Presbytery and the land had been leased to the Diocese, on a 999-year lease, for a “pepper-corn” rent.
It was correct that the generosity of the parishioners had built and kept alive the parish for over 100 years. However, all the property was legally in the ownership of the Downside Trust.
Regarding St Edmund’s, he added that Downside had “preserved” some £30,000, which had come from St Edmund’s and was recently returned to them. There was no equivalent sum for St Benet’s.
[NOTE This amount was believed to have been a donation from St Edmund’s parish as part of the “Alive in Faith” project. There was no equivalent donation from St Benet’s – but Downside had made a gift of £5,000, and an interest-free loan of a further £5,000, to St Benet’s.]
Renovation of the Presbytery
An examination of the Presbytery had shown it to be in a poor state of repair and possibly needing work to be carried out to comply with present day standards and regulations; it is also in need of complete re-decoration. It is the responsibility of the parish to provide suitable accommodation for their Priest and such work must be funded by the parish. Unfortunately, to facilitate this work, the tenant living in the presbytery had had to be given notice to leave.
. The Bishop recommended we speak to Deacon James Hirst, and agree what works were needed and what we could afford. The fact that our parish had surplus funds on deposit gave us some breathing space on this.
The Parish Hall
Bishop Alan said that there was no doubt that the Hall belonged to the parish and free use of it by the school in term time, in return for their maintaining it, had been an informal arrangement of benefit to both parties.
However, it was now apparent that a formal agreement was needed, between the MAT and the Parish, setting out each party’s rights and responsibilities.
A New Parish Priest?
If asked, “Is St Benet’s going to have a new Parish Priest?” the Bishop said his reply could only be, “I hope you are!”
He totally understood that this was a very serious issue for the parish, and he stressed that in his 10 years as our bishop, he had never had to close or amalgamate any parish. Bishop Alan then gave an outline of the priests about to retire which was just balanced by the new ordinations due over the next 4 to 5 years. He added that two recent ill-health issues were putting a severe pressure on numbers of priests available.
He stressed that Beccles was a sizeable town, with a lively parish, and it certainly deserved to have its own priest. It was recognised that the parishes were the life-blood of the missionary work of the Church, and that they must be supported in their work.
Bishop Alan said that the placement of priests would normally be planned for September each year when the new priests would become available. He added that the placements were a decision for the Bishop’s Council – not for him alone – and while he was due to retire, any decision reached would not be subject to review by his successor.
The bishop said he hoped this information – while not as complete as any of us might have wished – went some way to allay the fears of the parishioners. He added that this issue showed that there was a real need for parishes to work and pray for vocations – for the priesthood, and for the Diaconate, and for all the other work that is needed in every parish.
Bishop Alan was thanked for all the information he had provided. It was agreed that it was unfortunate that the absence of such information had led to the growth and spreading of rumours.
Bishop Alan then wished all of us in Beccles well, and gave us his blessing.
Secretary PPC 31 March 2022
St Benet’s Minster. Beccles;
Minutes of the Meeting of Parish Pastoral Council (PPC);
(Combined with the Finance and Fabric Committee )
18:30; Thursday 03 March 2022; In the Parish Hall.
- Welcome and Opening Prayer
Fr Martin; Deacon Tony; Linda Last (Chair PPC); Brian Lewis (Chair FFC); Terry O’Brien (Sec PPC); Hilda Jackson (Sec FFC); Bernard Segrave-Daly; Gabriel Doll; Mike Ellwood; Jo Hamer; Pam Storey; Pam St-Mart: Tim & Steph Madden; Chris Scott.
- Apologies for absence
- Brigid Rawlinson has indicated her decision to resign from the PPC.
- Sue Workman; Sam Barlow.
- Presentation by Fr Martin
Fr M explained that this joint meeting had been convened following the cancellation of the FFC on 19 January, and in view of the need to update all concerned with the changes the Parish was going through. With the pandemic clearly coming to an end, he wanted us all to consider “The Way Ahead” as we sought to “Build Back Better”.
- Change of Parish Priest. Fr M reminded us that St Benet’s was moving from Downside to the Diocese, and that legal and financial details were still to be resolved. However, he did confirm that he would be replaced as Parish Priest over the summer/autumn.
- The Presbytery. Fr M stated that GD has been given notice to terminate his rental of a room in the Presbytery by the end of July, to facilitate some major repairs and renovations that the Diocesan architects felt were necessary.
- The Parish Hall. At present, given the uncertainty over ownership, and lack of formal authority to use the Hall, the MAT are unable to secure the funding for the urgent remedial work that is needed. Once the legal positions are clarified, the MAT and Diocese will reach an agreement on the use of the Hall by the school and the parish, and the responsibilities for paying for the remedial work and for on-going maintenance.
- The Church Building – “ Listing?”. Various authorities had viewed the church, and all were impressed by it and surprised that it was not already “listed”. A final decision from them is awaited. Meantime BL is identifying suitably qualified contractors to carry out the essential stonework repairs. There could be financial benefits in not committing to this action until after a decision had been reached about listing.
