St Oswald's Church, Sowerby, Thirsk, North Yorkshire

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Annual report 2006

St Oswald's Church, Sowerby
The Annual Report of the Parochial Church Council
for the year ended 31 December 2006

St Oswald's Church, Sowerby

Priest in Charge: Revd Nicola Carnall

Bankers: Yorkshire Bank (main account); Lloyds TSB; Standard Life

Independent Examiner: Mr Philip Triffitt BSc FCA

Church Architect: Mr Ron Simms


Administrative information

St Oswald's Church is situated in Sowerby in North Yorkshire. It is part of the Diocese of York within the Church of England. The correspondence address is: The Vicarage, The Close, Sowerby, Thirsk, YO7 1JA.

Members of the Parochial Church Council

Members of the PCC are either ex officio or elected by the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) in accordance with the Church Representation Rules.

During the year the following served as members of the PCC:

Priest in Charge:
The Revd Nicola Carnall Chair

Sandra Barnett
Elizabeth Allen until APCM
Heather Limbach from APCM

Deanery Synod Reps:
Jill Drew
Gayle Hartley
Joan Oldfield

Elected Members:
Trisha Bennett until APCM
Helen Irving until APCM
John Limbach until APCM and Secretary until APCM
Ruth Sladden until APCM
Carol Cox until APCM
David Tucker Secretary from APCM
Jean West
Pauline Alderson
Wendy Bousfield
Martin Hooper
Dan Sladden
David Worsnop from APCM
Kath Reynard from APCM
Margaret Turner from APCM
David Thorne Co-opted until APCM then an elected member and Treasurer

Structure, governance and management

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is a corporate body established by the Church of England. It operates under the Parochial Church Council Powers Measure. The PCC is a charity excepted from registration with the Charity Commission.

The method of appointment of PCC members is set out in the Church Representation Rules. All Church attendees are encouraged to register on the Electoral Roll and stand for election to the PCC.

Objective of the PCC

St Oswald's PCC works with the Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Nicola Carnall, in promoting in the ecclesiastical parish the whole mission of the church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.

Mission Action Plan

In February 2006 the PCC held an Awayday to agree its priorities for the next 4-5 years:

Pastoral Care - formation of a trained pastoral care team and pastoral approach
- review and develop house groups
- offer prayer ministry and review opportunities for prayer

Communication - develop a mission statement for the church and use it
- improve notice boards inside and outside church
- have a Communications Officer/Committee to improve communication within the church and in the community

Accessible Worship - review services so that we best meet the needs of existing church attenders and those who find our current services inaccessible

Youth Worker - look at the feasibility of employing a youth worker (perhaps jointly with the Methodists and Thirsk Team Ministry)

Charitable & mission giving - review the organisations we support and our giving to them

Church Building - have a group to look imaginatively at the building and see how it could be changed to create a better welcome, make our worship more accessible, etc.

We have reviewed our progress on each of the above at PCC meetings throughout the year.

Review of the Year

St Oswald's is a very active church and it is impossible to include everything that has happened in the past year. However, the following information should give a flavour...

Church Attendance
There were 139 people on the electoral roll at the annual meeting in 2006. The average recorded number of adults attending on a 'normal' Sunday in 2006 was 75, compared with 69 in 2005.

Children and Young People
Our work with children and young people has continued with high quality provision for all ages: Pram Service, Kids Club, Youth Groups, First Friday, Easter and Christmas Workshops, Mowbray Deanery Youth Camp and Holiday Club.

Community Involvement
During the year we conducted 4 weddings, 24 baptisms and 20 funerals, which provide important opportunities for us to engage with our parish. The Parochial Hall continues to be a vital resource for the community, and at the beginning of the year we had a celebration to mark all the improvements that had been carried out on the building. We now have a Parochial Hall Committee. The church is used regularly by Sowerby Music and other organisations for concerts. Ministry has continued to be offered at Cherrygarth, Sowerby House, De Mowbray Court and The Limes, and Holy Communion has been taken regularly to those who are unable to get to church. We have continued our links with Sowerby School through assemblies and special services. The Get Together Club has continued to provide enjoyment for older members of our community.

