To love God, to love each other and to love our neighbours
St Andrew’s Church Kyrenia
Annual Church Meeting on Sunday 24th April 2022
In the Church Hall at 12.00
Chaired by Rev Mike Graham
Rev Mike opened the meeting in prayer and read Hebrews 10: 23-25 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur on another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another”
INCUMBENT’S REPORT – APRIL 2022
Little did I think when I went back to Ireland in January 2020, after acting as Locum here in St. Andrew’s for 20 months, to be with Janet and to buy a new home there that just over 2 years later I would once again be sitting down to write a Chaplain’s Report for St. Andrew’s, Kyrenia.
The last time I did this – in April of 2019 – I wrote:
“I have to say that this is a task which I thought I’d left behind me some three years ago – chairing an Annual Meeting of a parish and giving an “Incumbent’s” Report! Last year I attended one such meeting for the first time in two of those years – the meeting here in St. Andrew’s. And what an eventful year it’s been since then.”
Well, it seems that plus ça change and here I am again, and the only wording I would change from that last sentence would be: “What an eventful TWO years it’s been since then.”
Like so many of us Janet and I became “stuck”, as it were, by the outbreak of Covid19 and were unable to return here to the TRNC for some 20 months, finally managing to get back at the end of August 2021.
And sadly, the pandemic ravaged the world, bringing misery in so many different ways to people: mentally, socially, though illness, economic hardship and for some the tragedy of losing someone they love. And even though it seems to have eased in some countries, in others it still has the same effect.
Here in St. Andrew’s, as in most places, the church effectively became closed as restrictions on movement and social interaction were imposed to try to contain the disease. As I said many of use became stuck wherever we were when the pandemic struck and the country in which we found ourselves was closed. Visitors ceased and the economic result on countries such as here in what is the adopted home for many of us was and still is horrendous.
But there were those who looked on such events in the church as an opportunity to try new ways of reaching those who were crying out for spiritual sustenance. Many churches, including my old parishes back in Ireland, produced weekly videos which could be watch in the comfort of your own home – and the sermon, if it became too boring, could be skipped over! Other broadcast services using social media such as Zoom which could be joined by people – again in the comfort of their own home. And here, in St. Andrew’s, we were indebted to Steve and Sally Bishop who produced an electronic form of service which could be emailed to those who requested it. For that we thank them most sincerely.
But, if I may, I’d like to go back to our return to the TRNC after a long, enforced absence. Instead of becoming swallows, as Janet and I had hoped, I was persuaded to come back with an official title: Priest-in-Charge of the parish with those three little letters after that title which have confused quite a number of people: “SSM”, which stands for Self-Supporting-Ministry. What that means, for those who may not know, is that I’m here as Priest-in-Charge but receive no remuneration for the task, other than an expense allowance each month to offset the cost of using my own car, telephone etc., and live in my own home.
In return I’m supposed to be available for some 12 hours a week and to conduct services on Sundays and Holy Days and a mid-week service on Thursday. That bit seems to be more honoured in the breach than the observance!
The official designation for such a rôle is “House for Duty”. Except in my case there is no “House” or any of the rest of the things which I mentioned above which would normally accompany anyone in a similar position.
Now I say all this not to in any way blow my own trumpet. Far from it. I love St. Andrew’s and would do anything to support the parish – an outlook which does me no favours with my family.
No. The reason I point this out is that at this present time St. Andrew’s is seeking to appoint someone to the position of Chaplain, or rather Priest-in-Charge, once again. My “tour of duty” is for two years – or less – and should someone else be found and appointed then I am more than happy to step back and resume (or Janet would say, begin) my retirement from parish ministry.
But the important thing is that at the moment St. Andrew’s is looking to appoint someone in that rôle under more or less the same conditions as me – except that accommodation would also have to be provided, plus a car, travel costs for a trip back to their home country, health cover, expense allowance etc. etc.
And right now, as we’ll hear in our various Treasurers’ reports, the parish can’t afford even that based on our weekly income from the collecting plate and from regular donations made through our UK based charity.
Add to that the condition in which the official accommodation for the Chaplain in St. Andrew’s, the Hermitage, was left following the departure of the last Incumbent, and the costs which may fall on the parish to bring that back to a livable standard, plus the ongoing maintenance costs for the church itself, and we can see that, financially at least, the forthcoming Church Council will have much to exercise it during its term of office.
All of these issues were discussed at the two open meetings which were held here in the Church Hall recently. It was important that the incoming Council hear the views of those on whom St. Andrew’s currently relies for its future. This is your parish, and if you, or I should say we, want to continue the ministry which we feel God may be calling us to in this place then it is vital that we support that ministry in whatever way we can – not just financially but also with our deeds and, this is vitally important, with our words. So often all I hear is negativity when it comes to St. Andrew’s. Usually preceded by words such as: “A lot of people say……” or “I’ve been told that….” but those people never seem willing to step out of the woodwork themselves, instead relying on hiding behind someone else. Add to that the focus on totally unimportant issues, which then get blown out of all proportion, and you can see why support for – and, more importantly, within – our next Church Council will be vital to the future (or not) of St. Andrew’s. I would expect that a decision, once made by the Council, is to be supported by all members of the Council, whether they personally agree with it or not. And that anyone who chooses then to deliberately go on to try to undermine that decision, especially publicly, should seriously consider their position as a Council member or Church Officer.
