Annual Reports 2014

St Cyr’s Church Stonehouse

Annual Parochial Church Meeting

March 4th  2014

Annual Reports

for the year:     2013/2014


Report by the Priest-in-charge of Stonehouse

“How are you?” may be a question that you are often asked.  The questioner does not necessarily want a detailed response, and often a vague reply like “fine – what about you?” seems to be the best response.  There are two possible direct responses to that question.  One is to say, “the most important thing that happened to me since we last met is …...;”  the other is “on the whole my life is going in a good direction and I'm happy.”

Precisely the same happens when I am asked to report on this year at St. Cyr's.  I can be vague - things are OK, thanks! - but I guess you want a little more than that.  I can pick out what I think are the highlights of the year.  Or I can say whether I think we are going in the right direction and point out that we do some very ordinary things very well, though, perhaps, a few things not quite so well.  Most of you will be aware that, while sheer laziness might point me towards the first of the three options, my unexcitable temperament means that I am more likely to opt for the last!

So rather than saying, we rejoice at the start of a new Local Ministry Team, I am going to say that the LMT has been quietly working really hard on our regular worship, and has provided some new variety in the diet offered Sunday by Sunday (while we would like more time to consider the bigger issues and our list of things not to be forgotten, is growing!)

Numerical growth continues to elude the main 9.45 a.m. Sunday service, but I do believe that our congregation has grown in commitment to God, in dedication to his kingdom, in prayerfulness, and in understanding of His ways.  The various small groups that have met over the year are both, it seems to me, a means of that growth and a sign of it happening, and I am looking forward to our Lent groups this year as well as to seeing the new prayer group thrive.

Ecumenically, I am not reporting on big new initiatives, but on steady progress in building good relationships both with the Roman Catholic and Bethel Churches (such as the Lent lunches at St. Joseph's, and the recent Women's World Day of Prayer service at the Bethel Church) and with the Baptist and Methodist Churches as they have welcomed new leaders (symbolised perhaps by our using the Baptist Church for our Annual Meeting and their use of our building for a marriage blessing service later this year, and our sharing worship, particularly with the Methodists on Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday.)  We have had a supporting role in the efforts of PSALMS to make good contacts with the young people of our town, and we go on playing our part in regular events such as the Good Friday March of Witness, which was probably better attended in 2013 than ever before.

Our most important activity is however unseen!  That is our – your – prayer.  Your prayer for the parents who bring their children to baptism; your prayer for those parents who consider bringing their children and decide not to; your prayer for those taking the step of marriage, and for those who struggle to go on keeping those promises;  your prayer commending the dead to God's mercy and keeping; your prayer for the living who grieve for their loss; your prayer for those who need the Foodbank or the Citizens' Advice Bureau; your prayer for those who minister in such ways;  your prayer for the young people of our town – for the new Mother and Toddler group at the Baptist Church, for the long-established schools of our parish, and for the new Youth Centre; for the old people of our parish – the housebound as they receive Communion at home, and for those who continue to lead quite a few of the Community groups in our town; not least your prayer for us at the Vicarage over the last difficult weeks.

I could get quite excited (unusually for me!) at that list – of all that YOU are doing, that ensures that I can indeed honestly answer the question, “How is St. Cyr's doing,” by saying, “OK, thanks.  It's not just up to me;  God is working away in so many people that we really can say He is answering our prayer that his kingdom will come here in Stonehouse as in heaven.”

Thanks to you all!

Charles Minchin


Churchwardens’ Report

Church Fabric

The roofing and stonework problems that were reported last year have still not been resolved. The quotes have all been received and the roofers and stonemasons of choice have been selected and instructed to carry out the work. This work will take place as soon as the weather has improved. You will notice scaffolding appearing shortly along with safety features to ensure that the security of the church is not compromised.

We have had approval for the old pipe organ to be removed this will happen during 2014 and will be dismantled by a Polish organ rebuilder who will, once refurbished, site it in a church in Poland.