Many different groups have met during the year, including Mothers' Union, Quiet Reflection Group, Alpha, Carry On Alpha, Home Group and Bible Study Group. Meetings for prayer have taken place before PCC and at the Vicarage on Tuesday mornings.

Our Musical Director, Matt Dowdy, left during the year and was replaced by our organist, Graham Merriam. In February the time of the Family Service was changed to 10.30am, and its name was changed to "First Sunday: Worship for All." The Worship Committee held a review of the congregation's views about music at the 9.30am and 10.30am Sunday services. The Choir and Bell Ringers have continued to offer excellent music and our musical options have been enhanced by the introduction of the monthly "Big Sing."

A 'fresh expression of worship' began in June with the introduction of "Refresh" Cafe Worship in the Parochial Hall at 4pm on the third Sunday of each month. This combines contemporary music (with band), informal seating and the use of multimedia.

Pastoral Care
A Pastoral Care Group was set up during the year. Many members have already undertaken training in listening skills and are willing to offer visits where needed. The Prayer Circle has been reintroduced.

A Mission Group has begun to review our giving and our involvement with mission agencies. This year we supported USPG and Arc Light at Harvest; Royal British Legion at Remembrance; Children's Society at Christingle; Christians against Poverty, National Children's Homes, Christian Aid and Operation Christmas Child at Christmas. We have also supported many local and national charities through funeral collections (as requested by families). We agreed to be linked with CMS mission partners Tim and Kate Lee in the Philippines from January 2007.

Communication at St Oswald's is greatly enhanced by the weekly newssheet, the monthly magazine Outlook and the website. Work has begun on a new notice board to improve communication within our community, and we have improved our links with the local press.

Church Building
The main area of spending on the church building this year was the rewiring project. This was completed before Christmas. A new pump was installed for the boiler, and the boiler itself is expected to be a main item for expenditure in the not-too-distant future.

Links with other Churches
St Oswald's continues to take an active part in Churches Together Thirsk District, with involvement in special events and services and three representatives (including the Priest-in-Charge) attending committee meetings.

We have continued our strong links with Sowerby Methodist Church, saying farewell to Carole Holmes and welcome to their new minister, Elizabeth Clark. We have held many joint services and a joint Lent group, and many of our children's activities are led together.

We are also building on our links with St Cuthbert's, Sessay and the Thirsk Team Ministry. We continue to worship with St Cuthbert's, Sessay on Fifth Sundays. There was a joint Confirmation service in July at St Mary's Church with candidates from Sowerby, Sessay, Thirsk and Sandhutton. Confirmation preparation had also been done jointly. The community Remembrance Sunday service, which this year took place at St Oswald's, was held jointly with St Mary's Thirsk.

Special Events
The main social and/or fund raising events during the year have been the Parish Lunch, Daffodil Festival, Flower Festival (thanks to Sowerby Flower Club), Harvest Supper, Autumn Fair, Big Brew Coffee Morning (with drumming for justice) and a couple of excellent concerts. All of these events depended on the hard work of individuals and groups, especially the Social Committee who had a particularly active year! In May we enjoyed celebrating Rogation Sunday with a six mile walk around the parish in the pouring rain!

Church Officers
At our annual meeting in April we said thank you to Elizabeth Allen, who had served as Churchwarden for nine years. We also thanked John Limbach who had served as PCC Secretary for five years. Our new Churchwarden, Heather Limbach, has found a particular niche in taking responsibility for matters to do with the church building, as well as being involved in many other ways. Sandra Barnett continues as Churchwarden to lead and support in numerous areas of church life. Thought will need to be given to a successor for Sandra when she stands down as Churchwarden at the annual meeting in 2008, having completed the maximum recommended six years. David Tucker served as PCC Secretary from the annual meeting onwards, and David Thorne continued as Treasurer. The two Churchwardens, Treasurer, Secretary and Priest-in-charge formed the Standing Committee which met in between PCC meetings.

