Present: Revd Christine Allen (CA); Heather Baker (HB); Nigel Barfoot (NB); Alex Brewer (AB); Ian Bryant (IB); Ann Critchley (AC); Lorna Dyer (LD); Janet Garnons-Williams (JGW); Nick Grief (NG); Felicity Holton (FH); Jamie Jackson (JJ); Revd Jonathan Jennings (JPJ) joined late; Davina O’Brien (DOB); David Ormiston (DO); Frank Pantony (FP); Linda Randall (LR); Owen Smith (OS); Jodie Ward (JW); Kayleigh Ward (KW); Revd Nathan Ward (NW); Charley Whittaker (CW) joined late; Terry Whittaker (TW)
CA opened the meeting with prayer.
JGW chaired the meeting. There were no apologies however it was noted that CW and IB were both working late and hoped to join the meeting as soon as they could.
Operations Committee Update:
Millennium Centre Refurb – DOB advised that the Ops Committee had met again with the architects to go through a list of requirements. There had been some disappointment with the architects, in particular the continued increase in predicted costs and new additional work raised. DOB suggested that there were three ideas to consider: to get to the point of a design freeze and consider what the next steps are;to take a break and consider the alignment of the project with the Heritage initiative; ordrop the project completely. Points to note:
The architects hold a lot of knowledge of the MC and it would be good to collate all that information and not lose our investment so far.
It’s important to end any relationship with the architects in a good way, especially as they are the Diocesan nominated architects and may be needed for emergency work in church.
They have been good in helping with faculties etc for the lighting and sound in church.
A Quantity Surveyor would provide a much better idea of costings.It is not the role of the Ops Committee to write a business plan, but this should be looked at in the new year. It was agreed that the Ops Committee should meet again, without the architects, and bring the project to a design freeze close and bring an update to the next meeting in January. If someone knew a Quantity Surveyor they should be brought in to sense check the costs that have been indicated by the architect so that we can be more confident in them – NB advised he may know someone to do this. The architects to be advised accordingly.
DOB/Ops gpNB DOB
Eco Church Update:
KW advised that when the Eco team first met in July, and the original survey was submitted, we were not eligible for any award. However, since then, work has been undertaken with the provision of bird boxes, a bug hotel, working with the local eco community as well as waste management; all of which are small steps in the right direction. It was reported that our Operations Manager had been in touch with our utilities provider to clarify
eco credentials, KW to follow up. The team are hopeful that when the next survey is submitted in January 2021 an award will be forthcoming. DOB advised that, currently, we are reliant on congregation members to put waste in the appropriate bags and take home for recycling. She had been in contact with Medway Norse to find a solution to cover black bags, recycling and garden waste for the church, churchyard and MC. Norse have suggested: Removal of the cage in the churchyard, to be replaced with three brown bins and lockable bins for black bag waste and recycling which they will empty. There will be no cost for this.To provide a second bin at the MC for recycling and black bag waste – this will incur an annual charge of £676 plus VAT to be included within our contract with them It was agreed to look at the aesthetics of these and, if considered unsightly, to find another solution. DOB will speak to Norse again in the new year to discuss the proposal and, in particular, how the bins are to be fixed and the removal of the cage. JGW proposed and CA seconded the motion that: ‘in principle, the PCC accept Norse’s solution and associated costs and allow DOB to follow up with Norse regarding the detail’. FOR: 20 I AGAINST: 0 I ABSTENTION: 0 I Motion carried.
LR advised that there are two ongoing concerns, both are being dealt with by the Diocese. LR, NW and the Diocese have done some work around policies and have come up with a safeguarding matrix which takes all of the National and Diocesan guidance and brings it together into one document. This encompasses different types of roles for adults as well as young leaders, basic and enhanced disclosures, roles and training needs as well as a volunteer application form, parish ethos statement, privacy notice and complete audit trail. NW shared the relevant documentation on screen. PCC will need to confirm that young helpers/leaders are capable of understanding safeguarding training and parents of under 16’s will also need to complete and sign a declaration. It is worth noting that Safer Recruitment will need to become a set agenda item going forward and a PCC sub-committee will be set up, bringing on board additional outside bodies with appropriate expertise with adults and children. This will provide better scrutiny. All paper documents will be stored securely as well as put onto a secure digital system. (JPJ joined the meeting) The documents will be circulated to all PCC members for review – any comments to be sent to NW and LR ready for the next meeting in January. KW and JGW thanked NW and LR for this amazing and not insubstantial piece of work.
