Annual Report for 2016

The Parish of
St Paul and St Stephen Gloucester
for 2016 Vicar: Rev. Ruth Fitter

Annual report for 2016:
Vicar’s report and reflection Electoral roll
Report of PCC meetings
Deanery synod report
Children’s council report
Financial report and 2016 accounts Churchwardens’ report Maintenance group report Publicity group report
Stewardship and fundraising group report Hospitality group report
Church website
Safeguarding report: Children and Vulnerable adults Music group
Church flowers
Sunday morning children’s groups FUEL
Services at the Avenue
Messy Church
Housegroups: Calton Road
Thursday afternoon
Moveable housegroup Contemplative prayer group
Pastoral care
Bereavement tea
Coffee and company
Little Angels
Men’s group
Community choir
Church garden
Walking group
Craft group
School link
Open the Book
Hospital link
Charity links: CMS, Changing Tunes, Foodbank Other charity links
Sweden Link
St Paul and St Stephen’s Church Annual report for 2016 Vicar’s Report March 2017:
As a church we try to enable all people to live out their faith as part of our parish community through:
• Worship and prayer; learning about the Gospel; and developing our knowledge and trust in Jesus.
• Provision of pastoral care for all people living in the parish and for those members of our congregation who live outside of the parish.
• Missionary and outreach work.
To facilitate this work it is important that we maintain the fabric of the St Paul and St Stephen’s Church. We also have a new Diocesan Vision Document that sets out the following areas as being priorities for the Diocese and each parish church.
The vision for the Diocese of Gloucester over the next five years. “I have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
and ordained leaders
• Developing diverse lay and ordained leaders from the communities we serve
• Piloting liberating models of leadership and ministry, especially in multi- parish benefices
• Creating learning networks for lay
• Encouraging new and courageous ways of worshipping, in different places, which connect with more people
• Approaching the use, upkeep and future of our church buildings in bold and creative ways.
Investing in our engagement with baptism families to spark an amazing adventure with Jesus Christ
• Placing schools at the heart of our mission with creative connections between churches and schools

• Connecting with new housing
• Investing in people and programmes which excite young people to explore and grow
developments in innovative ways in faith
Review of Progress and Achievements
The parish continues to be vibrant and full of challenges and opportunities to develop our relationships with the local community. Relationships with St Paul’s C of E school and Linden Primary School have deepened and been further cemented during this last year. Linden school are now looking to work collaboratively with us on a community project and both schools will be taking part in our Community Morning on Saturday 29th April 2017.
During 2016 St Paul’s school opened its doors to several Syrian families fleeing from the war in their home countries. Welcoming the children into the school community and into this community has been one of the hallmarks of Christian Distinctiveness that marks the school as a special place at the heart of our community. Open the Book continue to deliver collective worship there once a fortnight (the team always welcome newcomers – no acting experience is necessary!). I take collective worship on the alternate weeks and focus on the Diocesan Values and also the church calendar. We are hoping to link with the school in being able to provide a lunch club during the summer holidays this year having identified it as a priority during 2016.
Our Messy Church has gone from strength to strength during 2016 and we have welcomed many new families as well as established lasting relationships with our regular families. We
• Enabling people to discover new depths to prayer and spiritual growth, individually and together
• Nurturing confident disciples to live out their faith seven days a week
• Sharing our stories in new and different ways, including through digital media
• Being advocates for human flourishing, through initiatives which combat injustice, environmental destruction, exclusion and isolation
• Using sport, music and art to build relationships and share the Christian faith

regularly welcome 60 – 80 children and adults on the third Saturday of each month for activities and worship centred around a theme, as well as food and fellowship. For so many of our children and families this is ‘church’ and we are a place of safety and security for them, not only to discuss faith but to also discuss family and parenting issues. Messy Church nationally are realising that few people will transition to ‘Sunday Church’ simply because the Messy Church sessions are seen by those who attend as their church. We rejoice and give thanks for the team led by Ruth Parsons and Helen Scott that enable this wonderful embodiment of the Gospel to take place in our midst. Thank you to you all!!
It seems a long time ago now but a coach-load of people travelled to support Rev Simon Archer as he was licensed to St John’s in Brierley Hill in February 2016, having been our curate for three and a half years. At the end of 2016 we welcomed Matt Cottrell to be our new Curate. Matt will be with us for at least a year as he finishes his curacy but may be with us for longer.
We took a break from fundraising as the previous year had been so much hard work but then the boiler was condemned and we found ourselves using the money we had worked so hard to save on replacing it. £20,000 later we have a more efficient boiler and certainly those who come to the church for occasional offices always commented on how lovely it is to be warm. However, our finances are really now at breaking point and during 2017 we will need to dig deep to raise funds for the general running of the church let alone the repairs to the roof that are needed.
Graeme Jackson generously gave us £7500 in memory of his wife, Elizabeth Hale and this money was used to replace the lighting system so that hopefully it not only gives better light but the bulbs will last much longer.
In June we welcomed Bishop Rachel to lead a service of confirmation and gave thanks as Trevor, Mavis, Hilary and Gareth were confirmed.
A new house group at the Vicarage began in the summer of 2016 and having started with 2 it now welcomes 8-10 people every other Tuesday to discuss issues of faith and to share fellowship with one another. We now have four regular house groups which help those who attend to journey together in their discipleship – all are welcome!
