The Parish of Stoke St Mary (with Thurlbear)
In the Seven Sowers Benefice
(United Benefice of Beercrocombe, with Curry Mallet,
Hatch Beauchamp, Orchard Portman, Staple Fitzpaine,
Stoke St Mary (with Thurlbear) and West Hatch)
Annual Report
Financial Statements
of the
Parochial Church Council
For the year ended 31st December 2017

Incumbent:                       The Revd Paul Reynolds
                                        The Rectory, Stoke St Mary
                                        Taunton TA3 5BX

Bank:                               Lloyds Bank
                                        31 Fore Street
                                        Taunton, TAI1HN
Independent Examiner:   Alison Horsey
                                        West Hatch
                                        Taunton TA3 5RS


The Parish of Stoke St Mary (with Thurlbear) - Annual Report for the Year 2017


The ecclesiastical parish of Stoke St Mary (with Thurlbear) contains two parish churches, namely the church of St Mary the Virgin, Stoke St Mary, and the redundant church of St Thomas, Thurlbear. The two churches are located in the centre of their respective villages.

The parish forms part of the Seven Sowers Benefice, comprising the parishes of Beercrocombe with Curry Mallet, Hatch Beauchamp, Orchard Portman, Staple Fitzpaine, Stoke St Mary (with Thurlbear) and West Hatch. The parish is part of the Deanery of IIminster, which in turn is part of the Diocese of Bath and Wells within the Church of England.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is a charity excepted from registration with the Charity Commissioners.

The Revd Paul Reynolds has been the Rector throughout the year and resides in Stoke St Mary.
During 2017 the PCC continued to support the Rector in promoting the whole mission of the church - pastoral, social, evangelistic and ecumenical - within the ecclesiastical parish. He has been assisted in the Benefice by the Associate Ministers the Revd Mary Godin and the Revd Christabel Ager, by the Revd Tim Gibson and by the licensed lay reader Brian Crudge. During the year the Revd Mary Godin retired and the Revd Tim Gibson returned to his home parish on conclusion of his twelve-month secondment to the Benefice.

The PCC is responsible for the care and maintenance of the Grade II* listed church building in Stoke St Mary and the surrounding churchyard. It is also responsible for the churchyard of St Thomas’s Church, Thurlbear, where the church building itself is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust.
The service rota, which ran throughout 2017, provides for a service in St Mary’s on three Sundays each month as follows: first Sunday: 8.30 am BCP Communion; second Sunday: 10.00 am Parish Communion; fourth Sunday: 10.00 am Worship-for-AII. On the third Sunday and, where appropriate, on fifth Sundays a United Benefice Service was held; the third Sunday service being held always at West Hatch and the fifth Sunday service alternating between Orchard Portman and Beercrocombe.


The method of appointment of PCC members is set out in the Church Representation rules. Members are elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting. All Church attendees are encouraged to register on the Electoral Roll and to stand for election to the PCC.
PCC members who served from 1st January 2017 until the date on which this report was approved were:

Incumbent:                                     The Revd Paul Reynolds
Associate Ministers:                      The Revd Mary Godin
                                                       The Revd Christabel Ager

Churchwardens:                             John Pugh
                                                       Colin Clarke
Deanery Synod Representative:    Tom Mayberry

Elected Members:                         Jill Baker
                                                      Brian Crudge

                                                      Elizabeth Fothergill

                                                      Roger Millard

                                                      Peter Renshaw

                                                      Graham Salter

                                                      Roger Smith

John Pugh served as acting secretary throughout the year.

Church Attendance
At the time of the Annual Parochial Church Meeting in 2017 there were 41 parishioners on the Electoral Roll. The weekly attendance at services varied from a minimum of about 8 at an 8.30 a.m. service up to 30 or more at other regular services. The Easter and Christmas services again proved very popular.
Sidesmen and Sideswomen.

