The Life of the Church, 2016:
Letter from Rev. Ray Owen
There have been some setbacks but there have also been encouraging signs of new life.
The Confirmation led by the Bishop of Stafford in May introduced three children and seven adults into the full sacramental fellowship of the Church. It was an inspiring service. Amongst the candidates were Charlotte and John Heathcote and daughter Victoria who were later thrilled to represent the Deanery at the enthronement service for the new Bishop of Lichfield. A month earlier Charlotte and her four children were baptized at Mayfield. Five members of the same family was quite a record!
After a slow down in the number of baptisms there has recently been an upturn in requests for 2017. These are families who attend the Tuesday morning Wendy Club, led by Charlotte, and numbers there have shown a welcome increase. This augurs well for both Henry Prince School and our church life. Sunday School continues to play an important part in our teaching and worshipping. The children's attendance during the year is up and down and this makes it difficult for Margaret Mansfield, Janice Owen and their helpers to plan lessons. Margaret completes 40 years of teaching and we shall celebrate this remarkable period of ministry in a special service involving the children of the Sunday School on the 9th July and to which former pupils will be invited.
The drop in numbers on roll at the Henry Prince School has given rise to some concern. I am glad to announce that the current funding crisis has at least been deferred and the excellent work of the School and its staff continues.
The 1st Mayfield Scout Group continues to grow and has gained a very important place amongst our village activities. They have taken part in special services during the year: St George's Day Parade and the Queen's 90th Birthday celebration, as well as the Remembrance Sunday service, for which the new service booklet gained wide approval.
Lent proved a valuable preparation for the Easter Festival. The lunches were well supported and the study group, led by Sheena and myself, followed the Old Testament Book of Ruth. A number of parishioners from Ellastone joined us and we found the book stimulating and particularly relevant to many of the issues of today. Whilst the Good Friday Devotion was taking place, the Sunday School children created an Easter Garden which formed part of the wonderful decorations in church for the Easter Festival.
The number of weddings fell to three and, as reported by our treasurer, this was one reason for a drop in income. The issue of space as it affects events such as baptisms and weddings has not yet been given full consideration although there is a general acceptance that the removal of some pews behind the font would be a positive move. The final completion of bringing water into the church and the provision of the utility room in the old vestry has already been welcomed for providing a much needed facility.
The Christmas services were well attended, particularly the Carol Service when the Choir performed so beautifully, and the Children's Christmas Eve service. As last year some children were absent for the latter and so a two part Nativity and Epiphany presentation was made. The Advent Tree Festival and Christmas Fair was a great success, owing much to the involvement of Sabine Hanbury, whose idea it was. It was good that she was able to enjoy it not long before her recent sad death.
There has been little obvious progress with the plans for the renovation and improvement of the Church Rooms, although the necessary repairs to the roof were begun and have now been successfully completed. The Design Group met the architect Chris Hesketh and plans and costings were made available at last year's meeting. This was premature and the PCC expressed uncertainty about the way forward. To help to move the situation on I offered to produce a Business Plan, which is now completed. I am presently making some informal contacts with potential funders and shall shortly call a meeting of the Design Group before bringing the proposals to the PCC as agreed.
As reported last year, after a short illness Denys Johnson passed away in January. Denys was churchwarden for some thirty years and made an immense contribution to the life of the parish. Ruth Blood died in August; she was very faithful and it was a joy that she was confirmed three years ago.
A major disappointment during the year was the decision of Karen Tallant to step down from being churchwarden. I had hoped she would be able to resume her duties but Karen ultimately came to the view that she would not stand for election at this year's meeting. I have spoken elsewhere of the tremendous contribution Karen made over the years. She did far more than a churchwarden is expected to do and we should all try to support our churchwardens by sharing some of the tasks.
Turning to the wider benefice, the Revd. Stanley Vaz was suspended from his post as vicar of Rocester and has since left the parish. His 0.3 time in the Weaver parishes never began. However, following the announcement of the retirement in December this year of the Revd. John Richardson from his 0.5 post, the parish of Denstone has been included in the job description for the advertised replacement at Rocester. I am glad to report that the Bishop of Stafford has informed me that the future of the Mayfield post will continue to be staffed by a 0.5 person.
Many of you do so much work for the glory of God in enhancing our worship, caring for the church building, administering our affairs and serving the community, and I cannot mention you all. However I must record the considerable amount of faithful work that our churchwarden Charles has again put in, and also Stephen, despite his other commitments, who stepped into the breach to fill the role vacated by Karen.
With every blessing.
26th April 2017