Welcome to this edition of our parish newsletter. I hope you have had a good summer and have had the opportunity to marvel at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The weather may not have been up to much, but the sport, alongside the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, have made it a summer to remember!

Back in June, the Church Council adopted a Mission Action Plan which seeks to frame developments across the parish over the next few years. We are going to be working on such things as small groups, encouraging participation, enabling people to consider their vocations and increasing our profile in the local media … as well as really exciting things like developing a central filing system!!! The full Action Plan is on the parish website and available in print from the Parish Office for those without access to the internet.

This month I am turning to another issue that has arisen from the parish wide consultation that led to the action plan: internal communication. The Mission Action Plan calls for “internal, parish-wide communication that enables informed dialogue” across the churches and the parish. So to start to meet this aim, during September I am speaking across all the services we have in the parish on the governance structure that has been brought into place since the new parish was formed in 2010. This newsletter seeks to complement what I shall be saying as I travel round the churches this month.

I hope you find it, if not hugely entertaining, at least relatively interesting!

With my very best wishes,


Running the Parish

As many of you will be aware, every parish in the land has to organise itself according the law of the land. The Church of England is an “established church” which, whilst offering us significant access into public life at all levels of society, also requires us to accept and live within restrictions placed upon us by our legislators. Having said that, it is also important to remember that before any rule of the church is passed into the law of the land by parliament it has been scrutinized, debated and accepted by our national governing body, the General Synod of the Church of England.

This is simply a way of saying that we may not organise ourselves in any way we wish: we have to work within the given legislation that governs parishes in the Church of England.

One of the main reasons that we merged the two parishes in 2010 was because this was the way by which we could obtain as much autonomy as possible whilst remaining within the law. Every parish has to have a Parochial Church Council and membership of the PCC is also determined by legislation: all licensed clergy and licensed lay ministers; all church wardens; anyone elected to General Synod, Diocesan Synod or Deanery Synod; and lay representatives elected by those who are on the parish’s Electoral Roll.

The law suggests a certain number of lay representatives according to the size of the parish electoral roll, but also allows other for options to be adopted. In order to keep the size of our PCC reasonable, we chose to take this alternative route. This is why we have nine lay representatives on our PCC and we have also developed a system whereby three of those lay representatives are from each of the three churches.

If you add all this up we are now (following the end of Keith’s license) left with a PCC of 4 clergy, 6 wardens, 5 deanery synod members and 9 lay representatives. We also have the PCC secretary and PCC treasurer attending our meetings. All in all we can have up to 26 people at PCC meetings.

The work of the PCC is defined in law and relates to consulting together on matters of general concern and importance to the parish and promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical. In order to manage the amount of work that could come to PCC we have not only further defined the role of the council, but also delegated some of its functions to other groups. So we see the role of the PCC as developing a working definition of what we mean by the “whole mission of the Church” across the parish; encouraging and scrutinizing the development of the three churches against the vision and values of the PCC; and fulfilling its legal responsibilities.

This can mean that the work of the PCC, though vital and important, isn’t always very exciting and meetings are not necessarily the most interesting places to be. This has had a knock on effect on attendance and we do need to do whatever we can to improve attendance (especially by the elected lay representatives who, after all, are the only people elected to the council) otherwise the validity of the PCC, though legal, could begin to lack credibility.

Delegated Powers

All the groups and individuals that have authority to act on behalf of the PCC have been given that authority by the PCC. You can see a full description of those groups on the parish website. Here I shall go on to outline some of them. There are two further points to make at this juncture:

1. every individual or group (whether called a team, group or committee) is, in reality, a subcommittee of the PCC; and

2. just as the PCC has authority to delegate powers to sub-committees, groups or teams, it also the power to recall any authority and to redistribute its responsibilities as best as it sees fit in order to fulfil its obligations

I mention this to emphasise that, whilst these groups and individuals may not be democratic (in that people are appointed rather than elected to them) they are valid as they have been established by the PCC. However on the other hand, the PCC equally has the power to change the system by which groups are formed and even the groups themselves. It is this flexibility within the structure that I was meaning when I mentioned earlier that we adopted a form which enabled us to retain as much autonomy as possible.

