The United Church Dorchester

United in faith, united in action

United Church Dorchester Annual Report 2012

The United Church Dorchester Annual Report for 2012 can be downloaded (pdf) by clicking on the download link below: -

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United Church Dorchester

  Annual Report 2012

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Our Vision Statement

As a Christian Community, the United Church welcomes everyone because God loves all people. We value our diversity. Whatever our age, background, culture, gender or race, we each have something special to share with others. In Christ’s name the United Church exists:-

  • To celebrate together and share the greatness and love of God;
  • To seek personal and spiritual growth for ourselves and others;
  • To care for and support each other within and beyond the church community;
  • To work in partnership with other churches in Dorchester and district local groups with whom we share some common aims;
  • To watch for ways to serve the needs of our community and the wider world by caring for the earth, striving for a just and peaceful world and Identifying with the poor and powerless;
  • To develop creative friendships with people of other cultures and faiths and work in partnership with churches around the world

 This was reviewed during 2012 and confirmed.

 

Introduction

This has been a busy and eventful year both looking outwards to our new neighbours in the offices opposite our Charles Street entrance and in the developments nearby, and inwards as we said farewell to one of our ministers, Revd Brenda Stephenson as she retired. Meanwhile many of the activities of the church have continued and the following pages give a brief account of what has been happening in 2012 in our church, and the wider communities of which we are a part. 

 

General Report for the Church

 Quick Links:-

 

 Aim and purposes

The United Church Dorchester Council of Stewards (the Trustees) has the responsibility of supporting and advising the Ministers in promoting the whole mission of the United Church and the wider church in its teaching of the Christian faith and in its pastoral, evangelistic, social, ecumenical and charitable work. The Stewards’ Council is also specifically responsible for the maintenance of the United Church building and the associated buildings at numbers 49 and 51 Charles Street, Dorchester.

 

Objectives and Activities

As a Christian Community, the United Church welcomes everyone because God loves all people. We value our diversity. Whatever our age, background, culture, gender or race, we each have something special to share with others and the Stewards’ Council is committed to enabling as many people as possible to worship at our church and to become part of our church. The Stewards’ Council maintains an over-view of our worship and makes suggestions on how our services can involve the many groups that live within Dorchester and its surroundings. Our services and worship put faith into practice through prayer and scripture, music and sacrament.

When planning our activities for the year, the Ministers and the Stewards’ Council have considered the Charity Commission’s guidance on public benefit and, in particular, the specific guidance on charities for the advancement of religion. In particular, we try to enable ordinary people to live out their faith as part of our church community through:

a. the celebration of public worship;

b. the teaching of the Christian faith;

c. mission and evangelism;

d. pastoral work, including visiting the sick and the bereaved;

e. the provision of facilities with a Christian ethos for the local community, including (but not restricted to) the elderly, the young and other groups with special needs; and the support of other charities in the UK and overseas.

f. maintaining the fabric of the United Church and associated buildings in order to facilitate all these activities.

In addition in 2012 we have looked specifically at how our practices, behaviour and attitudes might affect the reception individuals experience when they make contact with the church so that we may better express a welcome for everyone.

 

Achievements and Performance

 The celebration of public worship

 We aim to provide a variety of worship styles at different times throughout the week.

  • Our 10.30 am. Sunday morning services in 2012 have been mainly led by one of our two ministers, until one retired in October. About once a month, we welcomed a visitor to lead our services. In November and December we have welcomed a larger number of visiting local preachers. The average congregation is about 130. There is a flexible format for Sunday mornings, although in all of them there is the opportunity for children and young people to take part in worship both with the adult congregation and in their own, Junior Church, worship time. We continue to hold ‘All-Age Worship’ services, now on planned occasional dates, and have also introduced ‘Church with choices’ when activities such as music, drama and craft are offered to all attending as alternatives to a sermon as part of the morning service.
  • Two of our morning services have included baptisms. On one a young child was brought by his parents for baptism and on the other two teenage brothers, who were already part of the church family, were baptised by immersion.
  • Sunday evenings tend to follow a more traditional format with a smaller, but faithful congregation of between 25 and 35. About once a quarter this service includes prayers for healing and the opportunity for the laying on of hands.
  • Once a month (2nd Sunday in the month) we hold a communion service at 9.00am.
  • On the last Sunday in the month we meet at 5.00 pm for an informal act of worship, called ‘Alive@Five’, which is offered in alternative worship style incorporating a number of options running in parallel, usually including crafts, bible study, prayer and reflection, to name but a few, with the whole group joining together at different times during the service. The ‘bring and share’ meal that follows is an integral part of the whole worship experience and also offers time to get to know each other.
  • A short, twenty minute service is held on Wednesday morning to coincide with the town’s Market Day when we also have coffee and stalls in the hall. About 25-30 people attend the service and, although most are regular church goers, but not necessarily from the United Church, a few do not appear to attend other churches.
  • As well as offering regular services we also put on extra services at special times in the Christian calendar, such as Christmas and Easter. In addition to our own planned worship this Christmas we have hosted and shared in carol services for the Wessex Autistic Society and Age UK.
  • As part of our pastoral support to the local community we provide comfort and support to the bereaved; the ministers were involved in nineteen funerals during the year, not all of church members. We also hold monthly communion services and/or meetings with a Christian theme at several residential homes and at Southfield House,  and Rowan Cottage. One of our Ministers is the Prison Chaplain and spends one day a week in Dorchester Prison, ministering to the prisoners.
  • We have two meditative prayer groups that meet to pray for and reflect on the state of our country and the world, one every Tuesday lunchtime, and one on two Wednesday mornings a month.

Teaching the Christian faith

We have a number of house groups that meet regularly to explore the Word, as expressed in the Bible, through discussion and conversation. In addition, in early 2012 we continued the series ‘Living the Questions’ started in Autumn 2010. This study series explored the significance of Christianity in the 21st Century and what a meaningful faith can look like in today's world.

A key objective of our Junior church is to educate our young people in the basis of our faith. In addition both our ministers lead assemblies regularly at Broadmayne (Brenda Stephenson) and Puddletown Middle School (Paul Arnold).

Mission and evangelism

In addition to its regular and established activities the United Church has put on a number of extra events this year.

The ‘Journey to the Empty Tomb’ and ‘Journey to the Stable’ were repeated, in the week before Easter and leading up to Christmas respectively. For each event a number of ‘stations’ were set out around the church, each focussing on one aspect of the Christian story with bible reading, reflection, and interactive activity. The church was open for members of the public to call in and for booked school parties. On the last day of the ‘Journey to the Stable’ one member of the team arranged to walk with a real donkey along the main street in Dorchester giving out flyers for the event and engaging in conversations with Christmas shoppers. Comments recorded afterwards showed at least one visitor came specifically because of the donkey!

At the beginning of December we joined in the traditional Annual Christmas Cracker late night shopping carnival in Dorchester on 6th December. The United Church was open offering free coffee and mince pies with an opportunity to listen to Christmas music and join in singing carols led by the United Church Brass.

An annual event is the ‘Walk of Witness’ on Good Friday, when people from all churches in Dorchester process around the town to draw attention to the true meaning of Easter. This year it began at the United Church, having ended here in 2011.

More regularly, once a week during term time the ‘Story-Tots’ group welcomes of babies and pre-school children and their carers to share a time of play together.