NW / All
NW reported that in a time when mission appears to be stopping around the Deanery and Diocese, St Margaret’s are pushing forward and gave a number of illustrations relating to our reach, for example, Pre-Covid our reach was 199 people per week, in comparison to 4,600 a week now including an international audience. Furthermore, an Eco Hub post had reached over a million in the course of the last week and our Christmas in a Box project is being reported nationally by the Church Times and the Church of England. Most local churches are not meeting physically over the Christmas period and yet, we are endeavouring to deliver a near full programme of services, albeit with reduced capacity due to social distancing.
NW expressed the view that this was a great platform for us to continue to deliver mission and saw the next few months as critical, requiring commitment, discernment, focus and wisdom. He also reminded us that this position has been reached at a financial cost and that this was a stage of development where most corporate entities would fail. It was therefore important to recognise that we need to push through this moment of financial stress recognising that our financial support will come but will lag behind the new interest that we have in church.
Christmas in a Box – this was funded in its entirety by the CYP Fund. 360 boxes were given to each child in St Margaret’s Junior School and the remainder were distributed to contacts within our church family. They have been well received and over 140 comments made by parents on Facebook, who are not necessarily known to church. Thanks were given to Jo Whittaker and family for setting up the project and to JW for continuing the packing and distribution efforts. JPJ commented that the project was something not related to lockdown, but a relationship with the school that we should seek to maintain.
Supporting our Growing Church – NW reiterated the need for St Margaret’s to keep moving forward, there will be a lot of changes in the next 12 months and we need to think through how to resource mission. A big part of the cultural/social void will be left to churches to deal with. Some issues that are facing us over the next year: There is a gap left by Ava’s resignationBaptisms and weddings have stopped – how do we restart them?Children’s ministry, other than 252 Kids, has not met since March, what will this look like? (CW joined the meeting) Mental health and counselling services are looking for supplies within communities – how do we respond?Youth work needs to start.There are more young people staying at home rather than going away to University, how do we meet their needs?How do we meet people where they are and find creative ways to engage with people? It was pointed out that one of the main resources for mission has to be prayer and therefore how can we strengthen St Margaret’s prayer life to support these initiatives and pressure points? NW confirmed that strategically, JW has been appointed to head up prayer, but this has obviously been hard during the pandemic. St Margaret’s strength is in its breadth – that daily offices and Sunday intercessions, whilst stylistic, are still means of prayer and we should not forget this, although it’s always good to find other ways. Any suggestions to be fed back to JW.
Formation of the Finance Committee – it was agreed that the formation of this committee was part of the church’s strategic plan and its role was two- fold: 1) to support and assist the treasurer as a place to take financial information to be refined before consideration at PCC and; 2) shaping the financial strategy to support mission. Volunteers were requested to form this group. JGW proposed and OS seconded that: ‘NB and TW form part of the Finance Committee and others, outside of PCC, be co-opted to join if needed’ FOR: 22 I AGAINST: 0 I ABSTENTION: 0 I Motion carried.
Deposit Account – AB recommended setting up a deposit account to deal
with funds that are allocated for a special purpose, for example, the Christmas in a box grant and monies for the food parcels, rather than putting them into the general account. AB proposed and NB seconded this proposal. FOR: 22 I AGAINST: 0 I ABSTENTION: 0 I Motion carried.
Controls for Payments – there was some confusion over who was able to set up payments and who could then authorise these and how many signatories were needed. After some discussion it was agreed that the newly formed Finance Committee should meet and review the process, bringing it back to the next PCC meeting. All agreed.
(NG left the meeting)
Update and Budget – AB presented an analysis of the forecast year end position along with a draft forecast for 2021. In essence, the outcome of 2020 is as predicted when the figures were reviewed post lockdown. The challenge that AB presented related to cashflow, presenting figures which suggested that we would be below our reserves policy minimum in early next year and the General Fund would be in deficit at the end of the second quarter; recovery was only delivered by means of the sale of 123 Station Road. AB also highlighted what he saw as a deteriorating position between income and expenditure, with a pattern of reducing giving whilst expenses were increasing at the same time. AB suggested that he was not in a position to explain any further but that a detailed review needed to be undertaken.
AB announced that he had taken the decision to resign as treasurer as the process had taken too much from him and he didn’t feel that he would be able to provide the commitment that is required going forward. In addition, he has two new large projects at work and is therefore unable to give appropriate time to church accounts. AB also relayed his decision to resign from PCC with immediate effect. AB will handover the administration of the bankline system to JJ.
Given the load this would impose upon the newly formed Finance Committee, FP volunteered to join that group, his knowledge as the former Treasurer would be very welcome and invaluable.
