Annual Report 2022
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 and Ashton, in the Diocese of Manchester.
The parish forms part of the United Benefice of Oldham and Werneth, and also forms part of a Mission Partnership with the parish of St. Paul, Oldham. It is part of a Mission Community with the above parishes, and those listed below.
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 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.
The population of the parish is 6,070.
It ranks 235th out of 12382 parishes for overall deprivation, where 1 is the most deprived parish.
It is among the 1.9% most deprived parishes in England.
It is significant that the ranking of the parish for pensioner poverty is strikingly high - 20th out of the 12382 parishes - i.e. among the 0.2% most deprived for Pensioner Poverty.
The parish is straddled by 4 "Lower Super Output Areas".
A "Lower Super Output Area" is the smallest geographical unit for which demographic data is produced:
rank out of 32,844 LSOAs
in England - 2019
| rank out of 32,844 LSOAs|
in England - 2015
|Oldham 035E||W. of Frederick St.|
E. of Manchester Road and
a couple of streets around Kensington Rd.
|Oldham O35D|| |
The area immediately around the church,
bounded by Lee St, Werneth Park Road,
Chamber Road, and Frederick St.
|Oldham 035G||around Manchester St.|
W. of St. Thomas' Church
|Oldham 024D|| |
N. of Lee Street, Werneth Hall Rd.
and St. Thomas St. North.
We make the following observations:
- These LSOAs are in the 3.3%, 3.9%, 8.6%, and 17.5% most deprived LSOAs in the country.
- Those LSOAs to the North of the Parish (i.e. closer to Oldham Town Centre) are the more deprived, while those going down the hill towards the motorway are the least deprived.
There is a disproportionate mix of religious and ethnic communities in the parish: British, Asian, Black African, 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 88%. Many of these are South Asian. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many people of African and Eastern European origin are moving into the parish. The proportion of South Asian residents is slowly reducing.
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.
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.
|Vicar:||Revd. Nick Andrewes|
|Curate:||Revd. Cath Hewison (until November)|
|Churchwardens:||Dr. Graham Lees, vacant|
|Deanery Synod Representatives:||Dr. Graham Lees, Mrs. Kathleen Lees|
|PCC MEMBERS (2 years to serve):||Ms. Ann Bachelor, Mr. Michael Albrow, vacant|
|PCC MEMBERS (1 years to serve):||vacant, vacant, vacant|
|PCC MEMBERS: (0 years to serve):||Miss. Mary Fairhurst, Ms. Mercy Ekhoesuehi and Mrs. Janet Campbell|
|Safeguarding Officer:||Mercy Ekhoesuehi|
|Independent Examiner:||Mr. Keith Witter|
Data for 2020 and 2021 are less than accurate due to Covid-19.
In 2020 services were alternating with St. Paul's Church, and the data does not help in determining a trend.
We have moved to recording "Average Weekly Attendance" and "Usual Sunday Attendance" in line with the Church of England.
|Average Weekly Attendance - Adults||25||28||15||38||46||38||38|
|Average Weekly Attendance - Children||9||12||4||6||5||3||3|
|Usual Sunday Attendance - Adults||24||-||-||34||37||38||-|
|Usual Sunday Attendance - Children||8||-||-||6||3||3||-|
One name has been added to the roll this year making the number of people on the roll 55.
This has been, on the whole, a positive year.
Community use of the church building is slowly, but surely, increasing. The list of activities we host in the church has steadily grown since being able to use the church again coming out of the pandemic. This steady, organic process has allowed us to develop infrastructure (storage, organisational and cleaning regimes). At the time of writing, we host weekly School Services, Xanadu Dance Troupe (three times a week), Oldham Camera Club, English Classes, our Farsi/Dari discussion Group, Hulme Infants Easter and Christmas Services, and of course Voting in Elections. This has helped us move towards our vision of being a church on the Coppice that serves the whole community.
However, we know that we have barely scratched the surface: we continue to look for partners to run activities, and to develop our capacity to host one-off events.