The ministry at St Oswald's is supported by so many people. Retired clergy who are members of our congregation regularly enrich our worship, and other retired and serving clergy generously offer help when needed. It was a delight to welcome Diana Wild as a Reader at St Oswald's and to attend her licensing at York Minster in November. Chris Carnall continues as a Deanery Reader to help out on many occasions, and we continue to be blessed by Trisha Richardson's monthly ministry at Evening Prayer. In addition to this, there are huge numbers of people who help in many different ways. Many thanks to all of you for offering your gifts to the Lord and his Church.

Approved by the PCC on 27 March 2007
and signed on their behalf by the Revd Nicola Carnall
(Priest in Charge and Chair of PCC)

A Year in the Life of St Oswald's - 2006

St Oswald's Church, Sowerby

The Churchwardens are pleased to report that work on the Quinquennial Report is taking place. Meetings with the Architect and Phil Thomas have borne fruit, and the church electrical system and wiring is now complete. Wiring certificates have now been obtained. Future work on the heating system is required, and this is being looked into. Members of the congregation have this year undertaken ongoing maintenance and items from the Quinquennial have included gutter clearances and a considerable amount of external painting. We hope to be able to cross off more items on the list as the year progresses. We now have a budget for this work and written progress reports are available to all in the PCC minutes. A fire audit was undertaken and the fire extinguishers re-organised. Sidesmen and women also took part in a practical session on how to use an extinguisher.

With regard to the Parochial Hall a new committee chaired by Jean West is dealing with ongoing work.

Grateful thanks to Rev Carnall for her guidance in all matters here at St Oswald's. It's been a pleasure working with her and her family since they arrived in Sowerby.

Sandra writes:
When I was first asked to stand as Churchwarden I wasn't sure I could take on such a big job, but with the help of St Oswald's members I would give it a try. It wasn't until we went onto the Interregnum that the position of Churchwarden changed again, and I found that I was now being asked to sit in on more grown-up meetings!!! Something I will always remember. The outcome as you know was to welcome Nicky, Chris and Adam to St Oswald's, which I know you have all been pleased about. So, being a Churchwarden is something most of you could take on and enjoy.

Nicky hopefully is going to be with us for a few more years, and with her love and guidance St Oswald's will achieve all its Mission Plans.

Last year Heather came to the rescue when Liz stood down, and she has worked hard on the Church building work.

I hope that in 2008 there will be someone who would like to say yes in taking over from me. Think about it - 2008 will soon be upon us. So if anyone would like to know more about being a deputy warden, please contact Nicky, Sandra or Heather.

The PCC now meets every other month. Members have attended regularly in order to discharge their functions.

An innovation this year has been the introduction of a Standing Committee. This is required under the Church Representation Rules 2004: not less than five persons, including the Minister and churchwardens. Other members are elected from the PCC and hold office until the conclusion of the next annual meeting of the parish. The Standing Committee's job is to deal with PCC business between PCC meetings. It meets every other month, (in the months the PCC does not meet) and at short notice whenever a crisis requires it! The current members, other than Nicky, Sandra and Heather, are the two Davids: Tucker the Secretary and Thorne the Treasurer. Other members of the PCC are kept informed of significant decisions (such as what to do when the Church boiler ceased to boil) and its minutes go to each succeeding PCC meeting.

David Tucker

Pram Service
We have had another good year at Pram Service. As always some children moved on to school in September, and numbers dropped, but more new families have joined us and some who used to come have returned with their new babies. For the last two months we have had between 35 and 40 adults and children. We continue to meet at 12 noon on the first Friday of each month. Our half hour service contains a mixture of songs (with actions or percussion instruments), prayers, Bible stories and creative activities. This is followed by a light lunch, shared together in the hall, for which we owe a big 'thank you' to Gayle Hartley and the team of ladies who take turns to prepare and serve the meal and wash up. Lunch time is a good opportunity for the parents to get to know each other and for us to get to know them. After lunch the children enjoy a good run around in the hall!