- “The Way Ahead”. Fr M stressed that wecould not afford to wait until all uncertainties were resolved, before taking action to re-launch our Spiritual and Social life.
- The discussions as part of the Synodal Pathway gave us some guidance on where we should focus our efforts. Our Parish AGM was scheduled for Wednesday 18 May (with a meeting before that, of FFC on 20 April) and he wanted us all to be prepared to deliver our plans to our parishioners at that meeting.
- Response and Discussion.
- LL thanked Fr M for his presentation but said she wanted to review some of the history of the parish. It was pointed out that, – over the years – the parishioners had contributed significant amounts to the growth and development of the parish premises
- Linda stressed that the uncertainty was creating a lot of unrest and was leading to the spread of rumours. The idea that the presbytery, and/or the adjoining land, could be sold off or used for non-parochial purposes, was especially concerning.
- It was pointed out that the legal owner of the land and property is the Downside Mission Trust and that the parishioners have no legal say in the disposal of the assets. Donations that had been made years ago, were given without any contractual obligation in return.
- It was believed that Downside would retain ownership of the presbytery (including the grounds), but the parish/diocese would be granted a 999-year lease.
- Linda added that the parish is in real need of a “stand-alone” Parish Hall, that could be used by parishioners all day and for 52 weeks of the year, for parish activities.
- Linda said that, as Chair of the PPC, she felt it incumbent on her to make the concerns of parishioners clear to Fr M – and to the higher authorities, the Abbot of Downside, and our Bishop of East Anglia. She felt that we should ask for a senior representative of Downside and/or the Diocese, to come to Beccles, meet with parishioners, explain what the Diocesan plans were, and hear our concerns – with the provision of a Meeting Room for the parish being the most urgent need.
- In addition, we should seek an assurance that if there were to be any disposal of the assets of the parish, as transferred from Downside, then the parish should benefit from them, with the provision of a Parish Hall being the most urgent need.
- Fr M commented that the only definite decision made to date was that GD should vacate the presbytery by the end of July, to allow essential works to be carried out, to make it more suitable for the incoming Parish Priest. He added that the new PP would be a Diocesan appointment who would work closely with the Diocese and the Deanery – rather than with Downside.
- Linda asked that her proposal to write to the Abbot and Bishop be supported by a vote of those present, acting as representatives of the parishioners. Her proposal was seconded and agreed by a majority of those present.
(POST MEETING NOTE. A letter on the proposed lines was sent to Downside and RCDEA. The reply from the Abbot, which was received 09/03 said, “It was my expectation that we would have completed the transfer at the end of December. As far as I am aware everything from our end is completed but lawyers have their own speed! You will need to contact the bishop to understand his plans for the future. However, I wouldn’t listen to all these rumours. There are certainly no plans to sell off the presbytery garden!”
- Previous Meeting; Minutes and Matters arising. (Not covered in the agenda.)
The minutes of the previous PPC were accurate and that there were no matters arising.
- FFC Meeting
The formal minutes of the FFC will be produced separately by Hilda Jackson. The following are the key points from the discussions.
- The pattern seen throughout the pandemic is continuing, with a decrease in basket collections being mitigated to some extent by an increase in Standing Orders
- The gift of £5,000 and the loan of £5,000 from Downside are very welcome.
- Generous legacies from deceased parishioners are helping us remain solvent
- Our Treasurer is investigating the transfer of our bank accounts to Lloyd’s Bank.
- Work is progressing on the “To Do” list.
- “EICR” testing (legally required every 5years) is being carried out by DR.
- “PAT” (portable appliance testing) has been completed by DR. We await the certificates.
- HW has agreed to continue maintaining the Churchyard records.
- Agreement was given that the preferred contractor be appointed to carry out the stonework repairs, costing c. £5,000.
- Agreed also that the above could be deferred until a decision is received re “Listing”, as this may have financial implications.
- Health and Safety (Update by ME)
- We need to have the organizational changes completed so that we can define proper accountabilities for HASAWA.
- The RA for weddings has been completed; this makes it clear that the couple are responsible for the safety of their wedding guests.
- Note that being “A Listed Building” can over-ride H&SAWA requirements – e.g., it can prevent any inappropriate changes to the structure or fittings.
- (Post Meeting. The “Porch Door” is now an approved fire exit and is “signed” as such.)
- Stewardship (Update by BS-D)
- Until the “Change to Diocese” is completed, no major initiative is possible
- The “Alive in Faith” contracts are expiring automatically, and we should encourage the transfer of those donations to the parish funds.
- A few parishioners with Standing-Order arrangements in favour of the parish have never signed up as Gift Aid donors. Provided that they are eligible, and bearing in mind that we can claim for the past 4 years’ donations, it was agreed that BS-D should ask our Gift Aid Coordinator (TK) to discreetly encourage them to sign up.
