Parish Meeting Minutes

Minutes of the Parish Meeting held on Wednesday, 29th January 2020

Present: Fr. Peter, Elaine Hook, Paula Thornton, Margaret Holme, Peter & Dee Avery, Ruth Trant, Ian Whitehead, Adrian Atmore, Maria Abbott, Steph Blackburn.

  1. OPENING PRAYER: Fr. Peter opened the meeting with a prayer.
  2. APOLOGIES: None.
  5. REVIEW :
    Parish Situation:
    Adrian reported that the Parish Future Group had a meeting and 12 attended. They have formed 4 groups: 1) to look into planning and building who will be meeting with the Tonbridge and Malling Planners, 2) to deal with communications from the parish, social media and PR, 3) to liaise with the school and pre-school and 4) to look at Fr. Peter’s situation regarding accommodation, office etc for the short and long term. They have written a letter to the Archbishop which has been posted and was signed by Adrian on behalf of the parish in which the Archbishop has been asked to arrange a meeting with us as soon as possible. The group will look at the questions they will put to the Archbishop, starting with the survey that was conducted and questions they have received from parishioners via email. The group will meet again in February and a copy of the letter sent to the Archbishop will be attached to the newsletter this weekend with an appendix stating why we want to keep the church. The short version of the minutes from the Extraordinary Parish Meeting on January 16th will be available at the back of the church for those who want them. The group want to let the parish know that the aim is to keep the preschool although we are not sure where it will be yet. They also want to ask parishioners this weekend to send any more questions they have for the Archbishop. Some parents are looking elsewhere for a pre-school and school although Trudy Dean did say at the meeting on January 16 th that registration for the school was now open. Cathy Collins has also asked parents to hold on before making a decision, but some parents have already left.
    Ruth stated that it is not likely to be a short sale and that pre-school parents may not want their children to go into the school as they like the pre-school building.
    Peter Avery said that there is nothing in the documentation to suggest that the pre-school will be closed down.
    Adrian stated that the pre-school is the children and staff and that the stable block is the building.
    He also said that the Diocese want to ensure provision for the pre-school in a sale of the stable block.
    Fr Peter said that the school is looking at the possibility of bringing the pre-school into the school. The Head has had a meeting with the Head of the Trust and he is onboard with it. He also said that if we lose the pre-school, we will also lose the school. One idea is for the Year 1 and Mrs B’s areas to be given to the pre-school with access to the early learning playground. Other classes would move around and Year 5 would have a mobile. They are also looking at a mobile for the pre-school.
    The Diocese have written to the Schools Trust urging them to look at it and to liaise with the preschool staff. It may be possible for the pre-school staff to move to the school which is being looked at and them re-applying for their jobs.
    Adrian said that some have said the staff can transfer but we need to find out definitely from those who know.
    Fr Peter replied that Ian Butler was looking into it.
    Adrian said that we should emphasize to the pre-school that we want to keep the children and staff. He also said that the team would like the financial accounts for the last 2 years as they need to know that for the negotiations with the Diocese.
    Elaine reported that Ian Butler will have a financial report ready for the next parish meeting. Peter suggested that Ian Butler should be contacted about it and Elaine said she’d do that. Adrian has asked for a meeting with the Archbishop on behalf of the parish but is not sure if it will be with just the Archbishop or with his representatives as well and whether or not it will be an open meeting.
    Fr Peter said that he saw the Archbishop on Monday and warned him that the letter was coming.
    Peter reported that we have a new Vicar- General for Kent coming and so the previous Vicar-General won’t be involved now.
    Fr Peter asked if someone from the team would speak at the masses this weekend about their progress.