The church has remained open every day with occasional weeks where it has been shut following equipment being stolen. During the time the church has been shut I have been approached by many people who have said things such as ‘I came to sit in the church but it was shut – I really need that space.’ I know of at least one person for whom that space has literally saved their life- someone who is suicidal but for whom the space alleviates the ‘dark thoughts’. A mother and her child visit every day on their way back from dropping the older children to school or when they are on their way to pick them up. When I have been there
at the same time the mother tells me ‘she (her daughter) is addicted to this church – to the space and the peace.’ From time to time her daughter leaves me pictures and notes. It is a symbol of God’s love in action that we provide this space – a space that literally gives life. I will strive to open this church to all people every day. The cost to us is small in reality but those who come here are saved every day by the grace of God that permeates the stones and the fabric.
2016 was a year of change for me personally but the services, festivals, love and support of this wonderful congregation and community buoyed me up and showed to me how awesome God’s love can be when people pull together. This is a particularly beautiful and wonderful congregation because we can laugh together and whatever our weaknesses we are stronger together. We have seen people come and go during 2016 – people like Jeff Kelham who have been stalwarts of this parish and congregation for so many years – but as the changes take place I know God is at the heart of all things because I see it in your actions and your words. We may not be the most confident and outgoing church but each of us in our own way contributes to the kingdom of God because of our faith. Together we can do much to help the vision of the Diocese come to fruition.
Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals
There were 47 baptisms in the parish during 2016, 6 weddings, 3 renewal of vows and 32 funerals held either at the church or at the crematorium.
Average Attendance at Sunday Services
During 2016 the average attendance at the main usual Sunday service is 62 adults and 15 children. Obviously there are some services where this figure is more and some where this figure is less.
Throughout the year
April 2016 saw new members elected to the PCC. Julie Holder and Pam Wells remained as Churchwarden. Sallie Gould remained as our Treasurer. Ruth Parsons remained as PCC Secretary. A huge thanks go to all these people for the sterling work they do on a daily basis to support the clergy team and to help the church and its activities to run smoothly.
September saw us celebrating Harvest with a supper and quiz which raised £126 for the work of Christian Aid. St Paul’s School and Linden Community School both used the church for their own Harvest celebrations.
In November we held our annual All Souls service and also spent time thinking about how we could be more engaged with our local community.
December brought Advent and Christmas. There was a good congregation for each of the additional Advent reflections on Sunday evenings led by Sister Cynthia, Reverend Royse and
Reverend Ruth. Christmas was celebrated with mulled wine and mince pies, carols in the nursing homes, hospital and pub, midnight mass and joyful services on Christmas morning.
During January we all drew breath and realised that Lent and Easter would be upon us soon.
February saw us celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight with a special service and also celebrate Shrove Tuesday with the reinstatement of the Vicarage Pancake Party – much fun was had by all. Ash Wednesday saw fewer than usual attending but the Lent groups seem to be healthy and we look forward to finding the Joy of the Gospel through Paula Gooder’s eyes.
Expenses Payments
Other than the reimbursement of expenses and purchases made on the church’s behalf, no payments have been made to members of the PCC.
Rev Ruth Fitter
Vicar and chair of PCC
Electoral roll:
At the last APCM the roll stood at 119. During the year there have been 4 additions and 5 deletions. The roll is now 118.
Thanks to Brian Rose for his work as electoral roll officer. [Brian died peacefully as this report was being completed. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.]
Report of PCC meetings: April 2016-March 2017
The prime role of the PCC is co-operation with the vicar in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the church, pastoral, social and ecumenical.
PCC membership 2016-2017:
Ex Officio: Rev Ruth Fitter [chair], Rev Matt Cottrell [from Jan 2017], Rev Royse Murphy, Rev Pauline Godfrey, Sr Cynthia Kerr, Julie Holder [church warden and vice chair], Pam Wells [churchwarden].
Jackie Trigg [appointed 2015], Mike Parker [appointed 2016], Sallie Gould, treasurer, [appointed 2016]
Brian Rose, Abi Oblana, Helen Scott, David Jacques

Richard Pollard, Sylvia Brown, Diarmid Couston, Susan Matthews
Deanery synod representatives 2014-2017:
George Marchant, Ruth Parsons [PCC secretary], one vacancy
The PCC met 9 times during the year, 1 of these was a short extra ordinary meeting to deal with urgent business.
April 2016. The new PCC met after the APCM to welcome new members and appoint officers.
May 2016. Members were reminded of the purpose of the PCC. We accepted updated safeguarding policies. There was the report of a workshop held with Barnwood Trust about community outreach in the parish. We agreed to apply to Peel Holdings for some community funding for our building. Royse reported work to install a wall memorial from St Stephen’s church in the church hall. A meeting had been held with the War Memorials Trust about conservation of the outside pulpit memorial. Lead had been stolen from the quiet room roof and a repair was scheduled.
July 2016. We discussed our response to the Journeying Together vision and our replies were submitted to the diocese. There was discussion as to how to use a legacy received from the estate of Elizabeth Hale, and agreement to buy a new fridge freezer as a first step. Money remaining was set aside for a new A-V system. The PCC agreed to look for venues for a parish weekend. Quotes had been received for replacing the church boiler.
July 2016. A short meeting was held to appoint a company to renew the church boiler.
Sept 2016. We discussed ‘planting seeds’, Rev Ruth spoke of her 2 years with us as preparing the soil and looked for ideas as to what we could plant and nurture in the years ahead. Many ideas were shared. Royse proposed asking for permission to apply for extra work to be done on the pulpit memorial to safeguard it for the future. A decision was made to improve the church lighting system as a matter of urgency and not pursue updating the AV system for now. The PCC agreed to look into having Wi-Fi in the church hall.
