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

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Annual report 2008

St Oswald's Church, Sowerby
The Annual Report of the Parochial Church Council
for the year ended 31 December 2008

Priest in Charge:
Revd Nicola Carnall

Independent Examiner:
Mr WG Pearson ACA FCCA

Yorkshire Bank (Main Account)
Standard Life
Cooperative Bank

Church Architect:
Linda Lockett

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, North Yorkshire, 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) held on 20 April 2008 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)

Heather Limbach (Vice Chair) (from APCM)
Sandra Barnett (to APCM) (Vice Chair to APCM)
Frances Elliott (from APCM)

Deanery Synod Reps:
Jill Drew
Gayle Hartley
Joan Oldfield (to APCM)
Ruth Sladden (from APCM)

Diana Wild

Elected Members:
Pauline Alderson (to APCM)
Helen Ashworth
Wendy Bousfield (to APCM)
Martin Hooper (to APCM)
Helen Irving (from APCM)
John Kennedy (from APCM)
Graham Merriam (Treasurer) (from APCM)
Kath Reynard
Martin Ridsdale (from APCM)
Dan Sladden (to APCM)
David Thorne (Treasurer) (to APCM)
David Tucker (from APCM) (Secretary)
Margaret Turner
Jean West (from APCM)
Hannah Wright (from APCM)
Janette Yates

The Standing Committee was made up of the Priest-in-Charge, Churchwardens, Secretary 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.

Review of the year

Church attendance
Average Sunday attendance was 80 adults and 12 children in 2008. This is a slight increase in adults and decrease in children (partly explained by children growing into adults!). The electoral roll at the annual meeting in 2008 was 147 - an increase of 3 on the previous year.

Children and young people
In March the PCC agreed unanimously to start admitting baptised children to communion before confirmation. This was in response to the Archbishop's request for all churches to consider it and followed the drafting of a Parish Policy by a PCC working group. Preparation began in Kids' Club in September and the first 18 children were admitted in a service of celebration in November. Children and young people's leaders have continued to work hard throughout the year in all the different groups - Pram Service, Kids' Club, Youth Group, First Friday, Easter and Christmas Workshops, Holiday Club and Refresh. Another enjoyable and well attended Laser Light Party was held on 31 October. Our youth team continue to be involved in the leadership of the Deanery Youth Camp. The PCC Awayday in September highlighted the appointment of a Youth Worker as a top priority for the future and a group is to be formed to look into the feasibility and practicalities of this.

Community involvement and pastoral care
During the year there were 22 baptisms, 7 weddings, 2 wedding blessings and 33 funerals. These are privileged opportunities for engagement with our community. The Parochial Hall continues to be well used by the wider community. Our churchyard, as always, is well visited and much appreciated. The church hosted special services for Sowerby Community Primary School, Mowbray Deanery Mothers' Union, Women's World Day of Prayer, Vale of Mowbray Girl Guides and St John Ambulance, as well as being used for concerts by Sowerby Music, the Royal British Legion Band and Mowbray Singers. Holy Communion continues to be offered at Sowerby House, Cherrygarth and The Limes, as well as to people in their own homes who cannot get to church. St Oswald's continues to lead Sunday evening worship at Cherrygarth on a rota basis with other churches. The Get Together Club also provides an opportunity for older people to come together on a weekly basis. The Pastoral Care Team undertook many visits and caring tasks during the year. The annual All Souls service is a much valued opportunity for many within the community to remember their loved ones who have died.

Our pattern of services has continued largely unchanged throughout the year. We have been experimenting with some new music for communion alternating with the more familiar Dunford setting. Big Sing continues to help with introducing new music to the congregation and we are indebted to the commitment of the organist and choir. We also often benefit from a band with a variety of instruments at all-age services. A non-eucharistic healing service was held at St Luke's-tide which was greatly appreciated. In October the monthly Refresh Café Church started to meet at a trial time of 11am. Refresh is greatly valued by many people from St Oswald's and beyond. We are grateful to our Readers and retired clergy who assist with leading services and preaching. We were visited by a 'mystery worshipper' during the year who awarded us high marks for our welcome and the content of our worship.

The Communications Group have contributed a lot to the life of St Oswald's over the past year. The monthly Outlook magazine came to an end after many years which was sad. However it was replaced by two new publications. Sowerby Now is a quarterly newspaper put together by a team from Sowerby Methodists and St Oswald's and delivered to every home in Sowerby. This newspaper is delivered free - any proceeds will be distributed to joint mission initiatives. There is also a monthly newsletter which contains news and helpful information for members of St Oswald's and St Cuthbert's, Sessay. Notice boards within the church have also been improved.

