This month I will have been your vicar here for seven years which I can hardly believe. Where has all the time gone?! It certainly doesn’t seem like seven years; the time has literally flown by, yet these seven years have shaped our parish of Capel from one where I was appointed as a self-supporting minister under an arrangement of ‘House for Duty’ to a new united Parish and a full time Stipendiary role. (A Stipend is the ecclesiastical word for regular payment to clergy). Basically it means I am now paid! I was extremely happy to come here under House for Duty arrangements as I had other family commitments to honour as well as serving the church and community here. Those of you who know me and the work of clergy also know that ministry is rarely part time, so it was with great thankfulness that a couple of years ago Capel PCC agreed that they could fund a half stipend for the ministry I do. Now with the opportunity to join with St Margaret’s at Ockley, all agreed that this should be a full time stipendiary position which is wonderful. It is good for me of course, but also good for our parish as a whole. More and more clergy have to take on several churches, particularly in rural areas, which is exhausting. It is good that Capel and Ockley have a full time stipendiary vicar to share especially in future years. That said, in order to keep this we have to raise money to pay our Parish Share which is like a tax which goes to Guildford Diocese, in order for stipends to be paid, support staff to help us, new clergy to be trained and so on. It is a very large amount of money and if we don’t pay it our position as a parish with a full time paid minister is threatened.
Does this sound a bit gloomy? Well don’t be disheartened as this is something we can achieve if those who value having a church in the midst of their communities just consider giving a very small amount each month on a regular basis. One off donations are of course extremely welcome, especially this year, but regular giving helps us to budget and plan our activities so that our communities are best served. With this in mind, I and others who look after the stewardship and leadership in our two churches will be hosting a very informal information evening at Ockley Cricket Pavilion on Friday the 19th October between 6 and 9pm. We will be launching our new stewardship leaflet outlining the parish giving scheme etc. but we are also extremely anxious to meet and listen to those of you who are interested in what St Margaret’s and St John’s do in our villages. There has been a lot of disappointment and mistrust in some parts of our joint communities; in particular the closing of the Scott Broadwood Ockley School Base, along with other losses in Ockley and we are concerned to hear peoples’ views and what they would like to see in the future and how we at each church can help shape that future too. So please do come along and meet us – I can assure you there will be lovely refreshments on offer.
Some of you may by now be thinking “well what about all the money that the Capel Show raises for the church? Doesn’t this pay for parish share?” We are extremely grateful for the money raised from the Car Show which goes to The Friends of Capel Church. The Friends raise money for the fabric of the church building itself; not the churchyard or the boundary wall or any other expenses. It is a wonderful and invaluable resource for us but the money can only be spent on things like the latest rainwater goods project and various repairs on the roof which is about to take place. Without the Friends we would not have the well maintained church we have today. However, we are hoping to run the very popular barbeque stall at the show next year for which then any money raised will go into our general funds – i.e. parish share again – which allows us to provide all the services that the whole community uses – weddings, baptisms, funerals, Messy Church, Harvest Festival, Pet Service, Easter and Christmas – I’m sure you get the picture!!
Finally, there is the question of the boundary wall project. Now I know that many of you think that the work in some areas is not necessary and is overpriced and yes, some quotes we received were astronomical. We have however been able to secure the services of an experienced stonemason who has given us a very reasonable estimate for the whole job which he is willing to do for us piecemeal as and when we have the funds to finance another section. He has experience in training others in this work and is willing to make this a local community project for any who would like to be involved and we hope this will be of interest to some locally. For those of you who may have walked through the churchyard into the Parish Burial Ground recently you will have met Shawn and seen the great job he is currently doing. Is it really necessary? It is! We are required to maintain the wall and any other boundaries and if you look closely you will see the wall is generally in disrepair all-round the church. We are looking at grants for this work, and are very grateful for those who have already made generous donations – without you we couldn’t even begin to repair the back section which had fallen down. This is a separate fund raising project though and any money that is raised or given generally to the church will not be used for the restoration of the wall unless specified.
This has been a wonderful seven years for Doug and me to share in village life, the joys and sorrows, the ups and downs of many of you over this time. We do feel truly blessed to be here amongst you all and I do hope you won’t mind my clarifying the financial challenges we face as church and community. It’s a bit of a seven year review! We couldn’t do anything without your love and support and I hope you know that we try to always offer ours to you. Thanks be to God!
With my love and prayers as ever