A number of church members are involved in projects shared with the other churches in the town, taking part in the summer Holiday Club for children and as companions at the Quiet Space n Poundbury.

An Outreach Group was convened to consider and implement the church's response to the office and library building under construction opposite our Charles Street entrance and the major commercial and residential development nearby at Brewery Square. Later it was given a wider outreach brief and incorporated the work of the Drama and Music Vision Group.

Links were made with the District and County Council staff in anticipation of their move into the building on Charles Street, which will be taking place in phases in 2013. Plans are in place to offer a coffee stop service on two days a week when staff can bring their lunch away from their desks. This is an initial contact and may help lay foundations to develop chaplaincy.

The outreach group has produced a new colourful leaflet advertising the church’s facilities and activities. The leaflet will be delivered to the residential units at Brewery Square as people move in starting with the first phase of social housing in January 2013.

The group has also been looking at a programme of events to invite people to during 2013 such as music, drama, and possibly talks, and including the musical drama 'Burning Questions'.

All year round the church’s window onto South Street shows something of the life of the church to anyone who cares to look as they pass by. The displays are changed monthly and cover the main seasons of the church’s life, special events, and the church’s commitments to social action.

Pastoral work

The United Church maintains a system by which all church members and adherents are assigned to a pastoral visitor, who tries to keep in touch with them and appreciate their concerns. As well as each member or adherent being assigned a visitor, the visitors themselves are grouped under a number of coordinators, who look after the visitors’ pastoral welfare. Penny Fennell continued to offer at least one day a week to the church to help with pastoral work, on a voluntary basis.

Another component of our pastoral care is the ‘Prayer Chain’, where those in need are remembered in prayer by a number of church members, including those who are house-bound. The Tuesday prayer group also keeps a list of people for whom prayer has been requested.

The Coffee Lounge continues to offer a listening ear and a friendly welcome to all. It now has a regular clientele, many of whom are either physically or mentally frail. They are well known to the staff and use the facilities as a place to come and feel at home.

The Quiet room and the church are open daily for all to use for quiet prayer and reflection, and a talk, if that is what they need.

The provision of facilities with a Christian ethos for the local community

With its central location in the town, the United Church is ideally placed to offer itself as a reasonably priced venue for many events.

The Regional Blood Transfusion Service runs well attended donor sessions regularly on our premises. The Dorchester Learning Centre has its own room on the top floor. During the year Mediation Dorset have moved out of their office to another location.

A number of local charities receive advantageous rates for rooms for their functions and some are even offered free accommodation, like the monthly Contact Centre, where children can come to meet estranged parents, often under potentially confrontational circumstances where the parents cannot communicate civilly with each other.

The Gallery continues to provide a wide range of Christian books, gifts and cards and fairly traded goods. Its customers come from a wide radius around Dorchester.

Support of other charities in the UK and overseas.

The United Church has a continuing commitment to The Bible Society, to world mission through the World Mission fund of the Methodist Church and CWM in the United Reformed Church and poverty, disaster and development relief through Christian Aid. We also have regular events to support Action for Children (formerly the National Children’s Homes), Methodist Homes (for the Aged) and the local Homeless peoples’ drop-in, ‘The Hub’. We have also established a collection point for the local food bank, which operates from another church base in Dorchester.

Our World Church project this year has been the Halo Trust which works globally clearing land mines and other ordinance in areas which have experienced military activity.

Maintaining the fabric of the United Church and associated buildings

During 2012 property work has as ever been very varied. Some things have been more obvious than others.

On the energy utilisation front the gas boilers which separately heated the two buildings, No 51 and 49, were replaced with a single highly efficient boiler. Additional controls were also installed so that only those floors in the buildings which are in use are being heated. The electricity and gas supply contracts were market tested and the supply companies in both cases were changed.

Some of the lead flashing on the church roof was replaced and the associated damaged paintwork at the rear of the church gallery was repaired. The hall window catches and the Chubb door locks were serviced, the display window and No 51 lobby lighting were improved. The ongoing removal of leaves etc. from the flat roof around the hall continues to be undertaken by a number of the Property Committee members.

A specification for a new PA system in the worship area was developed with the assistance of many well informed members of the church. Also considered were improvements to hall acoustics and the entrance doorway (Coffee Lounge end).

Another major project was also initiated this year. Following the receipt of £20,250 compensation for the loss of light due to the Charles Street development, an Architect was commissioned to draw up plans for the adaptation of the No 51 entrance so that the Gallery (Shop) would extend right through to the Charles Street elevation giving a display window in addition to the doorway. By December, Planning Permission had been granted and URC + Building Control approval was anticipated in a matter of a few weeks. Four building companies have been invited to submit quotations for the works.

 

Ecumenical Relationships

The church is a member of Churches Together in Dorchester and seeks to work closely with other churches in the community – plans are made through the Executive and Forum meetings.

The United Church is an integral part of the local Methodist Circuit, the Bridport and Dorchester Circuit. Talks are now taking place with neighbouring circuits, in particular the Portland Circuit, about possible reconfiguring of relationships in future.

We continue to hold quarterly Mission Partnership services (a URC grouping) with Bridport, Hope and Radipole URC. We have also worked with all the Christian churches in the town to present the annual Good Friday Walk of Witness which ended at our church this year and will start from here in 2012.

Paul Arnold continues to act as Trustee of ‘The Quiet Space’ – the project sponsored by the churches in Dorchester to provide a place of reflection and prayer garden (based in Poundbury, but for the use by residents in the whole of Dorchester and wider community).  This is being used more frequently and the new Warden (Alan Murray) is developing a programme of Retreats and guided Quiet Days in addition to the daily opening from 10.00am – 4.00pm.’

 

Membership, Staffing and other issues

During the year we have welcomed two new members and said goodbye to thirty others who have moved away or died during the year. Membership at the end of 2012 stands at 210.

Revd Brenda Stephenson retired in October 2012. On her last weekend the UCD hosted an evening meal and entertainment for the members and friends of the churches she served, colleagues from other Dorchester churches, and other guests. Presentations of gifts were made. Other events also marked her retirement; they were great celebrations of Brenda’s gifts shared in her time here.

The United Church Dorchester is linked with the Bridport United Church, fifteen miles away, through being in the same Methodist Circuit (from Sept 2010), and by being combined into a joint pastorate with Bridport by the URC during 2012. In 2010 there were a total of three ordained ministers serving the two churches, and other smaller Methodist churches in the area, but by November 2012 there was just one.

Work to seek a new URC minister to serve in Bridport and Dorchester began in early 2012 according to URC practice. As yet an appointment has not been made.

Revd Paul Arnold had also indicated that he was not seeking a re-invitation when his current appointment ends in 2013 so during 2012 the Methodist appointments procedure has also been followed. The result is that he will leave in August 2013 to be replaced by Revd Stephanie Jenner.

Meanwhile, following the retirement of the Methodist minister in Bridport in August 2011 the Methodist Circuit had appointed a lay pastoral worker (part time) in Bridport, which has proved to be very effective. In anticipation of the retirement of Revd Brenda Stephenson the Circuit agreed a similar post in Dorchester be advertised in late autumn. An appointment is expected in early 2013. Both posts are valued in sharing the pastoral work in the area but other ministerial responsibilities now fall entirely on Revd Paul Arnold

 

Financial Review

The Finance committee has met regularly throughout the year to analyse the quarterly statements of the current budget, and recently has helped in the preparation of the 2013 budget for presentation to the Stewards and to the Church Meeting. There have been no surprises this year because of the thorough and detailed work done in the preparation of the budget and the monitoring of expenditure and income throughout the year.