10. Data Protection and GDPR (Update by ME
- As the main database is now held securely in the Presbytery Office, we are complying with the regulations.
- Although Email addresses are not strictly classed as personal data, it is good practice to keep them private. The use of the BCC address block is recommended.
11. School and Parish Working Together (Update by SB)
- Refer to the report circulated earlier.
- All were impressed by the work that is being done to improve the school premises and to establish a positive relationship between School and Parish.
- It is hoped to have a Family Mass on Mother’s day – with posies supplied by MK.
12. Synodal Pathway (Update by NK-S)
- Our parish report has now been submitted to the Diocese. Eighteen of us participated actively with Neville in the composition of the report. Individual responses, addressed to Neville or to Fr Martin, are also referred to and incorporated within the report which will be posted on the parish website shortly.
- Other responses made directly to the Diocese via the website link (bypassing the parish process) are also being considered at diocesan level.
- These (600+ responses from individuals and all the parish reports) will contribute to a diocesan response to be presented in the Cathedral on Saturday 14th
- Fr M also noted that Neville has agreed to produce an “Action Plan” based on the findings of the Pathway process, to try to ensure we make the changes we identified as being necessary, if we are to make living in our parish a meaningful Christian experience.
13 Parish Life (Report by LL)
- The arrangements for Christmas ticketing went well and the flowers and decorations were much appreciated.
- The Hardship Fund has benefitted from the attention it has received!
- The music in the church is welcomed but there is a desire to have more of the “Old Favourites” to encourage participation.
- Work is progressing with all our fund-raising activities – but more helpers are always Mary’s Meals had a particularly good result.
- Our social events and activities are all hampered by the lack of a decent meeting facility.
- The Market Stall will continue over the summer – if help becomes available for preparation and manning. We will support the same three local charities as last year.
- The Craft group will be producing various “Visual Aids” to assist our worship.
- New members for the PPC are needed; and a new “Chair” must be elected, as LL intends to resign this position at the AGM on 18 May.
14. Any Other Business
Fr M announced he intends to organise a short (4 sessions) course, with a film and discussion, to encourage “Our Spiritual life”. This will be after the AGM on 18 May.
15. Dates of Meetings for 2022
- FFC – Wed 20 April; Wed 20 July; Wed 19 October
- Parish AGM – Wed. 18 May;
- PPC – Thur 02 June; Thur 01 Sept; Thur 01 December
16. Closing Remarks and Prayer
Terry O’Brien. Secretary PPC. 09 March 2022
St Benet’s Beccles; Parish & PPC AGM
Minutes of Meeting; 18:30, Wednesday 15 September 2021
1. Those Present
- Fr Martin Gowman (Parish Priest); Deacon Tony Felton; Linda Last (Chair PPC); Terry O’Brien (Sec’y PPC); Brian Lewis (Chair FFC); Hilda Jackson (Sec’y FFC); Pamela St-Mart (Parish Treasurer) Bernard Segrave-Daly (Stewardship Co-ord); Mike Ellwood (H&S Co-ord and GDPR Co-ord)) Sam Barlow (Head of School); plus members of the FFC and PPC, and 15 other parishioners.
- 2. Welcome and Opening Prayer
3. Apologies for absence
- Deacon Mike Wells; Tim and Steph Madden; Brigid Rawlinson; Mary Ellwood; Chris Boyes; Paddy & Sally Hardiman.
4. Minutes of Previous Meeting
(Circulated with Agenda.)
- The minutes of the previous AGM, held on Thursday 16 May 2019 were accepted.
- Re the suggestion that the names of the sick be read out in the Bidding Prayers, rather than those “whose anniversaries occur this week”, it was proposed that each week we try including a variety of persons or causes for whom prayers are requested.
5. PPC Report (Linda Last)
- Linda reported that the PPC had met regularly during “Lockdown” usually by “ZOOM”. Minutes of these meetings had been posted on the noticeboards and website.
- She welcomed new member Jo Hamer, as well as Mike Ellwood and Bernard Segrave-Daly, both recently appointed to the PPC for their relevant specialist skills, and who would be reporting on H&S and Stewardship later.
- Linda acknowledged the efforts of our clergy, supported by the Ushers, Cleaners and Flower Guild, in making it possible for us to maintain our services during “Lockdown”. The role played by our Primary School was also much appreciated, and she looked forward to increasing co-operation in the months ahead.
- Clare Valori had also recorded her gratitude to the “support team” at OLPS Gillingham, and especially to Fr M for the provision of Masses – including the 11:00 Mass on “First Fridays”.
- The priorities of the PPC for the future were to encourage an increase in attendance at Sunday Masses, with a greater involvement of young people through enhanced school liaison. There would be a need to support Fr M as we develop as a Diocesan Parish, and the role of Stewardship would be essential in this growth. The re-establishment of Parish Social and Fund-raising life was also essential, and meetings to address this were planned for the coming weeks.