It is good to know that so many parents want to bring their children to hear God's Word and to have fun praising Him. Please pray for them and do come along and join us for a session if you would like to see what goes on.

Helen Irving

Pastoral Care Team
At the PCC Awayday in February 2006 we set ourselves the following mission priority for Pastoral Care:
- formation of a trained pastoral care team and pastoral approach
- review and develop house groups
- offer prayer ministry and review opportunities for prayer

A Pastoral Care Team was formed in the second half of the year. Most people in the team have already done some form of training - many having previously attended a Listening Course, and some attending one more recently. Nicky and Trisha Bennett already take home communion to care homes as well as to the homes of people who cannot get to church, and Carol Cox has now taken on this ministry as well. Members of the group took on the responsibility of re-starting the prayer circle. People with prayer requests are asked to 'phone Nicky, and she will pass it on to others who will pray. Many members of the group are willing to visit those who need a listening ear. Please speak to Nicky if you would like her to arrange this.


Home Communions

It has again been my great joy and privilege to be able to visit our Old Peoples Homes to take Holy Communion to Cherry Garth, Sowerby House and some of the residents in De Mowbray Sheltered Accommodation homes. We sadly said "Goodbye" to Rev. Carole Holmes, earlier on in the year, when she and her husband Edward moved to Guernsey. But it wasn't too long before we welcomed our new Methodist Minister Rev. Elizabeth Clark, and it has been my delight to share this ministry with her.

On the first Wednesday of each month, either Elizabeth or myself go to Cherry Garth. There are usually about 5 or 6 communicants who come regularly to the service, including Dorothy Kettlewell who has been coming all the time I have been going. We sometimes are able to welcome people who are in the home for Respite care, which is always a joy!

On the Third Wednesday, either Elizabeth or myself go to Sowerby House, where we have 7 or 8 communicants who regularly attend! This year we have welcomed John Greenwood to our little congregation.
I then go across the road to de Mowbray Cottages, where sadly some of the residents have left during the year. We usually meet in the lovely warm dining room. They are such a welcoming happy group!.

Church Family members

I recently took this Photo of Diana and Nelly who are always there for the service, such a joyful couple! I still take Communion to Olga Miller (who I know several of our regular members know). She is a delight to visit! - always so 'smiley' and Happy! I always feel it such a joy and privilege to be licensed to do this very rewarding work.

Many Blessings to them all for making this possible!

Worship Committee
This group has continued to review and plan worship. It also had a new objective, set by the PCC at the Awayday in February 2006 under the heading Accessible Worship: to review services so that we best meet the needs of existing church attenders and those who find our current services inaccessible.

An open meeting was held during the year to discuss the results of a questionnaire about music in church. People appreciate a wide variety of music.

There were several new initiatives which began during the year.

Refresh Cafe Church now meets in the Parochial Hall on the third Sunday of the month at 4pm. This is led by Dan Sladden, supported by singers, musicians, children's leaders, those who make refreshments and guest speakers. It is a more informal style of church, with contemporary worship songs and multi-media presentation.

The All Age Service on the first Sunday of each month was moved from 9.30am to 10.30am. This has been a much appreciated change. Nicky alternates between Sowerby and Sessay on first Sundays.

The Big Sing was introduced in August as an opportunity for people to learn new songs and enjoy singing together. This now happens monthly and is much appreciated by those who attend. It also makes it much easier to expand the range of songs we sing on Sundays.

Graham Merriam took over from Jacky Atkinson as organist at the beginning of the year. Our musical director, Matt Dowdy, moved on in June, and Graham took over that role as well. It is a delight to see how the Choir continues to flourish under his leadership.


Children's Work
Kids Club continues to meet every 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sunday of each month, we now meet in the Parochial Hall from 9.20am, allowing us a little extra time for our worship and activities before we return to church at 10.15. Our numbers have fluctuated throughout the year and we have had as many as 21 children in a session. The Christmas Decoration was our play in December which was written by Esther Irving, a great performance by all who took part including some of our younger members who had their first speaking parts.