Sidesmen and Sideswomen are appointed for the year and are organised by Peter Renshaw. In 2017 they were Rosemary Burgess, Charles Clark, Colin Clarke, Tom Mayberry, John Pugh, Peter Renshaw, Roger Smith, Margaret Sparkes and Rachel Woolvin.

Other Roles
Other members of the congregation provide essential support to the work and worship of St Mary’s Church by serving as bell ringers (Tower Captain: Rachel Drew), flower arrangers and cleaners, and by serving on the coffee-making rota. The Sacristan is Rachel Woolvin and the church architect is Annie Evans. The principal organist to St Mary’s, Sue Lee, retired at the end of the summer after over twenty years’ service.

Review of the Year
As noted above, 2017 marked some significant changes in the Ministry Team. The Rev Mary Godin, who has been one of the Associate Ministers since September 2011 retired at the end of October. The Rev Tim Gibson, who spent a year on secondment from the Isle Abbotts Benefice, completed his term in the summer.

We were sorry to lose the services of James Hall, who had started in the previous year as the Children’s, Schools and Families Worker. He had made a great impact during his brief tenure. We were further sorry to learn that the neighbouring Blackdowns Benefice were no longer willing to continue to co-fund this post. After some deliberation, the Benefice decided to fund the post entirely from its own funds but to restrict the post to part-time. In the late summer we were delighted to welcome Holly Stevens into the role.

The PCC held four meetings during 2017, covering a wide and varied range of subjects. Thanks were paid to Jill Baker, who retired from the PCC at the annual meeting after very many years’ service.
The Benefice Development Plan, first drafted five years ago, is frequently the subject of discussion and revision. A section discussed in 2017 was further to develop authentic Christianity in our lives and one area in particular, which has been missing recently, is looking after those less fortunate than ourselves. Since the Libala School Zambian link was wound up, our charitable giving has centred on home based charities. In 2017 the Rev Jim Stevens came twice to the Benefice service to address the congregation about a Rwanda based charity of which he is a Trustee. The PCC were so impressed with his presentations that they were pleased to make a financial commitment to support his work.

Activities which have traditionally taken place in the summer - prayer visiting and holiday clubs - were organised again this year. The prayer visits, aimed at providing solace to those in need of help, were well received; the holiday clubs, run over two days in the Village Hall, were oversubscribed and very successful. Activities which take place throughout the year continued during 2017, notably ‘Open the Book’ and Stoke Tots (both of which are centred around Thurlbear School), and Messy Church, based at Hatch Beauchamp Village Hall and run as a Benefice activity.
Another activity run on a Benefice basis has been the monthly lunch, held in the Church Hall at West Hatch on the third Sunday of each month. Since the retirement of Mary Godin in the autumn, the organisation of this event has fallen to a team from St Mary’s.

In addition to the normal monthly service pattern, there were also the special services held at the times of the major festivals, at Easter time, Advent and Christmas, as well as the Remembrance Day service, which remains an emotionally charged event. The Advent Carol Service in a candle-lit St Thomas’s Church was as atmospheric as ever and the Crib Service on Christmas Eve afternoon got the rapt attention of its youthful congregation. The service to celebrate harvest this year was a Worship-for-AII service at 10.00. Throughout the year the Christian message was presented to very appreciative congregations in many and varied ways and we are enormously grateful to the Ministry Team for facilitating this.

A concerted effort was made in 2017 towards raising funds, whilst simultaneously also raising the profile of the church in the village. The activities included a Pudding and Quiz evening, a 100 Club, the production and sale of a village Cook Book, the sale of teas, cakes and plants at the Stoke St Mary Soapbox Derby, and the Christmas Bazaar; the outcome of these activities is reflected in the financial review below.

The Community Teas - held in the church in the warmer months and in the private house adjacent to the church in the winter - continued to have appeal. They offer a vital bridge between the church and the wider community.