    Adrian replied that he will write something for Fr to read out at the masses. He also said that the short form of the minutes from the Extraordinary Meeting will be available at the back of the church and if anyone wants the extended version of the minutes, they can contact the office to receive them by email. He said that we just want outcomes from the committee meetings not the details.
    Ian W asked if the parish were entitled to a percentage of the proceeds from a sale and Adrian replied that the Diocese owns the whole site but that under Canon Law the parish will get back the proceeds from a sale of the church, car park, stable block and some of the land as we are responsible for maintaining these. He said that we want accommodation for Fr Peter either in the grounds of the church or by the stable block.
    Ian W asked where it states that in Canon Law and Adrian replied that there are 2 people who used to provide Canon Law for the Diocese who are willing to help us if we need it. Fr Peter said we need to see what the Diocese come back with first. Fr had an email from Rev Green at St Mary’s who said that he has put to his PCC that he would want us to stay where we are but would welcome us to use his church if we needed to.
    Adrian reported that the committee meetings are not closed meetings and that the school staff can attend but as parishioners not as staff. He also said that there is a team who will liaise with the parish, school and pre-school.
    Dee asked what ages the team are approximately and was told that there are several adults with different occupations such as a property developer and that also there are three youth group members.
    Adrian said that if the parishioners have any questions and/or views the team will look at them and any questions for the Archbishop should be sent to them.
    Advent/Christmas/New Year/Epiphany:
    Peter was disappointed that the numbers for the Christmas Masses were low than in previous years particularly at the 10am Mass. There were plenty of seats available and he’s not sure why. Over 2000 signed the petition and yet there were only about 450 over the 3 masses when in previous years it has been 500-600.
    Fr Peter said that since Christmas more parishioners have come back and Peter said that there were 175 at the 10am Mass last Sunday.
    Christmas Raffle: This was good and raised over £400. Fr Peter received £50 from the 200 club and was very pleased as it was his first win in 20 years!
    Unity Week: Fr Peter reported that it went really well and that there was a great service at Snodland, then one here which was attended by over 30 people when it is usually about 10. There were also services at Larkfield Methodist Church and Aylesford and the Baptist church in West Malling.
    Dee said that Eileen made 3 cakes for the service at our church which went down very well. Margaret thanked Fr Peter for the service and Eileen for the cakes. Fr Peter said that the theme at the Baptist church was “Unusual Kindness” and that the reading was about when St Paul got shipwrecked and the unusual kindness shown to him and his companions.
    The Rev asked Fr to tell everyone what has been happening at our church and asked how they can support us. They had a special time of prayer for us. Adrian said that if the same happened to others in West Malling, he would hope we’d be the same – very supportive.
    First Reconciliation: This went very well and there was a lovely atmosphere. Most children said it went better than they thought it would. Fr Peter thanked the Catechists for all their work with them. The Thanksgiving Mass will be on February 8th at 10am where the parents will do the readings and the children will receive a Reconciliation Certificate.
    Candlemas: The children will make Christingles during Children’s Liturgy at the 10am Mass.
    Fr said that the tableau needs to be re-arranged and that Tony Goldsmith took a photo of it, so that could be looked at to arrange it correctly. The Youth Group will have a mass for Candlemas on Sunday at 5.30pm.
    Maria and David Abbott will be taking down the tree and putting away the tableau and wreath on Sunday evening.
    Lent: Dee and Fr met to organise the Area Group Masses and these will be held on Wednesdays. They have also organised visits to the housebound. Fr has organised penitentials at the school and with the Youth Group and the Youth Group Passion Play. Dee will do the Stations of the Cross on Tuesdays during Lent starting on 3rd March at 7.30pm. Monday 6th April - 7.30pm Adult Penitential. Fr asked Adrian to ask Sally if she could again provide the music for this.