We know also, that we need to address issues in the building - in particular the pointing and stonework. This will both make the building more weathertight, and also reduce drafts. This is important as underfloor heating functions best when the building is kept at a steady, relatively high, temperature, while being used frequently. This means that drafts can have a considerable financial impact, as well as making the building colder. We also hope to consider draft proofing the organ and porch. These are necessary steps before we can consider a ground-source or air-source heat pump in the medium term. This technology would be a perfect match for underfloor heating - and our extensive churchyard with no graves.
Time and energy has gone into consolidating our Sunday Morning Worship - giving thought to the diversity and accessibility of the music that we sing. Thanks are particularly due to Godswill for helping with the "tech" on a Sunday morning!
Our Congregation is generally young, committed, diverse, engaged and new. It is my (our) prayer that we become more numerous! It's been wonderful to see more and more congregation members taking part in different roles in parish live - and with greater and greater confidence. We currently have eleven candidates for confirmation. The next step is to improve our organisation on a Sunday morning.
It's been exciting to see congregation members taking on new roles in church. And of course, to have two ordinands, Richard and Zahra, with us. I have been, and will be, investing time in supporting them as they get to grips with different aspects of ordained ministry. Their ministries are already blossoming and they will be a great blessing to us. I would also like to record our thanks to Revd. Cath for the diligence, gentleness and grace that she shared with us before moving on to become Vicar across Droylsden in November. It's also been encouraging to see Amy Elizabeth appointed as Curate-in-Charge in Audenshaw (within the Deanery), and Hannah Lane serving as curate in the Turton Moorland Team Ministry.
We've already been able to develop our offering to the Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers with Zahra's help: we now use Zoom for our discussion group, so that those who have been moved elsewhere by the Home Office are able to participate; and we've developed the Farsi/Dari Communion Service which is now a regular fixture on the third Sunday of the month. With the help of Daniel and Mei, Richard and Dawn, the English Conversation class continues to flourish.
We have now formalised our commitment to Eco Church. We have signed up to the scheme, and will be considering different areas of church life as a PCC as we move forwards. It was encouraging that our Building already meets the criteria for the Bronze award.
Finally, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to you all for all that you do in the life of the church, and to express the joy and privilege of being Vicar here at St. Thomas'.
Revd. Nick Andrewes
The drive towards a “self-supporting” church continues bringing with it evidence for the hoped-for rewards. However without question it is a time-consuming business and much of that organisation is being coordinated by our Vicar, Nick. To him then I give my thanks. Now however systems are being set in place regarding legal requirements, health and safety and payment methods which should make formalising new contracts easier.
Two problems were soon identified. The first was that the groups using the church required space to store equipment. This gave us impetus to start a wholesale reorganisation of the storage areas we have and whilst by no means complete, progress has been made. The other problem was keeping the church clean. We had anticipated this but thought it could be done within the church. It was soon apparent that this was not the case and so a caretaker (paid through the school) comes in to do the cleaning.
One of the groups now using our facilities is a Zimbabwean Church who start their Sunday service at around 13-30 each Sunday. So far the arrangement seems to be working well and hopefully will continue to do so.
Similarly for St Thomas School, the opening up of the Church now allows them to hold full school assemblies which our clergy and Richard often lead. For some time they had not had a space available for the whole school to come together.
Obviously it was the re-ordering of the Church which has allowed all these activities to be developed and it is therefore unfortunate to have to report that there are still three unresolved issues which are being continuously monitored.
The first is the expansion / contraction of the floor which as of now is giving rise to three areas where the boards have slightly opened.
The second problem has related to one of the two boilers needed to heat the Church. One has been prone to cut out which in winter leaves the other struggling to maintain temperature. It is pleasing to report that recently the faulty part has been identified and both are now operational.
The third problem was also associated with the three underfloor heating zones independently reaching their required operating temperatures. There appears some evidence that this may be happening and if true would be a massive step forward.
The Quinquennial Inspection of the Church took place in 2022. These five year inspections are carried out by our Architects, Graham Holland Associates who send the completed report to the DAC Secretary in Manchester together with copies to the Church. The report is a full health check for the Church and includes an external structural assessment, an internal assessment and the obtaining of certificates of worthiness for electrical, gas and water appliances etc. The report is compulsory and paid for by the Diocese (although we must pay for the electrical, lightning conductor, gas boiler and other reports). Within the report are recommendations of the work that should be carried out over the next five years.