Over the last year Trax has switched their meeting nights to the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month. They are a lively active group who have continued to grow as a group and also in their faith as they have taken part in many activities. After a sleepover last April they led an All Age Worship service the morning after, organising the songs prayers and drama.

Most of the group attended the Mowbray Deanery Youth Camp at Paradise farm in May when 59 young people came together for the weekend to share in fun games and fellowship in the cold wet freezing conditions that you find in the middle of a field in the hills of North Yorkshire in the middle of May! Despite the weather this was yet again a fantastic event and the only complaint was "its not long enough" - that's not what the leaders said!

In October we were invited to Brompton Methodist church to their youth cafe church, this gave the group inspiration to plan their own cafe style worship. The group met weekly from the beginning of January and planned what they wanted to include in their worship, they invited families and church members to the event in February which was very well attended and enjoyed by all. We also had a trip to York Minster's XLS event where over 700 young people came together to listen to Christian bands. At the moment we are planning a trip to bowling at the end of April, the whole group are booked in to the Mowbray Deanery Youth Camp at the Emmaus centre in May, and they would like to organise another youth cafe church in July.

Outreach to children within the community has continued over the last year with our friends from the Methodist Church. We have continued with our Easter and Christmas workshops which have always been well attended. Pyramid Rock our holiday club last year was again a great opportunity to invite 5-11 year olds along for a week of fun and a time to explore the story of Joseph and his brothers, 72 children attended. First Friday has continued to be a popular monthly event and offers an opportunity for young people to worship, learn and discover the love of God in a way that's accessible to them.

Pauline Alderson

Quiet Reflection Group
Over the past two years, once a month meetings of quiet reflection have taken place at 13 Station Road. The meetings have involved exploring and accompanying others on a journey of faith through Celtic spirituality. Within a safe space, we draw on listening to scripture, learning the art of being still, discussion, poetry, prayers and blessing. Within the group real friendships have been made. Exploring God in different ways has been refreshing and encouraged us to develop our spiritual life. The feedback I have received has been very positive, and I feel that it is good to explore together and reflect and find stillness in a seemingly hectic life.

Carol Cox

A small group of us, namely Nicky Carnall, Margaret Turner, Kath Reynard, Keith and Jenny Carley, Margaret Creighton and myself, visit Cherrygarth Nursing Home once every two months working with Churches Together to provide a small service for the residents. This entails singing hymns, reading scripture, and giving a small talk, by applying the scripture to everyday living. We finish with prayers and a blessing. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be involved with the people in our local community, and I feel we are warmly received whenever we visit.

Carol Cox

The Wednesday Bible Study Group
Our Wednesday bible study group has now decided to meet just once a month instead of weekly. This is due to the pressure of other church commitments and meetings. What a privilege it is to serve the Lord in the many different ways He opens up, enabling us to use the gifts that he has bestowed upon us and to bless and encourage those He brings along our path. We stand amazed at Gods continual goodness, and how He blesses us as we bless others. The group has also decided to set aside a "bible study" as such and instead enjoy a time of singing, prayer and sharing a time around the Word with an epilogue. Anyone is welcome to join us and enjoy fellowship together. We meet in the Committee Room at 7-30 p.m. We look forward to seeing new faces!

Wendy Bousfield

Mission Group
One of the mission priorities that was set by the PCC at their Awayday in February 2006 was Charitable and Mission Giving - with the brief of reviewing the organisations we support and our giving to them.

A small group of people - Sandra Barnett, Nicky & Chris Carnall, Dan Sladden and Diana Wild met twice in 2006. We used the Diocesan Publication, "Your Parish in World Mission," to help us in our thinking, and made the following recommendations to PCC:
- We need to recognise that mission is about more than money. It's about our awareness of the wider world, and giving other kinds of support, eg prayer, letter writing, taking action etc.
- As a church, we should aim to support Anglican mission organisations where possible, as they rely on Anglican churches for support.
- We should investigate the existing diocesan link with Cape Town
- We should increase our links with CMS - and consider becoming linked with mission partners working overseas.
- We should continue to support many of our ongoing projects - eg Arc Light, Compassion, Shoeboxes, Christingle, Funeral Collections.
- We should use our Harvest and Christmas collections to support others.
- We should consider becoming a partner church with St John's College, Nottingham.
- We should give away 10% of our income.

