The Parish of St. Thomas, Werneth

Annual Report 2019

Administrative Information

The Church of St. Thomas is situated in St. Thomas' Circle, Werneth, Oldham OL8 1SF. The correspondence address is St. Paul’s Vicarage, 55 Belgrave Road, Oldham OL8 1LU.

The parish is in the Deanery of Oldham West, in the Diocese of Manchester.

The parish forms part of the United Benefice of Oldham and Werneth, and a Mission Partnership with the parish of St. Paul, Oldham. It is part of a Mission Unit with Holy Trinity, Coldhurst, St Stephen & All Martyrs, Oldham, and St. Mary with St. Peter, Oldham.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is a charity excepted from registration with the Charity Commission.

The Parish Bank Account is with NatWest. The Insurers of the Parish are EIG.

The Parish

The parish contains a variety of property which includes owner occupier, rented, council houses, apartments and sheltered housing. There are terraced houses, a legacy of the cotton industry, and a mix of semi and detached houses.

New homes have been built in the parish.

With regards to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, the parish straddles 4 LSOAs. A "Lower Super Output Area" is the smallest geographical unit for which demographic data is produced. Oldham 035D is ranked 528, and Oldham O35G is ranked 1,154 out of 32,844 LSOAs across the country. In the 1.6% and 3.5% most deprived, respectively. Both of these LSOAs are within 50 metres walk of the church.

There is a disproportionate mix of religious and ethnic communities in the parish: British, Asian, and Eastern European. The parish is rated as having the highest ethnic diversity (i.e. highest proportion who are not White British) within the Diocese of Manchester at 89%. Many of these are South Asian. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many people of African and Eastern European origin are moving into the parish.

There are a number of schools in the Parish: St. Thomas, Werneth (CE) Primary School, St. Patrick's (RC) Primary School, Werneth Primary School, as well as Hulme Kindergarten.

Vicar's Report

This year, in January we said goodbye to Revd. Janet Pitman, as she completed her curacy and moved on to pastures new. Also in January we were excited to welcome Revd. Judith Ware after her stay in Guyana. In June, we welcomed Gina Andrewes in her additional role as the Benefice's 5th Authorised Lay Minister.

We began the year, as we ended the previous year, worshipping in the School. We moved back into Church in August, and celebrated our return with a Sunday Morning Service where the Bishop of Manchester presided. On the one hand, it has been fantastic to be worshipping in a flexible space in a warm church. On the other, this has been tempered by continued "snagging" - putting right things that were missed during the building work. This has included issues with the floor, the walls, and the heating system. The process of remedying these things, and working is well under way, but not yet complete. Future challenges will include making the church more weather proof, by attending to the pointing, once the reorder has been signed off.

We also had our own "snags" to deal with: What was the best way of worshipping in the space? When should we use the high altar? When should we use the low altar? I'm also delighted that we now have a Crucifer to assist with the Celebration of Holy Communion.

It has been wonderful to host community events and activities in church (and the church is such a wonderful venue for hosting these events): the Hulme Infant and Juniors Harvest Concert; the Voting in the December General Election; a Christmas Fair, Violin Lessons in the Vestry, and stitch and Share on a Monday Morning - in addition to our Farsi Discussion Group and Midweek Communion Service.

Sadly, our plans to develop the church as a community venue have now been frustrated by the restrictions due to Covid-19, and this is putting some strain on us financially. I have no doubt that we will move forward as we share the gifts that God has given us.

Beyond the building, of course, we are about people - and it has been great to see more people getting involved in our services, particularly the Sunday School who give their all so enthusiastically under Maureen's direction; our new Wardens, Hakim and Navid; and thanks as well to our Iranian and Afghan members who are always so eager to help when it comes to looking after the garden, or the inside of the church (painting, decorating, cleaning, draft-excluding); to Gordon and Beryl for their care for the church building; and to all our Church Officers. Many thanks.

It has been lovely to see new faces in church as we gather to worship. We seem ever to be becoming more diverse as a church community.

Our Mission Action Plan is now due to be renewed, as the completion of the reorder has meant that most items on it have now been accomplished. We continue to stretch ourselves as we consider how we can shape our church life and service in response to the call of Christ, here at St. Thomas'.

(Revd. Nick Andrewes)

PCC Object

The Parochial Church Council has the responsibility, according to law:

To cooperate with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the church, pastoral, evangelistic, social, and ecumenical.

PCC Structure & Governance

The method of appointment of PCC members is broadly as set out in the Church Representation Rules, with one exception: Church Wardens may be elected for an unlimited number of consecutive periods of office. The Hon. Assistant Priest is also an ex-officio member of the PCC.

Thus the PCC currently consists of 9 elected members, depending on numbers on the Electoral Roll. Thus 4 were elected in 2012 (when there were more numbers on the role); 3 each year. In addition, there are ex officio members: 3 Deanery Synod Representatives; 2 Church Wardens, the Vicar, and the Hon. Assistant Priest.

