War Memorial Gary Trouton

Reader Keith MacLeod's Newsletter for November

November 2003

Your monthly update on news from the Church of England reader and services for November

The Parishes of St. Andrew, Northwold; All Saints, Wretton with Stoke Ferry;

and Christ Church, Whittington.

For more details contact me, Keith MacLeod at West Barn, Whindrove Farm, West Dereham (07766 766 137) (email: keith.macleod@virgin.net)

Diary for November 2003

Sunday 26th October (19th after Trinity)

9.30am Benefice Holy Communion

at St Andrew's

Sunday 2nd November (4th before Advent)

(All Saints)

9.30am Service of the Word at All Saints

11.00am Holy Communion at St Andrew's

Sunday 9th November (3rd before Advent)


10.55am Service of Remembrance

at Christ Church

3.00 pm Service of Remembrance

at St Andrews

Sunday 16th November (2nd before Advent)

8.00am Holy Communion at St Andrews

9.30am Holy Communion by Extension

at All Saints

Sunday 23rd November (Sunday before Advent)

(Christ the King)

9.30am Benefice Holy Communion

at Christ Church

Sunday 30th November (Advent)

11.00am All Age Worship at St Andrews

Sunday 7th December (2nd Sunday of Advent)

9.30am Service of The Word at Christ Church

11.00am Holy Communion at St Andrews

Sunday School - All Welcome

There is a Sunday School during the main Sunday services at St. Andrew's Church, Northwold (except for Sunday's with All Age Worship). This is open to any school age child living in the villages of Northwold, Wretton, Stoke Ferry, Whittington and Brookville. If you are not able to stay with your child please drop them off by 10.50 and collect them by 12.15.

Rotas for Church cleaning and flowers

November Christ Church: Mrs D Eves & Penny All Saints': Mrs E Russell and Mrs P Willis

December Christ Church: Mrs S Warner & Mrs J Elsey All Saints': Mrs E Russell and Mrs P Willis


I have had a few comments (not to say criticisms!) recently about the finances of our local churches, while they are in interregnum - especially in Wretton and Stoke Ferry. There is a concern as to how the Church of England can sell the Church at Stoke Ferry and none of the proceeds flows back into the local Church purse and also as to the rents received from letting the Vicarage in Wretton - where again it seems that we get no local benefit.

We have a Wretton with Stoke Ferry Parochial Church Council meeting coming up on 2nd November at 10.30 am in Wretton Church, to which any members of the public are invited. They can ask questions and make comments, but will not, unless they are members of the PCC be able to vote on anything. However, I will be chairing the meeting and will happily try to deal with any issues any one wants to raise.

I can imagine that this event is not going to grab most people as the most exciting thing since sliced bread and so I thought I would say a few words here about the issue for the general interest of people who live in the parishes. They can write or call me if they want to take it further but do not want to attend the meeting.

Very broadly speaking the Church organises its finances as follows. The Church Commissioners own all the Churches and the Churchyards surrounding them, but local Church Wardens and PCCs have the responsibility for maintaining them at their own expense. Clergy are paid their stipends and pension contributions and have their housing provided by the Diocese (in this case the Diocese of Ely) at Diocesan expense. The Diocese has some funds of its own, but mainly relies on the Parishes to make a contribution every year to the total Diocesan expense - this used to be called 'Quota', but is now called 'Parish Share'. At any one time a number of Parishes in the Diocese may have a Vacancy - ie no priest in residence (this is currently our position). The Parish Shares are worked out so that the Diocese can meet its total Budget, with 'rich' churches effectively subsidising 'poor' ones and allowing for the 'savings' to be made form the vacancies that exist. Rents from vacant Vicarages help to meet the costs of their redecoration etc and to fill the central pot out of which the Diocese's clergy are paid. (In Wretton's case, the cost of the recent re-furbishing cost many, many months' (maybe years') rental income.

How do we fit into this? Well, as regards our responsibility to maintain our Churches, Wretton and Stoke Ferry we have effectively been very poor stewards for many years. The reason we asked for Stoke Ferry Church to be closed was partly because of falling Church attendance, but principally because as a PCC, we took the decision not to pay any more money for maintenance, because our income was risible and our historical resources even more so - and in time the place would have become dangerous. After several years of asking villagers to take an interest and receiving an almost blanket lack of interest, we closed it down. Wretton is now going the same way! Our income is low and dependent almost totally on one person's giving and our Church attendance is also low. The Church dates back to the early 13th Century and there are some wonderfully historic carvings on the pews etc. We spent money on transferring the organ into the Church from Stoke Ferry and completely renovating (and it is a historically valuable organ!). We have recently spent money on replacing collapsing floors and we have an application with English Heritage to re-do a roof which is badly failing. They will want to know how much we can raise locally before they pore more money into it! It will be a terrible shame to have to close down and sell it for conversion into a warehouse or a stable again (the last time it was a stable was when Cromwell purportedly stabled his cavalry there during his siege of King's Lynn!)

The contribution we in Wretton have been asked to make as Parish Share this year is £3,225. We have so far contributed £600 and do not expect to be able to contribute any more. Any suggestion that we are being in any way cheated or short-changed is really way off beam. The actual annual cost of a priest is currently about £30,000 (stipend, pension, housing and employers' National Insurance Contributions included) - so we are 'buying' just over 7 days worth of a priest's time in a year. Any more than that is missionary contribution to us by Churches elsewhere in the Diocese.

I have talked at length about Wretton Church. Whittington Church also suffers from the problems of having a small active congregation and a related small income. It also needs to work on its fabric and is currently in the middle of a campaign to raise funds for restoration. But I cannot use this space to go into that as well.

I am not asking non churchgoers for money. However, if villagers wish to see their Village Churches alive and well and to be able to use them as a community resources, then they have to ask if four or five churchgoers can be expected to continue to meet to meet the costs on their own. I repeat, I am not asking for money for our Churches in Wretton and Whittington. But, if anyone wants to contribute to the cost of the maintenance of the Church, they can most helpfully do so by contacting me about making available a regular monthly amount (however small - 100 monthly payments of £5 are far more valuable than two or three isolated gifts of £100, welcome as they are). If they are taxpayers they can make this Gift Aid, and get Mr Brown to contribute a further 28% over and above their contribution. Also, if they wish to preserve the building, but are not interested in the general work of the Church, they can ask that any contributions be reserved for expenditure on the fabric of the Church only. If I do not answer the phone (because I travel a lot in my work), please just leave a name and phone number and I will get back to you.

I am reminded of something I read on the Internet this morning: It's the story of the local pastor, who announced in Church one Sunday that he had some Good News and some Bad News. "The Good News is that we have enough money for our new building programme. The Bad News is that it is still out there in your pockets!"

News Items

There are two important news items in regard to Christ Church, Whittington. Firstly on 13th September Jenny Elsey and Davina Eves walked and visited seven local churches and raised £180 towards Church funds. As this was part of the Norfolk Churches Cycles Ride sponsorship scheme, half goes to the Norfolk Churches Trust and half to Christ Church. Norfolk Churches Trust is a charity which gives grants to churches in need in Norfolk.

Secondly, on 27th September, Whittington Church held an Organ Marathon. This lasted for eight hours, during which seven local organ enthusiasts regaled visitors with a wide variety of music - so enthusiastically that the last organist of all (fortunately the last) broke the organ! (He has since returned and repaired it.) The marathon raised £500 towards the Church Restoration Fund.

Keith MacLeod


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