APCM – Vicar’s speech looking forward – 18.04.2018

Vicar’s speech as presented by Rev Cathy Blair at the

Annual Parochial Church Meeting 18.04.2018

Good evening.

The Vicar’s reflections on the last year are in the Parish Matters booklet. And the more formal report is in the Annual report.

But for now, we first of all want to say some thank you’s.

Firstly to Berenice Page who has shown real leadership in the church for the last 4 years as church warden. She has gone far beyond the call of duty with clearing out the gallery room, counting the silver, being at multiple services almost every week and coming in to set up the music band on a Saturday afternoon. We just want to say that we don’t expect her successor to do anything like this amount. But we are very grateful for your commitment to God and to the church. We have appreciated your wisdom and encouragement as we have settled into the church. We wish you well as you continue to explore more ministry in our church.

We also want to thank Dawn and Sally our other church wardens and hope you are not going anywhere!

There are too many people to thank for all you do for God and his church Nick Stuart, Alistair Duke, Jon Whing and Harriet on Standing committee and the whole PCC, those who make our services happen each week and the many behind the scenes jobs especially in safeguarding and finance – Carol Collings. This church would not be a safe and legal charity without you. To Sally for covering the office since Katrina left and to Emma the verger and Catherine volunteer hall hire manager. Thank you all…

Join us in praying for a new operations manager, an under fives and families outreach minister, being advertised now and also an organist for 11am at St Mary’s.


As we look forward we are challenged in terms of helpers in all the areas of the church as well as these paid roles. We have 10 vacancies on PCC to fill and we pray that God will put the right people in the right places at the right time as we build a new leadership team. We are also challenged financially. The reserves that have kept the church afloat for many years will run out this year, we do still have a trust fund for church maintenance, but the rest of the £280,000 it costs to run our churches annually must be found from our own pockets and the Chancellor if we gift aid. There is also a good income from letting out our halls and this last year from letting out the curate’s house. This booklet tells you more about where the money goes and the best ways to give regularly to our church.

These challenges make Jonny and I feel a bit “On the edge”. But we know this is not our problem, it is the whole church’s problem. And we need to own this together. Sadly, the regular giving in our church is one of the lowest per person in the whole diocese of Guildford, so we have nothing to feel complacent about. But, praying and reflecting on this as people of faith, made us think differently. On the edge, with none of our own answers, no back-up plan, is actually a very good place to be, because what we have to do is turn to God, ask God for help and trust him to provide for what we need for ministry in this place. How many times did Jesus tell the disciples to trust in God and also in him? This is what he wants. As long as we can provide for our own needs, we don’t really need God. This is the Surrey and western world problem of apathetic Christianity compared to our brothers and sisters who are so strong in faith despite hardship, persecution or conflict. Food for thought… we shall pray and trust in the one true, almighty God, who raised Jesus from the dead.


There is so much to be encouraged about looking back and looking forward. New people in church, people coming to faith, people finding their gifts through the servant course and people stepping up into their God-given calling both outside church with new jobs and inside church such as being pastoral assistants and worship leaders. Such joy. Caroline Merrick will be priested on June 30th and Alex Oehring, our new curate, will be ordained on 1st July. That is worthy of a great parish lunch to celebrate both and welcome Alex, Katy and the family. Get your tickets early because it’s going to be a sell-out!


We have a great new parish Vision “Taking our next steps towards deeper faith in Christ, welcome and belonging and shining God’s light”. We are now a church that knows where it is going. We are one church with at least 5 distinct congregations and we have one vision which unites us. We had a wonderful lunch in February when we saw how diverse our church has become and it’s great to get together.

What are your next steps in deeper faith, worship and belonging and shining God’s light? It’s a good time to refresh those things you gave yourself to work on back in January.

Focus The PCC has also chosen some particular aspects of our Vision to focus on for this year ahead. We are going to be taking our next steps as a church.

On your chairs are copies of the vison, strategy, and the focus for the year in red. (Also known as the church development plan).

The ones underneath are the PCC’s action plan – it’s the how – what we will do to achieve these things. I will give you some examples. There will be preaching relevant to life. We will encourage each other to join a small group or prayer triplet to help us grow deeper in faith. We will be sharing stories of what God is doing to help us grow in confidence.


Welcome is a real key area, so we are inviting everyone of us in both churches, to do a course called “Everybody Welcome” in June. It’s 4 evenings over 4 weeks held at ST John’s and you choose which night or morning you want to attend. Housegroups will help host the course at their usual meeting time. Books will be available for everyone for £3.50. There are sign up sheets on the refreshment table. Please sign up today if you know which evening you want to come. We want to be the most welcoming church in surrey/ the diocese and to help newcomers to belong.

Finally, we will get better at volunteering to serve joyfully. The servant course is the best tool there is to help all of us be fulfilled in how we serve. And we will give generously to the work of God. We will be running a stewardship campaign in the autumn. We could be doing so much more to support the lost and lonely people in Walton on Thames, giving them hope in Jesus, together we can do it. And we can also support our brothers and sisters in other parts of our world through Compassion, Tear fund, and Reach across and others. Together we can do so much more…


As we look to the future, there is challenge and there is hope and anticipation. We are on an adventure together.

We are “on the edge” wondering where the money will come from. Looking to God to provide the right people in the right places right across the church, not simply filling gaps but being fulfilled because they are doing what they love doing. You have only got to look at Berenice leading worship to know what that looks like.

Shall we pray for God to raise our faith, unite us in love and in his purpose, to bring the world to know Jesus his son? Shall we stand.

Oh, I am meant to bring two highlights from 2017. These are Caroline ordained, Tessa and John Badcock licensed as lay ministers; the Vision process and “Our Story” display at Heritage day and the exciting prospect of ‘Taking our next steps’ together – putting our new Vision into practice.

The challenge and prayer is this:

Lord we thank you for your overwhelming, never-ending love for each one of us. We are your church. We pray that as we stand on an edge, in so many ways knowing we cannot provide for ourselves, that you would increase our faith and do miracles among us. We pray for a breakthrough in our finances and that we would all be serving you in line with the way that you made us. Help us to trust in you. Amen.

Jonny and Cathy

Joint Vicars 18 April 2018