Church of England Diocese of Exeter Saint Mark, Exeter

St Marks: Review of the year and summary accounts 2020

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: Introduction

The year 2020 has been overshadowed by the COVID 19 pandemic. In common with other churches, St Marks ceased in person services at the start of the first lockdown in March, with communion services being livestreamed from the Rectory. Livestreaming then continued on Facebook; steps were taken to ensure that the church was Covid-19 safe, described in the next paragraph. Using the building has allowed more individuals to participate in the service. The celebrant was the only person to robe, and members of the preaching team gave short sermons, and congregational members read lessons and led intercessions. When singing was permitted, members of the congregation sang from the music corner or the chancel steps. Experience with these arrangements during the 9:30am Eucharist allowed the church to welcome two congregations to ticketed carol services. The Wednesday morning service of Morning Prayer has been streamed on Facebook and the coffee morning which formerly followed this has been replaced by a time when the church has opened for private prayer. Livestreamed services have been well received by those who (for whatever reason) cannot attend in person. Nonetheless, as lockdown has meant that the distribution at the eucharist is in one kind only, there is a widespread longing for a return to normality.

It was to St Mark’s good fortune that arranging the church in a COVID secure manner was relatively simple. The arrangements were as follows: entry for services by the west door into the lobby where there was a “test and trace QR-code” and hand gel. The double doors led into the Nave where the chairs (our old plastic ones) were been arranged at 2 metre distance from each other. Exit was via the North porch. Chairs were cleaned after each service. Face masks were worn apart from those who needed to speak or sing when taking an active part in the service.

The PCC met four times in the year (January, before lockdown 1, June, September and November by Zoom). Much of the business was concerned with the effects of lockdown on the life of the church, its services, its outreach to the parish and community, the closure of the hall to outside hirers and the effect of lockdown on the church finances.

The hall was closed to outside users for most of the months March-December, although a few groups were allowed to use it between lockdown 1 and lockdown 2.

The Deanery Synod held two meetings during the year; one in person, one by Zoom. The church worked with other congregations in supporting the diocesan Mission Shed initiative.

Bellringing in the tower was suspended during lockdown.

A summary of the 2020 financial statements is available elsewhere on this site. Full accounts are available on request from the Treasurer.

At the start of the first lockdown, at the request of the Diocese, all parishes were asked to prepare an estimate of how the PCC thought the parish would fare financially. Initial modelling suggested a deficit of £3-5,000, based on a loss of income from non congregational sources (hall; fundraising; general donations). However, despite a reduction in hall income, which ultimately fell by around 70%, increased planned congregational giving, and reduced expenditure, particularly in respect of the church’s gas and electric usage, resulted in the parish breaking even over the year.

Total income was £48,022 (2019: £56,122) of which £955 was restricted. Expenditure was £48,244 (2019: £51,421), of which £250 was designated and £1,785 was restricted expenditure., giving a net deficit (after accounting for a revaluation of investments, £210) of £12 (2019: £6,555 surplus). As will be seen, the Parishes investments, after an initial large reduction, had by the end of the year recovered to show a slight surplus.

Fundraising (the Fete, St Stephens coffee morning, film nights) is currently paused, although it may soon need to be reactivated in order to raise funds towards some necessary work on the south aisle roof. This may be a challenge in the current COVID climate if traditional methods of fundraising continue to be prohibited under COVID regulations..

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: Reserves policy

The 2015 financial statements recommended that the following minimum level of general (unrestricted) reserves be held

To cover any major repair work identified 10,000
Three months running costs                        15,000
The Parochial Church Council agree that the policy of maintaining a minimum level of reserves is still appropriate.

As at 31 December 2020, the free reserves of the PCC (i.e. Current unrestricted reserves excluding fixed assets) was £34,600 (2019: £31,631). Current modelling suggests that St Marks income will grow in the forthcoming year (even should the hall remain closed), the result of increased planned giving in 2020 continuing into 2021.

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: Contribution of volunteers

We would like to thank all the volunteers who work so hard to make our church community what it is, in many and varied roles, especially at this time. This has enabled the church to maintain services in a COVID secure manner.

revised_summary, PDF