FRESHFORD LIMPLEY STOKE HINTON CHARTERHOUSE

Introduction

This is a Parish and Benefice consisting of three villages in the Deanery of Bath in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. The total population is approximately 1,500. The villages are all situated about five miles from the City of Bath surrounded by open countryside on the fringe of the South Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your rich blessings upon our life together in this place and for the opportunities you now present to us. We ask that you will help us to share responsibility, to grow in faith, to love one another, to care for those in need, to reach out to others and to always welcome newcomers.

Vision and Mission

Our vision is: ‘To find a model of rural ministry that makes disciples and grows the church in today’s society’. 
Our mission is: ‘To become a strong, vibrant and compassionate body of people worshipping God, rejoicing and growing in confidence in the Gospel, and reaching into the community with the love of Jesus’.

Benefice
Agreed Mission / Evangelism / Discipleship Priorities and Goals

Summary of Progress to date Next Stage(s) Key Partners / Collaborations / Resource needs Measurable outcomes in one year’s time
Freshford with Limpley Stoke and Hinton Charterhouse Make disciples and Be Disciples as a means of encouraging each member to play their part It was on the parish profile and we (PCC) have re-emphasized this desire. Start a home group – possibly doing Freedom in Christ course Present leadership To have grown significantly in our walk with Christ
  When we are each playing out part our aim is to Grow the Church numerically as well as in depth of faith Messy church is encouraging slow growth in a much younger element we want to build on this and our link with the school Expecting to employ a part-time Children’s and family worker by the autumn PCC Parish funds and advice from others To have a lot more children’s work, Holiday clubs and parenting courses running
  Part of our combined desire to grow as disciples we will be Learning how to lead and being released into ministry We have had a PCC away day to look at who we are and how healthy the churches are. Growing Leaders course (CPAS), in conjunction with folk from other village churches in the deanery. Venue for these days. Possibly Homewood park hotel? A group of competent leaders ready to take on and initiate other parts of our ministries
  Make the churches accessible to all New toilet proposed for     St John. Refurbishment for St Peter is with architects now. Removal of loose pews and creation of open area for kids work etc. St Mary’s Source the funding
Apply for grants
Get DAC permissionsCreation of a new Website and improved usage of our facebook page
Architects
DAC
Advice on grant making charities
Work nearing completion in St Peter.
New Toilet in St John
Large useable tidy space in St Mary
  New forms of worship and ministries PCC agreed to experimental café church in Hinton Start a men’s breakfast and women’s meeting Book the hall in Hinton for Second Sunday in the month from September.
Book venue and sort time for other ministries
PCC
Hinton Village Hall
To see where this new form of worship develops in a year
To see that both men and women feel valued

The Worshipping Community

Until recently our worship was traditional and village based. Over the last two to three years we have started to experiment and develop new forms of worship together as one Parish, for example:

  • Worshipping together as a Parish in all three churches
  • Starting two informal services of Morning Worship a month with lay leadership. No robes are worn and the worship is led by a key board with instruments when available. This service is currently supported by a team from a local charismatic church.
  • A monthly children’s service in the afternoon, followed by tea, along the lines of Fresh Expressions. This is popular and growing and there are now up to 50 who attend.
  • Throughout the year there are several services that attract several hundred people from the village community, e.g. Christmas services. We see these as key to our witness.
  • All the above are working well and we want to develop and expand them.

How we worship falls into three ‘brackets’:

Modern worship: We recognise the need to develop modern worship and are keen to grow new congregations with more modern worship styles too. We hope that these services will become a place of invitation. We know not everyone is comfortable with this style of worship but see it as crucial in what we offer, in our worshipping life and in our mission.

Liturgy: We use Common Worship for services of Holy Communion. These are relatively well attended and we are prepared to be flexible and creative (e.g. Taize worship).

Traditional worship: We are also keen to maintain continuity for long standing Church members. There is a small community of parishioners who worship using BCP and our new incumbent must be comfortable with this provision.