Developing ministry
Opportunities are given within St Oswald's for people to explore ministries of different kinds. One member of the church was recommended to train for Reader ministry and began training during the year. Others are considering this and other kinds of ministry. Every person within the church is encouraged to contribute in some way, and most people are actively serving others - within the church or the local community.

The Mission Group arranged an outdoor social event at The Paddocks (a new housing estate within the parish) in September. This was an enjoyable event which drew a crowd from the estate, despite the appalling weather. It also involved other community groups including the Parish Council. An Alpha course was held in the autumn, thanks to the support of many people, and many of those who attended felt that their faith was strengthened and deepened. We continued to support through prayer and giving the Lee family working with CMS in the Philippines. We also supported many other mission and charitable organisations throughout the year. The Daffodil Festival at Easter provided a welcoming social and spiritual space for visitors to church.

Social and fundraising
A parish lunch was held in January and a Ceilidh with supper was held at Harvest. There were several coffee mornings and a Coffee, Cakes & Crafts event replaced the Autumn Fair this year. Several members of the Social Committee attended a course and were awarded Food Hygiene certificates. Several members of St Oswald's took part in a sponsored Abseil and were supported by many others who went along to watch. A small group planned a Diocesan Giving Initiative, TRIO, which took place on four Sundays in May. This was very successful in increasing regular income for the church.

We continue to be part of Churches Together in Thirsk District and take part in joint services and events when they occur, particularly during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We continue our close links with Sowerby Methodist Church, with many joint services, a joint Lent Group and Big Brew Coffee Morning.

Several groups met for fellowship, Bible study and learning together during the year. In addition the Mothers' Union had a full programme of activities.

Church buildings
The south nave wall of the church was re-pointed during the year. Minor alterations have been made to storage in the vestry making it a more user-friendly space. The Diocesan Advisory Committee gave us permission to appoint Linda Lockett as our new church architect. Lighting and heating surveys were undertaken in the church. An asbestos survey was carried out on all church buildings. The Committee Room in the Parochial Hall has been re-roofed and refurbished using previously earmarked funds which brings to an end a long and successful programme of improvement.

The future
The Parochial Church Council held an Awayday in September to look at future priorities for St Oswald's. These are being turned into a work plan, which the PCC will continue to work on in 2009. We are anticipating that there will be future pastoral reorganisation within the deanery which may lead to other churches joining the Sowerby and Sessay group. When that happens we will all need to be generous in giving up some of the things we hold most dear, in order that the needs of others can be met. We should expect that we will also gain in many ways if we are willing to embrace change and new possibilities.

I am very grateful to all the people who work so hard to make St Oswald's the lively and flourishing church it is. We all need to pray that God will help us to become more united, more generous and more loving, in order that we can share his love in this parish and beyond.

Approved by the PCC on 11 February 2009 and signed on their behalf.

The Revd Nicola Carnall
Priest in Charge and Chair of PCC

Annual accounts 2008 (PDF file)

A Year in the Life Of St Oswald's Sowerby 2008
- some of the many things going on in St Oswald's Church

exterior view of St Oswald's Church, Sowerby


Fabric - wood, stones and mortar!
During 2008, the Diocesan Advisory Committee agreed that Linda Lockett could be appointed as our church architect. This enabled work to take place both to the outside and inside of the church. The parochial hall roof and committee room were improved and the annexe assessed.

Outside of church
The south nave and transept walls were re-pointed using traditional materials. A tree survey was undertaken and a plan made showing the location of all the trees. A faculty was applied for at the end of the year to remove some trees and do major work to many others. The architect has assessed the state of the boundary wall and advised on a programme of renovation. An estimate was obtained from a stone conservator for works to renovate the original south nave door surround.

The heating boiler was serviced in the autumn, and a heating survey was undertaken by Byfields in the spring. The fire extinguishers were serviced in May. The fire risk assessment will be reviewed in the New Year. A lighting assessment was undertaken in the spring by David Haddon-Reece. The vestry was re-arranged to provide extra storage and a quiet area. PAT testing was undertaken in October for electrical equipment. The water heater in the kitchen failed and was removed. The clock failed in the autumn having had a period of stability. Smiths have come out after every failure at no cost to us. The architect has surveyed the inside of the church, and we have provided her with a breakdown of activities held in the church. The terrier and log book have been updated. All new plate, furniture, electrical goods etc. have been added and any removals deleted. All receipts for works, reports and copies of faculties have been added.

the font at St Oswald's Church, Sowerby

Parochial Hall
There is a programme of ongoing maintenance which has been diligently carried out. The lighting has been split into two circuits. The flat roof has been renewed. The committee room has been upgraded.