Oct 2016.There was a discussion about fundraising for the church roof/building., including considering applying for Heritage Lottery funds, applying to the city council, making more use of church hall rentals to raise money. Feedback from discussions about the war memorial was that there was no consensus about any work other that immediate conservation measures already agreed. The PCC agreed to use the money from Elizabeth Hale’s legacy to fund the upgrade in church lighting and agreed that the work be done immediately. There was discussion of the draft diocesan vision ‘LIFE’ document. We agreed that the charities to be supported by the church over the next 3 years would be Gloucester City Mission as our local charity, Messy Church/BRF as our national charity and Kodad Daycare Centre in south India as our international charity.
Dec 2016. A proposed budget for 2016 was accepted. Jess Ahern from the diocese was thanked for her help with the church accounts. Church fees for 2017 were considered. The cost of using CDs for funerals and weddings was increased from £5 to £20 to reflect the work involved. The cost of hiring the church hall was reduced from £15 to £10 per hour as a trial to encourage extra bookings. Lead had been stolen from the back porch roof. The repair will use a substitute material. A crack in the door lintel in the church hall was considered to be due to wear and tear and a repair was awaited.
It was announced that Rev Matthew Cottrell would join us in January for at least a year as a self supporting curate. The diocesan LIFE launch party had been held. The keyword for the vision is ‘Community’ and this will be encouraged through Leadership, Imagination, Faith and Engagement.
Jan 2017. We welcomed Rev Matt Cottrell. We listened to our guest speaker, Robert Kingston, talk about the work of Street Pastors in Gloucester. He sought prayer support for the project and appealed for new volunteers to come forward. The end of year accounts were delayed due to problems with reconciling the figures, diocesan help was being sought. Plans for Easter and for a community day in April were put forward. Initial thoughts on the LIFE vision were expressed. The future of the community choir was discussed.
Mar 2017. We accepted the churchwardens’ annual report. New members were added to the electoral roll. Theft of audio equipment from the church was reported and there was discussion about replacing it. We discussed the possibility of having a community vegetable garden and plans for a community morning in April. Concern was expressed about our finances, Rev Ruth is planning to preach on stewardship of money, time and talents in May leading up to a gift day at Pentecost.
In addition we received reports at most meetings from our action groups [publicity, maintenance, hospitality, stewardship and fundraising], from the children’s council and from deanery synod.
We reviewed safeguarding regularly and complied with our duty under section 5 of the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016, having due regard to House of Bishops' guidance on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.
PCC minutes are available in a folder in church, once agreed, so available for everyone to read. Ruth Parsons, PCC secretary, March 2017
Deanery synod report:
The deanery synod met 4 times in 2016. Members include all the clergy and elected representatives from the congregations of each of the Anglican churches in Gloucester City. Our church currently has
2 lay representatives, Ruth Parsons and George Marchant and a vacancy for a third. The current 3 year synod comes to an end in May 2017 and a new synod will convene in July.
At each meeting we considered deanery business: deanery finance, parish share, clergy deployment, deanery mission and pastoral care, reports from diocesan synod and heard about upcoming events.
In February 2016 Duncan Munro spoke about the setting up of the Diocesan Development Fund to encourage new projects. Together with a pre-existing development fund it will be able to give £400,000 a year in grants over the course of the next ten years. Its funding priorities are Spirituality (offering support), Growing the Church (Evangelism), and Serving the common good (Partnership).
In April Rev Mike Parsons and Rev Francis Quist explored Ethic Minority Ministry and Concerns and then there was small group discussion about the diocesan vision, ‘Journeying On’.
The June meeting was the annual deanery synod Eucharist and refreshments, this year at St Barnabas Church. Rev Canon Robbin Clark preached, it was her last synod before leaving to return to the USA.
In October, Ven. Robert Springett, Archdeacon of Cheltenham, spoke about the work of the church in schools. This included a film featuring Rev Ruth and St Paul’s school. Archdeacon Robert ended by urging churches to make schools a PCC agenda item, to maybe invite a headteacher to come and speak to them, and to ask the question ‘How can we celebrate schools as an integral part of the life of our community?’
Ruth Parsons
Children’s council report:
Children’s Council gives the children a voice within in the church, any information from that meeting is relayed to the PCC at their meetings. The children meet and discuss what is happening in the church life, activities they would like/interest them, any concerns they may have. It also is a time where information can be passed to them. It is important to the children to know and feel that they are valued within the church community. This year, we have not had official meetings, but have been catching up during our chat time in Sunday school. The children have voiced their enjoyment at participating in the social events, Barbeque, Talent show, New Year’s Party. Helen Scott
Financial report and 2016 accounts:
The end of year accounts will be presented at an extra meeting to be arranged before the end of April.
Churchwardens’ report: 2016-17
The Archdeacon’s Visitation Service took place at Christchurch Abbeydale in May 2016 – at this service the churchwardens made their promise and were admitted into the office by the Archdeacon.
Each year the churchwardens present a fabric report to the PCC and whole church family on the church building and its contents. The terrier and inventory have been completed and is an accurate record of articles belonging to the church.
The church log book records details of work carried out in the church or on the land.
The annual Mission Statistics have been completed and submitted to the Diocese. The church is asked to give information on the average number of people attending services, the number of baptisms, weddings and funerals. This gives the diocese a picture of emerging mission issues and helps them plan ahead for such things as clergy deployment.
