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

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Annual report 2013

Parochial Church Council of St Oswald's Sowerby
Annual Report for the year ended 31 December 2013

Revd Nicola Carnall

Independent Examiner:
Mr William Pearson ACA, FCCA

Yorkshire Bank

Church Architect:
Linda Lockett

Independent Financial Advisor
Ellis Bates Group


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) in accordance with the Church Representation Rules. In 2013 the APCM was held on 14 April.

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

The Revd Nicola Carnall - Chair

David Tucker - Vice Chair
John Kennedy

Deanery Synod Reps:
Jill Drew
Gayle Hartley
Chris Carnall

Elected Members:
Pauline Alderson
Helen Ashworth
Emma Benoit (from APCM)
David Brooke (to APCM; co-opted for a further year on 14 May)
Keith Carley
Pat Chapman (from 14 May)
Margaret Creighton (to APCM)
Robin Gillard (from APCM)
Rachel Halkyard (from APCM)
Helen Irving - Secretary
Neil Irving (to APCM)
Graham Merriam - Treasurer
Ruth Sladden (to APCM)
Margaret Turner (to APCM)

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 registered as a separate charity 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.

The full PCC meets six times a year or more as needed. This is supported by the Standing Committee, consisting of Vicar, Churchwardens, Treasurer and Secretary. In addition there are a few working groups which report to PCC. Our Deanery Synod Representatives attend meetings during the year and report back to the PCC.

Objective of the PCC

St Oswald’s PCC works with the Revd Nicola Carnall in promoting in the ecclesiastical parish the whole mission of the church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical. The PCC is also responsible for the management and maintenance of Sowerby Parochial Hall. Both the Church and the Parochial Hall are well-used and valued community assets and a base for our service to members of the congregation and wider outreach to the parish as a whole.

When planning our activities for the year, we have considered the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit and, in particular, the supplementary guidance on charities for the advancement of religion.

Review of the Year

Mission Theme
At St Oswald's we try to live out Jesus' call to love God and love our neighbour.

PCC Awayday
In January the PCC held an Awayday to plan our objectives for 2013. Discussion centred around finishing off the reordering project and future funding for the post of Children & Young People’s Worker. It was agreed to hold a Stewardship Campaign (GEM) in June with the aim of moving towards a position where the Candy Worker post would be funded as an integral part of the church’s ministry rather than something extra which required special funding. Time was also spent thinking about the Diocesan Vision: Generous Churches Making & Nurturing Disciples and how St Oswald’s can grow in Christ-likeness, Commitment, Partnership, Influence and Numbers.

At the annual meeting in 2013 we had 136 names on the electoral roll. During 2013 we had 27 baptisms, 5 weddings and 19 funerals in church (with a further 4 funerals taken by our ministers at the crematorium or grave side.)

Average Sunday attendance in 2013 was 65 adults and 7 children – the same as in 2012. Approximately 90 different people worship at St Oswald’s every month, with an extra 50 or more people attending worship once every few months. This does not include the many others who come at Christmas and for other special services. In common with most Church of England churches, more than half of our regular Sunday congregation is aged over 70. However, St Oswald’s works with children, young people and families in many other ways as described below.

Children, Young People and Families
Pauline Alderson continued in the half-time post of Children & Young People’s Development Worker. She works closely with committed volunteers from St Oswald’s, Sowerby Methodist Church and St Mary’s Church in Thirsk.

Messy Church, which meets approximately every six weeks in the Parochial Hall, is flourishing with many families coming along and enjoying the crafts, worship and lunch. This year an additional Messy Church was held on Good Friday and was both well attended and much appreciated.

‘Open the Book’ assemblies continue with a team who go into Sowerby Community Primary School and Sessay CE Primary School four times a term to present a dramatized Bible story, followed by a time of reflection and a song.

Kids’ Club continues to meet during 10.30am Sunday services three times a month. Three different Youth Groups meet fortnightly on Sunday evenings. First Friday (run jointly with Sowerby Methodist Church) continues with smaller numbers and a revised format. Pram Service, run by Helen Irving, meets monthly on Friday lunchtimes. It starts in church with activities, Bible story, song and prayer and then moves into the Parochial Hall for lunch. The new carpeted space in church is ideal for this group of babies and toddlers and their parents/carers.

Special events for children and young people this year have included a Youth Café, youth sleepover, Go Large youth event in Durham, Spree camp at Hollybush, and Rumble in the Jungle Holiday Club. In addition the youth group and their leaders have been active in fundraising for Rebuild – a trip to Mexico with Urban Saints to build a house at Easter 2014. Some families also attended the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham. On 31 October a very well attended ‘Snap Apple’ alternative family Halloween event was held in church.