So, as we begin a new year of ministry here in St. Andrew’s, I would ask you all to pray most fervently for God to show us the direction in which we should go; to pray for the new Council with perhaps one of the most difficult years in St. Andrew’s recent history ahead of them; to support that Council in whatever way you can – financially and physically and, most importantly, in a positive manner.
Finally, may I thank all those who have helped to hold St. Andrew’s together over the past difficult months. I’ve already thanked Steve and Sally. A special thanks to our outgoing Church Warden, Sandy Oram, and those Council Members who are fortunate enough to be standing down this year: Sally Birt (who is gladly staying on as Hall Manager at least for the foreseeable future) and Jacqueline McIntyre (who, as you now know, hasn’t managed to escape at all!).
A final personal thank you, if I may, to Janet who has also effectively had to put her retirement on hold. And to my family, especially our grandchildren, who know there’s a grandad who occasionally turns up but not as often as he would like. I promise that when someone else is finally appointed as Incumbent of St. Andrew’s that I’ll step back – at least a little way back.
Joan S asked If the HMRC (Gift Aid) refund was included in “Other Income” and Sandy confirmed it was. Joan asked what had happened about charitable income over the last few years and Sandy acknowledged this had been minimal due to reduced income while the church was closed. [Church income in 2021 (£13,300) had fallen to just over a third of what is was in 2019 (£36,000); in the same period cash reserves had risen from £65,000 to £83,000)].
Tony K asked if accounts for 2020 had ever been produced or distributed. Sandy confirmed they had been produced but never distributed so would be sent to the Electoral Roll shortly. Tony asked about exchange rate losses and Sandy confirmed that these had been substantial over the last few years as the lira devalued despite a change in policy two years ago to hold a greater proportion of bank deposits in sterling rather than TL.
Kaska asked about the costs of a new Chaplain but was told these had not yet been calculated and would be a matter for the new Council.
Sandy asked if the Paxton Software, recommended by the Diocese, would ever be used as everyone considered it too complicated.
Mike noted how difficult the job of treasurer had been at St Andrews in past years and thanked Sandy for (reluctantly) fulfilling this role over the last two years when no-one else was willing to take it on. At James G’s suggestion, Sandy received a vote of thanks.
Rev Mike confirmed that this year there would be a “Treasurer’s Team” consisting of Shane B, John B, Tony K and Leo I. He also commented that having swallows on the Church Council or holding other posts was less than ideal.
The Queen’s Jubilee
James G proposed that St Andrews celebrated the Queen’s Jubilee on the first Sunday in June by having John C play music from the coronation after the service, followed by drinks on the terrace. Rev Mike said John C considered that music unsuitable for the organ alone. James said he wanted to do something different and less expensive than other Jubilee celebrations.
Rev Mike made clear his personal objection to any Jubilee celebration on the grounds that St Andrews was not an English only church and the Queen was not head of the Cyprus Arch-Diocese so therefore there was no reason for St Andrews to mark this occasion (there being plenty of other planned events in Kyrenia). There followed an increasingly emotive debate on the subject.
Steve B suggested that as this would be the last Royal Jubilee for both her majesty – given her age and health – and the current congregation, that it would be a shame not to celebrate it. He also pointed out that most of the St Andrew’s congregation were in fact English and Anglican churches throughout the world would be celebrating the Jubilee (including our own cathedral church).
Rev Mike pointed out, in response to a comment, that the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as the Queen, had no jurisdiction over the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East or any of the other 40 Anglican Provinces in 165 countries, other than the Church of England.
Joan S noted that the universal respect for Queen Elizabeth meant no other nationalities would be offended by any Jubilee celebration.
Tony K suggested the meeting be polled to determine how many would like St Andrews to celebrate the Jubilee in some way; Diana asked that those wanting to celebrate it would be willing to also organise it; Sandy suggested any celebration should not be on a Sunday as the worldwide Jubilee date will be Thursday 2nd June.
Rev Mike noted that it was up to the Church Council, not the ACM, to decide how or if to mark the Jubilee and again expressed his view that St Andrews should not be known as “The English Church”. Joan S commented that it always had been and was still considered to be so as everything was conducted in English and the vast majority of attenders were English. This was followed by a show of hands that demonstrated an almost unanimous desire for St Andrews to mark the Queen’s Jubilee in some way. James again offered to organise it.
Stuart H proposed a vote of thanks for his wife, Lynda, for her past and ongoing work in preparing the weekly pew sheet. This was duly given.