Quinquennial Inspection
• Our last quinquennial inspection was October- November 2012 – this is carried out by an architect who reports works which need doing to maintain the church in good order and as the name suggests takes place every five years; the next inspection will take place during 2017.
Other Activity
• Employers Liability Insurance has been renewed.
• Music Licence has been renewed.
• 3 trees were planted in the church grounds in January 2016
• Portable appliances were tested (April)
• Lead theft from the ‘Quiet Room’ roof. Roof repaired and lead replaced. A damaged
ceiling in the corridor below was treated with stain concealer and painted in July 2016
• A ‘spring’ cleaning morning took place (Jan, March, July, October)
• Church boiler replaced in August 2016 and a new wall mounted boiler was fitted. The
heating system was flushed clean and a new fan convector heater was fitted to the back
wall of the church
• New LED church lighting replaced existing halogen lighting. 27 single LED lights and 6
triple bar units were installed in October 2016.
• Gutter clearance cleaned all rainwater gutters, down pipes and church roof gullies
• War memorial plaque installed in the church hall after a faculty was granted in
• Roof repairs completed to flat roof at back entrance of the church after theft. Lead was
replaced and a new pipe box installed in December 2016.
• Old paper work from St Pauls & St Stephens churches has been shredded.
• Church risk assessments have been completed as per the Insurance company
• We have a rota of volunteers who clean and tidy the church and hall each week.

Many people work to ensure the church is kept in good order and their efforts are greatly appreciate. We thank-you and look forward to your continued support.
Julie Holder & Pam Wells (Churchwardens)
Maintenance group report:
We have an established Maintenance Action Group; a very small group of church members who meet to tackle those small repair jobs not requiring a specialist or faculty. Anyone can come along to our maintenance mornings and you would be most welcome, you might even enjoy it! Dates are posted on the notice board so please come along and help in whatever way you can.
The jobs that have been completed so far by the group during 2016 are:

• • • • •
Damp in the top half of the north wall of the church hall was removed, sealed, filled and plastered in August.
The carpeted section of the church hall was re-painted in August.
High ceiling and window sills cleaned (March, September)
Toilet riser in the cistern was replaced
Book case removed to north wall of church and fixed for security Shelving units erected in the attic
I would
particular I would like to give a really big thank you to my regular but very small band of volunteers for their help and support. Julie Holder
like to thank everyone who has helped with maintenance work in the church this year. In
Publicity group report:
This year the publicity group has had four meetings, all in 2016. These were under the chair person and minute taker Martyn Parker. The next meeting is due at the end March 2017. All these meetings were held to discuss a period of about three months of future events.
At these meetings the action required, such as posters and contacts involved in each were verified.
All the meetings of the group, during the year, have been recorded on minutes and these have been given, via David Jacques, to Church Secretary for St Pauls and St Stephens Church, for Council meetings. These were then also collated into its minutes during the year.
Since October 2016 and to help promote events, the Webmaster is now controlled by Andy Winters. So we thank Ted Steele for all his previous input and a good hand over. Any Facebook action is being covered by Tania Collier.
Many thanks go to Brian Rose and June Turvey and all the above named persons for their work throughout the year.
David Jacques, February 2016
Stewardship and fundraising group report:
In all honesty we need to review our stewardship particularly. I was approached by someone who recently joined the congregation and they asked ‘where is the offering bowl?’ I explained that we took the collection during the service and they then told me they understood this but ‘where was the offering bowl?’ I stood confused for a while until they explained that in their home country there is a collection during the service and this is your ‘free-will offering’ but the offering bowl is there for you to put your 10% tithe into! The ‘free-will’ offering that is collected during the service is therefore anything you might be able to give on top of the 10% you have already paid!
I wonder how many of us can say we pay 10% of the income we get each week towards the ministry of the church? Can any of us say we give 10% and then any extra we might have? If you do then ‘thank you’ because you have no idea what you contribute towards. We pay our parish share (what we are asked to contribute to the cost of ministry in the Diocese) but the Diocese subsidise us by £24,000 each year as we cannot pay our full costs for a full-time stipendiary priest (me in effect). Therefore, we really do need to raise our game.
I was amazed to find that the average cost of a pint of beer is now £3.15 (unless you go to Wetherspoons) and yet the average contribution of a congregation member is £2 per week.
In the light of our finances, which are not great, I urge you to prayerfully consider your giving. It may be that you just cannot give any more in which case we say thank you for what you are able to give. However, if you are able to give more please do so. We get no money from the government and have just been informed that our electricity prices will be increasing by 9.8% - if we are even to cover the basics then our giving needs to increase by the same amount.
In 2015 we had a real push on fundraising but we were all exhausted at the end of the year. However, we find ourselves in a similar place now as we have replaced the boiler and the lighting system. I am in discussion with the Diocese about how they might be able to help us but we all need to pull together now – if you have any wonderful ideas of how to raise money then please speak to me.
As far as the roof and the plans to open the West End of the church are concerned we need to bid for funding with either the Heritage Lottery Fund or other charities such as the Environmental Trust. However, even if we had the people to fill in the forms and go through the process (not something I have time for) we need to match any funding we get from them with our own fundraising. Again, I am in discussion with the Diocese about some ways in which we might be able to do this or they might be able to help (for instance they might be able to write the bids for funding) but it is slow work – watch this space!! In the meantime if you think you might have the skills needed to write bids for funding or to be part of a project management team then please speak to Rev Ruth.