We have, as you will all have seen, removed a central pew to allow for wheelchair access as well as a few more pews at the front of the south aisle to allow for better storage. Also we have removed some of the choir pews which will allow, at certain times of the year, to present tableaux, as we did at Christmas this year.

As all of you are aware, we had a tile theft earlier in the year from the outhouse in the churchyard. We now have permission to replace the total roof using imitation Cotswold stone tiles rather than originals. This, we hope, should deter future tile thefts. Colin Mathews is undertaking this work as soon as the weather improves.


Many thanks once again to James Mathews (and family) for mowing the grass as well as low level branch trimming. The ring-cut trees from previous years are still standing and the advice is that they pose no safety issues but for our own peace of mind we will be taking more of the load off of the offending branches to lessen the weight.

Sidmouth 2013

This again proved a very popular outing as it did last year. In 2014 we will be once again be visiting Sidmouth although a new venue was raised as well, a few more miles along the coast at Exmouth; thoughts please.

Wintershall 2013

A big thank you to Anne who organised this wonderful trip to the Wintershall estate to see an epic presentation of the life of Jesus. This open-air presentation was performed by a cast of over 200 people. Moving us around the estate to various sets, where the life of Jesus unfolded before our very eyes. I for one was deeply moved. A trip we ought to run again, hopefully for more people this time.

Thank Yous

A big thank you to all of the helpers at St Cyr’s, we could not run this church without you. Many thanks to the sides people, readers, intercessors, chalice bearers, organ players, flower arrangers, Refreshment teams, choristers, servers, sweepers, cleaners, magazine delivers, Sunday School teachers, linen washers, washer up helpers and to the volunteers who all come together to keep our Graveyard compound clear. If I have forgotten any one I apologise in advance and ask for your forgiveness.

I’ve singled out a few for particular thanks: John for his help and support as fellow churchwarden; Charles for continued spiritual guidance; the Colin’s (Wood and Mathews) for their support and ideas (no matter what we throw at the them, they always come up trumps). Thank you to the PCC members and officers for all your hard work over the year and for understanding when I mess up the agenda.

Finally a huge thank you to Richard for always being there when I need to call on him for advice, organising the duty rota, printing the monthly magazine all ably assisted and supported by Kay. Thank you to you both.

Steve Allen



Electoral Roll Report

February 2013 Number on roll:             68

February 2014 Number on roll:             70

We have lost one but gained three.

This allows us to have two Deanery Synod representatives and nine PCC members (in addition to churchwardens, Diocesan members, Deanery Synod members and Readers).

Colin Matthews


PCC Secretary’s Report

The PCC met 8 times from May 2013 to February 2014.  18 people are on the committee.  3 members attended all meetings. 5 attended 7 meetings. 4 attended 6 meetings. 2 attended 5 meetings. 2 attended 2 meetings.

1 attended 1 meeting and 1 attended 0 meetings.

Overall a very good attendance and higher than last year!

Church Website

Richard has set up a new website ( – make sure you look at it and do give suggestions for any improvement!

Church Opening

The church was opened for a period each Saturday during the Summer – it was much appreciated. 

Plans are going forward towards the church being opened during daylight hours.  It is hoped to have this in place for the coming Summer months.

Prayer Group

A Prayer Group has been formed which meets on the third Monday of the month at a different venue each time.  Please keep your eye on the church notice board.

Archdeacon’s Visit

The church welcomed Very Revd Jackie Searle to the parish on Monday 23rd September.  She was shown around the parish and talked with church members over a lunch at the home of Colin Wood.

Bishop’s Visit

+ Bishop Michael came to the church on Sunday on Sunday 22nd  and led the service.

Church Development Group

There is now a space for wheelchairs and pushchairs in the main body of the church.

An area for storage has been made.

The removal of the organ is progressing.  It will be taken to Poland (expect a church outing!!). The space can then be used for something else.

Fund Raising

In October, a concert was held in church, in memory of Chris Brooks.  We welcomed the Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir. A great success.