It is imperative that we go into 2021 with some form of agreed budget, and, after some discussion it was suggested that the Finance Committee be given two weeks to draw together a 2021 budget and PCC should meet again on Wednesday 23 December at 19:30 just to look at this. It was noted that the Charity Commission should have responded to the issue surrounding the Vicar and Churchwarden’s account by then too. This was agreed by all.
NW communicated his heartfelt thanks for all that AB has done and was sorry that it had come at such a great personal cost. This was echoed by other PCC members. NW pointed out that unless someone stepped up to take on the Treasurer’s role, then one of the Churchwardens was obliged to take this on in the interim. NW proposed and JGW seconded the proposal that: ‘DOB become ‘de facto’ Treasurer, to look at the budget with the Finance Committee and report back to the meeting in two weeks with the appointment of a new Treasurer to be made in the next year’. FOR: 21 I AGAINST: 0 I ABSTENTION: 0 I Motion carried.
DOB /Financ e Gp
Thanks were given to AB for all the efforts and hours that he had put in to date.
BK situation – an Employment Tribunal claim has been filed by BK. Our insurers have now agreed cover under the policy (with no small thanks to NW and TW) and a response has been filed, logged and accepted. Legal advice received so far has been paid for, this liability will now be picked up by the insurers going forward.
Appointment of a Data Controller – it has come to JGW’s attention that a data controller needs to be appointed by the PCC. JGW recognised that as the line manager responsible for those who primarily manage our data there would be a compelling logic that she take on this role. JPJ proposed and HB seconded the proposal: ‘that JGW take on this role on behalf of the PCC’. FOR: 21 I AGAINST: 0 I ABSTENTION: 0 I Motion carried.
FP reported that the main focus of the last Deanery Synod was ‘Housing the Homeless’ especially since the pandemic had put a stop to the Winter Night Shelter. This is an award-winning project allowing churches to provide much-needed short-, medium- or long-term care to the homeless by providing a 3-bedroomed house supported by workers and volunteers. Whilst there would be no financial commitment it would need lots of people/manpower. Rochester Diocese have been asked to take on the franchise and are looking for a church in the Gillingham Deanery to take a lead on this. After some discussion it was agreed that whilst this is a worthy cause, it was not something that fitted into St Margaret’s current strategy and therefore not something the PCC could commit to at this stage.
Draft Minutes of the PCC Meeting held on 11 November 2020:
After three minor amendments these were agreed as a true record of the meeting.
Matters Arising (not already recorded on the Agenda):
It should be formally noted that Ava Forbes has now resigned from the role of Community Journalist.
‘Just Say Hello’ project – JW reported that 26 families had received deliveries, 16 of these had children under 18 years old. Only six of these families were from Rainham, with a large proportion being in Twydall and Gillingham, as well as one family in Newington. Advent calendars have also been delivered to some of the children. Contact has slowed down for the time being, but the expectation is that this will rise again and JW asked for continued prayer.
‘Living in love and faith’ representative – this is still to be actioned
Sunburst Bookshop – this has reopened on a limited basis
Churchyard Gang Risk Assessment – some small equipment items are needed to fulfil the RA; DOB will bring this to the next full meeting.
Proposal for an Apprentice – a letter had been received from Conor Whittaker setting out a proposal for an apprenticeship at St Margaret’s starting in September 2021. Unfortunately, he was poorly so was unable to make a presentation personally, instead DOB picked this up and explained how it might work in practice, including her perspective of how this may benefit St Margaret’s. TW and CW left the meeting given the potential conflict of interest. There was a discussion covering a number of issues, including whether this role needed to be advertised, whether the church was in a position to
provide both line management and appropriate input to enable the course to be successful for Conor. It was clarified that the course would produce an A- level equivalent qualification. Given the earlier discussion in relation to finance, it was agreed that the PCC would only look at this in principle and, if positive, would look to the Finance Committee to address whether the church could afford it in their presentation at the next meeting. NW undertook to ensure that if the PCC were minded to go ahead with this that our conduct would be compliant with employment law and all relevant legislation. JGW proposed and DOB seconded the proposal: ‘that the PCC support the suggestion in principle and defer a final decision until 23 December 2020 when we have a better picture of our finances’. FOR: 16 I AGAINST: 0 I ABSTENTION: 3 I Motion carried.
DOB /Financ eGp
Dates of Next Meetings:
Wednesday 23 December 2020 at 19:30 (review and agreement of 2021 budget) Wednesday 13 January 2021 at 19:30
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