Ruth Fitter
Hospitality group report:
Hospitality group meet on a regular basis to arrange up and coming events. We have had another busy year organising Easter breakfast, Harvest supper etc, as well as refreshments for fund raising events. Our next event will be the Easter breakfast which we hope you will all support. A big thank you to all who help and the people who help us wash up and tidy up after these events it is much appreciated. Pam Wells.
Church website:
According to the official statistics from the site operators, Church Edit, our website received and average 28,101 impression to its pages per month fairly uniformly spread throughout the year, with a high in December of 36,000 and a low in November of 18,000 during 2016. This equates to approximately 30 people per day accessing the website across the year.
The website has four main functions:
i) a Calendar with details of all forthcoming services and church events listed and updated weekly
ii) a photo gallery of pictures of church events
iii) an electronic copy of the weekly newsletter, which include current news and information and a new feature “Rev Ruth’s Thought for the Week”
iv) digital links to other sites.
Being digital, it can be accessed by anyone worldwide.
The site’s creator, Ted Steele, “retired” in September 2016 when I took over. An enormous debt of gratitude is owed to Ted for all the hard work and patience he has displayed over the 15 years of the site’s existence.
Thank you, Ted.
As a limitless vehicle for communication the site can be improved in the coming year by greater input of photos, expanded access through digital links to other websites, and greater use of it by the congregation. I appeal to all members of the congregation to forward material to me, using the address (or leave hard copies including photos clearly marked for me at the church)
Webmaster, Andy Winter
Safeguarding report: Children and Vulnerable adults 2016
As always safeguarding is a top priority with everything we undertake in our church life. Whilst it may seem scary to say safeguarding is the responsibility of all of us in reality it is just common sense. We are alerters not investigators and this means that if you have any concern at all about a child or an adult then the best thing is always to talk to someone about it. It is not gossip if you are truly concerned about someone. The best thing to do if you are concerned about a child or an adult, either in our congregation or in your family or circle of friends is to talk to any person on the PCC or preferably Rev Ruth, Julie Holder, Pam Wells (churchwardens) Cynthia Kerr or Sue Matthews (nominated officers).
Our safeguarding policy for children and adults is displayed on the noticeboard to the right of the hall doors as you go through them – please take a moment to read them. In essence if you feel a child or adult is at risk of immediate harm then call the police on 101. If you want to take some advice about a situation then please speak to Rev Ruth or social care on 01452 426565.
Safeguarding changes all the time and can be a daunting subject to talk about as it encompasses neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse and many of these categories overlap and the signs are not always obvious. However, the best thing any of us can do is stay alert and report any concerns we might have. In that way we are protecting those who are most vulnerable.

During 2016 no safeguarding incidents were reported but advice was taken on 2 adult safeguarding issues and 2 child safeguarding issues. Ruth Fitter
Safeguarding continues to be an item that is high on the agenda and now forms part of the regular PCC meetings.
The Safeguarding officers for the Parish have attended the required updates as facilitated by the Diocese. Cynthia Kerr
Music group:
Music group settled into a pattern of playing every other Sunday, meeting to practice before the 10am service. We said farewell to Simon Fitter, grateful for his expertise. We are always keen to welcome new people to the music group who would like an opportunity to use their music in worship. As a group we have a culture of nurture where people can grow in confidence to offer what they can. We try to reflect the diversity in the congregation with a range of music including modern worship songs, Taize chants and traditional hymns. To encourage children to be part of the musical life of the church, every fifth Sunday, Sarah, Margy and Helen join Sunday School to teach the children two songs which can be included in the family service on the first Sunday of every month. Hannah Allen
Church flowers:
Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into. ~Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858
The sight, smell and beauty of flowers and arrangements can lift the spirits. Floral arrangements can often speak from the heart when words fail us. A mixture of fresh and artificial flower arrangements are used to decorate the Altar area and windowsills in church. As well as a pedestal other arrangements using vases and boxes have been created. It has been lovely to see different styles created for our enjoyment. No-one has requested that we make wedding pedestals in the last few years but we have matched flower colour on occasion if we are informed by the wedding party.
St Barnabas church held a flower festival at Easter in 2016 and St Pauls & St Stephens was invited to make a display. Margaret Steele and Julie Holder created a two pedestal flower arrangement display that sat at the foot of the cross. As we were very apprehensive we were very pleased with the positive feedback.
The church flowers are arranged via a rota that is kept in the church hall. Anyone can volunteer and we have a small group of ladies (no gentlemen this year) who by themselves or with a friend come and arrange a pedestal in the church and/or the church porch area. We have a supply of artificial flowers and equipment that are kept in the Quiet room which
can be used to make displays. The cost of fresh flowers can be refunded. There is an abundance of greenery in the gardens that can be used.
We have some pre-made pedestals using artificial flowers which we use so that the church does not look bare as during some periods of the last year we have had no volunteers. So we are a small group of volunteers, some experienced and others with nothing but enthusiasm and we would welcome, encourage, assist and help anyone who would like to ‘have a go’! So come on, what are you waiting for! Julie Holder
Sunday morning children’s groups:
The children meet regularly on Sunday mornings during the 10 O’clock service.
We meet in the hall of the church where we gather together to discover the bible and learn to be close to God through prayer, discussions, singing and being with one another in fellowship.
We open with the lighting of a candle to remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and the God is with us, where ever and whatever, we are doing. The children have an opportunity to share any news whether it is good or sad, or the children just want to talk, this is then used in our prayer time. We will listen to a reading from the bible, the children then split off into two groups to carry on with the topic for that week. This year we have been concentrating on the Old Testament,
Once a month you might hear that we are a bit noisier than normal, this is due to us learning to praise through music. Sarah from the church worship group has been helping us learn new songs that we are able to bring to the all age services.