The church, parochial hall and annexe have been surveyed for asbestos. The annexe does have low-grade asbestos, but is safe to use. The heated "trolley" in the hall kitchen again contains asbestos but is safe to use. It will need though to be disposed of professionally when the time comes. No asbestos was found in church. At the end of 2008, I believe the buildings to be well maintained and in good order.

Heather Limbach

Arc Light

For many years St Oswald's has supported Arc Light magnificently, through gifts of clothing, bedding and food. These, and the love and prayer that go with them, are both valuable gifts in themselves and support for the dedicated and skilled staff who look after people who have great needs.

Arc Light moved to a great new building during the year, still close to the city centre, which has 35 bedrooms, meeting and counseling spaces as well as education, health, fitness and community facilities.

the new Arc Light building in York

Their donations policy for clothes and bedding is now for it to go to the Salvation Army whose citadel is very close and who provide items for Arc Light residents. Food and money still go direct. Thank you to everyone who has remembered Arc Light during the year!

David Tucker


2008 has been a difficult year for the bellringers in terms of numbers and we will have to recruit and train new members, if possible from Sowerby, to ensure a secure future. Nevertheless we rang at least some of the bells on most Sundays and usually managed to practice. We were able to ring for all the weddings often calling on our friends from Easingwold and occasionally from other towers. I am grateful to all who helped out.

the bellringers at St Oswald's Church, Sowerby

We were delighted that Charlotte Moss and Thomas Irving did so well in their GCSEs and that Tom continues to ring with us. During the summer we were pleased to receive regular visits from Tony Grey, who has a caravan here, and often boosts our numbers on a Sunday. We also record with thanks the contribution made to the band by Keith Carley until his retirement from ringing. Sue Binns continues to work hard as our secretary, liaising with visiting ringers and arranging bands for wedding ringing as well as keeping us in touch with the Yorkshire Association. I am also grateful to all those who live nearby but outside the parish and support the ringing here.

John Limbach

Children's work

Kids club at St Oswald's have had yet another busy year. Eighteen children began and completed a course of preparation to receive communion before confirmation, this was celebrated with a special service in church as the children received communion for the first time.
Our holiday club in July was attended by 63 children, our theme was the Olympics.

Kids club

A lazer light party was held in church on 31st October which was attended by 75 children who dressed as their favourite super hero's characters.

After having to postpone our annual youth camp in May because of bad weather we finally held it in the Parochial Hall in September! The weekend was packed with fun, games, drama, art and drumming workshops; we were joined by a group of young people from Beverley.

First Friday continued to be very popular, we changed the age of the groups but still cater for 5-12 year olds. The groups work very well together with lots of discussion in our Godly Play slot that is used each month.

A Christmas workshop in December was attended by 65 children who enjoyed making, baking and creating crafts for Christmas.

Pauline Alderson

Christian Aid

St Oswald's, as usual, has been very quick and generous in its support of Christian Aid and its various specific charity appeals.

During the year Christian Aid Week saw our Church collect £1,558 door to door in Sowerby - the largest amount we have collected since this event was started over twenty years ago.

The Congo Appeal realised over £200 through St Oswald's plus a number of envelopes sent direct to London.

At Christmas we took part in the Thirsk Market Place Christian Aid Carols raising £141.

The regular monthly Friendship Lunches at the Friends Meeting House are not well supported by St Oswald's partly due to the clash with the Pram Service on the first Friday of each month. We intend to hold a special St Oswald's Christian Aid lunch after this year's Christian Aid Week.

St Oswald's always takes a strong part in the Thirsk Churches Together Christian Aid activities which this year included a concert at St James Green Methodist Church, Big Brew held in the Parochial Hall with our Methodist friends and the Christmas Card Stall in St Mary's Church.

We did a one off and quickly arranged Coffee Morning for Zest UK raising £375 to help build and equip schools in Zambia.

Thank you to everyone who supported Christian Aid in any way.

Eleanor Hooper

Deanery Synod

There are three representatives from St Oswald's who attend the Mowbray Deanery Synod meetings - they are Jill Drew, Gayle Hartley and Ruth Sladden. Nicky also attends as a member of the House of Clergy, so we are well covered, and if one person cannot make the meeting we are still represented. The meetings are held four times a year in a different church in the Deanery each time. The meetings open with prayers and sometimes we have a visiting speaker.

