Churchwardens News – Jacqueline Brown writes

Jan 3, 2018   //   by Terry Roberts   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Churchwardens News – Jacqueline Brown writes

Churchwarden’s News – Jacqueline Brown
Homelessness update
Following on from my November report, regular users of the Parish Church will be pleased to know that we have now been able to regain control of the church porch. We’ve done this by adding locks so that the blue gates can be locked open during the day, padlocking them closed at night, and by adding some very tasteful wrought ironwork to the top edge of each gate to deter climbers. In addition, the items and rubbish that were in the churchyard and alongside it on the A31 boundary have now been cleared by Ringwood Town Council.

But these steps do not mean that we have given up or disassociated ourselves from the homeless men who were using the porch. On the contrary, we continue to work with them, with the ultimate aim of finding accommodation for them, and also to help them with the various health and addiction problems they have.

At the beginning of December, on a very chilly night, about 40 of us, including children, slept out in Ringwood Infant School playground. Me included! This is the third year that the Parish has been involved in the Advent Sleepout which is organised by and raises funds for the Church Urban Fund. The CUF is part of the Church of England and was set up over 30 years ago to provide a practical response to unmet needs in local communities, addressing issues such as hate and prejudice, homelessness, loneliness and issues of financial exclusion.

Thanks to some very generous sponsors we have raised over £4000 this year! But just as importantly, both adults and children were able to gain some insight into what it is like to sleep in cardboard boxes. Although we of course all had warm homes and hot baths to go back to the following day.

Christmas festivities
I hope that you were able to enjoy several of the many events and services held throughout December across our five churches. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the Swing Band concert at Harbridge, although I did resist the temptation to dance in the aisle at the end… for this year at least! It is one of the great joys of being a parish of five churches that we can offer so many varied types of event and service so that we can reach out to many people in our community. The Christmas Fair at the Parish Church was a great success – not only because we raised around £1400, but also because so many people came in and found a truly warm and hospitable welcome, and we have seen some of these faces at services since.

With four schools actively engaged with us, the number of people who visited one of our churches through December is around 3,000.

Families Minister
The Benefice plans to appoint a Families Minister to build upon the work done by Chris Newman in Ringwood and Steph Dixon in St Leonards & St Ives. We believe that discipling of families is vital to our mission to grow our churches and reach out to the people of our area with the knowledge of God’s love for us all.

Our Parishes have invested sacrificially in the recent pastoral re-organisation and in the mission of the Deanery and so we sought help from the Diocese in funding God’s mission in our Benefice. Housing costs in Ringwood are far above the national average and we requested financial support so that housing assistance might be offered to the successful candidate. Without this, only candidates with an existing housing provision will be able to apply, and we must be able to recruit the very best person.

I’m absolutely delighted to let you know that the Diocese of Winchester are going to make the Benefice a grant of £26,400 over three years for the purposes of employing a Families Minister. This is such a clear sign that both the work we are doing here is God’s work and that our Diocese is fully supportive of it and us. We will be advertising in the New Year and aim to have the Families Minister in place around Easter.

Parish Church Changes
Shortly we will be able to let you know about changes proposed for the Parish Church. The RiMA project has been underway for some time and I’m sure you will be pleased to see the first changes start to take shape. Whilst these changes – driven in part by the appointment of our Families Minister – will allow us to grow as a church, we do appreciate that it can create anxiety for some people, so do please feel free to contact Matthew, Ian, Steve or me if you have any concerns. We do truly believe that these changes will equip us to grow our Benefice and reach out to the people in our community.

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