Thank you to all the leaders and helpers that enable the children to grow in their knowledge and faith. Helen Scott
In response to a rise in church numbers of young people in year seven upwards, 2016 saw the launch of Fuel, a youth bible study group for young people. Fuel meets every other Friday evening in different homes for time of building friendships, learning about God and supporting one another. Occasionally we spend time on an activity such as ice skating of meeting for coffee. At present we have about seven regular attenders, not all come to church on a Sunday but connect with church through this group.
Hannah, Kate, Andy.
Services at the Avenue:
We continue to have a service of Holy Communion at the Avenue Pub about once a quarter. The service is held in the Skittle Alley and we get approximately 12-15 people come along.
It is great to see a number of people who were regulars at St Stephens as well as those wo regularly join us from St Paul and St Stephen. The service usually last between 45mins to an hour and begins at 11.30am.
As always we are very grateful to Vicky the Landlady of the Avenue for her ongoing support and for providing the Skittle alley free of charge.
Cynthia Kerr
Messy Church:
Messy Church continues to meet monthly for 2 hours, usually on the 3rd Saturday morning of the month. We have been meeting since October 2009.
Usually we are 50-60 in number and this includes new families as well as those who have been with us for a long time.
We have a small willing group of helpers with Helen Scott and Ruth Parsons leading alternate sessions. The leadership often feels fragile and we can testify to God’s provision bringing just enough help month by month. So, we would welcome others to join the team. We can find a place for you whatever your skills, from washing up to craft work to making tea and chatting to people.
We continue to base each session on a Bible story and through games, crafts, food and worship we walk together learning more about Jesus who loves us and wants us to follow him.
This year in the church garden, in addition to growing our usual sunflowers, which George Marchant lovingly tended, we also planted a wild flower border.
We always welcome new people to Messy Church; it’s open to people of all ages, alone or in families. All we ask is that children bring an adult with them.
Do feel free to come and experience it for yourself. We have a closed Facebook group, ‘Messy Church at St Pauls and St Stephens’, which you can ask to join.
Please pray for us that we may continue to play our part in God’s work at Messy Church. Ruth Parsons
Housegroups: Four groups meet regularly throughout the year. Calton Road:
This is a morning meeting as we are all Senior Citizens.
We opened the Book at the Gospel according to Matthew in January 2016 and have now reached Chapter 16. It is interesting to explore the Old Testament background to see how Jesus’ teaching applies in the 21st Century.
For further information speak to Marion Brain or phone me on 416906.
We hope to meet again after Easter. Dorothy Sell
The Vicarage House Group began in September 2016 with just three of us. We looked at the letter of Paul to the Ephesians and reflected on how his advice to that early group of Christians can still resonate with us – particularly verse 13 that reads: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
As we prayed, we asked that our little group would grow and over the months it surely did. We are now a group of 10 people who meet every other Tuesday during term time and so far we have looked at Ephesians, The Parables of Jesus and what they might mean for us in our modern world and at how verse 16 in the 3rd Chapter of the Gospel according to John (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”) might resonate for us in the 21st Century.
This all sounds very serious (and so it is) but we had a rather liquid celebration of Christmas at The Avenue and plan to do so again in the summer. We laugh a lot and have grown in fellowship with one another learning to accept the different viewpoints and ideas that come from developing trust. I’d like to say more people are welcome but the lounge gets rather full – however if you would like to join us we can surely fit you in.
Rev Ruth
Thursday afternoon:
Around ten of us continue to meet on alternate weeks at Willy Beart’s home on the picturesque slopes of Robinswood Hill. As we arrive, we look eagerly for rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife, and for changes in the flowers and trees of the well-kept grounds. Our meetings begin with chat and excellent refreshments and we then settle to Bible study.
During the first half of 2016, we completed a major project of working through the whole of the Gospel of John. It was fascinating to see the course of Jesus’ life open up before us and to see how John interpreted the events. Our timing worked well, in that we considered the
events leading up to the crucifixion during Lent and the Resurrection events in the weeks after Easter.
During the second half of the year, we began another major project, looking at the Book of Isaiah. This time we are not considering every chapter, but concentrating on passages that foretell the coming of Jesus and have a strong message for Christians today. This study continues into 2017 and will culminate in the Servant Song passages that foresee the role of Jesus in amazing detail.
Our Bible studies have made us think about our own Christian experiences and helped us to draw closer together and support one another. We warmly thank Willy for her generous hospitality and we warmly recommend housegroups as a way to become more familiar with the Bible and to enjoy the fellowship of a smaller gathering. George Marchant
Moveable house group:
We meet fortnightly on a Tuesday or a Thursday at different people’s houses for Bible study and prayer. We are usually led by Ruth P. or Hannah A. and we are a small group of 4-6.
We started the year with Bible studies called Lenten conversations, then joined the church Lent course in studying Stephen Cottrell’s book ‘I Thirst’.
After Easter we studied Old Testament characters, tracing the history of God’s people through the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses.
After a summer break we used the York Study course, ‘Faith, hope and love’ until Christmas.