Delegated Groups

The group you are most likely to have heard about is the Church Leadership Team. This group is made up of the clergy and wardens serving that church and people appointed to the team by another of the Delegated Groups the Church Leadership Team Appointing Body, which in turn is made up of the incumbent (me) along with the clergy and wardens of the church about which we are meeting. The Appointing Body seeks to draw information from the congregation about the skills required on the leadership team and suggestions about individuals who might fulfil those requirements.

You may well remember the consultation exercise we underwent in each church as we established the CLTs in 2010. Each CLT has its own guidelines for how long members serve and each autumn we take the necessary steps to stick within those expectations.

Church Leadership Teams work within a clear remit of seeking to grow the church, numerically, spiritually, financially and in other less tangible ways. It is, to all intents and purposes, the CLTs role to run the church, bringing to PCC any resolutions that need its formal approval and other items that benefit from its consideration.

This ties in with one of the retained functions of the PCC: to encourage and scrutinize the work of the churches. To do this each church is asked to make a presentation once a year to the PCC and PCC members have the opportunity to question and advise on suggested developments. To be absolutely honest, we have only really just got this part of the PCC programme going and we do need to give attention to being better ‘critical friends’ to one another.

So, although CLTs are not democratic they are held to account, not just by the PCC but also by the Church Forum. It is fair to say that we have work to do in all three churches to strengthen the role of the Forums and to make them the voice of the congregation that they were established to be. Nevertheless, the remit of the Forum is to be an advisory body to the CLT but also having the power to make representation to the PCC should the CLT continue down a path against the wishes of the Forum.

This three-pronged leadership structure has been designed to make best use of the skills we have at our disposal, to share the load of leadership as widely as possible, and to enable the widest possible participation in leadership whilst at the same time avoiding a structure that allows any one group to take too much inappropriate power and authority to itself.

Other Groups and Teams

Church House Leadership Team is the same team that has been managing Church House over the last few years. Its sterling work has not only brought about a marvellous transformation of the inside of the building but also generates a significant amount of revenue. Its remit is to manage and develop Church House.

Parish Clergy Group meets weekly for prayer and discussion of matters of general concern. Its remit is to be a supportive place for the clergy team so that we can help one another enable the churches to thrive.

Leases Committee meets whenever we have to agree a new lease for any of our tenants. We are extraordinarily fortunate to own two residential properties, Church House (in which there are ongoing leases) and the old Parish Rooms in Gosbrook Road. Whenever a tenant changes (or a lease expires) we have to agree a new lease not only with the tenant but also with the Diocese of Oxford which has an interest in all properties owned by parishes.

Treasurer’s Group meets twice a year under the leadership of our Treasurer, Stewart Bolton. He is very ably assisted across the parish, in the churches and in Church House. This group ensures that all parish finances are kept under review throughout the year.

Stewardship Group is the team that meets to plan and implement the annual Stewardship Campaign.

Safeguarding Team is led by our Parish Safeguarding Officer. Working with the Children’s Advocates in each church, the team ensures that the parish Safeguarding Policy is implemented and works to enhance our understanding of the importance of safeguarding (which used to be called Child Protection but now also covers Vulnerable Adults).

Health & Safety Team has a similar brief: to implement the parish policy and to promote health and safety across the parish.

Delegated Roles

Parish Safeguarding Officer

  • Peter Stratton

Children’s Advocates

  • Peter Stratton (St Margaret’s)
  • Sarah Tyndall (St Peter’s)
  • Sonia Higgs (St John’s)

Parish Recruiter and Verifier

  • Caroline Smith
  • Caroline administers the process of obtaining CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) checks for all those who work with children and young people within the parish.


  • Tony Walker
  • Tony has responsibility for our two houses and the building in Gosbrook Road.

Parish Health & Safety Co-Ordinator

  • Richard Havelock
  • Richard takes the lead across the parish on health and safety.

Press / Publicity Rep

  • Steve Jenkins
  • Steve works with the churches, Church House and other areas of activity to promote and publicise events.

Website Editor

  • Mark Carpenter
  • Mark works with others to maintain and develop the parish website.

And Finally …

More information about this governance structure is available on the parish website, and you are more than welcome to ask me any questions you may have. I hope you have found this newsletter helpful.