Cappella Singers…..concert….

Another concert by the Cappella Singers will take place on June 21st.

A Fair Trade stall is now up and running thanks to Ceri and Olga so do please think of them and consult the catalogue.

Churchyard Rubbish

An on-going project.  Two working parties have, once again, been organised to keep the churchyard tidy.

The lure of a substantial ‘brunch’ brings great joy!

Local Ministry Team

The new team are working well together and have organised some ‘different’ services.  They struggle with the long term vision but are working on it!

Quinquennial Inspection (an Inspection of the fabric of the church building which takes place every five years).

The architect who is qualified to do this has now retired and the company he was with does not have another qualified person. The PCC are currently looking into appointing someone else.

Kay Hensley



Financial report

  1. Excluding mission giving, incoming resources amounted to £43,400.This figure included giving and gift aid of £31,474, down£2,800 from 2012 fees of £9,654 ; interest of £859; and magazine and printing profit of £181. (£581 less £400 for paper/ink/magazine inserts).

  2. Two concerts in 2013 raised good amounts. The Cappella singers concert raised £335 and the Police Choir concert in memory of Chris Brooks raised £560 for St Cyr’s and the same amount for the British Heart Foundation.

  3. Our expenditure, excluding mission was £49,696. Of this, Parish Share was £34,692 and£15,000 was church running expenses, including church repairs and churchyard maintenance.

  4. Larger church running expenses include £4,593 for utility bills and church insurance; £544 for the quinquennial inspection, £422 for organ maintenance; £1,290 for scaffolding and gutter repairs, £307 for website, and £3,150 for grass cutting.

  5. We paid £480 towards Deanery expenses.

  6. We supported PSALMS with donations of £6,300. (£3,000 of this was the late paid grant for 2012).

  7. Our expenditure exceeded our income by £12,245. This would have been £9,245 if last year’s PSALMS donation had been paid in 2012. Our running loss was covered by using money from our deposit accounts. The Diocesan Board of Finance transferred the money from the Darby graveyard and sale of curate’s house deposits into our current account in February 2013. This amounted to £25,300.

  8. At 31.12.13 we had £94,400 and £19,500 in GDBF deposit and share accounts and £1,005 in our CAF gold account. There was £17,100 in our current account with £1,600 of cheques still to be redeemed.

  9. Additional expenses in 2014. The PCC is being asked to pay an extra £2,000 for the quota in 2014. We also need to repair the church roof and wall at a cost of £34,000 and repair the outhouse roof at a cost of £5,500. Half of the outhouse roof cost will be met by insurance and we will be seeking grants to help with the other repair costs.

Val Winder


Stewardship Report

Numbers:         Parish Giving Scheme:               18     16 Gift Aid

                        Standing Orders:                          3     all Gift Aid

                        Envelopes:                                  24     12 Gift Aid

                        Additional St. Cyr, Gift Aid:       6

                        Visitors, Gift Aid                       18

Tax reclaimed: Parish Giving Scheme:            £3,166.36

                                    Direct giving:                 £1,004.88

From April 2013, we will be able to reclaim Gift Aid on cash donations (no cheques) at our normal services. The rules state, that the maximum individual donation shall be £20 or less and there must be 10 or more in the congregation at the service. The first claim will be made after April 2014.

Thankyou for your continuing financial support.

Richard Hensley


Diocesan Synod Report

The February meeting of the Diocesan Synod discussed the issue of self-supporting ministers and their role within the diocese, recognising that in this diocese the numbers of self-supporting ministers would soon outstrip the number of stipendiary ministers.  It was also agreed that there should be an appointment of a new Suffragan Bishop (subsequently Bishop Martyn Snow has become the new Bishop of Tewkesbury). The meeting also expressed dismay over the General Synod’s non-acceptance of women clergy being ordained as Bishops and proposed that women should be allowed to be ordained as Bishops as soon possible. (This too has subsequently come about!)