We value studying the Bible together and also the times we spend talking as it deepens our friendships and informs our ongoing prayer for each other. We would welcome others to join us. Ruth Parsons
Contemplative Prayer Group:
A small group of folk meet on the 1st Sunday of each month to pray together in silence. After a short time of relaxation with music and reflecting on the verse from Matthew 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest' we are ready to begin our meditation on a saying of Jesus, first in our heads, then in our hearts and finally in intercession. We pray this way for about half an hour, we remain silent but have a short tract to guide us. All are welcome to join. Maria Wells
Pastoral care:
We already look after one another at St Paul and St Stephens but the Pastoral Care Team was formed to make sure everyone could be pastorally supported and nobody would pass through the net.
Each team member has several people that they look out for. Everyone in church should know who their Pastoral Care Team member is but if you don’t please let us know. Any newcomers to our church will hear from their Pastoral Care Team member after our next meeting.
If you have a concern or are worried about someone please pass it on, in confidence, to Rev Ruth, Jan Wood or a member of the Pastoral Team. Jan Wood
Bereavement tea:
This quiet confidential hour is for anyone who has been bereaved, recently or a long time ago. It gives an opportunity to talk and reflect or to just be quiet and listen. We enjoy a cup of tea and cake and share experiences. We sometimes laugh and sometimes are sad as we reminisce and hear memories of our loved ones.
A special thank you to Meg for making the cakes for our meetings.
We meet every other month on the second Sunday at 3.00pm and everyone is welcome. Dates for 2017: 12 March, 14 May, 9 July, 10 September
In November there is an All Souls Service on 5 November at 3.00pm Jan Wood
Coffee and company:
Coffee and Company was formed with the idea of somewhere to meet for local people who wanted some company but who were not necessarily church goers, even though it is held at St Paul & St Stephen’s. As there was already a coffee group held after the Thursday morning Holy Communion service it was decided that that would be the best time to run the group, which is held from 10.45am to 12midday.
Margy and I agreed to run the group together.
The first group was held on 7th April 2016.
An initial grant of £280 was given by Gloucester City Co.
This was used to buy various games including jigsaws, Scrabble, Connect Four and cards, costing £65.63
A further small Sparks grant of £250 was given by the Barnwood Trust in July 2016 to help towards the cost of refreshments, supplies and advertising.
Unfortunately there has only been the occasional non-church goer attending Coffee and Company despite the advertising board being displayed outside the church on a Thursday morning.
However, a lot of the congregation from the Thursday services, as well as church goers who may not have attended that particular day, do come regularly to Coffee and Company.
Chatting is the main occupation, though doing jigsaws is popular as well, if frustrating at times. Thanks to Mike Parker for keeping this going.
Line dancing has been held at times and I would like to restart this if there is any interest to do so.
Many thanks to Willy Beart and Betty for continuing to make the coffee and to wash up etc. Also thank you to any other helpers.
Margy has not been able to continue co-running the group, so I just need someone to help out when I am away on holiday or have another engagement. This may include locking up.
Sallie Gould
Little Angels:
Little Angels takes place each Tuesday between 1pm and 2.30pm during term time. It is a group of pre-school children (from small babies to 4 year olds) and carers who meet each week to partake in play, story, singing, art and eating together. Most weeks we get about 8- 10 children and 12 adults. We have a team of volunteers that make the food and supervise the kitchen and Rev Ruth and Ruth Parsons run the activities and make relationship and connection with the carers of the children.
The activities and stories follow the church calendar and we provide advice and support for parents as they undertake the most difficult job in the world – that of being a parent. We have built a community of people who are loving and confident with one another and we will continue to strive to add new people to this tightly knit community. Ruth Fitter
Men’s group:
As with many churches the ministry we give to men and to women needs to be different in its make up. For a while when Rev Simon was here we had a Men’s Breakfast meeting but following his departure this was not taken up by anyone and therefore this no longer meets. If anyone would like to resurrect it then please speak to Rev Ruth.
Table Talk was supposed to gather a group of men who might be able to open up and talk about their own faith but unfortunately after the first couple of sessions Rev Ruth realised
that either the time or the format was not working and so this has not happened since November 2016. Ruth Fitter
Community choir:
Choir has met regularly during 2016 and has had some engagements. Members are enthusiastic and do not let lack of experience stand in the way of a good performance!
We meet on Monday evenings at 7pm (restarting 27th February 2017). We met 19 times in this time.
Appearances in 2016 included:
Sunday 24th April fundraising Community Choir Concert
Sunday 22nd May for Christian Aid week
Sunday July 3rd at St John's Brockmoor (Simon Archer's new parish) Sunday 1st November All Souls Service
Sunday 18th December Christmas Carol Concert
Some of us also contributed to a wedding celebration on 5th November and we visited St Catherine's Court on Monday 19th December to sing carols and Christmas songs.
We lost our excellent leader Steve Lea in the summer as he took up a new teaching post. So far, despite many emails and personal approaches we haven't been able to replace him (in every sense!). However, because of enthusiasm by choir members, we have continued more or less as before. We were also grateful for the support of Jean Lea, pianist, up to and including the All Souls Service.
In 2017 we hope to be able to continue to contribute to services and fundraising events, with the support of the PCC, using professional printed and recorded materials.
Community Choir is both enjoyable and contributive to Church Life. It also offers Outreach contact with the Community which helps conversations about the relevance of Church and Faith. Revd Royse Murphy
Church garden:
‘Flowers make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul’
Perhaps God feels that if people do not wish to go inside churches then he will speak to them outside through church gardens.
With this in mind, daffodils, wallflowers, polyanthus, chrysanthemums, and giant Messy Church sunflowers all flourished during their seasons in 2016. Messy Church also scattered wildflower seeds facing Parkend Road and in the Garden of Remembrance. In addition, the Garden of Remembrance was kept colourful by the family flowers left in memory of loved ones.