- There was an important role to be played in Diocesan Laity Committees, and in informal contacts with our friends in Bungay, with whom we shared a lot of history and a similarity of issues.
- Linda referred to her PPC Report (copy attached) which showed how our charitable fundraising was still managing to operate in the current demanding circumstances
- Fr M thanked Linda for her report and for all the work she was doing for the Parish.
- 6. Becoming a Diocesan Parish (Fr Martin)
- Fr M pointed out that although we were now effectively a Diocesan Parish, he was still a Benedictine Monk and was part of the Downside Community.
- In many ways, we would always be a Benedictine Parish – simply because of our dedication to St Benedict, which would NOT be changing.
- However, the Diocese was already taking a greater role in our activities, e.g., Finance; Buildings Maintenance; H&S; Data Protection.
- The official change-over would occur when the Parish Bank Accounts changed, probably on 01 January 2022, but there were complicated financial, property and legal matters to be addressed. Those with Standing Orders in favour of the Parish or Downside will be formally notified of the change in bank details in due course.
- This could be a good time for more parishioners to consider using the Standing Order facility. It led to a reliable, predictable, and more consistent level of income; it gave simpler and more secure accounting, with no cash to be counted and banked every week. If parishioners were taxpayers, it also allowed for us to claim “Gift Aid”, with the Government adding 25% to the individual’s contribution – at no cost to the parishioner!
7. Health and Safety (Mike Ellwood)
- Mike said that H&S was a long-standing responsibility, as it was a clear duty of every organisation to care for its members, employees, users, and clients. It also had financial implications, as our insurers would require proof that we – as an organisation – were operating correctly before they would cover us for any claims for loss or injury.
- He stressed that H&S did not exist to prohibit any planned activities; rather the aim was to ensure that we carried out ALL activities safely. Every one of us has a personal responsibility to act as required to ensure the safety of ourselves and all others involved.
- Fortunately, we are a low-risk activity, with the main hazards being “slips, trips and falls” due to steps, uneven surfaces and items left on floors; and the inherent risk of fire and/or burns from lighted candles.
- Our main preventative action was to conduct a “Risk Assessment” for every activity – not as form-filling exercise, but to be able to show that we had considered whether any risks existed and that we had taken appropriate action to address them.
- The Diocese recently audited our H&S standards and while a lot of actions have been taken, we were generally lax in the documentation of our procedures and in recording that routine checks had been carried out.
- In terms of future action, a meeting was planned for Saturday 18 September, for all those involved in organising any activity, to ensure they understand their responsibilities. For instance, our ushers could have the role of “Fire Marshalls” with responsibility for managing the safe evacuation of the church in the event of an emergency.
- Mike also stressed that it was a responsibility of each parishioner to think of the consequences of their actions on others, and to report any omissions or shortfalls in the standards of our operations and events.
8. GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations (ME)
- Mike explained that his first priority had been to address H&S issues and he had only had time to take a brief look at our GDPR procedures.
- In the early stages, he had received complaints from some parishioners who felt they were not receiving adequate communications from the parish. On examination, it turned out that the individuals concerned had never supplied their personal details to the parish – by means of the 2018 Census – and/or had never given the parish formal permission to contact them – as required by law.
- In summary, his view was that anyone handling data should treat the data as if it were their own information, and ask themselves, “How would I feel if my data was treated like this?” This would be the standard to be applied for all GDPR matters.
9. Finance and Fabric Committee Report.(BL)
- Brian reported on the two-year period since the last AGM, which showed that the reduction in weekly basket collections of £4,000 was being counter-balanced to an extent by an increase in Standing Order and Bank Transfer of donations; the use of Gift Aid on these donations was a further positive factor.
- The financial situation was also aided by a recent donation of £5,000 from Downside.
- The change to being a Diocesan Parish would require a new set of Parish Bank Accounts. Payments and levies currently paid to Downside would in future be made to the Diocese; the actual amounts were not yet known.
- The new Diocesan Vicar of Finance was taking an increasing interest in the financial affairs of all parishes, seeking to ensure that properly planned and budgeted accounts were produced for all activities.
- The Vicar was also determined that parishes preserved their churches and other buildings – again with proper planning and financial provisions for both short-term and long-term maintenance.
- On current issues, the repairs to the Hall roof were the most urgent, as water was damaging the fabric of the Church. Responsibility for the cost of this work was accepted by the school/MAT. The discussions on this, had high-lighted the need for a legal agreement to rationalise the position between the School/MAT and the Parish/Diocese regarding the respective rights and responsibilities regarding the Parish Hall.
- Regarding the Church itself, the parish had paid for gullies and drains to be professionally cleared and roof tiling to be A specialist was employed to repair or replace one badly damaged section of gully; all this had cost c. £3,000
- Some damaged stonework urgently needs attention. This was thought to be largely cosmetic but closer professional examination has shown that previous repairs were poorly made, affecting the viability of the joints between adjacent stones and, in the longer term, the structural integrity of the building. Initial estimates put the cost of this essential remedial work at some £20,000.
