PARISH OF THE SACRED HEART – ANNUAL PARISH MEETING
SUNDAY, 4 JUNE 2023 at 7.00pm
The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Parish Hall of Sacred Heart church, North Walsham and was attended by approximately 65 parishioners.
Apologies had been received from the parish Treasurer, Ken Watkins, from Chris and Christine Conrad and from Fr Mark Hackeson.
The evening was opened with a powerpoint presentation by Mike and Marie-Madeleine Kenning from St Mary’s parish, Ipswich, about the current situation in Cambodia and about the diocesan twinning projects.
Fr Peter then led those present in saying Grace and all enjoyed a delicious meal provided by parishioners from the Churches of St Helen; Hoveton and St John of the Cross; Aylsham.
RICHARD McGREEVY, CHAIR OF THE PARISH COUNCIL
Welcome to all, especially our guests Marie-Madeleine and Mike Kenning who have given us a fascinating talk about their experiences in Cambodia.
Highlights of the parish year include:
Completion of Fire Marshall training – we now have 12 certificated marshals in the parish. Next is the need to provide more trained first aiders and that will be coming soon.
Time, Talents and Treasure produced some new blood to help run the parish activities but more is still needed. We still rely on the same old trusted faces to do most of the graft.
The last Parish AGM was a success with the entertainment featuring Fr James’ favourite pastime: trains.
The exercise to input into the Synod of Bishops review has been completed and the England and Wales report is on our website. The next stage takes this up to Rome this year to be reviewed with data from all over the world.
In September Fr James retired and months of speculation ended with the appointment of Fr Peter Raj who has settled in so very well.
Extensive work has been completed to the hall following the flood and we must agree that it is now a top-class facility.
Extensive work has also taken place to the gardens both here and at St Helen’s.
Next year will bring:
A new census.
A parish bazaar
And in 2024 a summer garden fete.
Comments from the floor: thanks were extended to Kerry, Lauren and Izzy for their valued work with the children of the parish on Sunday mornings in “Faithful Flames” children’s liturgy.
FRANCIS HARMER, ACTING CHAIR OF THE PARISH FINANCE COMMITTEE
Good evening, everyone. For those who don’t know me I’m Francis Harmer, often to be found at St Helen’s. I’ve been acting chair of the Parish Finance Committee since last autumn.
A quick word about our financial arrangements. In effect, the parish operates as a branch of the Diocese and all our figures for accounting purposes are aggregated into the diocesan accounts. That said, we have to keep proper local financial records and control affairs against a budget in accordance with the diocesan financial handbook. Fr Peter is the responsible accounting officer and Ken Watkins is our Treasurer. Sadly Ken can’t be with us tonight as he is rather unwell but it is his hard work which ensures the financial records are in good order and that Fr Peter and the Finance Committee are properly advised. We really appreciate all Ken does in the background.
I hope you have had a chance to look at the financial statement for last year (hard copies available at our churches) which contains a summary of the parish income and expenditure for 2022. I don’t propose to go into many of the figures in detail but if you have any specific questions please ask when I have finished. You will notice that income totalled in round terms £113,000 and expenditure £107,000 giving a positive net income of £6,000.
Looking at the income items you will see that the direct support given by parishioners from the first collections, standing orders and gift aid together came to some £65,000 so absolutely crucial to parish operations. It was last year that we really started emerging from the Covid crisis and our Mass attendances started to rise particularly during the second half of the year (boosted by the arrival of a number of families with children who have provided such a welcome addition to the life of the parish). Our income levels have reflected these increasing numbers – could I ask that, if you haven’t already done so, please consider setting up a standing order if you are able – it does help with your household budgeting if a fixed amount goes out each week or month. It also helps the parish by giving certainty of income and reduces cash handling. The total gift aid tax rebate received by the parish was nearly £9,000 – a really significant amount. Donating through gift aid means that charities such as the diocese (of which we are a part) can claim an extra 25% for each pound given – that’s £1 more for each £4 of giving covered by gift aid. If you are a taxpayer and don’t think you have been gift aiding, please ask for information – James Farrell is our gift aid officer and is here tonight! Remember gift aiding costs you nothing but greatly helps the parish.
Another significant income earner is from hires of the parish hall and produces £8,000 plus a year. Our thanks are due to the Hall Committee for all they do.
Income in 2022 was inflated by nearly £12,000 from an insurance claim which arose from the serious water leak in the parish hall in November 2021. All but £63 of the cost of repairs was covered by the claim.
On the expenditure side you will see that Ken has given a full analysis – but looking at the major items you will see that diocesan levies together came to nearly £18,870, some 37% of the previous year’s offertory income. Over £14,000 was needed for maintenance of the church grounds across the parish, which are extensive. Included in this sum is £4,000 for tree surgery here at the Sacred Heart and further costs associated with ground clearance on two sites. Safety is always a major concern for us both inside and outside our properties.
There was also over £10,000 expenditure on hall repairs related to the water leak which I have already mentioned.
That is the past, but what of the present and future? The initial budget for this year, 2023 showed a base position of income which would cover known costs including a significant window repair at Aylsham and car park and paving work here at North Walsham. However, there are a number of expected costs which are difficult to quantify at present. I would point to the cost of utilities which could be at least 2 to 3 times the level in 2022 and potential work identified during the quinquennial survey of the North Walsham properties. We are awaiting the report from that survey which will be considered at the next Finance Committee meeting at the end of June. These and other costs will need to be carefully managed in the coming days, months and indeed years. For that we need to be grateful to Fr Peter, Ken, the members of the Finance Committee and many others across our three churches.
Questions: One parishioner queried the payment of £750 under the heading “Alive in Faith”. This was in fact a parish donation towards the building of a much-needed bridge in our twin parish of St Francis Xavier in Cambodia. The bridge in Sisophon has been named “Bob Bridge” in memory of the late Bob Maidment.
Fr Peter thanked the parishioners from St Helen and from St John of the Cross for the lovely meal, Richard and Francis for their reports and Mike and Marie-Madeleine Kenning for their interesting and informative presentation. He then closed the evening with a prayer and a blessing.