What's on at St John's

                                                

100 days of lockdown have proven to be an immense, and unexpected, challenge for all of us. Many of the things that we have long taken for granted as part of our everyday lives have been taken away from us. For those with children at home, it has been an opportunity to have more family time and to grow even closer, with the added challenges of home schooling and keeping boredom at bay. I think all of us can give thanks for the wonders of modern technology! It has allowed us to keep in touch with loved ones far away and to keep most of us at St. John’s in touch too. As we ease out of lockdown, technology will remain important as many members of our congregations may not be able or feel safe venturing out to a service once we get the “green light” from the Archbishop. 

Although the word “unprecedented” has been used throughout the Coronavirus epidemic, quite rightly, it doesn’t quite fit with the history of St. John’s or any other of our sister churches of any great age. One has only to read the list of vicars in the Church porch to see that there have been gaps, with three priests taken by plague in succession alone. Epidemics and widespread fatalities have brought the worship and life of St. John’s to a standstill in the past, only for the Church to recover and continue its rhythm of worship and pastoral care with renewed vigour. Covid has not brought St. John’s to a standstill, with much continuing in new and different ways, but it has deprived us of much that we love about St. John’s, most importantly of all being together. The challenge will be to bring that back as safely as possible for as many people as possible.

The reality for churches across the country is that the weeks and months ahead will be crucial for the future of the Church as a whole. I imagine there will be renewed interest in coming to Church, but that this is likely to be short-lived. Christianity in Britain has been on a downward trajectory for over a century and that is likely to continue. No one is realistically expecting that Covid will lead to any sort of mass conversion of the nation. For many congregations there may very well be fewer people returning to Church, as people have found other things to do with their time and may no longer feel the need for Church as they once did. This is especially critical for those on the fringe of church life. I can’t say hand on heart which way this will go for St. John’s, but remain somewhat optimistic. For other parishes Covid will mark the end as parishes are amalgamated and some church buildings even closed. This is a concern in the Deanery and the Diocese, 6 though we are in a more secure position as one of the largest congregations in our Deanery. We are very fortunate in this, but this comes with responsibility as well.

So what’s to do? We are looking at a deficit in Parish finances of £18,000 by the end of December. This is largely due to the loss of collections at services including weddings and baptisms, as well as not being able to raise money through our summer and Christmas fairs. Our monthly expenses have of course dropped, but we are still facing a shortfall. The Finance Committee and I agreed that we would honour our commitment to the Diocese to pay the £72,000 Parish Support Fund we agreed to pay for this year. This holds to the principle that we pay our way, but also that we are contributing to the wider Church enabling ministry in poorer areas of the Diocese. If a parish in an affluent area like ours cannot help support mission and ministry in more vulnerable places, then we have lost sight of an essential part of the Christian message. The shortfall may have the knock on effect of kicking the repairs needed of our historic building into the long grass and making them more expensive down the road. So I would like to thank everyone who gives regularly to the Church and encourage all of us to do what we can to plug the gap. Information is available via our website about ways to support St. John’s.

Our Annual General Meeting has been postponed until October. Understandably we haven’t been able to plan this as effectively as we would like, given that so much is sorted out in person. All of what we do depends on volunteers and those willing to give of their time to do all the jobs, both big and small, that keep us ticking over. Many hands make light work and there are opportunities to help St. John’s if you are able. We will need three new members of the PCC to take things forward, as well as three representatives on Deanery Synod. Both are crucial for shaping the life of the Church. PCC meets monthly (and is a jolly time to be honest, full of laughter and a sense of purpose) and Synod three times a year. This is a critical time for St. John’s and for the deanery, so please do think about what you might offer in the way of support. You can speak to me or any member of the PCC for further details if you wish.

Everyone has something to offer and everyone has the possibility of making a difference. St. John’s needs you to help us make this transition as we navigate the uncertainty of the future. We have been here for over a thousand years, let us do all that we can to keep bringing hope and light in this special place to a wounded and frightened world that needs it as much as ever.

With every blessing, Michael

Friends of St John the Baptist Church

The Parishioners of St John’s would have been holding its annual Maeldune Fair this weekend on Plough Green which has been sadly cancelled due to Covid -19.

As well as a successful community event both for the residents of Old Malden and the parishioners of St John’s, the Fair is also our main fundraiser and the means by which St John’s raises vital funds to support its mission to the wider community as well as helping to maintain our historic church building.

St John’s faces a very difficult financial future as a consequence of the pandemic and has suffered a great loss of income.

If you would have been with us on the green with your families, old and young, enjoying all the activities and spending your money, we would be grateful if you could instead consider making a donation by visiting the Donations Page on St John’s website https://www.stjohnsoldmalden.org.uk/giving/

or, you can send a cheque payable to the PCC of St John the Baptist, Old Malden, and send it to the Parish Administrator at: St John the Baptist, Church Road, Worcester Park, Surrey, KT4 7RY.

We hope to see you all at the Maeldune Fair in 2021.

Thank you. St John’s.