I am so thankful as I look back on 2017 to see the ways in which God has blessed and used us. In October 2017 we marked a year of our new services. We started two new services and a new breakfast gathering, which took a lot of trust in the Lord and a willingness to make sacrifices and serve God and one another. Praise God for the positive response, as people have found the service that enables them to serve and be encouraged. The breakfast has provided a great place to get to know others better as well as pray for each other. Unity was at the heart of the decision to change and I am glad to see the ways God has used it to bring us together as a church. So let us pray that services will help us to reach and serve the community more effectively in the years to come.
2017 also marked the 1st birthday for our Singing Club at Willaston CofE Primary School. With Wendy Hill and a number of volunteers leading the club, it has been a huge success and one way for families to experience church as their children come to sing for us. The Creche which was started in 2015 remains a great encouragement, with a growing group of young families joining us each week.
We also completed a Community Audit to help us lay the ground work for improving the church. More information go to: christchurchwillaston.com/church-improvements
Our primary mission is to know Jesus, whether that means coming to know him or growing in him. Either we remain in Jesus and grow or we stagnate and sometimes slip away. Although our services and preaching are Jesus centred, just as we can’t eat once a week, we cannot expect Sunday to keep us going. That is why we run our Life Groups and special courses to help us wherever we are in our faith. We had a very successful Life Explored course which ran for the first time. This has been followed after Easter by the popular Christianity Explored course.
We have lots of opportunities to share Jesus with others, whether it is a conversation at our Soup lunch or as people join us at our Christmas Tree Festival. But it may be more low key than that, an invitation to church or a conversation at the pub. All sorts of conversations and prayers are going on, and only God knows about them all. Your relationships are the key to reaching our community for Christ. So as you share Jesus and what he is doing in your life, we pray that people will come into God’s Kingdom. So as important as our Sunday services are, it is so often what happens outside church that makes the eternal difference. So I hope this year we will all discover the people in our lives that God wants us to reach with the love of Christ.
I don’t often get the chance to say how thankful I am for you all. So let me say it now, thank you! Thank you, because without your love for Christ put in to action we would not achieve anything. What a good God we have, who has blessed us so abundantly in Jesus!
God bless, Rev Stephen Bazely
Child Protection & Safeguarding
This year we continue to have a rigorous system to ensure the safety of our children, vulnerable adults and of our leaders at Christ Church, Willaston.
During 2013 we registered as a parish to be part of the diocesan safeguarding process and our DBS forms continue to be processed online by CCPAS (Church Child Protection Advisory Service).
In conjunction with the diocese and CCPAS, we now have 21 members of church with up to date and valid DBS certificates.
This year, 9 members have had their DBS certificates expire and have been formally invited to renew. At this moment in time only one person has requested to renew their DBS certificate. 4 members of the church have gained their DBS certificate for the first time with us. We have also had some members move away or leave the church. We currently have 3 members undergoing the process of applying for their DBS certificate.
During the year, we did appoint Chris Baines as our ‘Children’s Advocate’, however, due to the very sad loss of Chris, this position is now vacant once again.
Over the year, I have ensured that all members with a valid DBS certificate have been made aware of the diocesan safeguarding policy, ‘Safe in Our Care’. Members have been asked to read the document and sign to verify that they are aware of its contents.
Diocesan guidelines state that the responsibility for the safeguarding of our children and vulnerable adults within a parish, remains with the incumbent and that PCC should appoint at least one Safeguarding co-ordinator to work with the incumbent.
Mrs Claire Bannon
Christ Church Singing Club
We launched ‘The Singing Club’ in September 2016, a weekly lunch club held in school and aimed at children in Year 3. With a growing number of year 3 children and some from year 4, the group is very enthusiastic. During the sessions, the children play musical games and sing Christian Praise Songs. Once a term they are invited to bring their families to church to hear them sing at the 10:45 Sunday Service. They also enjoy singing their songs for Mothers’ Union events and for the rest of the school in the occasional Wednesday assembly. They contribute to the Whole School Visits to church for Harvest, Easter and the End of Year Services too. The group could not run without the help of some wonderful volunteers from the congregation. My thanks to them and the school for being so accommodating and welcoming.
Are you interested in being the new representative? If you are then please speak to Rev Stephen.
In support of Christian Aid members of our church and the Methodist Chapel join in the sponsored walk and a number of people help with bucket collections at Gordales.
God is continuing to grow our church family here in the crèche with new families having joined us this year. On a number of weeks we have as many as 12 little ones and their parents squeeze into the vestry for songs, a bible story and activities! In May Joanna took a group of eight mums to Care for the Family’s Parentalk in Liverpool and it was a lovely, encouraging evening for us all as parents. At Christmas the children from crèche (and parents!) performed the nativity for the church family which was great fun and had a great response. The crèche leaders led the service with Wendy playing the piano for us and Jo and Joanna narrating. The children and grown ups enjoyed dressing up and performing and the congregation were wonderfully enthusiastic as they interacted with us!
Children’s Church Group
We have had an encouraging 12 months. The Children’s group in the Scout Hut has had mixed attendance, sometimes 5 or more children, sometimes none. It has been put on hold for some time due to a lack of volunteers.