    Tuesday 7th April – 6pm Servers’ Rehearsal and Mass combined with the Way of the Cross at 7.30pm.
    Wednesday 8th April Fr will be at the Cathedral Mass.
    Maundy Thursday 5pm Children’s Service
    10-11pm Vigil of Repose
    Good Friday 10am Servers’ Practice
    11am Walk of Witness
    2.50pm Good Friday Service
    8pm Youth Group Passion Play
    Saturday 10am Flower Arrangers
    10am Children’s Workshop
    12pm Servers’ Practice
    8.30pm Vigil
    Easter Sunday 10am Family Mass
    Fundraising: This will be changed to “Events”
    Building and Maintenance: All is on hold given the situation at present. Fr said that the temporary solution to the car park has been good and Ruth reported that there is still more material that can be used for it. Adrian said his son-in-law can get more for a good price. Ruth reported that the wall has planning to be re-built. It needs to all come down, the bricks kept, and the flagstones need to be preserved. It is a complex job. Some of the garden will be destroyed so it needs to be decided what should be kept. Ruth will speak to the pre- school about the builders coming in and asked if there is an outside water source. Peter said that there is a tap outside the church. Ruth reported that the plan is to meet at the end of February and then wait for the right weather. It is covered by insurance, though the side wall which may come down is not covered, so costing for that may need to be looked at. The pond will stay as it is listed. Ian W asked how unsafe the side wall is and Peter replied that it would not take much for it to come down, but that it is not a danger to anyone and that it is protected by trees. A tree will need to come down for access, but it is not preserved so there’s no protection order on it. Elaine asked if we have several protected trees and Ruth replied that some by the Bishop’s House are, but that Tonbridge and Malling are not showing any as being protected. Ruth said she needs to look at the paperwork about it. Peter reported that there is advice about maintaining trees but nothing about a preservation area. Fr Peter reported that although the house is continuing to deteriorate, it is not about to fall down, but he did notice how cold and damp it is after being away. Ruth reported that there is an issue with the fire alarm at the pre-school again and that there may be a cost involved. Elaine reported that at the Future of the Parish Meeting they did say they would ask for a report of the house from the survey the Diocese had carried out. Peter said that we don’t want to hold on to the house and Ruth replied that the survey report would inform a sale. Ruth also said she would get feedback regarding repairs needed.
    Finance: Ian Butler will provide the accounts at the next meeting.
    Pre-School: No report.
    DPC: Have not met since the last parish meeting. Will be meeting next month.
    Health and Safety: Ruth reported that the fire alarm in the pre-school may need to be repaired and she will find out about it.
    Catechists: This has already been covered.
    Churches Together (Malling): Margaret apologised for not making the Service at the Baptist Church on Sunday and reported that the person who usually organises the cards detailing the Christmas Services must have forgotten this time as none were received.
    (Snodland): The next events will be Palm Sunday when there will be a walk from Christ Church to All Saints and night prayer at Paddlesworth Church.
    School: No report.
    Safeguarding: Ian W reported that there have been no reports from the parish reps which is good as it means there have been no incidents. He has tried to meet up with them, but they keep cancelling, so he needs to get that sorted. He expressed concern regarding the young people involved on the Committee with social media etc. Adrian replied that the team are looking at safeguarding regarding social media use and expressed the need for them to contact the Safeguarding Group about it. Elaine volunteered to speak to the Safeguarding Group.
    Children’s Liturgy: All going well. Three new people have come forward to help.
    Youth Group: Paula reported that the November sleepover wasn’t well attended, that it was mostly the older ones there, but that they took it onboard well. A speaker from Porchlight attended and brought a video which was good. Fr Peter said that the Penitential was well attended and the young people made good confessions. The Youth Group Christmas Dinner in the House went very well, and 24 members and leaders were involved. They had a Secret Santa which was very good. The Epiphany Mass went well. At the last Youth Group Meeting, they discussed the future of the Parish and the members wrote about why they want to keep the church and also made a video about it. They will send these to the Archbishop. They are worried about losing their Youth Group. Ian W attends the 5.30pm Sunday Mass and commended the Youth Group Leaders for the work they do as he thinks it is fabulous. Paula said that it is necessary to let the members lead the sessions and to say what they want. David Cross is still involved as a leader. Adrian said that it is good to see the young people who were involved in the Youth Group come back and get married in the church. Elaine asked about those members who made pledges after their Confirmation to help out in the parish who are not already involved. One wanted to be involved in Children’s Liturgy and another to become a Eucharistic Minister, but they have not materialised. Paula replied that Rory would look at it. Adrian suggested that Paula take some Donate 8 cards to the next meeting.
    Baby and Toddler: Fr Peter reported that it is going well, and that Christina has got a few there who are getting ready for the pre-school.
    Area Groups: Maria reported that Eileen is going to have a full English breakfast for 15 of the Larkfield Group at her house. They may also have a soup lunch soon. Maria had a turkey lunch at her house which was attended by 12 people and they all enjoyed it. The Kings Hill Group will be having a Secret Santa Evening on Thursday. All the groups will be having Lent House Masses.