We are looking therefore for a new incumbent who is confident and comfortable with a full range of services, formal and informal, and can help develop modern worship that will be attractive to others and be part of our outreach and mission.

We want our mission and worship to continue to be based on a broad, open evangelical approach.

 

Current Monthly Pattern of Services

The organ supports the more formal worship in each church, with a keyboard player together small group of musicians playing at the more informal services.

Currently this is our basic Sunday service pattern.

  1st Sunday 2nd Sunday 3rd Sunday 4th Sunday
St. Peter's 6.00 p.m. Praise and Prayer (10)* (held in Old Bakery) 10.30 am Morning Worship (30)* 10.30 Parish Communion (33)*  
St. Mary's   9.00 am Parish Communion BCP (20)* 6.00 pm Evensong (BCP) (15)* 4.00 pm Children’s Service (48)*
St. John's 10.30 a.m. Parish Communion (30)*     10.30 am Morning Worship (40)*

*Attendance numbers are a three month average.

On the fifth Sunday we have just one service of Parish Holy Communion which rotates around the three churches.

Average number of funerals during 2012/13/14 (in all three churches) 2012           9   
2013          11   
2014            9

Average number of weddings during 2012/13/14 (in all three churches) 2012          13
2013             9
2014             9

Average number of Baptisms 2012             8
2013             5
2014           10

*Attendance numbers are a three month average.

On the fifth Sunday we have just one service of Parish Holy Communion which rotates around the three churches.

 

Current Pattern of Outreach

We recognise that we need help to develop our outreach further and help us grow numerically as a Parish.

Currently our main forms of outreach are:

  • Regular and frequent contact with Primary School
  • Weekly playgroup
  • Some Home Groups already exist but mostly these are for specific seasons. Home Groups need to be more firmly and regularly established.
  • Established weekly prayer group
  • Zambia Link:   A link has been set up with a Parish in Zambia and last Autumn we hosted a visit from the Parish.
  • Church presence at village activities, e.g. Fetes, Pubs, Quiz nights and lunches for the over 60s.
  • Sick visiting
  • Church led coffee morning each week which is valued by the elderly.
  • Home communion
  • Parish Magazine
  • Craft workshops for children before Christmas and Easter held in one of the churches.
  • 4.00 p.m. service monthly for children and parents.       This is growing.
  • Walk of Witness on Palm Sunday.
  • Carol Services (in all three villages), Christingle Service and Christmas Day service where churches are full to capacity.       Carol singing in the Pubs in the villages.
  • Clergy and congregation engaged with many more people in the community than regularly attend church.

Key Characteristics of the local community

  • Affluent area with a wide cross section of age groups.
  • Successful, if small, local Church of England VC Primary School of which the Incumbent is an ex-officio Governor.
  • A toddler playgroup that meets in one of our churches weekly.
  • A pre-school group which meets in the hall close to the Primary School.
  • A Brownie pack that meets weekly in the hall close to the Primary School and attends specific annual church services within our Parish.
  • A strong community spirit and identity in each village with a Post Office with small store in one village and a successful community shop, with post office facilities, in another. There is a GP Surgery, several popular Pubs and good facilities for a number of sporting activities, e.g. cricket, football and tennis clubs.
  • Wide range of very good local state and independent secondary schools and the highly rated University of Bath nearby with excellent facilities open to the public.
  • The Parish contains a significant number of retired people and there are various community activities available.
  • An increasing number of younger families are moving into the Parish.
  • Each village has its own Parish Church.
  • Three village halls and one church hall in the Parish.
  • Transport links are good and include:
    Railway station in Freshford village.
    Regular bus service from each village to the centre of Bath and nearby towns.
    Easy access to the M4 and Bristol Airport.
    Excellent rail connections to and from Bath.

The Rectory

The Rectory is a successful coach-house conversion of the late 1970s in the grounds of the Old Rectory in Freshford. It has a good sized study, two reception rooms, a reasonable sized kitchen and four bedrooms. It is in good order and a comfortable house. It has parking facilities and an enclosed garden with magnificent views.

