Here is what Revd Nathan Ward said at the APCM held on 30th September 2020.
This year we have faced the biggest challenge to the people and Parish of Rainham since the Blitz.
To date, 1240 people have tested positive for COVID in Medway of which 194 have tragically died. Some known to us here at St Margaret’s.
As we approach Christmas, there is great uncertainty. And yet, like that first Christmas, within great uncertainty there is great hope.
It is that hope which we as a church have born witness to throughout this time in new ways and old.
During the first 37 weeks of COVID we held 721 services which reached an unprecedented 167,162 people.
Before COVID we reached on average 199 people each week.
That figure now stands at 4517 – an increase of 2169%.
This has been done through fearless commitment to our mission here in Rainham as well as the sterling work of the staff team and church wardens who should be commended and whom I personally thank.
The challenge we have faced has been enormous.
Tough decisions have had to be made.
And yet we gather here today with a clear vision for the future, a new structure which supports it and extraordinary success on which to build upon.
Moving forward not only do we have the continued challenge of COVID but we also have significant work that needs to be undertaken to the building of the Church and the Millennium Centre.
In order to make the Millennium Centre building fit for purpose there is significant work that needs to be done to improve the ventilation to the premises, the fire compartmentation as well as the food preparation areas which are now beyond that required by regulation.
The first phase of this work will cost in the region of £300,000 and will start in 2021.
The church building also requires significant structural work within the next three years. A structural engineer as well as a conservation architect have stated that the church requires an entire new roof.
Many of you will remember that it was only recently that the church had a ‘roof project’ but it should be noted that this was a limited piece of work which during the design and implementation phase was reduced from a £1m project to around £500,000.
Some of the work done at that time stands us in good stead whilst other parts of the project with the hindsight of engineering advances and knowledge was misguided.
Any one of these projects would be tough at the best of times.
We need to deliver both in extraordinary times.
We won’t be able to do this alone – we will need considerable external support if our vision is to be made reality. Our help is in the name of the Lord who has given us the skills and talents of many people who are amongst and in our congregation.
Excellent progress has already been made with Archaeologists already completing scoping work within the crypt and I am already in initial discussions with some funders.
Therefore, I call up on you the members of St Margaret’s to be fervent in prayer as we enter this new phase of our life together.
To not loose sight of our commitment to mission – everything else is secondary. And finally to never forget that in all things we face, God has gone before us.