The annual meeting in March gave unanimous support to Colin Gannaway continuing as Treasurer and we are very grateful to him for his diligence in keeping our accounts in order, and also to all the Finance team who support him.

 

Reserves policy

The Church Finance team has a Reserves Policy in place, this is to secure the future in case of unexpected or exceptional need, and is a requirement of the Charity Commission. Our reserves are held as unrestricted funds which are kept available once our commitments and planned expenditure are covered. The only portion of Church funds which are included as reserves are those which are freely available. Restricted funds and endowments are not included in the reserves; for example, the Florence Fare Trust is an endowment, and the Youth and Family fund is a restricted fund and therefore these are excluded from the list of reserves.

Of our funds and investments, there are three, which at the present time, fall into the category of reserve funds. These are the Emergency fund, the Memorial fund and the General fund. The total of these makes up our available reserves.

The Charity Commission suggests that we consider certain factors, namely forecasts of future planning and expenditure, and possible risks and contingencies, including the possibility of reduction in income of the Church. We have tried to strike a balance by taking their recommended figure which is equivalent to six months worth of our working capital to be held as reserves. Therefore it is necessary for us to hold an amount of at least 50% of the annual expenditure of the United Church as a sufficient reserve. The three funds held have been adequate to cover this requirement and meet the recommendations of the Charity Commission throughout this last year, and the exact figures will be published with the Annual statement of the Accounts at the Annual Church Meeting.

It is our policy to invest our funds balances with the CBF Church of England Deposit Fund.

 

Structure, governance and management

The method of appointment of elected officials and stewards is set out in the United Church’s Constitution. The membership of the Stewards Council consists of the Ministers and the Secretary, the Treasurer and the stewards; all except the ministers are elected by a combination of United Church members and retired Methodist ministers who choose to make the United Church their main place of worship. All those who attend our church are encouraged to become members, if they feel called to do so.

The Stewards’ Council met eight times during the year with an average level of attendance of over 85%. It has the task of giving leadership to the church as well as having an overview of its life. Given its wide responsibilities the Stewards’ Council has a number of committees, each dealing with a particular aspect of church life. These committees, which include Worship, Pastoral and Fellowship, Youth and Family, Community Service Home and Overseas Mission, Property, Finance and Administration, are all responsible to the Stewards’ Council and report back to it regularly through their linked Steward. This year the Outreach Group has also reported directly to the Council of Stewards.

 

Administration Information

Dorchester United Church has an entrance on both South Street and Charles Street in the centre of Dorchester. As a ‘Local Ecumenical Partnership’ between the former South Street Methodist Church and the former South Street United Reformed Church, Dorchester, the United Church retains its links to both parent bodies through the Wessex Synod of the United Reformed Church and the Southampton District of the Methodist Church and is an integral part of the Bridport and Dorchester Circuit of the Methodist Church. The church is now registered with the Charity Commission, number 1137996.

The Address for Correspondence is

United Church Dorchester, 49 – 51 Charles Street, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1EE.

The website address is www.unitedchurchdorchester.org.uk

 

Council of Stewards (Trustees)

Stewards’ Council members who served during the year are:-

 

Our Ministers                        Telephone                   

Rev Paul Arnold                      262421

Rev Brenda Stephenson  (retired October 2012)

 

Stewards who stood down at the AGM in March 2012

Mary Lucraft  (Snr S )                        260479    (Finance)

Nigel Hewish                           250686    (Youth & Family)

 

Stewards who served all year

Elizabeth Haynes  (Snr S)      260235    (Pastoral & Fellowship)

David Steel                             266200    (Worship)

Alison Pople                            267905    (Property)

Mary Martin                            260464    (CSHOM)

Margaret Knighton(JS)           261772    (Administration)

Chis Warren                            459454    (Youth & Family)

Colin Gannaway (T)               263273    (Finance )

Malcolm Lewis (JS)                889812    (Administration)

 

New Stewards elected at AGM in March 2012

Wendy Hilton                          267098….(Pastoral & Fellowship)

Janice Young                          321028     (Finance)

 

notes

All stewards have a post on at least one of the main church committees, shown in brackets.

CSHWM = Community Service, Home & World Mission

T = Treasurer         JS = Joint Secretary

Elizabeth Haynes became Snr Steward and chair of Council of Stewards following the AGM in March.

 

 

The following reports are from the main committee areas and many groups which contribute to the life of the church.

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Worship

Worship Committee

chaired by Revd Paul Arnold and Revd Brenda Stephenson.

The worship committee has met regularly throughout the year to keep an over-view of worship, steer developments and changes, and deal with issues arising in this area. Details are given in the general report.

 

Church Choir

Organiser :  Heather Reed     : contact number: 01305-267810

7.15 pm  to  8.15pm  on  Friday  in  the Church

The Church Choir is a traditional, four-part harmony choir.  Although it is not necessary to read music, it does help.  There are sufficient numbers of sopranos, altos, tenors and basses that help for new singers is always at hand.  Throughout the year we sing in many services and our repertoire ranges form the classical giants to more modern settings of composers such as Rutter and Chilcott.  Please come and join us.

This year, as well as helping to lead regular worship we have provided special music for Passion Sunday and Easter, when we sang alongside Bridport United Church choir performing ‘The People’s Passion’.We contributed to the concert held for Brenda’s retirement in October and also held an evening of carol singing, raising money for Christian Aid to get us into the Christmas spirit.

The arrival of ‘Singing the Faith’ hymn book has provided us with some excellent new hymns to use for weekly worship.

Thank you, as always, to Lloyd and Denys for their support this year.

 

Music Group (Instrumental)

Organiser :  Heather Reed     : contact number: 01305-267810

The music group is an ad hoc group. We play for many Sunday morning services and for Alive@five .  Individual ability ranges from those who have only been playing a little while to professional musicians but there is usually enough strength in the group that we can incorporate new instrumentalists and help them while they gain their confidence.  We have a wide range of ages and aim to encourage young instrumentalists. It has been great to have three more players join us this year and we now have a bank of nineteen musicians to call upon.

Members of the music group have played in churches around the circuit and some members of the group played in the panto band.

 

Singing group

Organiser :  Heather Reed     : contact number: 01305-267810

8.30pm  to  9.30pm  on  Friday  in  the Church

The singing group is for those who just enjoy the companionship of singing in a group.  No prior musical knowledge is required.  We usually sing in unison, although some of those who are able sometimes add other harmonies. We tend to be the first group in the church to look at newer hymns before they are included in normal Sunday Morning worship. If “Mission Praise” and beyond is more your kind of church music then come and join us.

Members of the singing group have occasionally helped lead worship at other local churches and at the hospital.  We have also introduced singing during communion at UCD and joined in with the Christian Aid ‘Big Carol Sing’.

 

Transport Service

Organiser :  Peter Green: contact number: 01305-269165

The car service provides lifts to church services. Many lifts are organised on an individual basis and the service exists to complement this informal support network. It is very much appreciated by those who use it. This is either short term, for example due to temporary incapacity, or on a longer term or a more permanent basis through possibly a rota system. The system operates through the goodwill and willingness of members to provide lifts on a regular basis. We always need volunteers to provide transport in order to avoid over-reliance on a few. If members are able to help either on a regular or occasional basis, please contact one of the stewards or Peter or Irene Green. We need volunteers to make this service work.