- Further major expenditure will be required in the near future, to complete all the outstanding maintenance work identified in the previous 5-yearly survey. Our present savings account shows a surplus of c. £56,000 which has been put aside over the years for such work, but clearly, significant fund-raising will be required. Some help can be expected from Diocesan funds and perhaps from other charitable/historic sources.
- The question of applying for “Listed Building” status was in abeyance pending the completion of the transfer to the Diocese, as it would then become the formal owner of the properties.
- Fr Martin expressed his thanks to Brian and the FFC for their work; he also paid tribute to Gabriel Doll, both for his work in the grounds and for his prompt action in dealing with a recent potentially serious failure.
10 School and Parish Working Together. (SB)
- Sam referred to her School Report – copy attached – and gave us all an insight into how the school was working to return to normality.
- The closer co-operation between school and parish was most impressive and was commended by those present. She saw the increased involvement with the “Family Masses“ as a real step forward and was sure to benefit both school and parish.
- Further opportunities for collaboration would be welcome.
11. PPC Constitution (Fr M)
- Fr M explained that when the PPC was set up, it was proposed that members be elected for a period of 3 years, with the option of continuing for a further 3 years. Experience had shown that this produced a fairly rapid turnover of members, with a consequent loss of knowledge and expertise.
- He therefore proposed that the constitution be altered to allow a parishioner to be elected or appointed to the PPC for a period of 5 years, with the option of serving for a second 5 years
- This was proposed by BL; seconded by JH, and carried unanimously, both by all parishioners present, and separately by all the current serving members of the PPC.
12. PPC Membership (LL)
- Linda explained that restrictions of the pandemic had meant that it had been impossible to hold an AGM in 2020. Accordingly, two appointments to the PPC had not been able to be formally ratified.
- The recent changes to becoming a Diocesan parish had reinforced a perceived need for additional expertise in terms of Health & Safety and in Data Protection. The recent retirement of ME from relevant professional employment in these fields meant he was available – and willing – to devote some of his time and expertise to the service of the parish. Since his retirement, he has already contributed significantly in both of these roles.
- In the evolving field of Stewardship, BS-D’s background in accountancy and senior management fitted him to be our Co-ordinator of our parish endeavours to harness the “Time, Talents and Treasure” of more parishioners.
- Linda therefore proposed that both ME and BS-D be confirmed as members of the PPC; seconded by BJOB. This proposal was accepted unanimously.
13. Stewardship (BS-D)
- A copy of the paper by BS-D on Stewardship is attached.
- Bernard welcomed the initiatives to relaunch the social and fund-raising activities of the parish. He stressed that BL’s explanation of the financial state of the parish added a definite need for concerted action.
- He added that as well as TREASURE, it was equally important to harness the TIME and TALENTS of parishioners.
14. Any Other Business.
- It was pointed out that our insurers were likely to reject any claim if it transpired that we failed to adhere to good H&S practices and/or maintenance of our premises; this could have serious financial consequences for the parish.
- While the appointment of ME and BS-D to the PPC was very welcome, the continued reluctance of parishioners willing to volunteer to serve the parish should be a cause for concern.
- It was suggested that we might be able to obtain grants for maintenance/repair from other funds e.g. for Historic Churches. It was agreed that all such sources would be approached, but many were restricted to helping “Listed Buildings” only. Additionally, the Diocese had indicated that “we would not be left on our own” – though this help might take the form of a repayable loan!
- It was confirmed that cheques for funds already raised for our local charities would be delivered to them by Fr Martin and PS. Given the limited scope for this fundraising, it was agreed that our local fundraising would be continued for these same three charities – May Centre; Clinks Care Farm; and Waveney Centre.
- Arrangements were in hand for the transfer of the role of “Appointed Person for the Registration of Marriages” from Deacon Tony to Tim Madden.
- Attention was drawn to the existence of the Beccles Jubilee Fund which can provide funds for the purchase of items such as domestic equipment or mobility aids. Application should be made to the Town Clerk’s Office in the first instance.
15. Date of Next Meeting
- The next meeting will be on Wednesday 18 May 2022 at 19:00 in the Parish Hall.
- (Please note the changed time.)
16. Closing Remarks and Prayer
Terry O’Brien. Secretary. 20 September 2021
Parish & PPC AGM – 15 September 2021;- Chair’s Report
The PPC has continued to meet via Zoom calls, despite the restrictions of the pandemic. We were, though, unable to hold an AGM, or elections to the PPC in 2020.
We did welcome Jo Harmer to the committee but sadly lost two members due to commitments of work and family.
Both Mike Ellwood and Bernard Segrave-Daly have been working with the committee and I hope they will accept their (official) appointments to the committee later in the meeting.
