29 Church Street, Hamilton, Bermuda HM CX

St. Mark’s

Associate Priest’s Report 2021

Overview of the Year

Being part of a church family brings with it all sorts of ups and downs. None of us are perfect and it is true to say that this year has been difficult for everyone. The impact of the crisis has brought stress and had a negative impact on personal health and wellbeing. We have been limited on how we gather and support one another. It has also been difficult to ‘grow church’ both spiritually and numerically as the rules and regulations for social interaction have changed on a monthly, and sometimes weekly, basis. I thank you all for your patience. We will need to continue to ‘go easy’ on each other over the coming weeks and months. At the end of the day, systems and buildings and agendas, important as they are, don’t ‘really’ matter. What matters are people. You and I and our love for one another must come first. As you will see later in this report, despite the pandemic and lockdowns, we have achieved a huge amount this year. This is down to the hard work, dedication, and faithfulness of our wonderful church family. Therefore, the very first thing I must do is say thank you to all of you. Thank you for loving each other and thank you for loving St. Mark’s.

Goal, Aims, and Objectives

The goal of the Anglican Church, and our goal, is that people encounter Jesus and be sustained and grow in that encounter. One of the first things we did, as a Vestry, was hold a special Vision Morning where we developed six Aims to achieve this Goal. Then, under each Aim we developed Objectives which are achievable and measurable. These objectives will change as we move forward, with old objectives being removed and new objectives being set. Therefore, for this Ministry Report, I will go through our Aims and report on which objectives have been achieved. Our Aims and Objectives can be found on our website here: https://stmarks.bm/aims/

Leadership and Organisation

Aim 1: To Establish an organisational structure that supports leadership, administration, discipleship, mission, pastoral care, youth, finances, property, ministry, and community.

Firstly, in terms of administration we created an online shared Address Book and Calendar for the church administration. We spent a couple of months trying Google G-Suite but it did not meet our needs. In the end we decided to use the address book and calendar that comes with our Web Hosting. Although not perfect, it is working.

Secondly, we created a Property, Finance, and ‘Tech’ subcommittees of the Vestry. The Property Group is chaired by Barbara Willis and the Finance Group is chaired by Nicki Horan. These groups met approximately every other month between vestry meetings.

Thirdly, we developed Life Groups. Janet Dublin, Helen and I met to consolidate the Guild Lists and Buddy Scheme, and ensure that every church member had the opportunity to be part of a small group where pastoral support and discipleship can take place. These groups are headed up by Life Group Leaders. We held two Life Group Leaders meetings to support and encourage each other in this new and emerging ministry.

Finally, I have continued to develop the Church Website to provide information and resources for our church family.

In terms of Vestry structure, in the late summer 2020, Stephen Rossiter stepped down as church warden and we have yet to find a replacement.

Aim 2: Develop an every member ministry and enable everyone to exercise their vocation or calling.

Our single objective which is still in progress has been to identify and encourage those called to licensed lay or ordained ministry. We currently have one church member who is exploring their calling.

Buildings and Spaces

Aim 3: Maximise the usability, functionality, flexibility, and accessibility of our spaces to bless both the congregation and the wider community.

We hope to continue to develop the Sanctuary and Hall to facilitate their use and be able to hire them as a wedding venue. We have had two enquiries about letting our commercial kitchen.

The Treetops Pre-School closed in December 2020. Barbara Willis negotiated a new lease and contract with Seasons Pre-School which opened in January 2021. Part of the plan for any new pre-school was to enable the rear classrooms (behind the stage) to be used. This is the first of several steps that will need to be taken to enable the kitchen and hall to be hired out during the week. The church ‘office’ was cleared and moved to the smaller room to the side of the hall and the two rear classrooms were made good. Barbara Willis managed the move, the work, and navigated the licenses that were required. Barbara worked tirelessly on this project and we cannot thank her enough for her hard work, patience, and determination. Norris Ebbin and John Nichols installed the phone and WiFi required by Seasons pre-school and we thank them too. More thanks for them all later on in this report!

The smaller room under the hall was cleared, cleaned, and decorated to make a room which could be used by young people – particularly on a Sunday morning. Special thanks goes to Horans and Fulton Families for doing this work and making it happen. We are also exploring the possibility of a wooden skate park in part of the old tennis court and have made some preliminary plans.

