All Saints’ Rectory, M40 1LR
8<sup>th</sup> June 2021
Are we all on tenterhooks about the lifting of all restrictions on 21<sup>st</sup> June and a return to the new ‘normal’? Some will be very excited, I’m sure; some will be very anxious.
You’ll be pleased to learn that this letter is good news in the main, and will contain a few updates on items mentioned in the last letter. There will be a few reminders too.
We had EV Energy Solutions in for three days in May for a thorough inspection of the electrics in the building. The news was not as bad as we feared. There are a few things that need dealing with soon, but the rest can wait until the next major set of repairs.
· Community Interest
Last month we received a message via A Church Near You which began with a comment about the state of the railings around the churchyard. Initially my heart sank. However, the message went on to say that this was not to criticise but to offer help. Shortly after this there was a huge surge in ‘likes’ on our Facebook page, and we added a piece about us was added in response. Once we know where we are with the lifting of COVID restrictions we can plan a community meeting to see how we can all pull in the same direction and realise the plans that are already in place for the churchyard (which since 1964 has actually been called All Saints Garden) as a community space which we can also close overnight if necessary.
New Mission Community
For as long as most people can remember, All Saints has been part of North Manchester Deanery, which included the parishes in Moston, Harpurhey, Collyhurst, Cheetham and Crumpsall. North Manchester Deanery has been dissolved into a new ‘super deanery’ that covers North and East Manchester. The new Area Deans were licenced at Manchester Cathedral on Sunday 6<sup>th</sup> June. Our new Area Dean is The Reverend Helen Scanlan.
All Saints is now in a Mission Community with all of what was Ardwick Deanery: Miles Platting, Clayton, Longsight, St Chrysostom’s Victoria Park, and Openshaw. I have been taking part in meeting with colleagues there for the last few months. In many ways it is sad to see the former grouping go – but I will be keeping up with my clergy friends there – but this grouping makes much more sense for us, especially with what we share with Clayton and Miles Platting; and we are all on the same side of the Oldham Road, the A62.
I was sad to learn today of the recent death of Peggy Brison (also known as Margeuritte) the wife of the former Rector here (1980-1985) The Venerable Bill Brison, who went on to be Archdeacon of Bolton. The date and venue of the funeral has not been finalised yet, but as soon as it is this will be put on our social media. Our prayers and condolences are extended to the Ven Bill and his family.
No this is not a reference to one of the many virtual meeting platforms along with Zoom, but a reference to the need for new teams of people who would like to be involved in what we do, especially on a Sunday, once more, and especially at our main service, the 11.00 am Parish Eucharist.
During this interim time, we have had very small teams of people preparing for worship and welcoming people to church. Please look out for chances to become a sidesperson once more. There is a need for junior sidespeople too who work alongside an appropriate adult, usually a parent or carer. It is important there is a decent pool of people so that the burden does not fall on the same people too regularly, and that they too can worship safely uninterrupted. It would mean being at church in good time, no later than 15 minutes before the start of the main service, which is currently 11.00 am which is already one hour later than the pre-COVID time.
At the moment, all the readings are done by the Rector (and he apologises that the system of sending in readings as voice-files was not longer-lived). A rota of readers will be restored, as will a rota of people to lead the prayers.
We have a small pot of money to buy some new robes for servers to assist at the altar; helping to set up the table before and during the services, and to help tidy up afterwards; or to carry a lantern in procession with the cross and the gospel. It’s possible, and to be encouraged, to have an MC (Master of Ceremonies, and sorry about the un-inclusive term) to announce the hymns and to oversee the teams of servers in the sanctuary.
We need to be very careful to avoid the formation of cliques (or ‘clicks’) of those who like to be involved in worship in a more hands-on way, and those who attend worship as a time of solitude and quiet. However, for servers there is a chance to become adult or junior members of the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary. Members can wear a small bronze medal on a red cord around their necks over their robes.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the need (if there is one) and the feasibility (if there is a need) of restoring the refreshments after the main service. Perhaps the opportunity to snack is too close to lunch.