A big thank you to all those who help regularly or casually, and from the recipients of the service an even bigger thank you.

 

Tape Recorded Services

Coordinator :  Helen Hix: contact number: 01305-262774

The tape service has continued throughout 2012. Each week a tape cassette is made of the Sunday morning and evening services of worship. The cassettes are available, free, to people wishing to borrow them. This is much appreciated by those who receive them on a regular basis; and also by folk who find it useful to listen again to a particular morning or evening service.

 

Movement in worship

Organiser :  Dorothy Smith     : contact number: 01305-262219

10.30 am to 11.30 usually on the 2nd Saturday of the month in Cerne Abbas Room

This is a class open to all to enjoy Israeli dancing, flags, and expressive movement all based on scripture and often song. There is the opportunity to attend other dance workshops and seminars in the area. Longmead, near Milborne St Andrew, is a favourite venue with Sacred Dance Ministries International. In 2012, after meetings early in the year, there was a long break but monthly meetings are again planned for 2013.

 

Tuesday Prayer & Meditative Group

Coordinator :  Pat Bolton: contact number: 01305-268967

12.45 pm  to  1.15  on  Tuesday  in the Church

The group meets for quiet reflection and prayer for those in need, using the book of prayer requests kept in the vestry.  Members of the group value this time of quiet in a busy week and welcome others to join them.

Membership is currently eleven. We have prayed each week for people in our congregation and community, and for others known to us who were ill, bereaved or otherwise in need of support, and also for people around the world suffering as a result of natural disasters, conflict and violence. We have reflected on themes based on the Christian Year, Bible passages and the world situation, and have also remembered the work of the Hub, the Mission Aviation Fellowship, the Matthew Rusike Children’s Home and the Halo Trust.

 

By Still Waters (meditative prayer)

Organiser :  Brenda Stephenson  until October 2012, then members.

now 9.30 am  to 10am  on  1st & 3rd Wednesdays  in the Tolpuddle Room

We meet for half an hour of stillness together. Our thoughts are usually introduced with a reading, some music, some thoughts, or any combination of those. Pictures, objects, a candle, or any visual display can also help to focus our minds. We find being still together a help and encouragement. In the stillness we are helped to encounter God and hear the word he has for us at that time. We are always glad to welcome those who would like to come and see if this way of praying is a help to them.

 

Saturday Morning Open Church rota

Organiser :  Maureen Keats

10.30am  to  12.30  on  Saturdays in the summer

Many volunteers from the church have helped by opening the church on summer Saturday mornings. This has helped to provide a welcome to visitors to Dorchester as well as local people.

 

Prison chaplaincy

Rev Paul Arnold holds the post of Free Church Chaplain at HMP Dorchester and continues to offer approximately 4.0 hours per week, normally worked on a Tuesday morning, doing regular weekly duties as part of the Chaplaincy Team.  These duties include, undertaking the Home Office Statutory Duties; visiting those registered as belonging to the Free Churches; undertaking general administrative and pastoral tasks; talking with, and being pastorally supportive to, officers, governors and other members of establishment staff; holding a service for inmates on ‘D’ wing (vulnerable prisoners) when it is not possible for them to have a Sunday service; the planning and leading of worship for special services (e.g. Christmas, Prisoners Week, etc); and, by attending all Chaplaincy Staff Meetings

The Rev Paul Thompson (full time CofE) continues as the co-ordinating Chaplain both at HMP Dorchester and Portland. His experience and skill as pastor and gifted administrator ensure the smooth running of the Chaplaincy and this is greatly valued by all in the establishment.  The Governor (Mr G. O’Malley) is being moved to a new appointment and we await the arrival of a new Governor shortly. Continued budget restraints are putting great pressures on Governors and Staff to deliver targets.  Changes to working practices are leaving many staff doubtful and disillusioned as they attempt to maintain the daily regime with fewer resources.

 

Churches Together in Dorchester

Representatives ( from March 2012) :  Paul Arnold, Elizabeth Haynes ( as Senior Steward), Heather Bland

‘Churches Together in Dorchester’ is a federation of the main Christian denominations, drawn from the town of Dorchester and the surrounding village communities, who seek to work more closely together in order to share the Christian faith and build the kingdom of God.  ‘Churches Together’ has an Executive Committee that plans future events and long term policy, chaired by Revd Harold Stevens (St Mary’s) until the AGM in October, and Revd Catherine Dearlove(River of Life) from October 2012.

There are four ‘Forum Meetings’ per year (three meetings + AGM) which are open for anyone to attend and are opportunities to share news, discuss projects and pray for guidance together. In 2012 there was an increased support for these meetings with reports of shared projects including the Dorchester Poverty Action Group, the Food Bank, and the District Christian Aid Committee. The church leaders also met regularly.

In January the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was observed across the town in a variety of Churches Together locations and on Good Friday the annual ‘Walk of Witness’ took place. The Time for Peace event held in May was thought to have been a positive experience for all groups, including the Royal British Legion and the Royal Naval Veterans Association and there has been a request to repeat it next year. The Ecology Group was very active and well supported by the different churches and The Quiet Space which opened in 2011 is becoming established.

 

Pastoral and fellowship

 

Badminton – Monday morning

Organiser :  Susy Rogers: contact number: 01305-260478

9.45am  to  12.00  on  Monday (term time only)  in  the Hall

We have had another enjoyable year, though membership is down due to members retiring, returning to work or moving away. Average attendance during the year was seven. We continue to have fun, keep fit and support each other when times are difficult. Another fantastic Christmas Lunch was shared at the Potter’s Café, and we donated £250 to church funds.

 

Badminton – Friday evening

Organiser :  Jenny Ackling : contact number 01305 257155

8.00 pm -    on  Friday  in  the Hall

Badminton Club on Friday evenings continues to thrive with an average of ten players. Subscription stays a bargain at £1 per session which includes a nice mug of tea and a biscuit. We were able to make a donation of £100 to Julia's House and £100 to the Halo Trust this year. New members always welcome.

 

Book Circle

Organiser :  Sheila Mann: contact number: 01305-266796

10.15 am  to  11.45  on  the second Monday of the month  in  members’ homes

We are twelve members meeting once a month. Unlike most book groups only one person chooses and describes a book. This means we have a very varied selection and comments. This year saw a History of Jerusalem, Mary Seacole, Essays of Barbara Kingsolver, A London Childhood, Second World War Letters to America, Voices from the Desert by Leslie Griffiths, The Sixth Lamentation, A Woman’s Run Round the World, The Poisonwood Bible and Mrs Gaskell.

 

Brass Ensemble         

Organiser :  Kate Badley : contact number: 01305-853833

7.30 pm  to  9.00pm  on  Tuesday  in  the Church

The Brass Group includes players with no church connection, as well as players from various churches including United Church. We play at a number of church services and other functions each year. Special learners’ practices are held 7.00 – 7.30 pm led by Colin Gannaway, followed by the main section practices led by Brenda Stephenson. If you have played in the past and would like to try again or if you would like to know more about us and perhaps join in, then why not come along on a Tuesday.

