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Church Wardens Report April 23rd, 2024  (23-24)


Worship, Mission, Outreach


It has been a year of normality, except we are still taking communion by intinction, and the ‘different’ outdoor services have become a regular feature. 


We would like to thank all of you in all our worship teams who keep our services truly alive, and the different formats that are involved. Thanks also to Stephen, Richard, and James for your preaching and teaching which has kept us informed, challenged, and growing in our faith.


We are blessed to have the benefit of many different voices and approaches to worship.


A briefish overview of the year…

Our usual services have all been well attended, numbers have held or improved on the whole, and we used the Narthex for lay-led services in the winter months, however, our Festival services have not been quite as well attended.


We have maintained some outdoor FISS services and joined Hartlebury Parish for a Rogation service at Bells Farm which went well again. We repeated the ploughman’s lunch and service at the Memorial Hall with a reasonable attendance and shared the Doverdale Harvest service with the Bishop of Dudley preaching.

The Remembrance service saw the RBL banner for Ombersley and Doverdale being laid up, the service was very well attended and Nile perfected the sound outside. The All Souls service benefitted from our usual format and the choir adds a lot to the occasion for visiting families.


The start of the Christmas run at  Little Owl Farm threw us with the numbers attending! A rethink is needed for this year.  The posada had a few new young families joining in, thanks again to Jenny Batelen for coordinating this. We focused on the new estates for carol singing this year, which was appreciated at Faber Orchard in particular.  Better communication of times and having two groups of singers is needed. Carols At the Court went very well with more joining in, and our Carol service was beautiful in sound and vision.

We had a good turnout on Christmas Eve at midnight and were the only church to hold it in the Benefice this year.  On Christmas Day we returned to the InnKeeper story and Stephen was able to join us, for the first…but hopefully not the last time!


Our Holy Week and Easter services benefited from a rethink and a tweak on timings, we need to invite people to breakfast in advance next year, but all the Easter eggs went!


The Bible discussion Group is going well with a regular 10-12 attendees where Richard asks us to look beyond the writing on the page.


As part of our commitment to care for God’s creation we have achieved the Bronze Eco Church award. This covers all aspects of church life and ensures that we consider sustainable and eco-friendly options in all developments as well as often having an environmental focus in our services.


Our links with Ombersley School remain strong with the OTB team visiting regularly. The school also visited the war graves in the Autumn and Year 4 followed the story of the crucifixion before Easter. Last summer we also had Year 1-4 for Love your Burial ground week where we all had a good time. Ombersely School’s Christmas, Easter, and Harvest services are held at St Andrew's and are still streamed via YouTube which they much appreciate….when it works! 


We are now reaching out to Sytchampton School and Open the Book has started there with members of St Mary’s Doverdale co-ordinated by Marjorie Workman joining the team. Their Year 1 class has also visited the Church twice and they were a delight.


The use of the  Narthex is increasing; Creative Coffee, Handbells, Ombersley Social Strollers, Stay and Play, a new Evening Craft group led by Mary Styles, and SAS rehearsals are all regular events. There are various other evening meetings, and it would be good to have this expanded further. Each gives us a chance to introduce people to St Andrews.


We had six weddings last year, and nine are planned for 2024.


Fundraising and social events.


The Fete was blessed with a hot sunny day ending in a torrential downpour! We did raise much more than our ‘just wet’ year in 2022, (£8,352 net of expenses vs £5,251) for St Andrews, Ombersley School and our two charities.  The Brain Tumour Trust and Droitwich Foodbank. We hope to have more helpers for the lifting and lowering this year.


The Heritage open weekend in September attracted fewer visitors, though the teas went very well, and the Have a Go craft table and craft sales also worked well. 


The St Andrews Association was heavily involved  in both those events as well as hosting concerts for Vital Spark Gallery Choir, a Why Not Sing workshop, and the West Mercia Police Band, (who will be back in October.) The fundraising focus is now on the bell repair.


Church Fabric,


Progress can feel slow as faculties require one month public consultation and a further month or so to go through the approval stages. We have been helped by the Diocesan team, particularly Hannah Taylor who has helped ensure our applications have not become lost or stuck. 