Related in part to the above is to have another look at service times. The 9.00 am BCP (1662) was reintroduced after some years in abeyance, as a way of helping social distancing. It has developed a life of its own for those who either need to make their communion early (always or occasionally); and those who prefer the language and the shorter length. I enjoy it very much and my Sunday gets off to a restful start, with some quiet at home before the 11.00 Parish Eucharist. Another advantage of a communion service at this time is that it is easier to find a replacement priest in the absence of The Rector. In the Rector’s absence the 11.00 am may need to be a Service of the Word which can be led by a Reader, or, in extremis, by a Church Warden or other authorised person.
Is the 11.00 am service too late? Could it be moved earlier? Is there a need for something less formal for younger people and/or the wider community, once a month or so, such as Prayer and Pizza, or a kind of Songs of Praise with tea. All this is open for consultation and discussion.
APCM: 23<sup>rd</sup> May 2021
The reports and the agenda for this were circulated well in advance of the meeting. We had a good congregation that day, and the meeting was held in the gap between the Post Communion Prayer and the Blessing. It took little longer than the time it sometimes takes to share notices and news and sing ‘Happy Birthday’. If you missed the reports, they can be found on our pages on A Church Near You.
Olive Wadsworth has very kindly agreed to stay on in the interim as a Church Warden until we are able to appoint another in her stead which we hope to do soon. Olive has a huge wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share. The new church officers are splendid. The systems for the finance and the oversight of the building and grounds run very smoothly indeed.
We are still short of a PCC secretary. This role concerns the PCC’s activities rather than the parish as a whole. We are seeking to find someone who can send out the paperwork before and after meetings. The style of meetings has changed under COVID and there is less ‘note taking’ to do as agenda items are addressed by reports which form our records to which comments and ‘actions’ are added. This formula works and I think it’s here to stay. You certainly don’t need 120 wpm Pitman shorthand.
Sometimes the PCC secretary also helps with parish admin too, such as composing, collating and printing off the material for worship, namely the pew-sheet and the hymn-sheet. The Rector does this currently. Some of this work will be a bit fiddly for a beginner. However, the word-processing skills will soon come, and actually it’s rather satisfying. It is something I do gladly, but in a thriving parish where there is engagement with God’s work outside shared worship, it is not something I should have to do because no one else can or will. Besides, who else will do it if I’m not here?
Setting God’s People Free
All of the above may read as if ‘the vicar’ is whining on again to find help. If that is so, then I am sorry as it was not ‘the vicar’s’ intention. The principle of the movement within the Church of England called Setting God’s People Free is actually about the opposite: it’s about the clergy (who come and go) supporting the laity in their vocations as Christians which may involve more involvement in church life inside and outside of worship. For too long, there have been many church members here and elsewhere who have not had the courage to express an interest for fear of being rebuffed by ‘the establishment’. All are welcome. You just never know what this may lead to as the Holy Spirit guides you to the ministry God intends for you. You know what, all the skills involved in an active part in church life are readily transferable and can look great on a CV, and if you want a chance to get ‘dress up’ here may be your chance!
Admission to Communion and Confirmation
We have a number of young people, 6 rising 7 who are baptised and thereby eligible to be admitted to communion if they seek this. Please let me know if this is a possibility for your children. The tradition at All Saints is that this occurs at Pentecost, but for obvious reasons this was not an optimal time this year. Admission to Communion will take place on Sunday 25<sup>th</sup> July when we will observe the Feast of St James The Great (patron saint of Pilgrims) within the 11.00 am service. The diocesan policy is that young people who are admitted to communion at a relatively young age defer confirmation until around the age of 15 (although there is some discretion) when they are developing a more adult and informed view of their faith and what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ. We have a number of young people in that category too. Please let me know if confirmation is sought by any members of your family, especially adult, and we can arrange some preparation and a date and place for the service: it would be lovely if it could be here.
The first Sunday in July is the closest date to my anniversaries of ordination. I shall have been in Deacon’s orders for 21 years and in Priest’s Orders for 20. These are important milestones in the life of a clergy person. Whether or not we have restored refreshments after the Parish Eucharist there will be an opportunity to celebrate with me if you so wish.
With all good wishes and every blessing,
The Reverend Andrew Wickens, LL.M, FRSA, ARCM
Rector, Newton Heath
Minor Canon, Manchester Cathedral.