We have had a few changes this year, welcoming Brenda Stephenson to lead the main group, Colin to lead the ‘junior/training’ group and Kate Badley to take on the organisational role, releasing John Cull to concentrate on maintaining the rather large music library!

We have also enjoyed new engagements, such as providing outdoor Christmas carol singing at Somerleigh Court  for residents and families in aid of Action For Children, along with well established ones, such as West Bay outdoor Songs of Praise in August.

 

Brenda’s Music Group

Organiser: John Gillard (Brenda Stephenson) contact number 01305 251099

Met on various dates, at least monthly in 25 Vespasian Way.

The group came into being as a result of Rev Brenda Stephenson’s interest in ‘Music as Therapy’ through study during a Sabbatical several years ago.  There are two main strands to the group’s activities.

Firstly, we improvise music during the group meetings and laugh a good deal. Through this we have been able to offer support for a few people in difficult situations. 

Secondly, during our meetings we devise very informal sessions of entertainment and therapy lasting no more than an hour to be held in local care homes. These sessions include some singing, dance and poetry as well as an element of musical performance. We visit from time to time, The Lytchetts in Broadmayne, Belle Rose in Dorchester and Wolfeton Manor in Charminster.

Brenda Stephenson is the key member of our group and is continuing her involvement following her recent retirement, for the time being,

 

Country Dancing

Leaders (January – August) : Jill Hewitt & Cyril Lucraft

Leader from September 2012 : Linda Gundry

10.30 am to 11.30   on  Tuesdays  in  the Hall

The sessions are good exercise, good fun and fellowship. We meet to dance to recorded music for an hour each Tuesday morning.

Since we restarted in September, we have a new Leader.  Linda Gundry has taken over this role and is keeping us up to the mark, with an extended repertoire of dances old and new.  Numbers have kept up very well, members being drawn almost equally from the church and the wider community, and new dancers are very welcome to join us on Tuesday mornings at 10.30 am.

 

Churches United Cricket Club

Organiser :  David Reeve: contact number: 01305-264458

Churches United Cricket club play in the Dorchester and District Evening Cricket League and comprises members of a number of local churches in Dorchester and Weymouth and some of their friends.  It is an opportunity to play league cricket but also have fun!!

2012  was our most successful season in a long while when we won Division 3.  Our under 14 players are getting better and better and we have a few new (and rather good) players to join the regulars. The weather was poor during the summer but we did manage to get all our games in. 

Top of the batting was newcomer Peter Diffey followed by Keiran Womble and David Trotter. Bowling honours went to Marc Boggust followed closely by Peter Rooke and Dave Trotter. Steve Gundry took the most catches.  2013 will bring fresh challenges as we go up to Division 2!

 

DUC Art group

Organiser :  Cyril Lucraft : contact number: 01305-260479

1.30 pm  to  3.00  on  Tuesday  in  Cerne Abbas Room

We are small in number but seem to have produced a large selection of paintings between us, some of which have been on display in the Coffee Lounge at the church.  In the past few months several of these pictures were sold and this has enabled us to contribute over £100 to Church funds and other charities. We are always ready to welcome newcomers.  No formal tuition is given, but help for beginners in watercolour, pastels or acrylics is readily available.

 

Friday Morning Bible Fellowship

Co-ordinator: Lloyd Thomas : contact number : 01305-852345

10.00 am to 11.15 on Friday in the Tolpuddle Room or other venues as arranged

Meetings tend to follow themes / series largely based around published study material. We are an interactive group with most members sharing in the leadership of individual sessions.

For the larger part of this year we have been studying Tom Wright’s book – “Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters”, followed later in the year by an over view of the growth of the early Church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles which will take us into the coming year.

 

German Language Group 

Representative :  Sheila Mann : contact number: 01305-266796

9.30 am  to  10.30  on  Thursday  in  members’ homes

We have a happy hour with our spoken Geman and its modest results. We concentrate on vocabulary with grammar far behind. We would survive in Germany quite well.

 

Ladies Afternoon Fellowship

Secretary :  Betty Underwood : contact number: 01305-269125

3.00 pm  to  4.30  on  1st & 3rd Fridays  in  The Coffee Lounge

The Ladies Afternoon Fellowship meets for fellowship and is  mainly a devotional meeting with a variety of speakers.  We are friends and exist to learn more of Christ, and aim to spread His word both in this country and overseas through Methodist Women in Britain.

Ladies Afternoon Fellowship has had its usual busy year with fourteen different speakers. The highlights have been the Easter Offerings service in May, the anniversary service and tea for fifty people in July, and our own Harvest Thanksgiving with bring and buy stall in October.

This year our chosen project was the Fistula Hospital for Women in Ethiopia for which £540 was raised through offerings at special services, ‘Betty’s bit-of-a-do’ and the saving of five pence pieces. We also gave £100 to the United Church. We have ten to twelve members attending the meetings, includings three new members and one who worships at an Anglican Church. 

 

Library Service

Co-ordinator :  VACANT          

The Church Library is available to everyone. The stock is varied and currently includes biographies, humour, readings, missions and commentaries on prayer, meditation and relationships, and a children’s section. The library is open in the hall for about half an hour most Sundays after the morning service.

Four volunteers keep the library open but it needs a co-ordinator to develop the service and take it forward.

 

Men’s group

Coordinator :  Chris Warren : contact number: 01305- 459454

This new group started in 2012 particularly for men. We have met on a number of occasions and good number have attended. The meetings have, up to now, met in a member’s home and each meeting has been an opportunity to raise any faith questions in complete confidentiality. However the December meeting was an occasion to share a reading etc. which had encouraged faith.

We start 2013 with meetings the first Monday of each month and all men are welcome especially our younger ones.

 

Monday Fellowship group

Coordinator :  Cyril & Mary Lucraft : contact number: 01305-260479

7.30 pm  to  9.30  on  Mondays twice a month in members homes; see news sheet for dates & venues.

This group has continued to meet during 2012 using a variety of material. We aim to  encourage and support one another in our Christian discipleship and witness. Discussions are wide-ranging and open.  Recently we have studied Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and have also considered “Books that have changed my life”. Our next study will look at “The Acts of the Apostles”.  New friends are always welcome to join us.

 

Solos Group

Coordinator :  David Steel      : contact number: 01305-266200

Solos is a group of single friends, or those wishing to share without partners, who try to meet once a month in a social environment.  No subscription is required to attend but individuals pay for their own costs.  The members decide the future venues on a two or three monthly basis and a poster of future meetings can be viewed on the notice board by the Charles street entrance to the church along with members’ telephone contacts.

In 2012 we have again been trying to get a meeting up for either an afternoon, or an evening gathering once a month over a cup of tea or coffee. We had a pancake evening on Shrove Tuesday, and once in mid summer a cream tea, which I’m afraid this year was indoors because of the weather. Both of these gatherings are very popular and well attended. We have been to a restaurant and also pubs for lunch, plus a trip to the theatre. We are always open to new suggestions for future outings.  All Solos friends are supportive and new members are very welcome. At this time it’s mostly ladies, but it is also open to any single men, and (NO) it is not a dating agency but a group in which new friendships can be made. We are a sociable group, so if you are on your own please try to get to the next gathering by getting in contact with us.

 

Summer Camp

Organiser :  Maureen Parker : contact number: 01305-262832

The church camp was again held at St Mabyn and trips to Padstow and Rock were highlights. A total of twenty-one people really enjoyed the week which must have been the best week’s weather in the whole of a very wet summer. As the saying goes ‘the sun shines on the righteous’!