Going forward, key events like baptisms and the Singing Club joining us, will bring in more children, many of whom may not have had much opportunity to explore the Bible for themselves. The material and group is geared towards Reception and Years 1 and 2, but there is room in the Scout Hut for another group. With the right leaders we could then offer something for year 3 and up.
It is great news that we now have enough helpers to restart the group and we pray that more people will be able to offer time so we can accommodate all of our young parishioners.
Electoral Roll Report
This year we have 135 members on our electoral roll, down from 142 last year.
Many of you will know that our current minister Marcus Torchon is leaving us at the end of August to take up a new post in the Midlands. Ministerial supervision of Willaston will be taken by Rev’d Kim Goh, whose involvement in Willaston will be limited.
In order to ensure continued operation of the Methodist Church with limited ministerial input, the Church Council decided to appoint a Local Lay Pastor to oversee the day-to-day church activities and drive Mission. I was commissioned for this role on April 22nd.
I have been pleased to work with the Vicar and members of Christ Church on a number of mission and church development activities. I am keen to consolidate the church’s mission to the community by reinforcing what has been accomplished to date, and extend it on a joint basis wherever possible. I believe that although we worship in two distinct church buildings, it is by working together across the village that we can provide the greatest service in mission.
Where we working together
Together we hold a Pentecost service, Lent Study Sessions, taking assemblies at School and the Neston and District Churches Together ‘Open the Book’, acting out three stories per school term in each of 6 junior schools across Parkgate, Neston, Little Neston, Burton and Willaston. We also contribute to the Food bank together and held our first joint Carol Service at Weatherstones last year.
We also held an Easter Experience for the school, with both Churches hosting. The school children displayed art, writing, poetry and craft about Easter and told the Easter story to fellow students, parents and grandparents. A successful event that the school are eager to repeat next year.
We also join you for Remembrance Sunday and support the Christmas Tree Festival with a tree decorated by children from the ‘Church Mice’ and ‘Create’ groups.
As Lay Leader for Willaston Methodist, I will share a number of ways in which we can partner in mission to the community. Either by extending existing activities or starting new ones.
Jim Shaw – Local Lay Pastor of Willaston Methodist Chapel
This year our theme is ‘Walking in Mary Sumner’s Footsteps’. It all began in the Old Rectory in Aylesford, the home of Mary Sumner and her husband, the vicar of the parish. She had a great concern for the young women she knew who were finding life difficult and determined to support them by inviting them to the vicarage to meet together. She was passionate about supporting marriage and family life and this has continued and spread throughout the world since that time helping those facing adversity by praying, campaigning and enabling.
We now have 38 members in Willaston Branch and continue to meet monthly on the second Wednesday of each month at 2pm in the Methodist chapel schoolroom. During our meetings we pray for the work of Mothers’ Union worldwide, we usually have an interesting speaker telling about the Christian work they are involved in. Last year we had a member of Heswall Youth Fellowship talking about her forthcoming journey to Uganda, providing mosquito nets to prevent malaria taking hold and working in schools. Wendy Steadman, the widow of Fred, a previous vicar in Willaston, told us about her journey to ordination. Many of our long standing members remembered her when she was involved in Sunday school and Mothers’ Union some 30 years ago!!
We continue to establish links with our local village school. Three of our members are involved with the singing club who are invited to church from time to time to sing to us all. The school choir and the singing club visit our meetings and provide an excellent afternoon of entertainment. We also listen to the children read in school.
We support the Liverpool Seafarers Mission and were so fortunate to be able to invite John Wilson from the mission to one of our meetings.He pointed out the importance of being able to welcome all seafarers to the port and where possible take them to the mission in Crosby by mini-bus where they are able to contact their families after many months away from them.
He said they were guided by Matthew 25 v35 ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Grateful thanks were given for the knitted hats, warm mens clothing, cds videos and teddies.
Midweek communion with Mothers’ Union takes place on 3rd Wednesday in Church at 10.30. Knit and natter group meet twice each month. We follow up Baptisms by keeping in touch with the families until the child reaches school age.
A very special thank you for the love and support by our clergy families, Stephen and Joanna, Lyndon and Claire, for welcoming us into their homes and gardens during the year and providing us with some truly delicious treats.
Thank you to both families for your loving hospitality.
We warmly welcome new members, male or female who support Christian concern for families.
Kath Walker, Branch Leader
The Parish News, produced by Christ Church, serves the community, by gathering information, notices, diary dates and reports from the local area and diocese of interest and use for the many activities taking place in the village and surrounds.
In August the printers had a workforce crisis which disrupted delivery date for a while. However, from this we have progressed to a ‘print ready’ submission which requires more work at our end but gives us more control and a much speedier turnaround from the printer, although delivery slots can affect timing.
Whilst this will not reduce prices it helps our printers, Inprint, keep costs as low as they can. Last year the Parish News made a small profit; with the closure of local businesses due to relocation or retirement that advertising revenue is reducing so any new advertising would be welcome.