Michael Ellwood as Health and Safety co-ordinator, and GDPR coordinator.
Bernard Segrave-Daly to lead the Stewardship campaign.
We will hear from Mike and Bernard later in the meeting.
Parish Life in Lockdown
The Pandemic has affected the Mass attendance and our parish life over the past two years. But our community has been active in keeping our church open. First for private prayer, then opening up to celebrate the Mass.
Our church stewards and the church cleaning team have made this possible by offering their time to ensure that
- we can be open
- we abide by the guidelines.
Our wider parish community has been quietly working through this pandemic reaching out to people who have been isolating or isolated. Delivering newsletter, groceries, phone chats, weekly emails, hospital runs. We thank them on behalf of their recipients, for their kindness.
We also thank the people who have brought a little brightness to the church, flowers both inside and outside, maintaining the grounds, festive hangings and commemorative displays.
Bubble groups of children came into the church from school to contribute and engage with the commemorative displays by adding names and poems.
Our catechists continued with their commitments and going forward we have had a number of enquiries for First Holy Communion.
The Diocese’s Council of Laity meetings were stopped due to the pandemic but will be restarting towards the end of this year (November) a representative from the PPC will be invited attend.
I am including in my report this note from Clare Valori on Gillingham Church
‘OLPS continues to have Mass at 8am on Sundays as well as at 11am on occasional Fridays.
With the easing of Covid restrictions, the furniture in the church has returned to normal with a single central aisle.
Attendees have returned in rather reduced numbers from March 2019. Several parishioners have taken to supporting the collections by BACS or by Standing Order.
We are all grateful to Fr Martin for his continued generous work as our Parish Priest.
We appreciate Peter Williams work as Sacristan – following Larry Peck’s retirement.
We are grateful to Susan Basey Fisher for her contribution to cleaning and care of OLPS
Thanks to Charlotte Valori for her work on the OLPS website and developing a digital map of the graveyard. Charlotte would be pleased to add obituaries or family stories for those buried in OLPS to make this record relevant and interesting for the future.
We hope that the parish management changes will go on smoothly and will not affect OLPS adversely.’
PPC Priorities for the Future
PPC going forward will be giving focus to:
- Increasing attendance at Mass, family Masses, bring the youth into the church.
- Enhancing and expanding the relationship with the School
- Through stewardship encouraging parishioners to volunteer their talents and time to expand the range of roles in the parish
- Restarting the social life of the parish
- Understanding our role and responsibilities within the Diocese
We are entering a new phase in the life of the Parish, moving from being part of Downside to becoming a full member of the Diocese of East Anglia.
Friendship and Care, Building a thriving, inclusive parish community, and Living out The Lord’s message is our way forward.
Charity Groups Continued Their Work During The Pandemic
The Congo School for Peace
A summary of the charity’s activities since the last AGM
- The school in Southern Congo is maintained through our fund-raising and sponsorship of children. Many teachers are not paid, so the money we send is spread very thinly. There are now over 1000 children at the school and four of the sponsored children are now at university. The sisters who run the school are very grateful for our help. They also have a vital medical centre which we have helped to complete.
- To raise money over the last two years we have had sales of bric-a-brac, crafts and other items; auctions; an Italian supper and more recently a garden party.
- We produce regular newsletters and have regular support meetings. We are looking for new members if anyone would like to join us to find out more about the project or to help us with fund-raising.
- Our next event will be the AGM on Thursday 14th of October at 7pm at Beccles Library.
We hold these in Beccles Market in aid of local charities, but they were put on hold during the pandemic. They will be starting again next year. The charities supported will again be Clink Farm, Waveney Centre and the May Centre. Pam Storey along with Fr Martin will be visiting these charities to present the cheques from 2019 fund-raising.
Mary’s Meal continued with the jam jar collections thanks to Helen Hemmings. Mary’s Meals now reach over 2 million children who are in desperate need for food.
MISSIO – The Red Boxes These continue to be well supported, though I (Linda L) find it hard to get any coins. (With this cashless spending, none are dropping down the chair from hubby’s pockets.)
Second Collections The parish continue to support a number of charities and organisation, such as CAFOD, Family Fast Days, Seamen’s Missions, Priest Training etc. Unfortunately, with the use of cashless payments, people do not have access to ready change in their pockets.
Chair of PPC; 15 September 2021
Parish & PPC AGM; 15 September 2021
St Benet’s Primary School Report.
As a school we are looking to get back on track post lockdown, including returning to normal school days and coming together as a school community.
Identifying the learning needs of the children is a priority and putting in place support for both academic and pastoral areas. We have a family support worker who works with our most vulnerable families and a therapy dog that comes in every two weeks.
We are starting work with the Beccles Forest school to offer school sessions for Reception and KS1 each week.
We are ensuring we are prepared for imminent Ofsted inspection, through the development of our curriculum provision, sound teaching and learning model, and ongoing professional development of staff to support this and Section 48 RE inspection which we will work closely to monitor with our RE governor Mary Ellwood.
