The United Church Dorchester

United in faith, united in action

United Church Dorchester Annual Report 2013

The United Church Dorchester Annual Report for 2013 can be downloaded (pdf) by clicking on the download button: -


Alternatively it can be read below (use the Quick Links to Jump to a particular report):


United Church Dorchester

  Annual Report for January to December 2013

 Quick Links:-


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

• 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 has been a year of significant changes both in staffing and the building, both of which we hope will help us to continue to develop in our work and witness.

In January a new Lay Pastoral Visitor was employed; in August our Methodist Minister moved away after ten years with us in Dorchester; in September we welcomed a new Methodist Minister; in November we welcomed a new URC Minister.

We also had a visit in August/September from our twinned Church in Lübbecke, Germany. The teapot was never cold!!!!

Meanwhile the frontage of our building on to Charles Street has been improved.

More details of all these changes and of the continuing work in 2013 are given below. This year we have not included separate reports from all the groups and committees but trust that their activities are reflected in this report.

Aim and purposes

The aims and purposes of the United Church Dorchester are set out in our Vision Statement above. The Council of Stewards (the Trustees) has the responsibility of administering and managing the Church in support of that vision. It supports and advises 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, sexuality or race, we each have something special to share with others. The Stewards’ Council is committed to enabling as many people as possible to worship at our Church and to become part of it. 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.

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 2013 have been led by either our ministers, incumbent or retired, or accredited lay 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. On planned occasional dates we hold ‘All-Age Worship’ services and ‘Church with Choices’. In the latter, activities such as music, drama and craft are offered to all attending as alternatives to a sermon as part of the morning service.

• the choir practices weekly to support congregational singing in worship and perform anthems and other items, and an informal singing group offers the opportunity for anyone to learn new worship material.

• There were no baptisms or dedications in 2013

• Sunday evenings tend to follow a more traditional format with a smaller, but faithful congregation of between twenty-five and thirty-five.

• Once a month (2nd Sunday in the month) we hold a communion service at 9.00am.

• Once a month, usually the last Sunday, we meet at 5.00 pm for an informal act of worship, called ‘Alive@Five’, which is offered in alternative worship styles 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. In the autumn 2013 we started to experiment with setting the meal within the worship.

• 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 at Christmas 2013 we hosted and shared in carol services for the Townswomen’s Guild and the Oddfellows, and the Mothers’ Union used our premises to host a Christmas Carol service for the Dorchester Disabled Club.

• We have celebrated one wedding of a Church member in 2013.

• As part of our pastoral support to the local community we provide comfort and support to the bereaved; the ministers were involved in sixteen 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, a nearby complex of retirement flats.

• 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 four groups met weekly during Lent to study ‘Glimpses of God’, a course prepared by York Courses. Two of the Lent groups were based in existing groups and one of the new groups decided to continue to meet after Lent and has done so regularly throughout the rest of the year.

The Ladies’ Afternoon Fellowship, part of Methodist Women in Britain, meets monthly to worship, explore faith and discuss challenging topics, often with visiting speakers.

A key objective of our Junior Church is to educate our young people in the basis of our faith. Our link with Broadmayne First School has been maintained with the change in Ministers who have throughout the year led assemblies there.

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.

At the beginning of December we joined in the traditional Annual Christmas Cracker late night shopping carnival in Dorchester on 5th 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.

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

A number of Church members are companions at the Quiet Space in Poundbury, a project shared with the other Churches in the town. It is open on weekdays for anyone to call in and sit for a while in the garden or the sitting room indoors, with a library and companions on hand.

The Outreach Group, first convened in 2012, has continued to promote activities aimed at engaging with people outside the Churches and with other organisations in the town. In 2013 a training course has prepared five people to be ready to take up opportunities for chaplaincy in the locality and the welcome leaflet referred to in our 2012 report has been delivered to residents moving into new social housing developments and to flats at Brewery Square. The group also organised a talk on ‘Second Half Living’ about sharing
faith for the over 50s.

Two special events using music and drama were held with invitations and publicity extended widely in the town. In September the Church was set out cafe style for a presentation of ‘Burning Questions’ by Church musicians and actors, with the opportunity to discuss, with others around the tables, the questions raised. In October a visiting group of musicians called ‘Face to Face’ presented a Saturday evening concert. Some of this group led morning worship the following day.

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.

The ministers and pastoral visitors, joined this year by an employed Lay Pastoral Visitor, have all been engaged both in regular pastoral visiting and in response to requests and needs as they arise, sometimes at home and sometimes in hospital.