Contribution from the church about events and activities has increased whilst maintaining the balance and good relationship with other village activities. The back page and contact details pages have been much improved by Lyndon and Paddy, many thanks to both.
Much hard work is conducted by Mrs. Inneen Taylor, our distributor, collating the Diocesan News, preparing the magazine for delivery and organising her team of deliverers. Inneen also contributes inspiring and reflective poetry. Again Mrs Viv Ley has organised the economics and advertising. Many thanks are again due to them both. Our thanks are due to the deliverers and to the contributors and subscribers who make the magazine possible and enable the service to continue.
Susan Schwab – Magazine Editor
As stated in our church magazine ‘members of the team can be contacted to share concerns about family, friends or neighbours who have needs. Their main job is to keep everyone connected to the church family but they cannot supply services which would normally be given by one of the various care agencies.’
Rather than think of the team as an action group with formally allocated tasks it is perhaps more helpful to think of it as an information network sharing concerns about church family members experiencing a difficulty and trying to find a solution. Giving lifts to church for people with mobility problems is a simple example.
When we meet, which is only 3 or 4 times a year, we meet for the purpose of mutual encouragement and to affirm that taking an interest in people is not ‘idle curiosity’ but our response as Christians to ‘love as He loved’.
A date for the next meeting will be announced shortly which will include an invitation for others to join us.
Ted Dew – Warden
Since the completion of the roof there has only been one significant improvement to the fabric of the church building during the last year, which is the rewiring of the electrical supply to the toilet and the choir vestry and the consequent provision of hot water to those areas.
Others have been busy progressing the procedures for the re-ordering which should begin to produce visible results as this year continues and we are grateful to them for their efforts.
Having received a visit from the Fire and Rescue Service there is now a growing need to respond to the recommendations that have been made and this will be driven by the wardens but will require the cooperation of everyone. it is expected that some of the issues will covered by the re-ordering.
Last summer, there were complaints about the condition of the graveyard, when, through injury, our gardener wasn’t able to work. Happily, he is now well and doing a good job.
It is recognised that there is a need to establish a good path to the new grave area but this will have to allow access for the gravediggers’ heavy equipment. Again, this is expected to be completed this year.
In order to reduce costs a different gas and electric supplier has been arranged. As a church family we should all be thankful to those volunteers who have cleaned the church during the last year especially for the big events. Finally, I’m pleased to report we now have an increasing colony of Snowdrops.
Willaston Church of England Primary School
Christ Church has many links with our Village school, with members of the Governing body, volunteer Reading Rangers and as parents and members of the PTA. Rev Stephen takes assemblies, takes classes into church for lessons and welcomes the whole school into church for special services through the year.
Over the last year both Viv Ley and Susan Schwab have come to the end of their terms as Foundation Governors, they have both contributed a great deal to the school and I and the school are very grateful for their service representing the church and blessing the school.
Following an ‘Outstanding’ church inspection known as SIAMS, the school also received a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating and has a record number of children at the moment.
The highlight of the year so far for me has to be the Easter Experience! A chance for the children in years 3, 4 and 5 to share the Easter story in lots of creative and moving ways, with stations in both the churches. You can still see some of their work up in church. – Rev Stephen
Our regular monthly afternoon services at Weatherstones Nursing Home continued throughout the year. Now well established, they continue to be popular with both residents and their visitors with typically some eight to ten attending. Every service involves the same welcoming, relaxed and prayerful environment and usually some enthusiastic singing!
UpLIFT – Women’s group
UpLIFT (Ladies In Fellowship Together – Upholding one another as we share the love and joy of knowing Christ.) was formed in May 2016 in order to provide a space for both members and non-members of the church to come together for a time of fellowship and friendship.
The group meets monthly on the second or third Thursday evening and is free to all who wish to come (we only charge for tickets or materials as an event requires). The group is open to all ladies whether they are Christians or not. We have participated in a very wide variety of events including walking, theatre visits, craft activities and a post-Christmas meal together.
The group has seen approximately 25 ladies come to the evenings across the year. The nature of the group is to provide a wide range of activities in order to appeal to as many people as possible. Members are free to come to as many or as few meetings as they feel appropriate.
Over the course of the second year of UpLIFT, we have enjoyed many interesting experiences: a hanging basket demonstration at Gordale; a talk about being ‘Dementia Friendly’ by the Alzheimer’s Association; a treasure hunt around Willaston (with prizes for all who took part!); a summer evening walk through Eastham Woods; paper flower arranging; a visit to see War Horse at The Liverpool Empire and finally we ended 2017 with a wonderful joint Advent Carol Service along with The MU and Men’s Group.
We now have a programme for our third year well under way which has seen us already listen to George Roach talk about being a Christian in the emergency services and a very busy craft night led by Merlynn. The rest of the year will see us take part in an art journaling evening focused on prayer; a visit to watch the sunset on the ‘Liverpool Cathedral Twilight Tower Tour’; a visit to New Ferry Butterfly Park; a summer evening walk from Thornton Hough and later in the autumn, a return visit to The Liverpool Empire to see ‘Calendar Girls’.
Our programme is available in church and details can be found by speaking to Helen or Claire.
Helen Heath & Claire Bannon