The pew heating was in for Christmas and does help in conjunction with the head height heating. It does vary from too hot, to too cold to just right! We also have new heating in the Narthex, Loo, Food prep area, and Churchwarden’s vestry. The Churchwarden’s vestry heating enables us to store documents on-site and we have been given two filing cabinets by the Parish Council to store our ownn and village records. We still need to address heat in the Chancel and background heat for the main building to ward off mould and dampness.


The old Organ Consol has a faculty for removal, we now need an individual who might remove it.


The Loo upgrade is making progress and we have applied for a grant.


The extension to the burial ground requires a Biodiversity assessment and permission to fell the ash trees with die back and two volunteer trees  in the middle. When this is underway we will yet again try and get the Yew at the East end felled.


The disabled ramp at the west door is awaiting a second estimate before we move ahead.


On the plus side, a start on the pruning of the Holly and Yew tree has been done and the repair of the paving around the War Memorial is also complete.


The Quinquennial inspection was completed in September and while there is work to do on the roof and a little bit of stonework the building is in good condition.


Before we could pat ourselves on the back and relax the Tenor Bell developed a crack! The Tower Team and PCC are looking to do major fundraising to cover this and OSCA has agreed to loan the money so we can speed up the repair. A faculty has been obtained and work should start in May.


Our Health and Safety officer, Hazel Smith has ensured that checks have been completed of fire, electric and building safety during the last year and several recommendations are being addressed.




Parish Finance


This is mainly covered in the Treasures report.


We still need to encourage more people to join the Parish Giving Scheme, and Louise TH will take our Gift Aid return from GADS and direct debits ‘in-house’ this year which will speed up repayment of VAT and save costs.


The Ministry Share continues well and encouraged some cooperation in the Benefice. While the Benefice may not have reached the target required  St Andrew’s have paid approximately 1/3 of the demand.


We have had major expenditure paying the final installment of the windows, and the heating installation, (which we have been assured OSCA will contribute to)


Fundraising needs to be high on the agenda for the coming year, again




On social media we now have  240 Facebook members, which we hope is allowing us to engage with people beyond our doors. YouTube services are still there for the school and weddings if required. Instagram and Twitter suffered from Fiona’s new phone!


Using several sub-committees has worked better this year, but we could still shorten PCC meetings!

We really appreciate all the teamwork that shines through. We have no farewells but many grateful thanks to you all for your hard work and support of St Andrews. 


Our thanks again go to all those who have stepped up to help serve the church and community and keep it thriving. Without your help and enthusiasm in all sorts of ways, this would not happen. Your generosity and time is appreciated more than we can say.


In October Rev Stephen Winter, our Vicar, announced that he would be enjoying a round number Birthday later in 2024 and had decided to celebrate this by retiring in August. After a fruitless trawl for golden heavenly handcuff clauses in Stephen’s contract we have had to reconcile ourselves to this rapidly approaching deadline. We will greatly miss Stephen for his preaching, his love of poetry, etymology, history, and literature as well as more practically, his wife Laura’s fabulous Churchwardens’ Suppers and his two daughters’ musical support on Christmas Eve.  


Being the Vicar of any Parish is hard work, two Parishes require extra prayer and dedication, three perhaps more intervention by the Holy Spirit.  By the time you get to seven Parishes – well you need someone truly special to do that. Stephen has seen our Benefice through all the challenges of COVID-19 in a personally brave and unselfish fashion, catching COVID a record 4? times. Witnessing Stephen celebrate the Eucharist on Zoom that first Sunday service after lockdown is something that we will all never forget.


As Churchwardens we have also seen how quickly and effectively Stephen inspires confidence and trust with new visitors whose lives have been drawn to St Andrew’s through Christenings, Funerals, and Weddings. We have been truly blessed to have someone with those qualities lead our congregation for the past seven years. We wish Stephen and Laura a very happy retirement and hope that we see them as often as time and circumstances permit.




Fiona Davies Christopher Day