Parish Priest’s Annual Report 2018

Annual Report presented at the Annual Parochial Church meeting and has a link to the gospel reading for the day Luke 19: 28-40

It is very good to report to another APCM.

Four of our congregation travelled to Mereworth last October to be confirmed – this was a great service led by our new Suffragan Bishop Simon Burton-Jones.

We have continued to welcome new people to church on a regular basis it is rare that we do not see new faces on a Sunday morning – this is both a real blessing but also a challenge – more about this later.

Children’s Church, Toddler Praise and the various Bible study groups all continue to flourish. The holiday club was a great success last summer; preparations for this year’s event have already begun.

The social committee has once again put on some very good and fun events and we are very grateful for all the hard work of the Fundraising Committee (and Alan and Val Albert who have hosted so many of the fundraising events), Friends of Leybourne Church continue to grow and have just celebrated their 10th anniversary.

I am grateful once again to Alan Vousden and Jean Kerr for their help in covering my holidays over the past year. I am very grateful to Lucille our Reader who has preached, and written and lead services, to Mary our pastoral assistant who leads the prayers so well at all ages and also runs Kingsquad, and to Emma our Evangelist who has organised several SOS services - these have continued to be a help to many on their road of faith. Clinton Campbell has also been very supportive in writing PowerPoints and projecting them with our new projector, and last but not least we have been very blessed to have Rosheen among us – Rosheen we will be very sorry to lose you!

Thanks also go to Jen and Kirstie, our church wardens, who have taken over these key roles in the last two years.

Thanks also go to our PCC, Marcia our Administrator, and the leaders and members of the various committees and groups in the church. Gratitude is also due to those who do the hidden work behind the scenes; those who clean the church, those who set up for services and provide flowers, and to those who produce and distribute Leybourne Voice, and who donate the tea, coffee and biscuits and those who serve it. Not forgetting of course those who lead the worship through singing, serving and praying and those who lead Children’s Church, Strike ,7up and Ignite. I am also grateful to all who have tended the churchyard over the past year – the regular gardeners and the new mowing team who are all doing a great job.

Aside all the positives there has of course been sadness over the past year and the loss of Stuart Oldershaw, Scott Phelan, Jill Russell, Pam Ayrton, Christine Wood, Babs Woodman and Martin Luton have been a shock to us all. May they rest in peace, and rise in glory.

We also bear up Martin Gillespie in our prayers and are extremely grateful to Phillipa for taking on the role of secretary earlier than expected and for Nick for agreeing to continue as Treasurer in the short term.

Having our APCM on Palm Sunday is not usual but our Gospel reading – The Palm Gospel is remarkably appropriate. It’s a reminder that Jesus set his face to Jerusalem, knowing what would befall him.

This week we embark upon is the week that changed the world. Of course Christmas began that change but Easter fulfilled and completed it.

We are rapidly realising that we live in a culture that is fractured.

Fractured by Brexit, by knife crime, by greed and by selfishness and ambition. Sometimes it seems to me that the Queen is all that is between us and the moral collapse of our nation. She has been the one constant – but how long can this continue really?

Where are we to look for help? To Politics – that has clearly failed, but it is good to see at least that the EU has got a sense of humour – Halloween being the next deadline! Enforcing the law can only ever be partially the solution. We have tried to spend our way out of unhappiness – indeed our economy now depends on us buying more than we need or even want. The cult of the individual and the glory of transitory fame are vacuous excuses for life.

None of this works.

Except that one solitary figure, (he’s solitary even though surrounded by temporary support) sitting on a colt riding calmly into the heart of the city that will take his life. He is the one thing that does work.

We now have a welcoming building – this helps! And it will be even more welcoming if we have a glass door installed – details can be found on the noticeboard.

Now we have the perfect opportunity to give many people the answer to the chaos in their lives. The figure of Jesus. We need to give people the gift of faith. Because this is the only thing that does work. It is the one thing that gives us assurance of being loved, gives us a big family to be part of and most of all gives us hope.

We have a moral and spiritual obligation to pass on the love of this Jesus who rode into Jerusalem to die for them and us. Palm Sunday was a crucial moment for him and aren’t we as a nation living through a crucial time?

I mentioned earlier that we often see new faces – the problem is that there are so many faces who come so irregularly that its impossible for one person to keep tabs on all this. We all have a role to be outward facing and hospitable. Its always tempting to talk to our friends –lets also look out for the person who has had the guts to stay for a cup of coffee but who now is standing alone. So that a practical thing we can all do – make people feel part of us, feel as if they belong.

In some churches new people stay on despite the welcome they are given – let it not be so among us.

We can all be welcoming. and one other thing that all of us can do is pray.

The most important thing is prayer. In order for our church to thrive and grow and be a welcoming place we simply need to be people of prayer.

It’s not complicated; putting our trust in God frees us to serve him. It’s not complicated – anyone can do it. In fact children are often better at it than we are because they keep it simple. We need to pray to hear God’s voice and understand his will. We need to pray to get involved with what God is already doing. We need to pray to offer ourselves in God’s service. For the third time I’m inviting us all to join in the adventure of 24/7 prayer.

The last 2 times we did it, it really did change our church for the better – the whole atmosphere changed. Why not get involved? Sign up now. Fill in the chart on the board . I’m suggesting we do this during Thy Kingdom Come.

This now an annual call to prayer. It’s always a good idea to pray. But with the state of our nation at the moment I think it is critical that we do it.

Dates: 1- 7 June.  Please use the sign up sheet on the board.

Please do put these days in your diaries and join in to pray if you can.

Father Matthew BUCHAN
14  April 2019