    Donate 8: Adrian reported that the board was clear of posters in early December. Space is now available for the advertising of parish groups’ needs and tasks. They ask the parish group leaders to inform them of any support that is required so that they can have a vibrant new noticeboard. This month 3 people have volunteered to be involved in the Children’s Liturgy Group and these have been passed on to the group leader. One other person has volunteered to be part of the Parish Future Group. Ian W said that the Safeguarding Liaison Officer should be contacted by the Children’s Liturgy Group regarding the new members. Adrian said that they need to be informed of help needed so they can advertise it. Steph let him know that the church cleaners need more volunteers and Elaine suggested that more help may be needed in the garden when the rebuilding of the wall takes place. Maria commented that Gill has everything in hand and that her and Dave have already started digging things up so Elaine agreed that this should be left to the Gardening Club. Dee said that the Gardening Club was not in the newsletter last week and Peter replied that he has emailed them.
    Friendship Group: Maria reported that the group has been to Jenny’s for a soup lunch and will be going to Anne’s for lunch. On Tuesday 1st April they will have their Lent Penitential at 2pm in the church and then go into the house afterwards for a meeting. Maria commented that the elderly are important as well as the young people in the parish.
    Adoration Groups: This seems to be going well. There have been a few issues with some not turning up and there are only now 3 people in the earlier group (from 6-7pm) – Paula, Margaret and Danny. Brian, Emily, Medard and Bogdan are in the later group (7-8pm). Joseph often comes at 6.30pm. There has been an issue with the cold and a suggestion that they move onto the Sanctuary with those heaters there on, but that hasn’t happened yet. Emily thought it was only for a month but has been going every week and the groups have commented on how it makes them feel. They didn’t think it would do for them what it has done, which is encouraging. Something will go in the newsletter about it and there will be a review in about a month’s time. Paula said that there are several parishioners popping in and out during the Adoration time and Elaine commented that it is going well.
  8. AOB: Candles: The votive candles are not working very well and there is often a lot of wax left on them when they need to be thrown as they won’t often light a second time but Peter said they are cheap and we get more money back than we spend on them so we will keep them. Paula commented that the red ones only last about 30 minutes and she needs to light more during Adoration. Fr Peter said that the new ones last longer.
    Toilets: Paula reported that someone on Sunday had put the plug in the sink and filled it to the top with water. The tap was not on and the water went into the overflow but there are a lot of young children going to the toilet on their own. There was also a lot of toilet roll in the bin. Ian W said he would write a note for Fr Peter about the use of the toilets by young children and about them not being allowed to go to the toilet on their own to be read out at all the masses.
    Website: Elaine read it all through and Claire has printed the details off for each group to look at. If changes need to be made, then the updated versions should be given back to Elaine when completed. There is nothing on Welcoming or Eucharistic Ministers and Readers. Elaine has asked Eileen to write something about Welcoming. Elaine asked if we should have the rotas on the website and this was discussed. Peter said he didn’t see the need for it, but Steph said she would find it useful, so Elaine said she would ask Angela. It was noted that all emails in the parish should be blind copied. Maria said she would write something about the Friendship Group. This needs to replace the information about the Mother Teresa Group. Elaine will ask David who maintains the website for the new links to be put in and we need a new one about the future of the parish.
    Maria said that the box containing items for the homeless was taken to the Salvation Army who were very grateful for it. The Salvation Army want shoeboxes and would be very grateful for them, so Maria suggested we perhaps do this in September and have a particular age group in mind for it. Maria will keep in contact with them about it. It was mentioned that often there are no collectors ready to take the collection at the masses so it was suggested that Eileen could let the welcomers know that they are responsible for organising the collectors as well as those taking up the offertory. Steph will contact Eileen about this.
  9. Final Blessing and Prayer: The meeting ended at 9.30pm with a blessing and prayer.
  10. Next Meetings:
    Tuesday 24th March at 8pm after the Stations of the Cross
    Wednesday 6th May at 7.30pm
    Wednesday 8th July at 7.30pm
    Wednesday 9th September at 7.30pm
    Wednesday 11th November at 7.30pm

    Elaine thanked everyone for coming and for all their work.

Finance report - Elaine to contact Ian Butler about it for the Parish Future Group.

Adult Penitential – Adrian to ask Sally to provide the music for this again.

Re-building wall – Ruth to speak to the Pre-School about this.

Paperwork regarding protected trees - Ruth to look at this.

Young people on Committee using social media etc – Elaine to speak to the Safeguarding Team about this.

Donate 8 cards to Youth Group Meeting – Paula will do this and ask Rory to look into members who have made their Confirmation, but who are not involved in the parish.

Contact Safeguarding Team regarding new Children’s Liturgy Members – Steph to ask Simone to do this.

Use of toilets by young children – Ian to write a note for Fr about this to be read out at all masses.

Rotas on the website – Elaine will ask Angela about this.

Parish Future Group and Friendship Group on website – Maria will write something for the website about these groups.

Welcomers to find collectors at masses – Steph to ask Eileen to email the Welcomers about this.