A St George’s Day service took place in St Oswald’s, organised by local Scouting groups. In addition two Scouting groups visited on other occasions. We were also visited by 3 groups of year 9 pupils and their teachers from Thirsk School.

Sowerby CP School held their Easter, Harvest and Christmas services in church again this year.

Worship, Study, Prayer & Fellowship
The pattern of Sunday services has continued more or less as it was in 2012 following the addition of Thirkleby, Kilburn and Bagby into the plurality. There is a communion service at St Oswald’s each Sunday, either at 8.30am or at 10.30am. There is also a communion service every Wednesday morning. The other Sunday services are non-eucharistic with Early Worship at 8.30am, either Morning Prayer or Worship for All at 10.30am, and Evening Prayer (either at St Oswald’s or at the Methodist Church) at 6.30pm. We have been experimenting with Worship for All on the third Sunday of each month instead of the first, because this seems to fall less often in school holidays. A training event for leading all age worship took place at St Oswald’s in March. Joint services for the plurality are held four or five times a year, usually on fifth Sundays. We are grateful to all who lead our services, including our Assistant Priest, Melodie, our Readers, Carol, Chris and Diana, the lay teams who lead Early Worship and Worship for All, and visiting Readers and clergy.

A few PCC members meet for prayer before PCC meetings. A study group has met on Wednesday evenings during the year and some church members attend groups at other times alongside people from other churches. Two groups met during Lent, one in Thirkleby for all the plurality, and the other on Wednesday mornings in St Oswald’s.

Mothers’ Union meetings include prayer and worship as well as fellowship for members and visitors.

The deanery confirmation service was held at St Oswald’s in June.

Mission & Giving
In February we had a visit from Margaret McLaren, who is now working for Mission Aviation Fellowship and spoke about their work.

Stephanie Cooper from Christian Aid came to speak at a service in April. Many members of St Oswald’s were involved in collecting during Christian Aid Week and our Christmas Eve collections were sent to Christian Aid this year.

In July Neil Irving spoke about his visit to Palestine with the Amos Trust in April to help a local community rebuild a demolished home. Members of St Oswald’s had offered contributions towards the cost of building materials and local skilled labour.

We continued to support Jigsaw Kids Ministries in the Philippines through regular gifts to CMS (to support their mission partner Tim Lee) as well as sending regular gifts and our Harvest collection directly to Jigsaw. In October two members of St Oswald’s – Cecily Rands and Diana Wild – went to visit Jigsaw in Manila to join in their tenth anniversary celebrations. They shared their stories in a service in November.

St Oswald’s has continued its support of Thirsk Clock in its work with local young people by collecting food at Harvest and Christmas. The collection from our All Souls service in November was sent to Herriot Hospice Homecare. Many shoeboxes of gifts were given by church members for Operation Christmas Child and we supported the Children’s Society through our Christingle service. We again gave a donation to the Family Life Church to help with the lunch they were organising for people on their own on Christmas Day. We continue to have a Traidcraft stall in church most Sunday mornings. Many funeral collections are shared with the charity of the family’s choice.

Church Buildings and Churchyard
Our Church building is used by a variety of groups for visits, services, concerts, etc, as well as for regular worship. We continue our strong link with Sowerby Music.

The reordering has continued with a few things still to be done. Fittings in the office, kitchen and toilet were completed. A final decision was made about pews at the back of church and a new carpet was fitted in the large open space, as well as in front of the altar. Martin Ridsdale altered the fixed bookcase and shelving unit at the back of the church in order to create a moveable and therefore much more useful hymn book cupboard. A full electrical inspection was carried out.

The church fabric is generally in good order, with a rolling maintenance programme. All routine maintenance and checks have been undertaken during the year and recorded in the church log. The Archdeacon carried out a Visitation in April.

The large churchyard is regularly visited by families of loved ones buried there, as well as those researching family history. The transfer of land from the Parish Council to the PCC for a churchyard extension has taken longer than expected because the Parish Council reversed their decision about leaving a section unconsecrated when the PCC asked if a different section could be chosen for this purpose. We anticipate the consecration of the land will now take place in 2014. We continue to be grateful for the Parish Council’s contribution to churchyard upkeep each year.

The Parochial Hall continues to be well used by the wider community. It hosts a number of sporting, health, fitness and recreational groups. It is also regularly booked for parties, dances and receptions. During the year the flat roofing was renewed and the outside woodwork painted as part of the rolling maintenance programme. The administration of the Hall is handled by the Parochial Hall Management Group.