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 housebound. 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, some 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. This year the Coffee Lounge has committed to being ‘dementia friendly’ and displays the official sign in the window. The opening early in 2013 of the Library and Council Office complex opposite has brought in a few additional customers. Lead members of the team who run the Coffee
Lounge have been affected by ill health in 2013 but reserves have stepped in and ensured that it remained open as usual.

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 is needed.

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 and the Dorchester Learning Centre has its own room on the top floor. 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. We are especially grateful to Peter Mann who deals with all the bookings and ensures rooms are ready for use for both regular and occasional users.

The Church Shop, officially re-named in 2013, continues to provide a wide range of Christian books, gifts and cards and fairly traded goods, including food from Traidcraft. Its customers come from a wide radius around Dorchester.

We are a FairTrade Church and eco-congregation and actively promote good practice on these issues within the Church and more widely in our locality.

Support of other charities in the UK and overseas.

The United Church has a continuing commitment to local, national and international charities through members working as volunteers and by donations of goods and money.

Locally the Church and individual members have supported: -

• The Dorchester Poverty Action Group, which this year has focussed on drawing to the public attention the reality of poverty in this apparently prosperous area through local radio and print press, as well as providing grants in emergencies
• the local food bank, the Church acting as a collection point in 2013
• Age UK Dorchester
• the local homeless people’s service, including harvest donations in 2013
• Dorset Nightstop

Fundraising was again done for Action for Children (formerly the National Children’s Homes) through regular events throughout the year raising a total of over three thousand pounds in 2013. A special collection was done for Methodist Homes (for the Aged).

Internationally the Church is committed to relieving poverty and disaster and to funding development through the work of Christian Aid, with regular awareness and fundraising throughout the year. In 2013 the campaigning focus was on tax justice, fundraising took place in Christian Aid Week and at Christmas particularly, and a day of reflection was shared in March.

We also supported The Bible Society, and world mission through the World Mission fund of the Methodist Church and CWM in the United Reformed Church. Our World Church project in 2013 has been Mercy Ships (reg Charity no.1053055). From a floating base off the west coast of Africa staff provides free surgery and medical care to local people and works with theircommunities to help them develop their own services.

The weekly market day stalls in the hall have again distributed their proceeds to a number of different charities, the Coffee Lounge has collected donations for Dorset Nightstop, and most of the Church social groups made donations towards Church expenses or a nominated charity.

Maintaining the fabric of the United Church and associated buildings

During 2013 property work has as ever been very varied, from major building and redecoration works to fixing door knobs.

In April the planned work of extending the shop took place. There is now a window onto Charles Street, which attracts attention and customers, and the entrance door is more clearly visible with attractive displays inside inviting people to come in and explore the stock further. The long debated re-naming of the shop is finally concrete, or rather in paint as part of the new shop front.

The Cerne Abbas Room, together with the linked Stratton Room, has been decorated and refurbished. There is new storage for toys and equipment, new flooring and curtains. The furnishings and colours give a warmer more comfortable feel to the room. It is used for children’s activities, but also meetings, art groups, singers, etc. We are grateful to those who did all the hard work planning and executing the work and accommodating the diverse demands of the users.

The PA system in the Church was improved in stages joining the year by the installation of a new amplifier, console and an ambient microphone for the Loop System.

In December long awaited lighting bars were fixed to the back wall of the Church gallerywith spotlights allowing the worship area to be bathed in various colours of light.

Plans for the installation of acoustic panels in the hall and Coffee Lounge were well advanced by the end of 2013 with permission being granted in December and the works expected to be completed in January.

The hall doorway improvements have yet to be completed.

However, we are not stopping there. We are already looking at plans to open up and improve the South Street foyer in 2014.

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. We have also worked with all the Christian Churches in the town to present the annual Good Friday Walk of Witness. Other activities such as The Bible Society, Christian Aid and the Women’s World Day of Prayer also have steering groups which span the Churches in the town.

Until his departure Revd Paul Arnold continued 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. He has been replaced by Revd Stephanie Jenner.

The United Church is an integral part of the local Methodist Circuit, the Bridport and Dorchester Circuit. Talks continue to take place with neighbouring circuits about possible reconfiguring of relationships in future.

Membership, Staffing and other issues

During the year we have welcomed sixteen new members and said goodbye to thirty-two others who have moved away or died during the year. Eight of the new members transferred from Fordington Methodist Church, about a mile away, following its closure. Membership at the end of 2013 stands at 194.