All who attend Church are encouraged to register on the Electoral Roll and stand for election to the PCC.

PCC Membership
Role
Name
Vicar:Revd. Nick Andrewes (Chair)
Curate:Revd. Janet Pitman (to January)
Churchwardens:Mr. Navid Shirzadegan, Mr. Hakim Touhidi
Deanery Synod Representatives:Mr. Jonathan Shaw and Mrs. Maureen Yarwood
PCC MEMBERS: (2 years to serve):Mr. Ali Reza Haidari and Mr Taher Rezaei
PCC MEMBERS (1 year to serve):Mrs. Janet Campbell, Mr. Gordon Lees, and Miss. Beverley Hogg
PCC MEMBERS (0 years to serve):Miss. Mary Fairhurst
Safeguarding Officer:Miss. Beverley Hogg
Independent Examiner:Mr. Keith Witter
Electoral Roll

A new electoral roll was prepared this year. It has 46 people on roll.

During the last year, the following people have been added to the roll:

  • Mr Payam Ghafourianhama
  • Mr Akbar Gharamani
  • Mr Mohamad Husain Husaini
  • Mr Ali Jafari
  • Mr Hussain Khomiran
  • Mr Amir Yoisefi

No names were removed from the roll during the year.

The roll was open for enrolments for a 2 week period in March prior to the lockdown and the following person was added to the roll:

  • Mr Mohammed Shirzad

(Michael Albrow)

PCC Secretary's Report

The year 2019 appears to have been ‘a year of achievements’ following a period of appealing for grants, loans etc. However by the early part of the year we felt confident enough to put our plans into action by creating first of all a warm environment for both worship and community activities.

This involved the removal of all the pews, the old heating system and the original flooring and installing modern under-floor pipe work with amazing results and completed with a light colour floor very pleasing to the eye and easy to maintain.

During this major upheaval we held our Sunday worship in the day school which proved to be reasonably satisfactory and at least maintained our regular worship and allowed us to socialise over coffee at the close of the service. Once the heating was completed the contractors, under the direction of the Parish architect, moved on to the installation of a new kitchen on the north side of the chancel together with new toilet provision where the former kitchen used to be. Storage cupboards were created with timber from the pews and a supply of light-weight stackable chairs bought for multi-purpose use.

Alongside the major work has been other more subsidiary concerns such as dry rot and its implications. However throughout it all the Vicar and the PCC have remained positive so much so that by September we were able to announce the re-opening of the church for both worship and other new activities. This took the form of a reopening service at which the Bishop of Manchester officiated and together with a large congregation celebrated the renewal. In its new capacity the church was used as a polling station in the elections when as many as 800 people had the opportunity to view the building of which we are justly proud.

We are greatly indebted to the untiring efforts of our Vicar, the Reverend Nick Andrewes who lead us confidently through many pitfalls to arrive at our ultimate goal and to all who have been involved Church Wardens, Officers and members of our multicultural congregation we offer sincere thanks.

(Mary Fairhurst)

PCC Treasurer's Report

RECEIPTS

The main part of our income is by the envelope scheme and we were £117 down on 2018 and the loose collection up by £132 on 2018. Gift day was down by £3,081 on 2018. The tax we recovered in 2019 was up by £199 on 2018, we can still recover tax on all cash donations as well as gift aided money. Overall our direct giving receipts were down by £524 on 2018.

PAYMENTS

Parish share for 2019 was £7,000 which we paid in full.

Running expenses electricity, gas and insurance were up by £6,793 on 2018. This was largely due to having not paid the electric for 18 months and finally paying the invoice of over £5,000 and also larger gas invoice now the heating is working.

Both Clergy expenses and general church expenses are up on 2018, this is mainly due to expenses occurred when the building work was finished and so one off costs that will not happen in 2020.

Re-order payment is obviously for the re-order which covers paying for various things, architect fees, planning permission, Bullens, piano storage, construction project and engineers reports.

The magazine sales made us a surplus of £331. Grateful thanks to the producer of the magazine.

Overall we do finish with a deficit of £58,800. This is of course due to the re-order and moving money round from other accounts. Finances are now going to be very tight and we do hope to get some more income by hiring out the church more.

(Janet Campbell)

Church Attendance

Average Sunday Attendance from October Census for recent years:

Measure
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
aged 16 and over (including baptisms)3836353437
aged 16 and over (who attend less than 12 times per year)74599
aged 16 and over (who attend more than 12 times per year)3132302528
aged 16 and under53335
Safeguarding

2019 was a bit strange as for most of the year we were still using St Thomas’s School for services. The Sunday School was held in a room adjoining the studio used for services and as well as the Sunday School leader each child participating had a parent in attendance as well.

