Keith Best, PCC Secretary, has written an informative notice about Governance at St James’s and how you can get involved.
An invitation to you
We are an inclusive church and want as many as wish to become fully involved in the way we work. There are so many opportunities to meet new friends, learn more about your local community, widen your horizons and have great discussions about our faith or anything else of importance. You can volunteer in a variety of different ways. You may wish to become part of our governing structure and our Annual Parochial Church Council (APCM) meeting coming up on Sunday 8 May is a good way to start. I am very happy to have an informal discussion about the role and responsibilities if anyone who is thinking of standing would like to do so.
We shall hold an election for one vacancy for a lay member of our PCC. As you can see from below, there are four formal meetings plus two others in the year and these are held usually on a Monday night from 6.30-9pm – so the time commitment is not great but the contribution you can make is considerable. There are often significant issues on which to make decisions. Attached is a nomination form – so if you are interested please complete it and send it to me. Hopefully, both the form and the instructions are clear but please do not hesitate to contact me if you want any clarification or help in finding proposers/seconders etc.
In addition to the election for the one vacancy on our PCC at our forthcoming APCM we shall also elect our two Churchwardens and I am pleased that both Deborah Colvin and Trevor Lines are standing for re-election. Please see below for how we conduct our elections in accordance with the Church Representation Rules. I hope that you will both attend and vote even if you are not standing for election.
I explained in my preamble to my summary of our last Parochial Church Council (PCC) our recent governance changes which, for convenience, I set out again here:
We have been undertaking an overhaul of the governance of SJP. Under Church Representation Rules which govern the way in which we take decisions affecting the church the PCC is the governing body (in company terms, the Board). This consists of members elected by the congregation who are on the electoral roll (you can apply to be on this) at the Annual Parochial Church Council (APCM) meeting which, this year, we have fixed for Sunday 8 May – so please put that date in your diary. The PCC is chaired by the Rector and also has a Lay Vice-Chair and for the meeting to be quorate requires always a majority of lay members over clergy. Under the Rules we are also required to have a Standing Committee (SC) which consists of the Rector, Associate Rector, Lay Vice-Chair of the PCC, church wardens (also elected at the APCM) and Honorary Treasurer (elected at the APCM).
The SC has no specific role in the Church Representation Rules but is tasked by the PCC to undertake what the PCC wishes. At SJP, however, the SC has met regularly prior to the PCC to help manage its agenda and, in effect, has acted as a Senior Management Team (which has put a considerable burden on its members as both the PCC and SC have been meeting each on eight occasions every year). This has been much more onerous during the pandemic. That is all about to change as we discussed at the PCC meeting on 21 March. The PCC has appointed a Senior Management Team of professionals consisting of the Operations Director Nick Thasarathar, Creative Director Richard Parry (both of whom have joined only recently) and Brian Willetts the Development Director whom some of you have met as he is responsible for raising the funds for the Wren Project. As the Senior Management Team, they will report directly to the PCC as the supervising board. This means that the SC can revert to its traditional role of undertaking what tasks from time to time the PCC may ask of it and it will cease to meet regularly.
This will need a new structure of meetings so, rather than eight times a year, the PCC will meet every quarter of the year (four times) to deal with the business of the church but will also hold an extra two meetings a year to speak about the spiritual, pastoral and parochial life of the church and will want maximum input from you the congregation. There will also be a PCC Awayday (held in the church), this year, on Saturday 11 June in order to finalise the Strategic Plan for the coming year. This is all set out in the accompanying diagram. At the PCC meeting this was approved – so watch this space!
Those who attend the Sunday services either in person or online will know that for the past 5 weeks there has been a Being St James’s Lenten discussion led by the Giving Team and the success of these so far was reported to the PCC meeting with some 40 people attending the last one. We recognize the sensitivity in asking for money for the church when so many of our congregation will be facing hardship through increased domestic bills this year and this is under discussion by the Giving Team and the PCC.
Finances and Policies
One of the main responsibilities of the PCC is the overall supervision of the finances (which are also subject to the scrutiny of the independently chaired Audit Committee). We ended last year with a surplus and so this year, for the first time in many years, we have decided to invest for the future of the church (such as in employing the SMT) by spending more (separately from the Wren Project which must be accounted for independently) and, therefore, incurring a deficit for 2022. Over 2 years, however, SJP breaks even. But income generation is a very big challenge for 2023 and going forward. The PCC, with advice from the Audit Committee, will formulate a ‘plan back to break even’ in the course of 2022.
The church also has a large number of policies affecting the way in which we operate, subject to legislation, HR best practice etc. and these need to be updated so every PCC meeting a number of them are put forward for review and given a new lease of life – and this was done at the last PCC meeting. You are welcome to see these policies if you wish.
We have during Refugee Week a lecture in support of the charity Redress on Sunday 26 June – another date for your diary.
Get in touch
Please feel free at any stage to talk things through with any member of the PCC, the wardens or clergy directly or do get in touch with me as PCC secretary. I hope to get to know many more of you in due course.