Description of Church Buildings

St. Peter’s Freshford

St. Peter’s is a Grade 2 listed building in the heart of the conservation area of the village. Parts of the church date from the late fifteenth century. It has a fine peal of 6 bells. The church can seat approximately 150 people in the pews and is open each day.

The last quinquennial inspection was held in November 2013, which raised no major problems. The building’s main difficulties concern disabled access, inside and outside, and poor parking Across the road from the building is the Old Bakery, converted for church use approximately twenty years ago. It is held in trust by the Diocese for St Peter’s. In recent years it has been increasingly difficult to fund the maintenance of both the church and the Old Bakery. The church committee has now recommended the sale of the Old Bakery, with the funds being used to completely re-order the church. This would allow us to create disabled access both inside and outside the building, remove the pews and replace with more suitable furniture and decorate internally.

The vision is to create a building which will not only include the facilities now provided by the Old Bakery, but which will have wider use for the community, especially the church school which is within easy walking distance and which uses the church for its school services. Our hope is that a building can be created which will complement the other two churches in the parish.

St. Mary’s The Virgin Limpley Stoke

St Mary the Virgin is the village church for Limpley Stoke and is a very beautiful, small, medieval church of Saxon origin with a substantial early 20th century addition; it is listed Grade 2*. The church can seat approximately 105 people comfortably in pews. Two years ago the church was developed internally to include a cloakroom and kitchenette facilities which now allow much greater support of baptisms, weddings, funerals and other events such as fundraising concerts, children’s afternoon services, “Mums and Toddlers” etc.

Externally the Church sits in approximately 1.5 acres of ground with an adjoining car park.   The church is open during daylight hours.

St Mary’s is the only one of the three churches in the parish which currently offers BCP services in the form of one Communion service and one Evensong a month. The last quinquennial inspection was conducted in 2013.

St. John the Baptist, Hinton Charterhouse

St. John’s is in a Conservation Area a short distance from the centre of the village and is Grade II* listed. There is a sizeable walled churchyard and parts of the church date from the 13th and 14th centuries.

A quinquennial inspection was undertaken in July 2014 and the only major recommendation was that the lead covering of the tower roof should be renewed and a faculty is with the Diocesan Advisory Council to undertake the work, the cost of which will be met from reserves. The report noted that the church is in a good state of repair. St. John’s can seat about 170 people and is open during daylight hours.

St. John’s has been encouraged by a small group from a nearby church visiting once a month to help establish informal Morning Worship.   This service is planned by a small team and is often lay led. There is a small choir at the monthly service of Holy Communion.

Summary of Financial Position

The Parish has strong financial reserves of over £160,000 in savings as at 31st December 2014. However it has not run a stewardship campaign for many years and in the last few years, the level of regular giving has been insufficient to meet our overall expenditure. A major campaign is being launched this year and people are already responding positively, recognising that getting our finances in order is essential if we are to have the funds to grow our churches and be effective in reaching out into the community in the future.

Since the Parish was formed 40 years ago, financial responsibility has rested largely with each of the churches rather than the PCC itself. The PCC recognises that this is incorrect and it will be developing plans and processes to ensure that overall control will in the future rest with the PCC and that powers to spend throughout the Parish will become controlled through clearly defined delegations of authority and budgetary controls. A PCC-cum-Benefice Treasurer has been appointed who is seeking to develop ‘whole parish’ accounting with appropriate financial systems and budgets. The Treasurer is supported by a Parish Finance Executive Group, appointed by the PCC in consultation with the Diocesan Board of Finance.

Summary of PCC Structure and other committees

We have a committed PCC made up of 13 individual members from the three churches.

We have three church committees. They are not constituted as DCCs.

We feel the need to review our committee structure. There is some work to be completed regarding the various roles and responsibilities of the PCC and the three committees and how they inter-relate.

There are ‘Friends of …..’ groups for each Church who raise funds to support the fabric of the buildings from a wide church and non church community base.