This has been a year of consolidation after the re-ordering from the previous year. There will always be pressure on our income through increased costs but a mid-year Stewardship campaign that generated an estimated 10% increase in giving helped to alleviate this. Over 70 households are now giving regularly to the church through standing order or the envelope scheme which provides the essential bedrock for our finances. This sort of campaign has to be a regular occurrence to keep our collective heads above water. The Freewill Offering replaced Parish Share as from 1 January 2014 but the decision to offer £50,000 to the Diocese was made in 2013 and represents a small increase on the £49,527 paid over for 2013. Our contribution is part of the £8.2million offered by parishes across the Diocese and pays for things like clergy stipends, housing, training and pensions, as well as supporting parishes with youth work, looking after church buildings, dealing with the media, safeguarding etc.

Our expenditure remained in line with the previous year with nothing exceptional to report in normal operating costs. A substantial upward revaluation of our share portfolio reflects the quality of the investments and, taking this into consideration, enables us to report a deficit of only £77 on unrestricted funds having absorbed the cost of the CandY post, the new administrator and substantial expenditure on improvements to the Parochial Hall. This was partially offset by a refund of VAT on the building work from last year. Our income from all sources was £102,560.

Ownership of the Hall has been vested in The York Diocesan Board of Finance for some years and, as such, does not form part of the property of the PCC although the operation of the Hall is controlled and financed by the PCC. Consequently, the Hall no longer appears as an asset on the Balance Sheet although its income and expenditure form part of the Statement of Financial Affairs and the notes attached.

The Events Group organised a Parish Lunch in February, a Wedding Festival in May, a Ceilidh in October and Coffee, Cakes & Crafts in November. All events were enjoyed and well attended. The Wedding Festival was a new venture and included a display of wedding dresses, photographs and flower arrangements, as well as refreshments. The weekend concluded with a Thanksgiving for Marriage service with an opportunity for couples to renew their vows.

In May many people enjoyed a walk round all 5 parishes in the plurality.

Pastoral Care
Much informal caring takes place between members of St Oswald’s, and the Pastoral Care Team tries to supplement this where necessary. The Pastoral Care Team have been focusing on Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults this year, with training planned in 2014.

The email Prayer Circle works well and is appreciated by many. Eucharistic ministers continue to take communion to Cherry Garth, Sowerby House, The Limes and to people in their own homes who are unable to get to church. The number of residents at Cherrygarth has decreased considerably as its closure becomes more imminent. We do not know yet whether our ministry of midweek communions and Sunday evening services will be possible in the new extra care apartments.

The Luncheon Club continues to provide a cooked meal for older residents of Sowerby on a monthly basis and the Get Together Club brings older people together for social activities every week.

The church website is an excellent up-to-date source of information about the church and it is well used by church members and many others. The monthly Saints Alive magazine and weekly notice sheets are also used for sharing of news and information amongst church members. Sowerby Now (a joint publication with Sowerby Methodist Church) came to an end after Easter, when it became apparent that there were insufficient people to enable it to continue.

Jayne Molyneux was appointed in October as part-time Administrator for the 5 parishes. She works in the office at St Oswald’s on Friday mornings.

In December we received permission to enable people who live in, or are on the electoral roll of, or have a qualifying connection with, any of the parishes in the plurality to be able to have their banns read and/or their marriage solemnised in any of the 5 churches in the plurality.

Developing ministry
The PCC was delighted to support David Brooke in exploring a call to Reader ministry. He began his training in September. After nearly two years working as a Pastoral Assistant in London, Rob Coupland was recommended to train for ordination and began his studies at Westcott House in Cambridge in September. Becca Stevens began her third and final year of ordination training in September and anticipates being ordained deacon in the Church in Wales in 2014. Dan Sladden was ordained priest in May and continues his curacy at Ingleby Barwick.

At St Oswald’s we remain committed to helping people explore their calling to all kinds of ministry and service.

Our links with Sowerby Methodist Church remain strong and meetings to plan joint events and services are held regularly. Much of our children’s work is done together. St Oswald’s continues to be represented on the Churches Together Committee and to take part in events planned by the group.

Grateful thanks are expressed to all at St Oswald’s who work so hard and with so much dedication for the benefit of the church and wider community. May we continue to love God and our neighbours near and far as we seek to serve Christ in this place.

