ANNUAL MEETINGS - a blessing or a curse?
Perhaps not surprisingly I am going to make a bid to encourage you to view Annual Parochial Council Meetings as a blessing rather than a curse and here is why.
- They only come around once a year, so coming along is a relatively small sacrifice.
- They give us time to pause and be thankful for all that God has done for us in the previous year.
- They give us an opportunity to thank our Wardens, Officers and PCC members for the great work they do all year round on behalf of the community in maintaining the worship, work and witness of the Church in the parish.
- They are a good channel of communication and they offer an opportunity to be better informed about what is happening in the Church.
Because legally significant changes have taken place in our Churches in the last year it would be good to have well attended APCM,s to help us share information on the things that have taken place and reflect on how we work together more effectively. Coming along won,t land you with a job!
The new Benefice, or group of parishes which share an incumbent, now numbers 10 congregations and 6 PCC's. Obviously therefore there are challenges before us, but they are not insurmountable for there are opportunities too. The challenges are around;
- communication, how we keep in touch with one another; and
- decision-making, how we make decisions that are common to us all.
To address these challenges, we will be looking at a range of different communication methods at the APPC; from face to face meetings, to websites and expanding the scope of the magazine. The PCCs will remain the key decision-making body, with local people determining what happens to the Church in their parish. But we will also need to create a forum for the discussion of concerns that are common to us all. This Benefice Council will have elected representatives from each Annual Meeting and will be responsible for the financial management of the Benefice budget; Parish Offer to the Diocese, clergy expenses and magazine costs. This year the APPCs will be adopting the constitution of the Benefice Council and electing its first members.
With these governance issues resolved we can begin to explore the opportunities created by coming together. Many of these will be relational; better communication helps us to support one another's events more effectively. We can share resources and uses the skills and expertise present in one parish to problem solve in another. The Benefice is big enough to bring in training opportunities that we would otherwise have to travel for. We can create partnerships between parishes to do a piece of work that individual parishes might not have had the resources to contemplate tackling. Overall the opportunity the Benefice offers is to think big. To develop a larger vison of who God is and what he might be calling us to be and do. The traditional Anglican vision of the Church has always had at its heart a commitment to the local community, expressed through the parochial system. This new Benefice asks us to recognise, along-side that, Jesus injunction to love our neighbour as ourselves and to see the flourishing of all our Churches, not only our own as the goal of our prayerful service.
So APCM,s a curse or a blessing, come along and see...