On the basis of this report and some parts of the 2017 report the Architects put out tenders for the repointing and stonework repairs. The tenders have now been returned, will be assessed by the Architects and three presented to the Church. The Vicar has already submitted a Faculty for the work and on acceptance of this Faculty grants will be applied for to fund the work.
Throughout the year smaller ongoing repairs have been made to failed lights, broken toilet, broken window glass, the hole in the wall fixed and a new gutter fitted. Final repair to the railings is awaited as are the installation of new vehicle access gates.
It has been good to see the continuing development of the Farsi / Dari Bible study group and the continuation of the English study group which is open to all. The start of a Farsi/Dari Holy Communion service which is on the third Sunday of each month is also running well.
Many of you will remember the planting of around 5000 spring flowering bulbs in October 2021. In 2022 the snowdrops, crocus, bluebells, tulips and anemone flowered and we got our reward. I am sure you will have seen the 2023 displays of snowdrops and crocus and are now anticipating the flowering of the others.
One group that I should specifically like to mention are our asylum seekers who have toiled helping to bring the grounds back under control. I thank them for their hard work. Over summer many local people came and sat in the grounds to chat whilst small children played. I think we can say “the Church has a presence on the Coppice”.
PCC (Minute) Secretary's Report
P.C.C. has continued to meet, usually via Zoom, every 2 months. We have been moving forward, with God's help with new items discussed and older tasks ticked off and completed.
Revd.Cath Hewison very ably presided over our May and July meetings. Her grant application from Action Together was approved. In July, our response to Covid and Holy Communion was discussed with reference to the latest C.of E Covid guidance.
In our September meeting, we were pleased to welcome Ann Batchelor onto the P.C.C. An employee of the school is now being employed as our new church cleaner and he is doing an excellent job. Nominations for Eucharistic Assistants were proposed and accepted.
In December, we heard the good news that “Brethren in Christ Church" - attended by a number of people in the local area with Zimbabwean roots – want to use the church for their Sunday service. This seems to be working well.
February saw us discuss our carbon footprint and Eco church Awards in some detail. Parish fees were also updated. Once again, we have seen God at work in our fellowship and we are grateful.
PCC Treasurer's Report
Our Direct giving in 2022 was up by £3,275 compared to 2021. Tax recovered from Gift Aid was down by £771 due to lower receipts in 2021.
Parish share for 2022 was £8,160 which we paid in full. Running expenses electricity, gas, water rates and insurance were slightly up on 2021. I managed to negotiate new three year contracts for gas & electric before the large increases.
We have one final payment of just over £5,000 yet to make for the reorder.
Overall, we do finish with a surplus of £8,160, however we did receive insurance claims of £3,870 and we still have £2,420 to pay out for work that has not yet been completed.
Ordinary Parish Expenditure is lower this year due to a grant that Nick received was and split between ourselves and St Paul’s.
I would like to thank everyone who has set up standing orders to donate on a regular basis to church and also encourage anyone else if they would wish to use the envelope scheme that I have plenty of spare envelopes.
Eco Church Report
This year, St. Thomas' has registered for Eco Church, which is a certification scheme that encourages us to care for God's earth.
We are working through the different areas that are included, and are working towards Bronze.
We are currently at the following levels:
|Worship and teaching:||not considered yet|
|Community:||not considered yet|
|Lifestyle:||not considered yet|
The PCC has committed to reducing the Parish's carbon footprint year on year by 10% - using the 2022 figure, below, as a baseline.
We have completed the Energy Footprint Tool this year:
- A comparison with last year is hard to make, given that in 2021 the building was closed for a large part of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- While our overall CO2 footprint doesn't compare well well with other churches (we are in the bottom centile), once this is adjusted for total use of the building, you can see we do much better compared to other churches (we are in the top centile).
At the time of writing, the snowdrops and crocuses in the Church Grounds are looking lovely. We look forward to enjoying the biodiversity of the church grounds. Thanks to Graham and the team for their work this year: particularly clearing the compost heap, mowing the grass, and putting up the bug hotels.
