It's been another busy year for us at St Hildeburgh's Parish Church in Hoylake - and it's my privilege to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped in any way and I include those who are less able physically these days but have supported us with their prayers.
This has been Paul Irvine’s last year as Churchwarden and I know you will all join me in thanking him for helping us through the last several years. His knowledge of the Parish has been invaluable and he has also been a support to Nancy as she took up the role of Churchwarden. Nancy continues as Churchwarden joined this year by Jane Langley - who has agreed to join the team.
Nancy has worked hard over the last year doing much more than we should expect of a warden, not least in her cleaning of the church, organizing the Tuesday community bacon butties and bringing all her creativity to enrich the church. I know that she will also ensure Jane is guided in her new role as a Churchwarden.
We are blessed with our ministry team and I would like to pay tribute to Ruth Calcott who, despite illness, soldiered on until her surgery. We wish her a full recovery but for now she must take it slowly and have time to get well again. Jill and Mel have kept us on track and have worked tirelessly in all kinds of ways. We have welcomed Chris Hegg to the team and we continue to be thankful for Peter Ham’s ministry as we look forward to his licensing later this year.
Our Parochial Church Council (PCC) led by Nigel Hall, Mel White and the Churchwardens have done a sterling job again this year and together we have achieved much: new heating, sorting out the roof repairs, and the day-to-day running of the church.
Our income continues to be supported by fees from weddings and funerals which seem to increase every year - which keep me busy! Of course, the main source of our income is from our planned giving scheme - which is vital to our ongoing ministry. My thanks go to Mel White (Church Treasurer) and George Dafnis (Planned Giving Custodian) for all their hard work. Sadly, we have lost many members of the scheme through bereavement this year and this has had an impact on our finances - so in the coming year, we will be thinking about some sort of planned giving initiative.
Through joint working with our sister Anglican Church, St. John's Meols, we share the annual lent lunches held at St Hildeburgh's this year, lent groups and the bereavement group and again my thanks to Nancy for providing the puddings!
Our ecumenical/inter-church links are important, so it was good to attend the induction of Rev Peter Sharpe, the new minister at St Andrews United Reformed Church, Meols. I look forward to sharing events with him in the future.
This year we also welcomed the Rev Karl Williams to work between the parishes of Hoylake and Meols, as we are entrusted with his training. Hopefully, many of us will go to support him as he is 'priested' at Chester Cathedral in June - followed on the Sunday by a party in the vicarage garden.
Our 'Messy Church', led by Peter Ham and Jane Langley, is flourishing and links into our regular family service - which is doing well, as we encourage families to join us at less formal services.
Thanks go to Rob and the choir for leading us in all our worship.
Looking outward, we have now established links with the Congo and one particular parish in the diocese or Aru. We support them by our prayers and I look forward for what future opportunities might bring us as we establish our relationship with them.
There have been five communions held in the community: Four in Holy Trinity School and one in a local bar - all successful, and I hope attracted local interest as we join in with and bring the church closer to our community
A big thank you also goes to Peter Surridge and his team who have kept the grounds looking so good and more recently Alex who has volunteered to mow the lawns. We continue to be thankful to our Ladies Guild, who look after the flowers, brass and so many other things.
Our Church Centre continues to assist our income, and Liz Ardus does a great job looking after it.
Val Howell ensures that our baptism families are visited and prepared.
In all, we have had a good year and we thank God for his many blessings. I am reminded of these words from the Bible's Book of Isaiah (chapter 41, verse 10):
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”