A newly formed Audit Committee has met, together with the newly appointed chair Andrew Caspari, and Andrew attended the start of the PCC meeting. Andrew has substantial experience of working with churches (formerly Churchwarden at St Martin’s), with third sector, as well as having a professional background with the BBC. Andrew and Simon (Hon Treasurer) reiterated the task of the committee which is to ensure rigorous financial governance and offer the PCC independent financial expertise. Andrew Caspari was warmly welcomed and thanked for his time and for engaging with St James’s.
The church hall now has an upright good quality digital piano, which has replaced the baby grand, to provide more space as the piano is very rarely used. The new LED lights and cables have been issued to market traders: these are ecologically more appropriate, and despite hefty initial outlay, will substantially decrease electricity bills. The traders are being issued with lights purchased by the church, and will be able, at their own expense, to upgrade the lights for the purposes of display. The market is under budget for 2015 and so the market manager, Costas Benopoulous Jones, has been asked to make a proposal for the November PCC meeting; to rethink the Tuesday antiques market which has been under budget for some time.
The PCC perused and approved the draft Safeguarding Policy and Procedures, and is on track with the Parish Safeguarding Self-Audit and Action Plan. Both of these are being managed by Jane Gray, HR advisor, who will continue to report to the PCC. A complete review of all policies; HR, Health and Safety, working procedures, is being undertaken by Jane Gray and Graham Cooper (PCC secretary) before the 2016 APCM. A rolling programme of review by the PCC will ensure each is scrutinised annually.
The PCC perused and discussed the draft strategic plan (2016-9), arising from the work on the PCC Away Day in July. This Away Day work integrated the community consultation on values, organised by Deborah and Penelope. This is to be presented to, and discussed with the St James’s congregation, staff and community, in order to have a new strategic plan completed by the end of January 2016.
The PCC received an update on the Wren Project; which included a report from the Diocesan Advisory Committee, and from the Diocese, on the basis of the completion of the feasibility study. The overall vision for the whole site was commended, and the project group was urged to consider additional options to ensure that the additional space being envisaged matched St James’s vision sufficiently. The PCC discussed the timetable, which is now that initial consultations with Historic England and Westminster City Council should take place in case there are any “red lines” concerning what will be allowed. Following this, the whole site plan, including plans for a café, offices, restoration of the church building and landscaping, would be presented to the St James’s congregation, staff and community in January 2016.
The PCC commended the new Circus Spirit meeting, which forms part of Sundays at Six, for people in their 20s and 30s, and noted the positive feedback received from those attending.
The Reverend Ivan Khovacs, will join St James’ from Canterbury Diocese 2015-18 to complete his training as a curate.
The PCC approved insurance cover for the display of Regan O’Callaghan’s 3 Mothers Icon in the Church for a period of three months. (Regan was commissioned by St James’s to do the icon for Ashley’s leaving gift.)
An initial discussion about the hire of the garden or other parts of the church site to AdWeek Europe 2016 was held (a 4 day event hosted by BAFTA providing “thought leadership” in the advertising and IT industries). Varying views were expressed: for example, that St James’s could seize the opportunity presented by the presence of a large number of people involved in advertising, to engage with them and invite them to seminars and speakers sponsored by the church or, for example, that St James’s should not receive any hire fee from activity that promoted a view of life that was entirely at odds with a Christian vision. No conclusion was reached, although one should be reached soon, and it was agreed that the CEO of AdWeek, Matt Scheckner, who had attended services at St James’s, would be asked to meet with representatives from the PCC to talk about this when he was next in London. The event would be hosted by BAFTA in April 2016.
It was agreed to hold PCC surgeries on Sundays after the 11h00 liturgy approximately three weeks after each PCC meeting, to coincide with the appearance of the PCC reports in the service sheets. This is to help ensure a more joined-up and focussed discussions and questions at the surgeries.
The next meeting is on November 2nd.