St Margaret’s Ridge: MISSION ACTION PLAN
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- St. Margaret’s is a very pretty, early 16th century church, set in a well-managed and attractive churchyard in a very open, rural location.
- It is an ideal venue for medium-sized weddings (and, on occasions has gained some revenue from filming) and it has a light, airy and welcoming feeling.
- It is set in the heart of a small, pretty street village and it is used as a meeting place for ramblers, cyclists and the churchyard is a cut-through to the fields beyond for people wanting to walk dogs.
- The congregation, though small, mostly all know and are friendly with one another, and on entering the church for a Sunday service, one has a “village church feeling”, with people talking to each other before the start of the service.
- The vicar is friendly and very approachable.
- It has a sprawling parish covering a large rural area which makes it difficult to communicate with parishioners.
- The majority of people on the electoral roll of the church are non-resident, some coming from a long way and attendance on Sundays is small. This means also that parish share is based on a population who, for the most part, do not attend on a regular basis (or at all!) and therefore do not contribute socially or financially to the church.
- There is no school in Ridge and very few children and family services are rarely possible.
- The residents, though regarding it as “their” church do not actually support it on a regular basis. They will on occasions help with church flowers but cannot be relied upon.
- There is no real sense of community in Ridge and no real “heart” to the village which makes it difficult to communicate with the locals. However, that said, it manages to stage a most successful fete each year with many people pulling together. Why don’t we see these people the rest of the year?!
As mentioned at the meeting we had on Tuesday 7 June, we could try harder to make people feel welcome when they attend church. The Sidesman must be welcoming to all people arriving and help as far as possible to explain the order of service for that day. It is a good idea for that person to sit near the door so that latecomers can also be greeted accordingly.
Coffee after the service could perhaps be done on a more regular basis. It seems to work better in the church as people are more inclined to stay than if it is held in the village hall. This is an opportunity to make them feel included and to let them know of any future events in the church. All members of the regular congregation make an effort to be friendly and welcoming.
The service can be confusing to new people and the vicar could inform them of the page they should be on and the highlighted areas which are being used, for Easter, Pentecost, etc. As we use different service sheets it is sometimes hard even for the regular congregation to know what the responses should be.
The vicar could inform the congregation of people, in either community who may be sick and include them in their prayers. Also it would be good to know the dates and times of funerals and weddings being held in either church.
St Giles and St Margaret’s should interact, not behave as completely separate entities. There seems to be opposition to this, but I don’t understand why as most of us know at least one person from the other church and some of us know many. Surely we would derive strength from sharing problems.
The vicar does hold regular surgeries but if it is difficult for people to contact her. Perhaps this could be done through the church warden. She should be a more visible presence in both villages. She is very friendly and approachable but many people still don’t know her.
The Parish Newsletter should be used to inform the community of what is going on locally. This happens already but people seems reluctant to inform it of forthcoming family celebrations, e.g. 21st birthdays, weddings, anniverseries, etc.
There is an extremely negative attitude by certain individuals to new ideas and suggestions for improvement. We will never flourish or attract new people to the church while this attitude prevails!
Fortunately for St Margaret’s , there are moves afoot to provide it with a Team Ministry which, hopefully, will keep it secure for the next few years.
A team ministry which provides for a regular exchange of pulpits would be a good thing as it is stimulating for the congregation to have different preachers which different viewpoints.
The threat is that unless we are able to increase our church population appreciably in the next few years we are in danger of losing our church.