 

Thursday Night Bible Fellowship

Coordinator :  David Bumphrey : contact number: 01305-260472

7.30 pm  to  9.00  on  Thursday (fortnightly)  in  Coffee Lounge

We exist as a group to examine passages and themes of Scripture.

During the year we have studied personalities of the Passion, Craftsmen of the Bible, and some of the miracles performed by Jesus. The subjects have provided much interest and discussion. Members of the group have had much experience of life in different places and share that experience in meetings.

We are not a large group with an average attendance over the year of about eight. We meet in the Coffee Lounge and would welcome new people to come and join us.

 

Thursday Night Out

Chair :  Paul Haynes : contact number: 01305-260235

7.30 pm  to  9.30  on  Thursday (fortnightly)  in  Cerne Abbas

The past year has seen us once again providing church members and friends with a variety talks and speakers and generally the numbers attended have stayed around fifteen to twenty.

We continue to ask those attending to contribute £1.50 per night. This enables us to provide tea and biscuits and enables us to fulfil one of our aims, that of supporting worthwhile organisations and charities, more than half a dozen this year,  as well as our own church.

Apart from visiting speakers we have been most grateful to those in our own congregation who have given of their time to entertain us. We really do have a great deal of talent and interest. programmes are displayed on church noticesboards and visitors as well as regulars are very welcome.

 

Pantomime (United Church Pantomime Players)

Producer Karen Whiter

Sinbad, as you have never seen him before, was the February half-term production put on this year by The United Church Pantomime Players. A great time was had by all – ‘oh yes it was!’

 

Pastoral Committee

The structure of the Church’s pastoral care network is described in the general report above. It has met regularly during the year, and the information shared is confidential.

 

Youth and family

Committee Chair : Joy Wallis

Representatives of all the groups working with young people in the life of the church neet at regular intervals for mutual support and to discuss projects. the committee is always open to suggestions and input from members of the church.

 

Junior Church

Coordinator :  Kath Thomas : contact number: 01305-852345

10.30 am  to  11.30  on  Sunday  starting in the Church

Junior Church is a vital part of the worshipping community catering for children and young people from birth upwards. By sharing in Sunday morning worship and through parallel activities they learn what it means to be a Christian.

During 2012 a varied programme of teaching and learning has been undertaken through Bible study, craft, drama, cooking etc.  Numbers on Sunday mornings have been unpredictable, but many good things have been achieved.

First Steps Worship on the third Sunday morning of each month has continued successfully with an average of six children with parents at most sessions.

The Teens group has continued to meet monthly on Friday evenings to socialise and talk about issues of faith. It was a great joy to share with two members of this group in their Baptism and Confirmation at the morning service on 23rd December 2012.

Following the suggestion of one of the young people monies raised from the Christmas lunch in 2011 were donated to the Tear Fund Twin Toilet Charity and there is now a plaque in the Cerne Abbas room toilet. Once again this year Staff and young people have prepared and served Easter Breakfast and Christmas Lunch.

Junior Church staff have also organised The Easter Journey to the Tomb and the Christmas Journey to the Stable.

In July we all enjoyed a family lunch hosted by Paul and Jean Arnold in their Garden when we were favoured with one of the few fine Summer days.

At the end of August a group of 5 young people went with Paul and Jean Arnold and other adults to Greenbelt Festival, a Christian festival held in Cheltenham.

Junior Church was delighted to be able to give financial support to Zoe Arnold for Gap Year work in India and to Matthew Dale who was selected to take part in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Jude Marks continued to oversee the Cradle Roll and it was a delight to share in the Baptism of Charlie Griffin in January.

In the Autumn months Junior church staff attended the Circuit Safeguarding Training Sessions.

 

Story Tots

Contact :  Janet Evans : contact number: 01305 261600

10.0 am  to  11.15  on  Thursday (term time)  in  Cerne Abbas room

Story Tots gives parents/carers and very young children the opportunity to play and socialise within a caring environment.

Numbers attending have been low this year with three to five children at each session, including two new families whom we hope will continue. Perhaps when the new library is open more parents/carers who pass the door will be encouraged to call in and join us.

This year we are lucky to have two new helpers. Thanks go to them and the rest of the team for their input.

 

Contact Centre

Leader :  Brenda Blackler       : contact number: 01305-265914

2.30 pm  to  4.30  on  1st & 3rd Saturdays

The Child Contact Centre meets twice a month to provide a safe, comfortable place where children of broken relationships can meet with their absent parent and sometimes other members of their family.

We usually have five or six families attending, making for an often noisy session with both laughter and tears. The toys are vital in allowing the families to share activities together, and can also serve as a distraction when children become distressed.

Recent changes in funding for families seeking court orders has had a knock on effect on the planning and provision of the contact service with additional work falling on the co-ordinator and committee.

The Centre continues to rely on the team of dedicated volunteers, who do a wonderful job welcoming both adults and children and supporting them in the short time they share together.

 

Community Service, Home and World Mission

Committee Chair :  Ruth Archer        

The committee has met twice this year, in January and July. There are eighteen members including the ministers, and Revd Paul Arnold has been present at each of the meetings. Mary Martin is the Steward representative.

Post Holders report on their area of work and members who are unable to attend will usually submit a report. An average of eight members have attended each meeting.

The Quiet Space at Poundbury (Churches Together in Dorchester) that opened in September 2011 continues to be staffed by ‘Companions’ some of whom are drawn from UCD.  A lottery grant enabled the garden to be landscaped this year and we look forward to seeing the results next spring and summer.

A major concern for the Committee this year has been the effect of the Charles Street development on the Gallery and Coffee Lounge, which has reduced the number of people visiting both of these important facilities. The work of the Outreach Group in making contact with the occupants in the new building is described in the General Report section ( page 2 +)

 

Action for Children

Support Group Representative : 

Mary Rousell : contact number: 01305-266461

The Support Group works to raise the profile of the charity Action for Children, as well as much needed funds.

The special events of 2012 got off to a good start with the usual quiz and a summer garden party things.

However things were not so good at the end of the year. The weather adversely affected carol singing and the earmarked collections in church over Christmas were also down. This led to December donations to AfC being only a third of the amount given in the previous year.

The number of ‘League of Light’ box holders for personal regular giving is steadily reducing with fewer new recruits than those dropping out.

Dates are already fixed for a quiz and garden party in 2013 and thought will be given to how we can raise the December collections again.

 

Age UK Dorchester

Representative :  Maureen Keats       : contact number: 01305-265987

Age UK works for those over 55 years old in Dorchester and district. It is an independent charity that works out of the Rowan cottage site on Prince of Wales Road. The United Church is happy to work with it and we have a representative on its committee.

This has been a busy year.  The new Memory Advice Service has been launched, which supports people with memory loss and their carers by providing information, advice, guidance and signposting, as well as assistance to navigate and access appropriate services.  A new service which is much in demand is the Home Support service, which includes domestic support, admin help and a sitting service giving respite to carers.  Reach Out works with people who have become isolated and provides a helping hand to try new activities, meet new people and be more active.

For further information ring 01305 269444 or look at the website.