Following this, PCC agreed to support the USPG Harvest Appeal in 2006. We held a "Big Curry Party" for our Harvest Supper, and on the Sunday our All Age service focused on Myanmar and the work of USPG there. All the money given at Harvest and raised by the Supper went to USPG. As usual, gifts of tins, packets, socks etc were sent to Arc Light working with the homeless in York, and this year Sowerby School arranged for fresh fruit and vegetables to be delivered to The Limes following the school Harvest service in church.

During the year, volunteers again collected for Christian Aid during Christian Aid Week. The money from the joint Christmas card was also sent to Christian Aid. Our Christingle service in December again raised money for the Children's Society. Shoeboxes with Christmas gifts were again sent to Operation Christmas Child. Our Christmas collections were shared between National Children's Homes and Christians against Poverty. Half of each funeral collection was sent to charity - many different ones, as requested by families.

PCC agreed at their December meeting to become linked with CMS mission partners Tim and Kate Lee and their family in the Philippines. We are now supporting them financially on a quarterly basis, as well as supporting them in prayer. We receive regular information about their work and Diana Wild is our contact person with CMS and the Lees.


Sowerby Parochial Hall
Earlier this year Martin Hooper decided to step down from overseeing the work of the hall. We are all very grateful for the many years he has spent updating the hall to the splendid building it is today.

Harry Parkinson has taken on the day to day management of the hall and a small committee meets to oversee the future development of the hall and grounds.

Eileen Parkinson has continued to a splendid job cleaning the hall.

Work has continued to update the hall and the annexe.

Last year there were over 1300 events took place in the hall.

The hall could not function without people giving up their valuable time. I would like to thank Gerry Allen, Harry and Eileen Parkinson, Ann Coates and the Management team.

Jean West

Social Committee
We have had a busy year with varied social occasions.

The Flower Festival, which was held over the Easter holiday, was a big challenge for the whole church. There was a preview evening on the Friday and we provided light refreshments and wine. The refreshments for the three days were served in the Parochial Hall. We were delighted with the response to our request for cakes etc for the cake stall and refreshments.

We were asked by the Historic Churches Trust to provide a lunch on Tuesday 13th June. We catered for 45 people and served coffee and biscuits when they arrived, a buffet lunch at about 12.30pm and afternoon tea. They had a very interesting day and thanked us for the lovely food.

A curry party was the flavour of the night for our Harvest Festival. It was a great success and will probably be repeated(!) this year.

For the Chapter Meeting on 8th February 2007 which was held in the Parochial Hall we were privileged to entertain the Archbishop of York. We served coffee with Jenny's homemade biscuits. At 12.30pm we served a hot lunch with wine, followed by coffee. The Archbishop came into the kitchen before he left to thank us and have a little chat.

We organized a Parish Lunch on Sunday 11th March, which concluded our social calendar for the 12 months.

We would like to thank everyone who has helped ad supported us - we couldn't do it without you.

Pat Bennett

Tower Captain's Report
The last year has not been an easy one. We have not always been able to ring all the bells for the Sunday morning service and for all the other occasions we would have wished. However, on a more positive note, we have rung at least some of the bells for most of the major services, including many of the Christmas services, and for a number of weddings. I am grateful to those, not only from our regular band but also various friends and supernumeraries, especially Pauline, Tony and Ann, who have given of their time. I am also grateful to those who coped with my extended absences abroad due to business commitments, especially Heather.

Joint arrangements with St Mary's, Thirsk have continued. When possible we have supported service ringing at St Mary's on the first Sunday of the month. This has been well received at St Mary's. We are pleased that Mike and Geoff have supported our practices. We have also maintained good links with Easingwold and held occasional joint practices both at home and away.