The June Synod looked at Pioneer ministry within the diocese i.e. those ministers working outside the normal parish boundaries and meeting with those who would not normally think about connecting with their local church. Rev Josh Maynard and Rev Wendy Ruffle spoke of their work, Josh in Stroud and Wendy in Tewkesbury. Canon Andrew Braddock encouraged us all to thing about our mission. At this meeting too it was noted with great sadness that the Diocesan Retreat house, Glenfall House was closing - a sad loss to the diocese but too expensive to keep.

In October the meeting heard of the Bishop’s sadness at dwindling number of confirmations within the Diocese - he also spoke of the admission of children to communion and asked parishes to explore this notion further. He also pointed us to look at how we might nurture those who are not Christian but wanting to know more, to look at the church’s resource “Pilgrim” and think about using it in our churches.

Safeguarding was the next topic and the seriousness of caring for the vulnerable, in this case children, and of ensuring that all clergy and others attended workshops arranged to raise awareness of how best to safeguard the vulnerable. Following this we learned about Experience Church - a resource that could be used effectively in St Cyr’s.

Finally, the October Synod heard a presentation from the Diocesan Secretary on the social role of credit unions and how the Church can help. This was followed by a presentation from Canon Anthony Macrow-Wood on a new church-based credit union, The Churches Mutual Credit Union, being a new partnership between the Churches of England and Scotland and the Methodist Church.  

The Archdeacon of Cheltenham gave a presentation illustrating the alignment of the diocesan strategy, Journeying Together, and the General Synod mission strategy set out in Challenges for the New Quinquennium.

Mr Graham Smith addressed Synod on the importance of the upcoming Deanery Synod elections. He noted especially the importance of this group as the electorate for Diocesan and General Synods and that this group was the means of congregations expressing their theology and opinions in the wider Church.

At each Synod we have had an update on the budget and on the General synod and at this last synod we learned of Bishop Michael’s intention to retire in November of this year.

Corinne Aldis


Deanery Synod Report

This past year at Deanery Synod we have had reports on evangelism, giving and social action, all topics that are vital to our church’s life.

Over the past year we’ve looked at issues affecting the running of our churches and the assistance the diocese offers to help us to be more effective.  From giving to safeguarding, parish re-organisation to mission.

We’ve had a variety of speakers both from diocese and from Stroud and the area, mission is high on the agenda of all our synods and we’re encouraged to think about what we are doing as churches to bring the gospel to our communities. So speakers from the food bank, PSALMS and the Diocesan missioner have helped us think through the vital role our churches play in being the body of Christ here in the Stroud deanery but also in Stonehouse.

We’ve had a change of Area Dean, we’ve had a discussion on gay marriage and we’ve heard about the ‘green shoots’ of mission taking place in our churches.  All in all the synod provides a good forum for learning, for debating and for encouraging us all in the work that we’re called to do.

Corinne Aldis


Local Ministry Team

In case people are not sure the members of the Team are Michelle Baxter, Emma Dunn, Olga Gibbons, Kay Hensley, Anne and Charles Minchin, Audrey Ricks and Jean Riggs. The now not so new Team has settled. Those who were not members of the previous team have gained confidence and we have all go to know each other in a deeper way. During the year the team has met monthly and these meetings tend to be very full. We always try to remember that we are looking for what God wants us to do not just what we might think is a good idea.

At the beginning of the year the Team was still hesitant about doing things but during the year that has passed and ideas for special services and activities have developed. The Team hasn’t forgotten the ideas that came out of the Minchinhampton “Away Day” and gradually more of these will come to fruition – it is not practical to try to do everything at once.

In planning for services and activities the team will continue to try to fulfil one of their main objects – not so much to do more themselves but to encourage participation by others in the Church’s family so don’t be surprised if we ask YOU to do something. It has been a difficult year for some members of the team. We would like to thank everyone for their encouragement, support and prayers as we develop in our role.

Audrey Ricks


Bell Ringers' Report

The past year has been a up and down year as is quite normal in some towers.

We have kept the recruit who joined last year and have had someone new join us in December.