In January 2013 Angela Fisher took up her post (part time) as a Lay Pastoral Worker for the Church. She has been involved with maintaining contact with housebound members, visiting in hospital, supporting the bereaved and in developing new contacts in the community.

In August Revd Paul Arnold who had been in post as Methodist Minister and Circuit Superintendent for ten years moved to a new Circuit in North Dorset. His wife, Jean, was active in Youth and Family work, in displays for the South Street window, and a lead in developing ‘Journey to the Stable’ and ‘Journey to the Empty Tomb’. Their move was a significant loss to us all. Farewells included a gift of a large bed quilt made for them by thirty members of the Church.

Paul was replaced by Revd Stephanie Jenner who joined us with a bang on September 1st. She started her ministry in the middle of a visit from our twinned Church in Lübbecke, Germany, and with a high demand for urgent pastoral visiting. She ‘hit the ground running’ and is very quickly learning our ‘united’ ways.

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. The process of calling a new URC minister reached its climax in 2013 when Revd Peter Clark came to visit. In June he spent a very busy weekend in Dorset to ‘preach with a view’ and meet people from both Churches both formally and informally, resulting in him being called to serve here. He was inducted in November 2013 and has been warmly welcomed in both Churches.

Financial Review

The Finance committee, comprising five members, has met four times during the year to review the budget and financial procedures in order that the Church finances remain on target and are managed well, and to give support to the Treasurer in the management of all the transactions and financial affairs of the United Church. The annual meeting in March gave unanimous support to Colin Gannaway continuing as Treasurer and we are all very grateful to him for his diligence in keeping our accounts in order, and also to all the Finance team who support him.

In addition to regular commitments, in 2013 funds were allocated to the improvements to the entrance to number 51 (using the Loss of Light compensation from the new WDDC building opposite) and making improvements to the Sound System in the Church.

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 Council of Stewards (Trustees) consists of the Ministers and the Stewards, from whom the Secretary and the Treasurer are elected. All the Stewards 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 seven times during the year with an average level of attendance of over 82%. 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 World Mission, Property, Finance and Administration), are all responsible to the Stewards’ Council and report back to it regularly through their linked Steward. In addition the Outreach Group also reports directly to the Council of Stewards.

Administration Information

United Church Dorchester 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 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

Council of Stewards (Trustees)

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

Our Ministers - Telephone

Revd Paul Arnold (until August 2013)
Revd Stephanie Jenner (from September 2013)  - 01305 262421
Revd Peter Clark (from November 2013) - 01308 425978

Stewards who stood down at the AGM in March 2013
Elizabeth Haynes (Snr S) 01305 260235 (Pastoral & Fellowship)
David Steel 01305 266200 (Worship)
Alison Pople 01305 267905 (Property)
Stewards who served all year
Mary Martin (Snr S from March 2013) 01305 260464 (CSHWM)
Margaret Knighton (JS) 01305 261772 (Administration)
Chris Warren 01305 459454 (Worship)
Colin Gannaway (T) 01305 263273 (Finance )
Malcolm Lewis (JS) 01305 889812 (Administration)
Wendy Hilton 01305 267098 (Pastoral & Fellowship)
Janice Young 01305 321028 (Finance)
New Stewards elected at AGM in March 2013
Paul Smith 01305 459112 (Property)
Pauline Wootten 01305 251240 (Youth and Family)

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
Mary Martin became Senior Steward and chair of Council of Stewards following the AGM in March.


The members of the United Church Dorchester also know how to have fun, enjoy one another’s company for its own sake, and share our hobbies and interests. In 2013 groups gathered throughout the year for badminton, country dancing, ‘knit and natter’, singles social events (Solos), educational talks (Thursday Night Out), German language speaking, music (Brass Ensemble and Brenda’s Music Group), painting (Art Group), a Men’s Group and a book circle. Our fun would not be complete without the (almost) annual Pantomime
which in February 2013 was Robin Hood. These groups are not exclusively for Church members but welcome people who are not otherwise part of our Church to join in, valuing their participation and contributions.


Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this report but more importantly to all the work that has gone into making so much happen in 2013. It has been an exceptionally busy year – but aren’t they all! We especially thank Revds Stephanie Jenner and Peter Clark who have taken up their positions with us in 2013 with such enthusiasm. We look forward to sharing a different, but still busy, year in 2014.

Previous Years Reports

Previous Years reports can be viewed by clicking on the relevant link below: -

Annual Report for January to December 2012


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