Annual Report St. Mary's

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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 2018

The Benefice is currently in vacancy

Lloyds Bank 31 Fore Street Taunton TA1 1HN

Independent Examiner

Alison Horsey

Fairways West Hatch Taunton TA3 5RS

The Parish of Stoke St Mary (with Thurlbear) - Annual Report for the Year 2018


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 Ilminster, 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, who was the Rector at the start of the year residing in Stoke St Mary, retired on 31st October. The Benefice is currently in vacancy.

During 2018 the PCC continued to support the Ministry Team in promoting the whole mission of the church - pastoral, social, evangelistic and ecumenical - within the ecclesiastical parish. The Revd Christabel Ager served in the Benefice as Associate Minister throughout the year. The Revd Stephen Jones joined the Ministry Team on 30th August, when he was licensed as Associate Vicar. The Ministry Team further comprises the licensed lay readers Brian Crudge and Sue McKen and ordinand Phil Albrow. Holly Stevens served as Children's, Schools and Families Worker throughout the year.

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 2018, 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-All. 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 2018 until the date on which this report was approved were:

Incumbent:                            The Revd Paul Reynolds      (Chairman; retired 31st October 2018)

Associate Ministers:              The Revd Christabel Ager

                                              The Revd Stephen Jones      (from 30th August 2018)

Churchwardens:                    John Pugh                             (Joint Vice Chairman & Treasurer)
                                              Colin Clarke                           (Joint Vice Chairman)

Deanery Synod
Representative:                     Tom Mayberry                         (ex-officio)

Elected Members:                  Brian Crudge                         (Lay Reader)

                                               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 2018 there were 39 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 2018 they were Rosemary Burgess, Charles Clark, Colin Clarke, Tom Mayberry, John Pugh, Peter Renshaw, Roger Smith 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 is David Bidgood.

Review of the Year

As noted above, 2018 marked some significant changes in the Ministry Team. The Revd Paul Reynolds, who had been Rector since the end of January 2006, retired on 31st October. A magnificent service to celebrate his incumbency and to wish him and his wife well was held at St Peter's, Staple Fitzpaine; well over two hundred people attended. Two months prior to that, on 30th August, we were very pleased to welcome the Revd Stephen Jones, who was licensed as Associate Vicar. Stephen and his wife, Jill, moved into the vicarage at Hatch Beauchamp in October.

The PCC held four meetings during 2018, covering a wide and varied range of subjects. On the retirement of the Revd Reynolds, Peter Renshaw chaired the meetings.

In 2017 we had taken the decision to engage a Children's, Schools and Families Worker on a part-time basis but funded entirely by our own Benefice; previously we had shared the time and funding of a fulltime Children's Worker with a neighbouring Benefice. Holly Stevens has now been in this new role since late summer 2017 and it has worked exceptionally well.

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. Two new Foundation Governors were appointed during the year and an advert placed in the magazine to attract future candidates.

The Benefice Development Plan, which is the blueprint of everything we do, is frequently the subject of discussion and revision. Its importance in structuring the Benefice Profile, which is effectively the job description for the new incumbent, made scrutiny this year more relevant than ever. The latest version was adopted in June.

In September the Revd Jim Stevens came to preach at the ten o'clock communion service to talk about his work with Grass Roots Rwanda, a charity of which he is a Trustee and which is financially supported by the PCC.

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 at Thurlbear School, were well supported and very successful. Activities which take place throughout the year continued during 2018, 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 Village Hall at West Hatch on the third Sunday of each month and organised by 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, on the centenary of the Armistice, was 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 was a Worship-for-All 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, particularly since the start of the Vacancy.

After the frenetic fundraising activities of the previous year, 2018 saw more sedate progress. The most successful effort from a financial perspective was the 100 Club. Thanks to the generosity of those who hosted a safari supper in the village, this hugely enjoyable event was financially successful too. We were pleased to host a classical guitar concert in April given by Mark Eden and Christopher Stell, which was an afternoon of exceptional musical quality as they rehearsed the programme for their upcoming tour. It was difficult to set a ticket price for this concert, since the duo play in major concert halls throughout the world; instead we sought donations and were not disappointed with the results. Aconcert of light music given by the Somerset Songsters was held in church at the end of September; it was enjoyed by those who attended but did not draw a significant audience and only just managed to break-even. A decision was made - on personal grounds and due to the amount of time being devoted to the vacancy - to give the Christmas Bazaar a rest in 2018.

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 and make a sound contribution to church funds.

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. There were no major maintenance projects in the church or churchyard.

During the year, the PCC learnt that the Diocese had granted a Faculty to Mr Derek Garland for the reservation of a grave plot in the churchyard at St Thomas's, Thurlbear.

A new Safeguarding Officer, Mrs Helen Hossell, was appointed by the Benefice on the retirement of Mrs Marilyn Hayward.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected a small sign on the gatepost alerting visitors to the presence of the grave of Sapper Bussell.

The General Data Protection Regulation came into effect in the summer and the PCC duly adopted a bespoke Data Protection Policy and a Data Privacy Notice, which is displayed on the notice board.

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 £17,820; total payments on that fund were £18,469, which included a transfer to the Community, Mission and Charitable Fund of £1,782. The income in the year was boosted by the contribution from the Benefice Magazine and from the fund-raising activities as detailed at Note 5 in the accounts. The largest item of expenditure (£14,001) 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 £2,004.

The unrestricted funds (comprising the General Fund and the Community, Mission and Charitable Fund) had an excess of payments over receipts in the year of £871.

The Fabric Fund had net receipts in the year of £158 and net outgoings of £626. The balance on this fund at the year-end stood at £29,350.

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 2018, however, the balance on the General Fund of £5,138 equated to only 102 days of payments, a marginal decrease on the 106 days reported last year. 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)    

9 January, 2019

Independent Examiner's Report

to the PCC of Stoke St Mary Parish Church

For the Year Ended 31 December 2018

I report on the accounts of the PCC for the year ended 31 December 2018 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
9 January 2019


To view or Download the Annual Accounts press here: Stoke St Mary Accounts 2018