We continue to ring for weddings and occasionally on a Sunday.

We continue to practice on Wednesdays 19.30 until 21.00 (except the 4th)

and would welcome any one who would like to have a go.

Finally I would like to thank everyone who has helped to keep the practices going.


Robin Screen


St Cyr’s Stonehouse Mothers’ Union Branch

Once again we’ve had an enjoyable and entertaining year, being able to rejoice in the faith and fellowship of each other that is so much a part of belonging to the Mothers’ Union.

We have also had some sad times as several members are now too frail to attend on a regular basis and our membership is sadly decreasing.  However we have plans to encourage more people to attend meetings and join – so be warned!

We have had some excellent and thought provoking speakers during the year; particularly Will Mansell from Foodbank and Helen Barton and Kay Hensley leading a discussion on ‘Being single or widowed’.

Our summer social event was a wonderful visit to Tewkesbury Abbey on a very hot and sunny afternoon in July where we had a most enjoyable tour, a chance to join in evening prayer and a delightful tea, prepared for us by Tewkesbury MU members, in Anna Venables’ garden, our host for the afternoon.

My grateful thanks to all those who attend and contribute, in whatever way, to our enjoyment of the meetings.

With Love

 Olga Gibbons 


Sunday School   has been well attended this year, most weeks between 4 and 9 children and one week up to 12 children came, ages ranging from 3yrs up to 10yrs, Harry, Hollie, Henry, William and now Haydan, Jasmine, Megan, Bethany and Georgina also attend most weeks. We now have two regular leaders who work a month at a time Michelle and Ceri, with a few regular helpers willing to lend a hand, including Steve and Dennis which the children love.

We had a summer outing at the museum in the park for lots of fun and interesting activities and a trail around the house about life in the 1900's, which the adults really enjoyed too! Then a lovely picnic in the park and lots of games all in all a thoroughly enjoyable day.

August saw our annual rest month, and it is welcomed after the planning and running of the lessons.

September came and a change with the running of the session, we decided to bring the children into Sunday school early before the service starts, and to bring them out just before communion and to stay out for the rest of the service, so the children get to experience some parts of the service that they would normally miss. We are still trying it out to see if this works for all of us.

Christmas time was busy with the excitement of the birth of baby Jesus and all the children taking part in the crib service, and didn't they all look the part. The high point of the year was the Christmas party which we shared with the Methodist church Sunday school, at the Morley hall, with 14 children altogether, lots of party games, yummy food, crackers and a visit from Father Christmas (Thanks John) with only Harry noticing who it was! Each child had a gift to open, great day for all. We must to do a joint party again, well done Ceri for organizing it all!

And lastly January, the children enjoyed making tea light holders for Candlemas out of clay, it was a bit mucky but the kids loved making, painting and more importantly lots of glitter!

Michelle Baxter


Open the Book

The Park Junior school continues to welcome our storytelling. For some children it will be their only opportunity to hear Bible stories, so it is very important. Sadly many adults are not familiar with the stories and truths we feel are part of us.

The OTB team has representatives from nearly all the churches in Stonehouse which is good because the children see us working together and having fun.

Huge thanks to all the team for carrying on, directed by Barry, probably with great improvement while I have been an invalid.
If you'd like to join there's always room for another, if a lot of people are keen there are other schools who are wanting OTB.

Please pray for the work of OTB, not just in Stonehouse, but as it spreads out through the country and blesses many children and adults.


Flower Rota

Church has looked lovely, every week when there are flowers. I really miss flowers in Lent and Advent, it looks somehow forlorn, but then that is how it's meant to be.

Huge thanks to all who create lovely displays, coming to church on cold days, transforming a lump of oasis into a delight of colours and freshness.

Thank you for being part of the rota team and giving up your time and money for the flowers. Thanks for your patience when there are weddings and things don't go according to plan!  If you would like to have a go at doing the flowers there's always space on next year's rota.