Approved by the PCC on 11 March 2014 and signed on their behalf.
The Revd Nicola Carnall
Vicar and Chair of PCC

Annual accounts 2013 (PDF file)

A Year in the Life of St Oswald's, Sowerby 2013 - Some of the many things going on in St Oswald's Church

Daffodils in the churchyard

Churchwardens' report

2013 was a year of great activity, finishing the work of reordering that has seen major work in both transepts, the toilet and the vestry. New carpeting was installed in the aisles and the large new area crated at the back of the church by the removal of pews. We are grateful to Bill Calvert for his help and generosity in the supply of the carpet and the later installation of matching covers on the pews. The matting at the north door has been enlarged - so wipe your feet if you come in from the rain!

The north door has been fitted with an automatic door system, which generates the power to open and shut the doors from the energy used to open it in the normal way. Cunning.

Martin Ridsdale reworked the hymn store cupboard by removing the shelving unit and putting the unit on castors, so that books can be kept by the north door and the unit removed when necessary. Perhaps the over-arching theme of the recent changes has been to have flexibility in our use of the space in our beautiful and historic church.

Hymn store cupboard

Some things look simply but get complicated! That brings to mind the work of arranging for the consecration of the new extension to the churchyard, involving the Parish Council, the Archdeacon, the Diocesan Registrar and a number of solicitors. We believe that all is in place for the consecration to take place during 2014.

Joyful moments during the year included weddings and baptisms, and the marking of the 25th wedding anniversary of Nicky and husband Chris.

David Tucker and John Kennedy

25th wedding anniversary of Nicky and Chris

Children and Young People

Another busy year with children and youth has seen seven members of the youth group go off to Mexico on the Urban Saints ReBuild Project. After 12 months of raising the funds the group were waved off at Thirsk station on 10th April.

The Rebuild group at Thirsk station waiting for the train to Mexico

Due to the increase in numbers at youth group we now have three groups, YOYO for children in school years 6 and 7 and TRAX for children in school years 8 and 9 continue to meet every 2nd and 4th Sunday, while OY ages 15 plus meets every 1st and 3rd Sunday. On the 5th Sunday all the groups meet together.

The younger members of the youth group had an excellent weekend at SPREE camp last June winning the football games for the second year in a row and taking second and third place in SPREE's Got Talent. In May we attended the Big Night Out event at Light Water Valley with 1,200 other young people, we are looking forward to visiting both of these events again this year. Many of the youth group were involved in preparing and leading our holiday club last year which was a Rumble in the Jungle theme, Dr Dino arrived each morning riding his very own dinosaur who enjoyed learning the bible stories of the day. 60 children aged 5-11 attended the holiday club, which lasted four days and ended with a family service in the church on the Sunday morning.

The youth group arranged a youth cafe service in March with a chosen theme of 'image'.

First Friday changed its timings last September, now all children meet at 6.30-8pm, we separate them into appropriate age groups for the teaching time, and this has been very successful.

Flower cross in church

Open The Book assemblies have become extremely popular with many of the volunteers now being recognized wherever they go. The children thoroughly enjoy listening and watching the bible stories being enacted out and love to take part in our song time at the end of each session.

Messy Church has continued to meet around every six weeks, often with new families attending. We have looked at stories from the Old and New Testaments using many messy ideas to demonstrate and act them out.

Last October we launched a new venture called Snap Apple Night which was an alternative to Halloween. Many families attended the event which we held in the church, we served hot chocolate whilst people made their way around the various crafts & activities.

Kids club continues to meet during the 10.30am service unless it's an All Age Worship service. We have just begun a trial of meeting with Sowerby Methodist children on the first Sunday of the month and sharing their Godly Play session. This went extremely well for our first visit in April.

A small group of families attended Greenbelt last August, the weather was great and everyone had a good time.

There are over 30 volunteers who work with the children and youth work; they come from Sowerby Methodist, St Mary's and St Oswald's Churches. They are an enthusiastic group who are committed to sharing the gospel with young people offering them an opportunity to develop and grow in their own faith. It would not be possible to run any of the above events without them. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each person for their dedication, time and loyalty throughout the last year. Many Thanks.

Pauline Alderson

Events group

Our year started with the Parish Lunch on February 10th, attended by 60 people, including some from Bagby, Kilburn and Thirkleby as well as our own parish.

People at the parish lunch

Instead of a Daffodil Festival over the Easter weekend we had a Wedding Festival in May. The photographs, dresses, quiz etc were much enjoyed by many visitors.