 

Bible Society Action Group

Representative :  Cyril Lucraft : contact number: 01305-260479

This is a small ecumenical group with representatives drawn from various churches in the Dorchester area. It exists to promote the work of the Bible Society through various events and activities. Coffee Mornings are held three times a year at the United Church together with a summer Garden Party and an annual United Bible Sunday service. Many thanks to all who support the Bible Society through these events and in other ways.  

 

Christian Aid

Representatives :  Peter and Irene Green & Peter and Sheila Mann :

contact number: 01305-269165 & 266796

The United Church shares with other Churches in the area the organisation of awareness raising and fund raising for Christian Aid, supporting the world’s poorest people in around fifty countries and tackling the causes and consequences of poverty and injustice.

2012 has been another busy yearin which Tony Boyden has taken over as chair of the Dorchester and District Christian Aid Committee from Peter Mann.

In Lent the traditional weekly Lent lunches were provided at the United Church.

In May the Christian Aid Week collections took place. There was also a market, a book sale, and an Olympicnic in the Borough Gardens. Inspired by the Olympics and with the sailing events taking place only ten miles away, this event included a community picnic, activities and amusements, a live music show featuring stories from around the world, a Christian Aid representative from Sierra Leone, and concluded with a short ecumenical service led by the Bishop of Sherborne. 

In September the Christian Aid Tax Justice Bus visited Dorchester as part of its campaign to highlight the huge impact of tax avoidance on overseas spending.  Members of the committee met with Oliver Letwin MP who assured it of the government’s determination to cut down stringently on tax avoidance and to maintain foreign aid expenditure at its current levels.

Another Big Christmas Sing was held in December at the United Church. The traditional carol singing in South Street on Christmas Eve took place, with umbrellas, and was eventually cut short because of the rain but in the relatively short time over £192 was collected.

Overall in excess of £24, 560 was raised in the District in the year to August 2012.

 

Coffee Lounge

Managers :  Kath Thomas/ Marie Fisher/ Shirley Hood                    

contact number: 01305-852345

10.00 am  to  12.30  on  Tues, Thur, Fri ( and some Saturdays)  in  Coffee Lounge

The Coffee Lounge aims to offer a cup of coffee and cake and a listening ear to all who visit.  We work in teams to provide the service and all volunteers are welcome.

The Coffee Lounge has enjoyed another successful year. Our fears about lack of support due to the nearby building work did not materialise, although the pattern of customers did change and we missed the ‘holiday visitors’ who often came to us via the nearby car park.

The people who avail themselves of our service come for so many different reasons and their needs and expectations are varied. Company and somebody to talk with is probably the highest priority.

Our volunteers give generously of their time and skills both in staffing the sessions and in providing the popular home-made cakes. All this is greatly appreciated.

During the year a number of volunteers attended Food and Hygiene Courses with West Dorset District Council to update their skills or to acquire a certificate for the first time.

In July West Dorset District Council carried out its biennial Food and Hygiene inspection and the church was once again awarded a 5 star rating. This is now part of a nationwide scheme.

Conscious of the difficult economic climate we kept prices at the same level and still managed to pass over a consistent sum of money to the Church at the end of the year. Once again we were able to send a sizeable donation from our customer ‘tips’ box to Dorchester Poverty Action Group.

The exhibitions remain popular and have included Art work by the school children who meet at the top of our building, an exhibition of work by local artist and church member Jenny Trotman, and work by the Church Art Group.

 

Comets (Mission collection boxes)

Organiser :  Jenny Mair : contact number: 01305-851688

“COMETS”  stands for Combined Overseas Missionary EfforTS. It is a scheme whereby members of our Junior Church collect a monthly subscription from members of the congregation to support the work of Methodist Missions and the Council for World Missions.  The collecting year for the COMETS matches the school year, so runs from September to August and the young people receive their awards on World Church Sunday in October.

This year the members of the COMETS team received their awards on Sunday 21st October. In total the team had collected £690.12, with the shield for the greatest amount collected being awarded to Adèle Mair for collecting £224.50. An additional £175.22 came from Gift Aid.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, the number of young people from Junior Church who have been able to collect for COMETS has been steadily dropping. This past year it fell from five to four and in the year ahead it will go down to just three. For that reason, it has been decided that as the collecting year for COMETS runs in line with the school year, the remaining team will stop collecting in August 2013. So this was the penultimate year of COMETS awards.

This was a very difficult decision to take as COMETS has been running in the United Church for over thirty years, with the first shield being awarded in 1977. Over that time the congregation has always been extremely supportive and once again the organiser I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to COMETS this year for their generosity and continued support.

 

Dorchester Poverty Action Group

Representative :  Wendy and John Hilton : contact number: 01305-267098

Dorchester Poverty Action Group was set up by Churches Together in Dorchester in about 1989. It gathers information on poverty, both locally and nationally, and disseminates this to the churches. It also campaigns publicly when this is appropriate.

Over the past decade it has launched several projects to tackle specific problems related to poverty – local schemes for furniture recycling, credit union, a day-centre for the homeless – all now independent and successful.  At Christmas time, it provides £10 supermarket vouchers to all the local caring agencies and units whose clients may hit a financial crisis at this time.  It also runs a fund to make grants available to people in need in the DT1 & DT2 postcode areas. These grants help those in a financial crisis where a small amount of money (less than £150) may make a big difference. This is a valuable service to local people and is much appreciated by the caring agencies in Dorchester. The distribution of these grants is properly safeguarded as befits a registered charity.  It is “The Church” in action.  Members of the United Church help with the work of Poverty Action and the United Church makes regular donations from its charity fund to support DPAG’s work.

From Oct 2011 to Oct 2012 £6,900 has been spent on grants for 101 individuals or families in urgent need of help, compared with £5,683 in the previous year on 91 people/families.

There has been a rise in the number of people needing urgent help because they are left destitute whilst their Benefits are reviewed and DPAG plus the Food Bank, have been able to help to some extent. We were pleased, for Christmas 2011, to be able to double the number of supermarket vouchers that we supplied to all the agencies, from 250 to 500. The Co-op vouchers are each for £10 value – £10 does not now buy what it did even two years ago. The ‘Making Ends Meet’ Project aimed at helping people to manage their money, is now only run it when specifically requested by a local agency who can guarantee students for it.

 

Eco-Congregation

Representative :  Nigel Hewish : contact number: 01305-250686

Eco-Congregation is a national ecumenical programme helping churches make the link between environmental issues and Christian faith. It encourages us to respond in practical action in our church, in our lives, and in the local and global community.

Church members continue to keep environmental issues at the forefront of church activities from energy saving, to reducing waste, to recycling.

These issues have featured in many of our worship services and many members have attended meetings at other churches and other organizations.

The Eco-lunch for Churches Together was again held at the United Church.

The Creation Group continues to meet  on the first Saturday of alternate months when environmental issues are discussed from a Christian viewpoint including Food, Energy, Soil, Air, Farming and Birds of the Air.

 

Fairtrade/ Traidcraft

Buyer Susy Rogers

2012 has been a difficult year for Traidcraft. The Annual Review from the Gateshead-based company has highlighted a continuing downward trend in sales despite a significant growth in fair trade marked products in UK shops and supermarkets. Our own church shop is one of over 87,000 active Traidcraft supporters and sales this year in The Gallery have remained steady but are hardly spectacular.