We have updated all classrooms with decorating and carpeting and the school playground has been resurfaced.
Our Mini Vinnie group has started meeting again with a large cohort this year, keen to fund-raise and do charitable work. We are looking to work with St Edmund’s and CAFOD on the Live Simply award.
We are excited to embark on the lingua-marque accreditation for Spanish teaching in our school and the development of a diverse and inter-cultural understanding for our children. We hope to culminate this in summer with an inter-cultural festival.
I am starting to work across the MAT as Primary Teaching and Learning Lead to support other schools in their development; this will initially be one day a week.
Presentation to St Benet’s Parish AGM 15 Sept 2021.
As we come out of lockdown, we are invited by Fr Martin to take a good look at our parish, the way we do things, the things we could do better, and how we invite all parishioners to contribute their time, talents and skills to build up our worship, our activities and management.
Stewardship is not the same as stewarding, it is not about money, but that needs consideration too, It is about Recognising ourselves as Christians in general and Catholics in Particular.
We are no longer a “Downside Parish”, we are on our own as a Diocesan Parish
Under the Church’s definition of Stewardship, we are invited to strive to have a life of Gratitude for the Gifts God has given us.
It is also about tending to our gifts in an accountable and responsible manner.
More importantly it is about “Sharing those gifts with others and returning a meaningful proportion of them back to the Lord”.
A few years ago, we carried out a Census of all our parishioners inviting them to tell about their many talents, skills, life-involvements and experience; it was not a success, as only a very small percentage responded to that specific request in the survey.
We are not trying to make anyone feel guilty about this! We hope that soon we will be returning to “normal”, so that we can develop a more social aspect to our parish life. We hope to work with Fr Martin to unburden him of some of the excess workload he has to carry.
Many new Burdens on our Parish
In the past year we have been inundated with considerable new work by the enforcement of laws covering Health and Safety, Property maintenance, electrical and asbestos surveys, risk assessments, Insurance cover for our properties and public liability.
Now we have huge onerous new requirements under the Data Protection Act and the GDPR as well as child protection practice, all need to be reviewed and up dated regularly.
When it comes to finance, we have some very large elements of expenditure on the fabric of the Church and the Parish Hall as well as the grounds.
Under the heading of Finance, we are now budgeting to cover all known liabilities as well as facing up to the unforeseen possibilities that might hit us.
Four years ago, we agreed to raise £44,000 Under Alive in Faith) to get the Diocese funding of its issues in order. That will come to an End in 2022. It might be the opportunity to transfer some of that giving to safeguard the Parish against future liabilities. Keeping the parish financial records could be considerably eased for our treasurer if the weekly collection could be made by Monthly Standing Order direct from our bank accounts. We will arrange for as many parishioners to sign Gift Aid and Standing Orders costing Donors no more, but claiming the Tax you have paid to come to the Parish (last year the Parish reclaimed £3,500) if more parishioners joined, we can claim even more from the Government!
In his letter to our Parishioners Fr Martin will be telling us that ”As we emerge gradually from lock-down there is plenty to stimulate our prayers, thoughts and initiatives, when it comes to supporting one another and rebuilding our community life. May this time be an opportunity, a new beginning, and fresh hopes for the future .
The primary Purpose of Stewardship is to honour God and work together to build up our Church and its Community
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this and any comments on my notes of 16th August.
St Benet’s Beccles; Parish Pastoral Council (PPC)
St Benet’s Beccles; Parish Pastoral Council (PPC)
Minutes of Meeting; 18:30; Thursday 22 July 2021
- Welcome and Opening Prayer.
- Those Present: Linda Last (Chair); Terry O’Brien (Sec’y); Fr Martin; Deacon Tony; Jo Hamer; Brian Lewis; Tim and Steph Madden; Chris Scott; Pam Storey. Mike Ellwood (H&S Co-Ord). attended part-time
- Apologies for absence: Sam Barlow; Brigid Rawlinson; Bernard Segrave-Daly; Mike Wells; Sue Workman.
- Minutes of Previous Meeting. (Circulated with Agenda.)
- The minutes of the meeting on Thursday 15 April were accepted.
- Matters Arising
- There were no matters arising not covered in the agenda.
- Health and Safety (ME)
- Having just taken on the role of H&S Co-ordinator, Mike reported he had conducted a full survey of the parish procedures and administration. While there was an understanding that some of the tests had been carried out, there was no legal record of them. Some procedures were missing, and few risk assessments had been documented in the required fashion. A full “Fire Risk Assessment” had now been completed by ME.
- The most important failing was the lack of documentation of any checks being carried out on Contractors’ competence and that appropriate insurance cover was held. This failure could put the parish at financial risk in the event of an accident to people or property.