Display of wedding dresses

Next was a ceilidh on October 18th. 54 adults and 22 under 16s took part. The year was rounded off with our annual Coffee, Cakes and Crafts morning in November. It was well supported and enjoyed as usual. Many thanks to all who helped at any of the events including those who came to them.

Margaret Turner

Mothers' Union

Each month we have a speaker and these can be either religious or a little more light hearted. We started the year with the Wave of Prayer Day in January which was held in Church. In February we held our AGM and this is followed in March by our Annual Lunch at the Golden Fleece Hotel. We visited Stanbrook Abbey for our July meeting, this was also the day of Kay Evans's funeral, one of our long standing members. At a later date we returned to the Wombwell Arms, Wass, for lunch, which should have taken place on the day of Kay's funeral. Members also attended various Deanery and Archdeaconry events during the year.

Our monthly meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of each month in the Parochial Hall Committee Room at 2pm. We are always looking for new members so why don't you come along to one of our meetings and see what goes on? Male members are now accepted into the Mothers' Union so don't be shy gents.

Elizabeth Worsnop


We have continued to practice throughout the year and have rung for all the major services, Festivals and weddings, but sadly only managed to ring for a few other Sunday services. The main reason for this has been that the bulk of our ringers do not come from our own church, and have their own church commitments on Sunday mornings. In order to counter this, we have tried to teach people from our congregation, but for various reasons, they have not been able to continue to the point that they were able to ring on a Sunday, and we lost a couple of our young people to other activities. Nonetheless, we have a small, but committed and friendly band of ringers drawn from local churches who come most weeks and enable ringing to continue here.

Ringing bells in church

However, at the beginning of the year, we were approached by Jill Gillanders from Thirkleby who asked for help to support them in their ambition to get the 3 bells currently hung there for chiming, augmented to 6 and hung for proper ringing. John and Heather have helped in a number of ways, writing supportive submissions for funding bodies, helping with fund raising, more especially setting up a Belles Cantos concert, which in the event will be held this year, but most significantly, demonstrating ringing and then going on to teach a group of people who will form the nucleus of the band there. In this last venture, all the Thursday night band have supported Thirkleby, offering advice and guidance to the new ringers once they had reached the stage of ringing rounds. However, for Heather and John, it has been a very busy, although rewarding time, as all of the basic teaching and handling has fallen to them. By the end of the year, there were 4 people who could ring rounds unaided and another 4 who were not that far away. We hope that they will all now stay and that the band will go from strength to strength.

Heather Limbach

Church website

The church website has been providing information about St Oswald's, 24 hours every day, 365 days a year for 12 years.

In 2013 there were 5,280 visits to the site, viewing 12,534 pages (an average of 2.37 pages per visit) - very similar to 2012. 41% of the visits were people who had visited the site before. 90% came from the UK, the others from 53 countries in all continents apart from Antarctica. 80% used a desktop computer, 10% used a mobile phone, 10% a tablet computer.

The most popular pages in 2013 (in order) were the home page, calendar, parochial church hall, history, burials in the graveyard, contact us, ministry team, children and young people, find us, services, and weddings and baptisms.

The website is updated at least once a week, usually more often. Please tell me if information about your group or activity needs adding to or changing.

Suggestions and contributions are always welcomed; there is almost unlimited space for text, photos, audio and video files, additional pages and email lists. Good quality photos are particularly wanted. Church email addresses are also available for groups and individuals who want to avoid using their personal email address for church business.

Neil Irving


St Oswald's is a Traidcraft church, committed to using and selling their products. By supporting Traidcraft we are helping thousands of smallholders and artisans in developing countries to trade their way out of poverty.

Traidcraft began in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty. It combines a trading company and a development charity in order to build lasting relationships with producers and help them to trade their way out of poverty and works to bring about trade justice.

Traidcraft does more than provide fairly traded goods. Justice, fairness and dignity are fundamental to the way Traidcraft works, working with smaller, remote and more marginalised producers in the long term to help them develop their products to the level at which they can sell their goods with the Fair Trade mark.

Parochial Hall

The Parochial Hall is a very valuable local facility as well as providing a venue for many church activities. The quality of the facility is largely due to the efforts over many years of Martin Hooper, whose death was a great loss not only to our management group but across many aspects of the life and work of St Oswald's and the community.

The major work on the building during the year was largely invisible: the replacement of worn-out flat roofing with a new high quality product which should last for decades. We hope so. Many thanks are due to Harry Parkinson for the eagle eye he keeps on everything that happens in and around the Hall, and to Margaret Ridsdale our bookings secretary.

David Tucker

Annual reports since 2004

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