We have made some progress in installing a permanent audiovisual facility in the church sanctuary. We purchased a new sound system and moved the large screen into the sanctuary to facilitate our worship. I also (personally) purchased a new camera and laptop to facilitate our online broadcasts and video production.

Norris Ebbin, Ralph Jennings, and John Nichols repaired the electrical outlets in the church sanctuary and we thank them for doing a superb job. Another of our objectives was to repair the damp in the church and replace the fluorescent sanctuary lighting with LED lighting. This work is in progress.

Norris Ebbin and John Nichols replaced our wired telephony with Internet telephony and extended this to both the church hall and sanctuary. This was a major undertaking and we thank them both for completing this project.

Parish and Community

Aim 4: Reach and connect with young people in the parish through church-based activities and schools work.

Due to the lockdown we have been unable to do much in the way of connecting with local schools and young people.

Aim 5: Provide relevant opportunities for people to meet and gather in both church and non-church locations.

See Aim 10.

Finances and Stewardship

Aim 6: Encourage people to donate or tithe through providing transparency and communicating about how our money is allocated.

We have communicated how people can pay directly into our Clarien Loan account. We have also added more information to our weekly email correspondence.

Aim 7: Be good stewards of our finances and resources through developing a culture of careful management and procurement.

We managed to refinance our Clarien bank loan with a private loan at a lower rate of interest. We ran a short scheme to encourage  young people and children to fundraise. We initiated a monthly ‘diners’ club’ to raise finances. The first one, a fish fry, took place in March 2021 which was a great success. Angela Sainsbury has accepted a pay cut of 33.3%. Her monthly pay is now $1000 instead of $1500.

Mission and Ministry

Aim 8: Respond appropriately to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people in both our congregation and the wider community.

In the summer of 2020 we participated in an island-wide meal and food voucher distribution. When this came to an end, we started a Lord’s Larder scheme. See the separate report on this outreach initiative. We printed our weekly newsletters and delivered them by hand to our members that are not on email. As well as several funerals, I took one wedding last year. There were no baptisms, but there was a baby blessing held at Spanish Point.

Aim 9: Invite both church and non-church members to join God’s mission through participation in our outreach projects.

See separate report on the Lord’s Larder.

Aim 10: To provide opportunities for ongoing discipleship and spiritual growth both online and in person.

Despite the lockdown we have managed to start a monthly Senior Coffee morning and also a monthly ‘Hot Potatoes’ discussion group. However, due to the lockdown we have only been able to meet once. During the first lockdown period we produced a series of Youth videos called ‘Blast’ and a series of ‘Daily Bread’ Bible readings and reflections.

Worship and Prayer

Aim 11: Encourage people to encounter God by providing relevant worship that embraces both traditional and contemporary elements.

We introduced weekly all-age worship using child-friendy liturgy and a mix of contemporary and traditional music. I produced backing tracks for contemporary worship songs and contemporary versions of popular hymns. The choir grew with two children and two older members joining on a regular basis. We consistently provided a weekly on-line worship, whether live or pre-recorded. We moved from using booklets to using a screen. This was initially to avoid cross-contamination of the virus. We started by using Powerpoint for our visuals before moving to using OBS (Open Broadcast Studio) software. We moved our service times to 9am so that the ministers at both St. Mark’s and Holy Trinity can cover and support each other.

When the lockdown eased in Summer 2020 we began the ‘Soulful Cafe’ in the church hall prior to and after a short 30 minute worship. Teaching took place in the hall and children and young people went to their groups. The format was a success and the congregation was growing. On one Sunday 22 children and young people and over 60 adults were in attendance

We developed a weekly, seasonal, quiet and reflective worship that uses more traditional language and has times of quiet. This took place at 6pm and was led by Jenny Hodgkins, myself, and Helen Tyte.

Aim 12: Ensure our worship is accessible and seeker-friendly through removing barriers that might impede or hinder people connecting with God.

We have purposely produced child-friendly liturgy and used both fonts and words that are accessible to those with learning difficulties. We put all the words we use on the church website in various formats and produced a QR Code on our opening screen that links to the accessibility pages on our website.

Aim 13: Extend God’s love to the wider community by inviting groups to participate in our worship and receive God’s blessing.

We have not actioned this aim, due to Covid restrictions..