Less teaching has been undertaken in the past year, partly as a result of my absence. Sadly, teaching efforts have not been well-rewarded in terms of increasing the number in the band which continues to rely on the goodwill of too few individuals, welcome though that is. We would welcome new volunteers who would like to have a go.

Since the last report a total of 5 quarter peals have been rung. All these have provided opportunities for developing the skills of members of the band and most have been arranged to celebrate notable occasions such as special birthdays or anniversaries of members of the church community. Three of the quarters have been the outcome of a recent initiative to try a different way of helping the band develop and it is hoped that this will continue to bear fruit. Special mention should be made of Charlotte who is demonstrating the potential to develop well beyond the confines of what can be achieved by a band entirely from St Oswald's.

Alice and Thomas continue to make good progress and are now proficient enough to help with ringing for weddings. Helena and Keith have given stalwart support of Sunday service ringing.

Unfortunately we did not manage an outing again this year.

I am grateful to everyone who has helped in any way with running the ringing or the band at St Oswald's, particularly Sue as secretary, Neil as treasurer and Andrew as steeplekeeper.

John Limbach

The last nine months since I was given responsibility for music in the church have been stimulating, rewarding, challenging and never less than enjoyable. I am also fitter from shimmying between piano, organ and, in the case of the band, keyboard. I don't really do bongos but we have those in the choir that do - with great elan. The choir are much fitter and better as our rehearsals are hard work and not all chat - well, not quite - a tribute to their dedication and irrepressible good humour. We had a renewed membership after Christmas in the form of Wendy and we are seeking to fill the choir stalls soon. Volunteers, please see me.

In the absence of a tenor, 4-part harmony is something of a challenge unless Dan steps in or, in extremis, me, but the Methodists have one and the choirs' combined efforts at All Souls, Christmas, Covenant Service and, hot off the stave, Easter Songs of Praise seem to have been welcomed in all quarters and have added greatly to the worship as well as giving the members of the joint body that extra satisfaction from singing in a bigger unit.

"Big Sing" has proved very popular and an excellent way of getting new music quickly into the congregation's repertoire, whether traditional hymns, dusting down old favourites or new worship songs. "Oh to see the dawn" backed by the Jesus of Nazereth images on the screen is likely to be a regular favourite and there are many more where that came from. I am sure, whether seated at the organ or the piano, that more sound is coming towards me since people have started taking a breath before they sing - a vital ingredient!

Those of you that attend Refresh will have heard the band - another success - that occasionally, and with much subtlety, is involved in the church services to put a new slant on our music making. A big "thank you" to fellow band members, choir, Big Singers and the congregation for making my job so easy.

None of our successes would be possible without the support, encouragement and inspired hymn-selection of Nicky "Cameron" Carnall!. Those that still do not know hymn 151 have clearly not been attending regularly over Easter. Have no fear -you'll get it again, I am sure.

Graham Merriam

Mowbray Deanery Synod
What? The local "council convened to discuss ecclesiastical business".

Who? Each parish within the Mowbray Deanery may have one representative for each twenty five members of its congregation.

When? Three or four times a year.

Where? At a church or church hall chosen within the Mowbray Deanery.

Why? So that all parishes are kept informed of decisions and discussions at Diocesan and National level.

Each meeting begins with a presentation by a speaker. This part of the meeting is open to every one who wishes to attend. Since our last annual report we have heard a talk on Fair Trade preceding the Big Brew, a talk about "Enjoying your church and churchyard" by Mr Phil Thomas and Mr Bob Baker from the Churches Regional Commission gave a presentation entitled "It shouldn't happen to a farmer". The Synod supports the running of the Deanery youth camp each spring as part of its outreach. During the business part of each meeting we hear news of discussions from the General Synod and the York Diocesan Synod. At one meeting we listened to a presentation on Clergy Pensions. There is an opportunity to advertise forthcoming events in our area. There is also a refreshment time when we are able to chat to members from other parishes.

