St Mary's News WEEKLY NEWS – 11th NOVEMBER

By Martin Gibson. Contact mrtngibs@aol.com

Services this Sunday: 10am (NOTE the time) REMEMBRANCE SERVICE led by Paul Harrod. Uniformed groups will be parading and wreaths will be laid at the War Memorial.

The PCC met last week. Matters discussed included an appraisal of our Parish Share especially in relation to the level of reserves St Mary’s should hold. In pre Covid times, the PCC kept a 6 months-expenses as its reserve. However, this dropped to 4 month’s in 2020. Now the Diocese is recommending that parishes should go back to 6 months. For St Mary’s to achieve that it would probably mean reducing our parish share by an equivalent amount.

According to Rev Moss a churchwarden cannot simply resign, as I thought I had, and one has to wait until the end of his/her term – May 2022. Therefore I am continuing as churchwarden alongside Debbie. The three things I believe in are the congregation of St Mary’s, the parish system and the need to find a new way forward before our church dies through lack of membership.

The possibility of an unpaid youth worker was also on the agenda. A local family had offered to provide rent-free accommodation to a young couple in exchange for 20 hours voluntary youth and parents engagement. The offer was rejected.

Be aware that the A38 road works (M4 bridge by the Hortham traffic lights) start on Sunday 14th. There will be CHAOS all day and every day.

The money has been found to have the main church clock fully automated and the specialists, Smiths of Derby, have been given the go ahead. The clock is getting on for 300 years old, so making it wind itself and keep perfect time without human intervention, is something of a miracle. AND, it will adjust automatically whenever we move from GMT to BST and back! Oh the wonders of modern technology. And yesterday, The Wootton Auction Rooms sold 3 of the tower pinnacles for £3,600. Thanks to Mike & Peter for coming up with the idea.

Two weeks ago the Monday Movie Club showed NOMADLAND, a big Oscar winning film about a lady living in a motor home. Afterwards many of us decided that this was not such a great idea.

Notwithstanding that, the next film (Monday 15th) has been nominated as the greatest film ever made. It is a story built around a South Korean man who goes to work for a rich dysfunctional family. We all know “Murphy’s Law” – if something can go wrong it will! But in this film, “Kelly’s Law” applies – he thought that Murphy was an optimist. Doors open at 7pm

There is an ancient stone stile on The Green in Olveston. It runs parallel with Sunnyside and leads behind Olveston Court. Unfortunately it is rather high and many walkers and their dogs find it impassable, especially on the far side where the land drops away. It appears that the land on which the footpath lies has no ownership (although it is not Common Land) and so the Parish Council has taken the decision to instruct a contractor to build stone steps – 2 on The Green side and 3 on Olveston Court side – to make it more accessible. The steps will be to one side so won’t impair the old stone slab.

Trying to understand attendance trends in St Mary’s can be complicated. For starters, 2 years ago (pre Covid), there were weekday services and 8am Sunday Holy Communions, but not in 2021. However, we now have four full month’s attendance records this year to compare with a similar period in 2019 – and the comparison between 2019 and 2021 is quite shocking. If one looks purely at Sunday attendances for both years, then in July to October inclusive 2019, 1359 people attended, whereas in 2021 for the same period only 790 came to a Sunday service. That represents a 21% drop annually. Whilst it is likely that those attending a weekday service might well come again on a Sunday, if they were to be included, then the decline would be 26% a year.

There may well be 2 factors at play here: firstly there is no doubt that the numbers joining church are less than those leaving. Secondly, it is quite possible that regular attendees are becoming more irregular. The end result is still the same – we are going downhill.

Theoretically, at the present rate of decline, St Mary’s will be empty by 2031. But statistics don’t work quite like that and any statistician will tell you that 14 years is a more likely figure.

However, a major upheaval is always a possibility, for example, if our Director of Music, David Shaw were to retire, then the choir might well collapse, decimating our numbers AND there are worshippers who particularly like to attend when the choir is on parade, they too might leave. We must also factor in a critical minimal mass, that is, the smallest number of worshippers needed to keep the church going – say 10, so 2031 does look like a realistic end date. Anyone who believes we can carry on like this, is living in cloud cuckoo land. And yet there seems to be a reluctance, nay a refusal, to take any action.

And finally:

A middle-aged woman is in hospital awaiting surgery following a heart attack when she has a vision of God by her bedside. “Will I die?” she asks. God says, “No. You have 30 more years to live.”

With 30 years to look forward to, she decides to make the best of it. So since she’s in the hospital, she gets breast implants, liposuction, a tummy tuck, hair transplants, and collagen injections in her lips. She looks great!

The day she’s discharged, she exits the hospital with a swagger, crosses the street, and is immediately hit by an ambulance and killed. Up in heaven, she sees God. “You said I had 30 more years to live,” she complains.

“That’s true,” says God. “So what happened?” she asks.

God shrugs, “I didn’t recognize you.”

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