Whilst in school, the equipment and space used were covered by the School’s risk assessment.

Once we moved back in to church we had to ensure that the environment was safe for everyone, this included the new toilet facilities and kitchen facilities as well as the church and the vestry.

Disclosure & Barring Service (formerly Criminal Record Bureau) Checks

All Child Protection Officers, Clergy, Sunday School Coordinators, Teachers and Assistants, however small their role, must submit to a D.B.S. check. This process was started in 2004 and all people involved in Child Protection and the Sunday School have been given approval to work with our children.

Health & Safety

  1. The Sunday School usually takes place in the vestry, which is warm and secure
  2. There is always a teacher and parent with each group at all times, no matter how small the group
  3. There are sufficient tables and chairs of a suitable child size and they are in good condition
  4. Fire extinguishers are in place in church near the kitchen and they are checked each year
  5. All Sunday School teachers and assistants are told that the First Aid Box is in the kitchen

Recommendations for the next 12 months

  1. Resolve any new D.B.S. requirements for potential Sunday School leaders, including arranging on line training.
  2. Update consent forms with all parents
  3. Check all play equipment, furniture, etc.

Safeguarding is carried out in accordance with documents issued by the Diocese of Manchester and the Church of England. Copies are available online.

(Bev Hogg)

Deanery Synod

The Deanery Synod is a meeting of representatives from individual parishes in West Oldham. It is, among other things, a means by which local churches can raise concerns that may need consideration by the Diocese. It is also a means by which they may discuss, and vote on, issues of concern to the diocese and national Church.

Both clergy and lay people from each parish attend. Jonathan Shaw and Maureen Yarwood represented St. Thomas’ for the laity.

Meetings generally follow the same pattern. The first half may be given over to a presentation by a guest speaker, who may be someone with a particular role in the diocese, or someone from a national organisation or charity. After this, we hear from (among others), the budget secretary, inter-faith workers, and any issues raised by individual parishes.

We met only twice in 2019. At the May meeting we heard a talk from Revd Andy Salmon, who coordinates Mission Action Plans across the diocese. He highlighted common themes and examples of original and creative practice.

Other reports included Foundations for Ministry (15 people from the Deanery had registered) and on the previous winter’s night shelter project.

There was no visiting speaker at the October meeting; business included updates to the Deanery Mission Action Plan and ways to encourage families who have their babies baptised to return to Church. Other reports included the work of the night shelter, restarted for the coming winter, a report from the Diocesan Synod, and an update on parish shares.

(Jonathan Shaw)

Planned Giving & Gift Aid

St Thomas’ continues to benefit from the Gift Aid scheme, under which we can reclaim the income tax paid on donations.

The number of eligible, regular donors continued to decline during 2019, with the number now standing at 14. However, we also received a number of very generous one-off donations on which we were able to claim.

We are also grateful that we are still able to benefit from the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme. This allows us to aggregate any cash donations under £30 into a single total. These do not have to be from Gift Aiders and can be anonymous.

Therefore, in practice we are able to claim for all our envelope and plate collections and most other donations from congregation and visitors.

As a result, we were able to reclaim £4,487-13 for payments made in 2019. This compares well with £4,332-13 during the previous year.

Thank you to everyone who gives so generously to our Church. If you pay income tax and would like to sign up for Gift Aid, please have a word with me.

(Jonathan Shaw)

Stitch & Share

We continue to run the Textiles and Sewing Groups on a Wednesday at St. Paul's in term time between 10 am and 12 noon, and 1pm and 3pm, respectively.

In October we were very pleased to have been awarded a grant from Near Neighbours for £3900 to start a running a group at St. Thomas’ Church on Mondays. This has been an ambitious project of three groups in a day. So far we have established in the morning a sewing Asian garments group, with a regular attendance of ten. In the afternoon we are advertising a ‘Relaxation through textile embroidery’ to the local community and also to the local authorities social prescribing scheme.

Social Prescribing supports and refers people to community activities that they feel they would be interested in. This also helps to combat loneliness and isolation, and has a positive effect on mental and physical well-being

Stitch and Share is run under the auspices of St. Paul's PCC. The accounts are presented below:

RECEIPTS
£
PAYMENTS
£
General Donations321.77St. Paul's Resources61.52
Grants4,390.00St. Thomas' Resources1,377.99
Trading174.98St. Paul's Room Hire1,265.00
St. Thomas' Room Hire120.00
St. Paul's Sewing Tutor630.00
St. Thomas' Textiles Tutor120.00
TOTAL4,886.75TOTAL3,574.51
Balance at 1 / 1 / 19:£ 2,655.38Balance at 31 / 12 / 19:£ 3,967.62
SURPLUS£ 1,312.24

(Gina Andrewes & Auriel Hopkinson)

Oldham Community Night Shelter

This year the project took place at Impact Church, on Manchester Road. A number of church members volunteered.

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