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(Church of England) TEAM TALK 2024

Annual Report for 2023

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Dear Friends


 Through the turbulence of this year, the steady faithfulness  and ministry of the parish is a source of great hope and peace  to many, including myself.  Whether the turbulence has been  in our personal lives and congregations, on a global scale or  within the Church of England, the message of God’s love and presence with us drives out all fear. 


Above and beyond the regular and varied weekly services in each district of the parish, we met to worship and pray together as a parish on Ascension Day and Advent Sunday, underpinning and reinforcing our bonds of unity across the congregations.  The PCC gives a stable framework for our shared life together, and I am most grateful to Malcolm Waller for stepping in to the role of Vice-Chair.  We give thanks that more people grow in ministry, with our Reader and Anna Chaplain, Jayne Edinboro training for ordination on the Dover Pathway, Reader Dr Ann Price trains for funeral ministry, and Amanda Boucherat completed worship leading training.  Reader Isobel Legg helped lead the Diocesan ‘Deepening Discipleship’ course, and Churchwarden of St John’s and CFM Jane Myhill have been trained to deliver in person safeguarding training modules.  Rev Claude’s ministry amongst us has been inspiring and encouraging, and it is a joy that she was priested in the summer. Under the leadership of Rev Paulette, our newly formed HR team is providing helpful admin support with the employees in our care, and we welcome the newly appointed Children’s and Families minister at All Saints Church, Elena.  Working together, the clergy team and PTO colleagues have been able to support families through baptisms, weddings and funerals as well as covering services in our neighbouring parish of Herne that is in vacancy, and for each other during illness.


There has been significant change at Deanery and Diocesan levels:  Rev Simon is working hard as our new Area Dean, alongside Malcolm Waller as our Deanery Lay Chair, please pray for them both in this important work.  We continue to engage with the processes that are supposed to support innovative mission in the parishes, known as the Deanery Plan, including current plans for a bid for central funding for  Swalecliffe St John’s, although this is a complex and protracted journey.  News also came in at the end of the year that our Diocesan Secretary, Diocesan Director of Finance and Chair of the Board of Finance are all moving on, so we pray for our new colleagues and this time of transition in the Diocese. 


Following our learning from the Living in Love and Faith process, this year all five churches were able to display an unequivocal Welcome Statement to all, including LGBTQIA+ people.  A handful of people have discerned a call to a more conservative setting for worship elsewhere in the Deanery.  In December Rev Paulette, Rev Simon and I issued a letter to the PCC, DCC members and our PTO and Reader colleagues welcoming the House of Bishops authorisation of the Prayers for Love and Faith to be used in services in church, and outlining the process the PCC would work through for this in the parish as a whole, respecting each church’s own tradition and decision whether to opt in.  We continue to faithfully and lovingly support people with a wide range of views on this and other matters within and between our churches.

With significant elections ahead of us on the world stage, we are reminded of the simplicity of our call to be faithful and follow Christ, articulated in these words from the prophet Micah: 


He has told you, O mortal, what is good;     and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,     and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8


Thanks be to God for all the blessings we receive.  Amen.  Rev Rachel C Webbley, Team Rector

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