As in past years, two blackbirds and a robin supervised cultivations and kept beady eyes out for food sources. Perhaps they feel that this shows humankind and birdkind working in harmony.
The sad death of Peter Carlisle prompts us to give thanks for all the hard work he and Jane put into the church garden for many years. They and God worked in harmony to beautify our surroundings.
Finally a grudging tribute to the weeds in the garden, who have now mastered every survival skill known to plants except for growing where they are wanted.
George Marchant
Walking group:
The Walking Group is open to anybody who likes the idea of having an outing with like- minded people, to a place of interest, with a gentle walk thrown in.
During this last year, we have included Haresfield Beacon, Alney Island and Barnwood Arboretum in our walks.
The aim is to meet monthly, most often on a Sunday afternoon, starting from church, and offering and sharing lifts. If someone needs to be picked up from home, this can be arranged. Nothing is set in stone – people are free to suggest places for walks/visits. This way, the task of coming up with new ideas and planning an outing should not always fall to the same person.
Taking part is a great way to get out and about and meet friends, especially for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to do so. Margy Wheeler
Craft group:
The craft group has been at a loose end lately.
We managed to produce a reasonable number of articles for the Christmas fair but we would like more people to join and come to our fortnightly meetings. We exchange ideas for new projects or continue with our own pieces of work.
The next time we meet will be on a Wednesday 2 pm in the pink room in church. The date will be in the weekly newsletter. W. Beart
School link:
During February 2016 Bishop Rachel launched an initiative between church schools and churches using a video that featured St Paul’s C of E School and St Paul and St Stephen’s. The video can be found using this link – and then going to ‘schools’ and clicking on ‘Who We are Together.’
We have continued to work with not only our church school but also our community school to provide support for the children and families that live in our parish. We have deepened our relationships with both staff and governors and built trust between us that means we are now able to develop new initiatives together. Rev Ruth is Vice-Chair of Governors at St Paul’s School and the Safeguarding Lead Governor. She takes collective worship on a fortnightly basis at St Paul’s and Linden Primary School – which ostensibly means being in school for a large proportion of her time each week. Rev Ruth is now also a trustee of the Diocese of Gloucester Academy Trust.
Whilst it is difficult to prioritise amongst all the other pressures of school life now collective worship is vitally important in being a space through which the good news of the Gospel can be shared. St Paul and St Stephen’s have a committed Open the Book team who tell the stories of God’s people each fortnight. If you would like to join their happy band then please contact Ruth Parsons. No acting experience is necessary. Ruth Fitter
Open the Book:
The Open the book team continues to visit St Paul’s C of E primary school once a fortnight to act out a Bible story and lead a song and a prayer. The children continue to welcome our visits although it has not been possible to have them take part as much as previously.
In 2016 we gained two new team members in David Jacques and Sue Matthews, but sadly said goodbye to Jan Wood as she moved to different activities.
It is a joy and a privilege to share Bible stories with our school children.
Ruth Parsons
Hospital link:
We continue our link with Gloucestershire Royal Hospital by visiting those from our church and parish who are in the hospital. Many folk have been visited and enjoyed the link with church and home. If you know anyone who may like a pastoral visit, please let Rev Ruth or Jan know (01452 616137).
We also collect magazines which are taken onto the wards each week. These make such a difference especially to those with no visitors or who are admitted as an emergency. A big thank you to everyone who have given their magazines over the past year, the wards

appreciate them very much. Please keep bringing in your magazines or periodicals it is a simple gesture which makes such a difference. Jan Wood
Charity links: CMS, Changing Tunes, Foodbank:
During 2016 as a church we supported Gloucester Food Bank, Changing Tunes and Church Mission Society [CMS] particularly focusing on supporting Rine and David Ingleby working in India.
Rine and David returned to England in September 2016 and we have now, as a PCC, chosen to support three new charities, Gloucester City Mission as our local charity, Messy Church as our national charity and Kodad Day Care Centre in India as our international charity for the next 3 year cycle.
We contributed over 90kg of food to the Foodbank during 2016 as well as the financial support. We continue to collect for the Foodbank on a weekly basis. Thank you to Bernard Turvey for getting the donations to the centre.
We continue to support the work of Changing Tunes by offering the church as a space for Fran Key to work with clients creating music and singing together. Ruth Fitter
Other charity links:
We continue to support USPG by collecting used stamps. Thanks to Margaret Steele.
Church members collect for Children’s Society using their collection boxes throughout the year. Thanks to Mike Parker.
We supported Christian Aid week with a door to door collection in a small number of streets and through donations from church members. Thanks to Maria Wells.
We continue to support Fairtrade through buying fairly traded products and promoting Fairtrade fortnight in our services. Ruth Parsons
Sweden Link:
St Paul & St Stephens is linked with Tomaskyrkan church in Vasteras, Sweden. Unfortunately our partnership has not been strong over the last couple of years for various reasons. We need a member of the congregation to become the new link between our parishes. We can learn and grow from each other, helping to spread Gods message worldwide! And we can make new friends along the way. The contacts in Tomaskyrkan are Mia Ehrengren who is also the current incumbent and Eva Brindbergs Granath who is a musician who also works with the children in the church. Contact would be by email so access to a computer is required. We have also had exchange visits in the past and would be keen to this again in the future.
Have a look at their Facebook page : Tomaskyrkan i Västerås Badelunda församling We can make this happen! Come and speak to the wardens or Rev Ruth.
Julie Holder Churchwarden