The PCC will consider our next steps over the coming year. For the sake of our Common Home, we need to continue to strive to reduce our negative impact on the planet.
Sunday school is held in the Vestry on 1st and 2nd Sundays of the month. On the remaining Sundays, the children use their sketch books to illustrate a point from the sermon and are very happy to talk about what they have done. Some of the children are attending confirmation preparation classes.
Numbers attending range from 6 to 11 children, aged between 6 and 13 years with one baby joining us occasionally.
Examples of our activities are: making an origami dove (Holy Spirit), a four seasons calendar to illustrate that God doesn't change with the seasons and a Treasure Hunt in the church grounds on a beautiful August day.
For the Christingle /Nativity service, the children shared the work they had done on the “Nativity Advent Calendar” by reading relevant Bible verses, commenting on them and displaying their illustrations on a “tableau" board at the front of church. This tableau was later transferred to the board in the Porch entrance. On the board we have also illustrated our work on “God's gift to us – Planet Earth”.
The children get on well together and at the end of the service make a bee line for the Haribos and playing the piano imaginatively. A big “Thank you” to our assistants also.
This year, we have had a stable return to Sunday School which now runs on the 1st and 2nd Sunday of the month.
Every session is run by at least one leader and 2 assistants, all of which are DSB checked.
So far we have not had any Safeguarding issues in the Church community. All other groups that facilitate the Church space have also been reviewed in order with the policy.
The Deanery Synod is a meeting of representatives from individual parishes in Oldham and Ashton Deanery. 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. Meetings have taken place on Zoom, but will shortly be "in person" again. Thanks to our reps for this year.
We have begun to work within our Mission Community to develop a Mission Action Plan. This hopefully allows the distinctiveness of each parish to be expressed, rather than forcing us down a particular route and forcing us into a straightjacket. In fact, the overlap between our Parish and Mission Community Mission Action Plans is such that we can gain a clarity of vision and focus for the future.y.
Revd. Nick Andrewes
Planned Giving & Gift Aid
We have 18 regular Gift Aid donors and we can also reclaim gift aid from loose collections and anyone who uses the envelopes but does not pay tax themselves.
In 2022 we recovered £4,094 in tax, this really does help our finances.
COVID restrictions have continue to limit the level of pastoral care we have been able to provide - albeit increasingly less so.
Care Home visits have resumed, with Nick and Cath, alternately, offering a Service of Holy Communion, across both the parish of St Paul and the parish of St Thomas, each Tuesday of the month.
- The Coppice
- Park Hills
- Tree Tops
- Chamber Mount
Likewise, Holy Communion at home is available, to those unable to attend a service in church due to infirmity.
Thanks to Norah Baxendale for her support with funerals and visiting; and to Cath for her ministry, including while Nick was on Sabbatical.
Home collecting boxes have been distributed to members of the congregation by Mercy Ekhoseuehi assisted by her daughter Godswill. At Christmas we held a Christingle and Carol service, our Sunday School children took an integral part in the service.
This year the Church has raised £276 in home collection boxes and Christingle. Thank you for your donations, prayer and support for these children in very difficult circumstances.
English Conversation Classes
Held for an hour and a half each Thursday in term time, our English conversation and written English classes are led by our Interserve mission partners Daniel and Mei Whetham, assisted by volunteers Dawn Stewart and Richard McEwan. Over the summer, many of our asylum seeker learners were moved by the Home Office to other towns and thus unable to continue with their classes. More recently, a group of mums of pupils from our primary school have joined the classes.
We have given harvest gifts to Lifeshare, Manchester, supporting homeless and vulnerable people across Greater Manchester.
Based on the Anglican cathedral in Lubumbashi , D.R.Congo, Kimbilio is supporting street children with a day centre, four residential homes , a primary school , and vocational training for young mothers to help them support their children.
The toilets in church have been twinned with ones in Afghanistan and Nigeria . Toilet twinning is a scheme which facilitates in communities, the provision of safe toilets, access to clean water, and knowledge of hygiene.