Churchyard maintenance is something outsourced to professional groundsmen but there is a need for volunteers to help out bi-annually with a general clean up and these days were again well supported. The only maintenance within the church has been the installation of a wall-mounted dehumidifier in the vestry, which has a drain to the outside of the building. This work required a Faculty from the Diocese and, once this had been granted, the work was quickly put in hand; the installation has had a material impact on reducing the humidity level.

During the year, the PCC learnt that the Diocese had granted a Faculty to Mrs Patricia Murray for the reservation of a grave plot in the churchyard.

The PCC always takes a close interest in the Voluntary Aided Church of England primary school at Thurlbear and was pleased to hear very positive reports of the new head teacher’s first full year in post.
PCC funds again received a significant contribution from the Benefice Magazine, which succeeds in raising money primarily through the sale of advertising space. Its contribution to informing the wider community about events related to the church is an important medium of communication.

Financial Review
Total receipts on the General Fund were £19,908; total payments on that fund were £19,130, which included a transferto the Community, Mission and Charitable Fund of £1,998. The income in the year was significantly boosted by the contribution from the many fund-raising activities, which are detailed in the accounts at Note 5.. The largest item of expenditure (£13,064) was the Parish Share, paid to the Diocese, which enables it to provide the parish with clergy and support services; charitable and other donations (including our contribution to funding the Children’s Worker) amounted to £1,698.

The unrestricted funds (comprising the General Fund and the Community, Mission and Charitable Fund) had a surplus of receipts over payments in the year of £1,078.

The Fabric Fund had net receipts in the year of £563 and net outgoings of £460. The balance on this fund at the year-end stood at £29,818.

Reserves Policy
The PCC has had a policy of maintaining a balance on unrestricted funds, if possible, equating to approximately six months’ unrestricted payments. This policy was aimed at covering any unforeseen emergency situations that may arise. At 31st December 2017, however, the balance on the General Fund of £5,787 equated to only 106 days of payments, nevertheless it reflected a steady improvement on 2016 (97 days). The PCC are conscious that this ratio is still in need of further improvement.

It is the strategy of the PCC to invest the monetary assets of long-term funds, including the Fabric Fund, in deposits with the Church of England Deposit Fund. Surplus monetary assets, which may be required at shorter notice, are held with Lloyds Bank on current and deposit accounts, as appropriate.
John Pugh (Churchwarden and Acting Secretary)

10 January, 2018

Independent Examiner’s Report to the PCC of Stoke St Mary Parish Church
For the Year Ended 31 December 2017

I report on the accounts of the PCC for the year ended 31 December 2017 which are set out on pages 6 to 10.
Respective responsibilities of trustees and examiner
The PCC are the trustees of the charity and are responsible for the preparation of the accounts. The charity’s trustees consider that an audit is not required for this year under section 144(2) of the Charities Act 2011 (the Charities Act) and that an independent examination is needed.
It is my responsibility to:
    • examine the accounts under section 145 of the Charities Act;
• to follow the procedures laid down in the general Directions given by the Charity Commission under section 145(5)(b) of the Charities Act; and
    • to state whether particular matters have come to my attention.

Basis of independent examiner’s report
My examination was carried out in accordance with the general Directions given by the Charity Commission. An examination includes a review of the accounting records kept by the charity and a comparison of the accounts presented with those records. It also includes consideration of any unusual items or disclosures in the accounts, and seeking explanations from you as trustees concerning any such matters. The procedures undertaken do not provide all the evidence that would be required in an audit and consequently no opinion is given as to whether the accounts present a ‘true and fair view’ and the report is limited to those matters set out in the statement below.
Independent examiner’s statement
In connection with my examination, no matter has come to my attention:
(1) which gives me reasonable cause to believe that in any material respect the requirements:
    • to keep accounting records in accordance with section 130 of the Charities Act; and
• to prepare accounts which accord with the accounting records and comply with the accounting requirements of the Charities Act have not been met; or
(2) to which, in my opinion, attention should be drawn in order to enable a proper understanding of the accounts to be reached.

Mrs Alison Horsey
Fairways, West Hatch, Taunton. TA3 5RS