This year we have seen many changes as several of the Clergy have moved on to pastures new. We hear reports from the York Diocesan Synod, and the General Synod. We get a chance to talk to other members over a cup of tea and discuss what is going on in the different Parishes. We have reported back on the Bishop of Selby's A Way Ahead that it is a helpful basis to which to work from. We keep before Synod the yearly Youth Camp of which they are most supportive.

We split into small groups to discuss the way ahead for the Mowbray Deanery and several things came out, but most interesting was the sharing of resources and skills between the parishes and that the House of Laity are getting more chance to input in the meetings, which makes the meetings far more interesting.

Jill Drew

Mothers' Union

Sowerby Branch of the Mothers' Union has had another busy year. Unfortunately we have lost three members this year. One has gone to live in Australia to be near her family, and two have lapsed.

Each month we have a speaker, these can be either religious or a little more light- hearted. We start the year with the Wave of Prayer Day. This is held in Church. In February we hold our AGM and this is followed in March by our Annual Dinner. For our July meeting we visit another church and this is followed by a meal at a local hostelry. Our meeting in August is a Mary Sumner Day Service to celebrate the start of the Mothers' Union. This is usually held at the home of one of our members. We also attend various Deanery and Archdeaconry events during the year along with some of the Diocesan events.

Our monthly meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of each month in the Parochial Hall and we are always looking for new members. Why don't you come along to one of our meetings and see what goes on?

Elizabeth Worsnop

Pram Service

It's hard to believe that the March 2009 Pram Service marks the end of ten years since I took over the leadership from John Davis. The children who attended then are now at secondary school. It has been good to see them growing up, many of them keeping in touch with St Oswald's through craft days, Crib service, holiday club and more recently at First Friday and the younger Youth Group.

During the last year attendance at Pram Service has ranged from 5 children to 12 children with their parents and carers. We have sung, jumped, praised, prayed, made things, listened to Bible stories, played instruments and enjoyed ourselves in the presence of God!
Of course, Pram Service wouldn't be the same without our lunches. A huge thank you is due to Gayle, for providing the food, and to the faithful group of people who set up and serve the lunches each month and clear up afterwards. The parents and children appreciate having time to sit and eat together and to chat (or run around) afterwards. New volunteers are always welcome, either to help with the service or with the lunches.
Thank you too to Nicky, who manages to come to so many Pram Services in spite of her busy schedule, and to everyone who supports us in prayer.

Helen Irving

Sowerby Now

A periodical from Sowerby churches that goes to every home in the parish - what a great idea! This year we managed to bring it to life, and in December the first edition was delivered by a willing team of volunteers. The editorial team had offered to provide reflective armbands if anyone wanted one, but we should have been offering skis - winter snow came down briefly!

As well as providing a means of speaking to everyone who lives in Sowerby about church and local community life, Sowerby Now is also a joint venture with our Methodist colleagues and makes a small profit from the advertising revenue, which can be put back into the parish through support for community activities.

David Tucker

Sunday readers

"Hear the Gospel of our Lord according to..." are familiar and reassuring words that form an essential part of our main Sunday morning service. And those words are read by a team of readers who stand before you, sometimes a little anxious as to whether they will get the all-important words right or, as one reader will forgive me for recounting, spoke of "firing" servants to work in the fields when the text actually had the owner "hiring" them!

Thank you to everyone who has read during the year. You are the voice of the Gospel.


The church website provides information about St Oswald's, 24 hours every day, 365 days a year, to anyone with access to the internet. It is aimed at people who don't attend St Oswald's and want to find out more, but also contains information that is useful for people who do attend St Oswald's.

The website includes information about the church, the leaders, the calendar of events, services, groups for children and adults, weddings and baptisms, the hall, Alpha - as well as the history of St Oswald's, the latest annual report, and how to contact us and find us. In January 2009 there were 438 visits to the site by 356 visitors, who looked at a total of 1277 pages. Whilst it isn't possible to say exactly how many local people visit the website, there is good evidence that local people do use the website to find information about the church, our activities and special services.

I update the website at least twice a month. Please tell me if information about your group or activity needs adding or changing. Other suggestions and contributions are always welcomed; there is almost unlimited space for text, photos, audio and video files.

Neil Irving

The year in pictures

Rev Nicky Carnall at St Oswald's Church, Sowerby
Rev Nicky Carnall

The choir at St Oswald's Church, Sowerby
The choir

Social event at The Paddocks, Sowerby
Social event at The Paddocks

Remembrance Sunday service at the war memorial, Sowerby
Remembrance Sunday

The church family at St Oswald's Church, Sowerby
The church family

Annual reports since 2004

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Registered charity number 1135485.