On the evening of Palm Sunday, 9 April 2017, members of St Andrew’s gathered for the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) led by Ron Stewart, Vice Chair of the PCC.
The meeting opened and closed with prayer, and the mood was warm, relaxed, positive and excited. The reasons?
Although St Andrew’s has been almost 17 months without a vicar (‘in vacancy’), many people have offered their gifts, skills, time and talents to ensure that the church has operated fully during that time, in the provision of services, events, activities and pastoral care in the community. It has been a time of great unity, bonding, support and humility, as people have given themselves selflessly to the many tasks and challenges, and there has been a real sense that God’s hand has been upon us throughout. The Churchwardens, namely Phillip Herbert, Norman Steven, Mike Newman and Ruth Burns, were especially thanked for their leadership and guidance during this time.
Under the wise, efficient and excellent hand of our treasurer, Carl Jackson, church finances are in very good order and were clearly communicated. There is often a gap between income and expenditure, but as always, the provision of God and the generosity of his people means that the gap is filled and nothing is left wanting. In this regard, Outward Giving, the donations we make to people in need, was over £23,000, with a further £3,750 collected in the village for Christian Aid. The Outward Giving programme was summarised in a short film, showing the main partners and charities we support in the local community, in the UK and overseas, and with messages of thanks from each for the invaluable support of St Andrew’s. Thanks were given to Liz and Jack de Wet Steyn, who coordinate the programme and keep in regular contact with each of our partners.
Another reason for the positive mood was aptly put by Ron Stewart. Whilst the dictionary definitions of ‘vacancy’ include ‘emptiness’ and ‘a time of idleness’, St Andrew’s has been far from empty or idle. Ron listed the many activities that have taken place during 2016, in the church and in the community, and the list was exhaustive and exhausting! Another witness to the way people have pulled together to ensure ‘business as usual’ during the period without a vicar at the helm.
Included in the list of activities was the immense amount of time, energy, diligence and prayer involved in the recruitment process. After two rounds of interviews, the Revd Frances Trickey was appointed in December 2016 and will be installed at a special service on the evening of 25 April. This was the reason for the feeling of excitement at the meeting, as the church and the village waits in eager anticipation of Frances’ arrival and leadership, and discovering what God wants her to do in her new role for him in Oxshott. Phillip Herbert and Ruth Burns were thanked for their particular work as the Parish Representatives on the interview panel, alongside Archdeacon, Paul Bryer, Area Dean, Alan Jenkins and Bishop Andrew, all of whom were thanked for their commitment, wise counsel and support.
Finally, and importantly, were the housekeeping matters of the APCM – literally as well as figuratively. The two Churchwardens and Treasurer were duly re-elected; the 2016 and 2017 Accounts were formally adopted; Menzies were re-appointed as Independent Examiner to the accounts; Mike Shand was elected to the PCC; Andrew Burns was elected to be Deanery Synod Representative; Gwen Bullen and her team were re-elected as Sidesmen and women, with the addition of Jill Perrett; the electoral roll was presented and reviewed. As to the literal housekeeping, the annual inventory, or ‘spoon count’ as it has become fondly known, was signed off, and Norman Steven reported on the addition of a new water heater, new taps and new dishwasher in the church kitchen.
Last, but by no means least, Claire King gave a vote of thanks to Ron Stewart, who has been a dedicated, professional, wise and extremely busy vice chair of the PCC, steering us through the regular meetings, the Away Day, the recruitment process and the APCMs.