- A survey of electrical wiring and systems, and the testing of portable appliances was in progress. Other matters to be addressed were the need for a) a documented asbestos survey b) re-routing of a gas pipe running across the boiler house steps and c) erection of a central handrail to the St Mary’s Road steps.
- A further need was for the provision of personnel trained to deal with any likely emergencies – e.g., fire, flood, or accident; this could be a role for the parish team of stewards
- Mike pointed out that the Church was not a “high-risk” property, but it was still important that all routine activities should be assessed for the risks involved, and for safe practices to be established for their conduct.
- It is proposed to hold a “H & S Awareness Day” for all Group Leaders
- Data Protection Act and GDPR (ME)
- The fact that individual’s religious adherence and commitments were involved in some of the data, made our GDPR a “Sensitive Issue” As ME is both the H & S and GDPR Co-ordinator, it is proposed to hold any review of our DP procedures in abeyance until the H&S issues were resolved.
- However, it was already clear that all personal data should be centralised in the Parish Office and kept in secure storage.
- Individuals’ phone numbers held by activity leaders, would not be affected.
- Finance and Fabric Committee Report.(BL)
- A reduction in weekly basket collections was being counter-balanced by an increase in Standing Order donations.
- Confusion was caused by the reporting of OLPS basket collections separately; these would probably be combined in future.
- The change to being a Diocesan Parish would require a new set of Parish Bank Accounts. Payments and levies currently paid to Downside would in future be made to the Diocese; the actual amounts were not yet known
- The tree work was delayed as a larger than expected brace was required.
- The repairs to the Hall roof were the most urgent, as water was entering the fabric of the Church. Responsibility for the cost of this work was accepted by the school/MAT.
- On the Church, gullies and drains were being cleared and roof tiling repaired. A specialist was being employed to repair or replace one badly damaged section of gully.
- Stonework damage is largely cosmetic rather than structural.
- For the future, major expenditure will be required to complete all the outstanding maintenance work required.
- A legal agreement is required to rationalise the position regarding the rights to, and responsibilities for, the Parish Hall and its use by the School/MAT.
- The question of applying for “Listed Building” status was in abeyance pending the completion of the transfer to the Diocese, as they would then become the owner of the property.
- School and Parish Working Together.
- The School Report circulated before the meeting was welcomed.
- The closer co-operation between school and parish was most impressive and was to be commended.
- Further opportunities for collaboration would be welcome.
- Anyone interested in obtaining a DBS check, to enable them to assist in the school, should contact Bernadette Starak in the first instance.
- The possibility of using the School Wi-Fi (in the Hall, in the evenings, by the Parish Computer Group) would be investigated.
- Parish Life.
- The primary need, post pandemic, is to get our “Spiritual Life” back on track after the limitations of lockdown. This would require us to re-engage with all parishioners
- The “Stewardship” initiative, to be headed by Bernard Segrave-Daly, will play a major part in the way ahead, as we work together on a common aim.
- A number of new social activities have been proposed – with volunteers to co-ordinate them. It was agreed that they should start after the AGM
- It is intended that the new Tuesday Social Group should meet in St Anthony’s Chapel to avoid intruding on Fr Martin’s home.
- We must encourage more parishioners to come forward with their own ideas of what they want – and, ideally, offer to help put them into practice.
- The report from B.S. was welcomed.
- It was agreed that this Programme should be launched in Autumn, ideally at the AGM.
- Parish AGM
- The Parish AGM will be on Wednesday 15 September at 18:30
- It will be a primarily social event, with Wine, Tea, Coffee & Light Refreshments.
- We could use the event to decide which Charities we would support in future It is proposed that this choice should be for a longer period, to build a relationship with the charities concerned and give them a more stable income.
- There will be some “business” to be conducted – Approval of the Accounts; Approval of the Change in Term of Service on PPC; Launch of Stewardship.
- Other suggestions for the “SOCIAL“ aspects would be welcome.
- Post the meeting, it was agreed that the presentation of funds already raised for our local adopted charities – May Centre; Clinks Farm; Waveney Centre – should be arranged as soon as possible.
- Any Other Business.
- Removal of Covid Legislation. It was agreed that given the anxiety of a number of parishioners the “safe capacity” of the Church should remain at 80, with flexibility where families or bubbles were seated together.
- In addition, we would take a careful approach to the relaxation of our other procedures.
- Date of Next Meeting
- The next meeting will be on Thursday 21 October at 18:30 in the Parish Hall.
- Closing Remarks and Prayer
Terry O’Brien. Secretary. 26 July 2021
- Items Omitted from Any Other Business
- Wedding Ceremonies The conduct of Wedding Ceremonies now requires the preparation of a Risk Assessment for the actual church ceremony. This is in hand – in liaison with ME.
- Funds Available for the Needy in Beccles Attention was drawn to the existence of the Beccles Jubilee Fund which can provide funds for the purchase of items such as domestic equipment or mobility aids. Contact the Town Clerk’s Office in the first instance.
Terry O’Brien. Secretary. 27 July 2021