St Oswald's is represented at the meetings by Nicky, Jill Drew, Joan Oldfield and myself, Gayle Hartley.

Christian Aid
The door to door collection in Sowerby during Christian Aid Week in May is an activity shared between ourselves and our Methodist friends. We have 15 volunteers who this year collected £1083. The heartening fact is that over half of this was Gift Aided which raised St Oswald's total to £1242 after this was recovered from the Inland Revenue.

Many of our superb team of collectors have been loyal to Christian Aid for many years. It would be wonderful if we had even more people supporting them to share the work of putting out and collecting in the envelopes. Youngsters, family or friends could all make it a fun team effort which would take little time.

The Friendship Lunch in the Friends Meeting House on the first Friday in October raised £80. This too is very little work and is a friendly time which all the helpers seem to enjoy. An hour and a half a year is not a lot out of a year!

Our congregation continues to support disaster appeals as they occur and many give to 'Present Aid' donating towards goats, trees and chickens etc.

To find out more please contact Eleanor Hooper.

Church website
The church website provides information about St Oswald's, 24 hours every day, to anyone with access to the internet. In January 2007 there were 918 'hits' (pages accessed), up from 657 'hits' in January 2006. It is not possible to say how many of these visits were made by local people. But there is anecdotal evidence that local people do use the website, seeking information about the church, our activities and special services.

Much more could be made of the opportunities that the website offers, at no extra cost. There is lots of space for more information, words and photographs - suggestions and contributions are always welcomed.

Neil Irving

OUTLOOK Magazine
700 copies of OUTLOOK are printed 10 times a year for the Anglican and Methodist Churches in Sowerby, Sessay and the Thirsk Team of OUTLOOK are printed 10 times a year for the Anglican and Methodist Churches in Sowerby, Sessay and the Thirsk Team Ministry for 30p a month or £3 a year. We in Sowerby handle nearly 400 of them. Each issue has about 28 pages, giving details of each Church's calendar, along with reports of organizations in the parish or locality. A team of 18 people deliver OUTLOOK in Sowerby.

Comments or ideas from any of our member Churches' congregations are always welcome for inclusion by Richard Etherington on 01845 523289 or at 11 Station Road, Thirsk. Articles sent as attachments by email can be typed in 16 point font in any typeface, although Times New Roman and Arial are our normal ones. If they are just an email, they can be copied, pasted and edited accordingly. The normal closing date is the 15th of the month, after which copy is taken to the Thirsk printer.

Annual advertising is handled by Mrs Jill Brown (524228), who will be pleased to provide you with details if you wish. Subscription sales and distribution for Sowerby are handled by Mrs Sue Kennedy (523592). Members of other Churches in the circulation area should contact their Churchwardens of Minister for details.

Sue Kennedy.

Arc Light
In the shadow of York Railway Station, and now literally in the shadow of the Norwich Union ferris wheel, Arc Light continues in its 5th year to care for, support and rebuild the lives of men and women to whom it would be all too easy to say - why don't you get off the streets? Why don't you get a job? Why should I give you money because you'll spend it on drink or, more likely, drugs? To the dedicated Arc Light staff, these are human beings who have typically suffered a cluster of disasters, some of their own making and some not, who may have lost the ability and will to sort themselves out, and who would die if Arc Light was not there to take them in.

As the official scrounger for this area, I have been deeply moved by the way in which people have offered all manner of things, socks in particular! It is a delight to test the springs on my car after the Harvest Festival, when the local school children have brought tins and packets of food that will stock the kitchen, not only at the main site in Leeman Road but at the day centre in Piccadilly where skills such as using a computer and making a meal are taught.

Arc Light is developing - they are building a new shelter and facility in the centre of York, to replace the ramshackle Bullnose building which has been their home thanks to the owners, National Railway Museum!

On behalf of Arc Light's staff, who value your practical and spiritual support, I say many, many thanks! And keep the socks coming!

David Tucker

Annual reports since 2004

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