Special thanks to Barry, Jean and Christine who stepped up and decorated the church at Christmas when the surgeons were doing unspeakable things to me in Frenchay!

Thank you for your generosity when a little note appears on the pew sheet about Christmas, Easter and Harvest.

Anne Minchin.


This past year has seen the work of PSALMS continue in Stonehouse, both in the Youth Drop In, where numbers have remained pretty consistent in spite of lack of facilities. This does not mean we are ungrateful for the hospitality of the APT, quite the reverse, they have been enormously accommodating and patient and we all, churches, PSALMS and the young people, owe them a huge vote of thanks! But it is true that our new purpose built centre on Oldends Lane will allow us to develop and grow the work amongst our youth.

Together with Churches Together, we have re-launched Messy Church and started an exciting Mums and Toddlers group, Goldfish. work in Maidenhill School continues with our mentoring programme and termly assemblies. None of this could be achieved without PSALMS working in partnership with all the Stonehouse churches, your prayers and hands - on work are so vital.

Odele is now on maternity leave and although we miss her capable, wise leadership our interns and the volunteer team she built up, are continuing to do a sterling work. Your cakes are always a welcome contribution to a successful drop in session on a Wednesday afternoon! Andy Harding has taken on oversight of the Drop In during Odele's absence and he is a welcome and experienced youth leader - so our volunteers are not without support.

As usual - we ask that you prayerfully consider whether you have the gifts, time and energy to work with our young people. If you have and you feel prompted to volunteer - please don't hesitate! We'd love to have you share in this pioneer work!

Corinne Aldis


Foodbank Report

2013 saw, as you will be aware from the media, a great increase in the need for Foodbanks.  In Stonehouse we received 241 Vouchers and gave food for 711 people.

December saw the biggest demand (146 people) with March, April and May being other peaks – being the months of major Benefit changes. Such changes seem to equal Benefit delays – often six weeks.

The team of volunteers have worked willingly –with some sessions lasting much more than the hour. Two hours not unusual. We have had to devise new patterns of work for greater through flow as we think it important that we give time to each person tailoring food given to their likes and dislikes as much as possible. No good giving small children sardines when they will only eat tuna!

We now give bread as we decided it is not a good idea to give jam and nothing to spread it on – or say beans on toast is a good meal but not without toast!

We have been very fortunate in that Ebley Allotmenteers are giving us fresh veg and fruit when in surplus.  This has proved popular and we have had many good conversations as the clients talk about how much they will enjoy the fresh food – and fun as they talk about their memories.

Another innovation has been Recipe Cards.  These are devised by chefs using foods which we regularly give.  So a client is given a choice from maybe three recipes, then if they wish, they are given the ingredients extra with the card.  E.g. Cottage Pie – tinned mince, carrots, instant potato.  Sausage Casserole using hot dogs and tinned veg.

From the figures that I quoted at the beginning you will realise that we are distributing an enormous amount of food.  This can only happen because of the generosity and of all who give donations – and the fact that two years on donations are still coming week by week.

Throughout Stroud District as well as in Stonehouse, donations came from right across the community – Junior and Secondary Schools –  work places and Sheltered Housing. When we collect at Supermarkets – at their invitation – they will often make a cash donation as well.  This is such a help as some items need to be bought e.g. nappies – baby wipes – baby milk – toilet rolls –  kettles etc. for Kids’ Stuff.

Kids’ Stuff  began working in Autumn of 2012 and throughout 2013 grew and grew and GREW.  The work came out of recognising that families in food poverty are often in need of basic equipment.  The same referrers are often giving food Vouchers and equipment.  Luckily the Warehouse was found as previously the items were all stored in one person’s garage!

So if you – or others you know – have stair gates, buggies, cots etc. – often in the loft from last grandchild now grown teenager –  just take a notice from Church or speak to June Dolphin or me.  Items can be collected from you for the Warehouse. 

The work in Stonehouse can only happen because of the hard working teams in the Office and the Warehouse – and the backing of the Trustees.

So the team here would like to THANK




Jean Riggs