Report on the Public Meetings concerning the future of St Nicholas’ Church, Norton Canon

On the 12th February 2019 the Norton Canon community were invited to afternoon and evening public meetings to discuss the future of St Nicholas’ Church.  Overall, over 40 people attended these meetings which was enormously heartening. Also in attendance were the Parish Rector, the Rev’d Sean Semple; Churchwardens Mrs Kim Hendricksen and Mrs Judy Pritchard; the Kington and Weobley Deanery Treasurer, Mr Chris Smith; and the Diocese of Hereford’s Pastoral Secretary, Ms Sarah Girling. The community of Norton Canon were thanked for their generous support of St Nicholas’ over many years.

Some of the prevailing myths about how local parish churches are funded were dispelled by Mr Smith, and the reality of St Nicholas’ situation is that without a means of securing income, it will run down its reserves and be forced to close its doors in around 3 years. A closed church would not be any form of solution, as a deteriorating church building would still be the responsibility of the PCC and community, and it would be unlikely that a private buyer could be found for a Grade II* listed building in a churchyard still used for burials.

Various questions were answered and many suggestions were made. It was very encouraging to hear that the majority of community members present felt that ways should be found to prevent the closure of St Nicholas’. The easiest and most efficient way of doing this would be through members of the community signing up to the Parish Giving Scheme, and donating a modest but regular sum to the church. Fundraising was also considered and although such events are labour intensive there is also the spin-off of promoting community spirit. There were also generous offers by several members to assist with the ongoing responsibilities of St Nicholas’ upkeep such as churchyard maintenance, church cleaning and fundraising. The Church could also really benefit from “new blood” on its PCC as it seeks to continue and improve its service to the community of Norton Canon.

In terms of the provision of Sunday services there were requests for a monthly Book of Common Prayer (BCP) Holy Communion Service, alternating with a more upbeat “Gospel” Service. The Rev’d Semple said that he was very happy to provide such services so long as they were supported by the community, and that these services would happen on the second Sunday of each month at 11 am. The first of these services would take place on the 10th March 2019.

On the 3rd April 2019 at 6.30 pm at St Nicholas’ we will have our Vestry and Annual Parochial Church Meetings, at which we will present the official reports of the church, appoint new PCC team members, and set the course for the year ahead. Please do consider coming to this meeting and building on the enthusiasm and positive input of the community meetings! Also, please do contact me, or Kim or Judy if you would like to sign up to the Parish Giving Scheme. We contribute to St Nicholas in this way, and find it a painless way of ensuring the church’s future.

The Rev’d Sean Semple, Rector of St Nicholas’ 01544 318415

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