During 2012 we have also been invited to run an occasional stall at Charminster Parish Church, at the Women’s World Day of Prayer service and for Dorchester Baptist Church at their summer Fun Day. We supplied one of the Weymouth churches with goodies for sale at the Olympic Sailing events and we also offered a small stall at coffee time after morning service at the United Church in the run-up to Christmas, which was greatly appreciated by church members who cannot get to the church during the week.

We hope that the building alterations to the shop and the opening of Phase One of the Charles St Development will bring in many more people, so that we can share our vision of a fairer deal for people living in poverty. While the trading operations arm of Traidcraft has made a loss this year, the company continues to campaign for fairer trading practices and to support businesses and projects across the developing world – increasing its expenditure on such projects by 12% in 2012.
 
Every sale of a fair trade item in the Gallery or in the church hall is a contribution to this amazing work.

 

The Gallery ( Shop )

Manager-Marion Cox; Treasurer – Colin Stevens

We began the year 2012 with doubts about our future, with falling sales expected and a shortage of volunteers putting a strain on everyone involved.  But in spite of  disappointing summer weather which traditionally affects shop sales, we managed to maintain a turnover that was better than we had expected.  The construction work opposite the church proved to be a challenge both in terms of noise and loss of footfall but we survived it all, thanks to our loyal customers and enthusiastic helpers, we are very grateful to all of you.

During the past year we have been fortunate in recruiting some new volunteers and especially Pat Smith as our book buyer. Pat’s expert and thoughtful choice of titles has brought our book sales to new heights and we are lucky indeed to have such a knowledgeable and dedicated new member to join our team.

Our turnover has been encouraging in most departments and we anticipate that 2013 may break new records for us so if you feel like being part of a growing and successful venture, why not become a volunteer? 

It will be goodbye to the Gallery and hello to the United Church Shop in the coming year. A number of names were originally considered for the retail outlet back in 2000 and now seems to be a good time to give it a title that truly describes who and what we are.  With an extension to be constructed for the shop into the back foyer area of the church, we have high hopes that having a direct access to the street will raise our profile and with it, our visitor numbers.  We continue to offer a comprehensive selection of books, Fairtrade foods and gifts, greetings cards and CDs and our stock is always changing to meet new demands so keep coming!

As always, our main aim is to encourage people to enter our church and see for themselves that we are a vibrant, inclusive place of worship supported by God’s love and with a message of goodwill to all. 

 

German Partners

Representative :  Lloyd Thomas : contact number: 01305-852345

The United Church has formal and well established links with the Lutheran Andreaskirche in Dorchester’s twin town of Lübbecke in N Germany, situated between Osnabruck and Minden. The church’s links extend back to the early 1980s, although contacts through individual members and other organisations go back some years before that. There are regular exchange visits between the congregations involving all age groups as we share worship and make music together and explore matters of common concern. The church is also pleased to welcome other visiting groups and individuals.

Although there have been no official exchanges this year, key members from both churches met in October to discuss plans for future years. The outcome of our discussions are that our German church partners will come to Dorchester as guests of the United Church at the end of August 2013 with a  return visit in 2014.

 

Wednesday Coffee Mornings

Organiser :  Sue Gannaway : contact number: 01305-262272

9.00 am  to  11.45  on  Wednesdays  in  the Hall

Coffee and tea with biscuits are sold and the stalls have a variety of goods, all donated and often by people outside the church – bric-a-brac, clothes, cards, books, DVDs.

We have also provided tables for local charities and organisations to disseminate information. These have included Greenwood Independent Living, Medical Foundation Against Torture, the Police, Gas Awareness, the Strollers, the Pathfinders, Care for Older Persons, and Safety Awareness.

We are well supported and have a happy relationship with our customers. Our volunteers are highly committed and work from 8am, not forgetting those who come even earlier to set out the tables and chairs.

£10,740 was raised in 2012, shared between the church and various charities. A list of the charities is displayed on the notice board in the hall adjacent to the serving hatch.

 

World Mission Committee

Secretary: Maria Jacobson

Contact phone: 01305 265252, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The committee consists of ten members who meet twice a year at the United Church. We discuss and decide on suitable projects to support, which could be local, national or international.

Our World Church Project in 2012 has been the Halo Trust: an organisation specialising in the removal of hazardous debris of war worldwide. We have held two coffee mornings and various collections in church, and the total amount raised is a fantastic £2.144.93 . The money has now been sent to the Halo Trust. We have decided on Mercy Ships as our World Church Project for 2013.

 

Finance

 

Committee Chair :  David Aldwinckle: contact number: 01305-262138

The Finance committee has five members. The purpose of our four meetings held each year is to review the budget and financial procedures in order that the Church finances remain on target and are managed well. The Finance Committee exists to give support to the Treasurer in the management of all the transactions and financial affairs of the United Church.

The committee wishes to express thanks to the many Church members who have responded to appeals and have increased their regular giving during the year. It does seem as if we frequently make requests for gifts of money, but the Treasurer and the committee often feel that we walk a tightrope between finding the money for essential work and the need to balance our budget. The generosity of members, especially when giving is gift aided is a great help. This year we have funded much needed work on a new boiler and heating controls.We are looking to fund improvements to the sound equipment next year and we also intend to set out a plan for the expenditure we might expect to incur over the next 30 years.

We offer our special thanks to Colin Gannaway for his dedication as Treasurer.

 

Property

Committee Chairman:  Paul Smith: contact number: 01305-459112

The committee meets approximately every 2 months.

The  management of property is the function of this committee, which is a 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, responsibility of which the meetings of the Property Committee are only a small part. The Committee acts on behalf of the Council of Stewards to ensure that the United Church premises are fit for purpose and are managed cost effectively. The whole of No 49 is Grade II listed and both No 49 & 51 are situated in the Dorchester Conservation Area, which brings added obligations.

Paul Smith took over as chairman from John Gillard at the 2012 AGM.. John continued to manage the installation of the new boiler and controls, as well as furnishing the new chair with invaluable advice and information. He also continues to do battle with the LBAC regarding the installation of lighting bars in the gallery area of the church.

Paul Smith says “John was a very difficult act to follow, given his dilegence and extensive ‘hands on’ activity. My own experience initially was discouraging with eveything I touched failing in one way or another. This was only resolved when I finally thought to ask a couple of members to pray for me! It is a privelege to lead such a willing team maintaining the UCD premises.”

The report of this year’s work can be found in the general reports earlier in this document.

 

Church administration

Secretaries : Margaret Knighton and Malcolm Lewis

A large number of people are involved in church administration  - minute takers, magazine and news sheet editors, rota writers, record keepers, photocopiers, poster makers, report writers and all points between. Malcolm continues to minute the Church Meetings and Council of Stewards and do associated tasks. Margaret is front line for correspondence with the URC Wessex Synod and meets regularly with the minister(s) and Snr Steward to identify and progress church business. This year the work has been done without an administration committee meeting.

 

THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this report, and especially to all those people who have been part of the activities described and made things happen throughout the year.

This year we have marked the retirement of Revd Brenda Stephenson, celebrated her time with us as minister, and said many ‘thank you’ s for the way she has shared her gifts with us.

Revd Paul Arnold is still here!

We say a special thank you for and to Paul for all that he does and shares with us.

Amidst all the changes, with increasing demands on his time, and whilst considering and anticipating his own move in 2013, he has continued to work tirelessly to keep us focussed on our life as a community of followers of Jesus Christ.

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