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Open Parish Meeting
22nd May 2007

The meeting was chaired by Mr. Kevin Jamieson, chairman of the Parish Finance Committee. The meeting opened with a prayer led by Father Royston.

Kevin indicated the items to be discussed and asked those present to speak up and keep their comments brief.

Financial Report:

Gerry Farrell (Hon Treasurer) reported that, in accordance with the recommendations of the Diocese, we are now using the CashCall system for parish accounts. A huge thank-you to Jill Serna for her perseverance. She has put in many hours of hard work to get the system up and running. The Diocesan Financial Secretary, Fergus Brotherton, has been particularly complimentary about the work carried out in the Finance Office of the Parish, so thanks are due to all those involved. The next stage of the system, approved by the Inland Revenue, will mean that the revenue generated by the gift aid scheme will be paid direct to us on a monthly basis, instead of a year in arrears.

The Annual Statement of Parish Accounts for 2006, had been attached to the newsletter the previous weekend. If anyone has any questions in relation to this, they are invited to contact a member of the Finance Committee through the Parish Office.

Buildings sub-committee: This is chaired by Peter Serna but there were no major works to report to the meeting. Kevin thanked Peter and his team for the work they do, much of which goes on behind the scenes.

Gift Aid Scheme: (Kevin Jamieson) This provides important income to our Parish. The Diocese (on behalf of all the parishes) reclaimed ₤1 million for the 2005/06, showing an increase on the previous year. However, this parish took a decrease in income from this source, dropping from ₤18,000 in 2005 to ₤16,000 in 2006. Many of our subscribers are loyal givers who joined the scheme when it started out as a covenant scheme many years ago. New parishioners seem reluctant to join the scheme. A large proportion of our weekly income is given as loose cash in the plate. Much of this could be gift-aided, simply by completing a form, or asking us to do it for you, and then using envelopes provided by us with your personal number on it. It is as simple as that. If you are a tax payer, you can give to the parish in this way. This source of income is vital to the parish, and we are losing money every week because so many people do not give through the scheme. Recently, spare envelopes have been placed in all the benches. Some have been returned to the office, without a name or number, so we are still unable to reclaim the tax.

Year 2000 Fund (Gerry Farrell): The investment portfolio currently stands at ₤211,000 (dropping by ₤10,000 recently, owing to the oil prices). This year Iraq, the Middle East and terrorism have all been contributory factors in reducing our interest on our investments. Political stability is not good at the moment, and energy prices are rising. Consequently the financial climate is volatile.

The total fund currently stands at 232,985.

Kevin thanked Gerry for his continuing hard work for the good the parish. Kevin explained that the Year 2000 Fund was launched back in Canon Francis Collins’ time, and had far exceeded its original remit to accumulate funds to provide for the repairs and maintenance of parish buildings. Over the subsequent years, the fund has paid out ₤73,000 in various works. Father Kieron thanked the Financial Committee for their hard work on behalf of the Parish.

St. Richard’s Development Update: Father Kieron reported that there had not been much visible progress. There are several elements involved in the scheme: internal re-ordering includes the reduction of the sanctuary area in the main church, which will provide a suitable space in which the font can be placed in a more visible area for the whole congregation. The reconciliation room in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel will be re-built to comply with Child Protection recommendations. There will be a new entrance into the chapel, in preparation for the major refurbishment of the main church, which will close off the existing entrance to the chapel. A new narthex (entrance porch) will be built onto the front of the main church, together with two basilica-style extensions on either side of the main transept. This final phase will provide us with a more welcoming entrance and a slightly bigger, more inclusive, building. At this meeting last year, it was agreed to take the scheme forward but the suggestion that we make a radical decision to sell the present site and move to the Graylingwell site was followed up. This took some considerable time to explore the possibilities. It was necessary to research the viability of such a scheme, which took several months, but meant the current plans were put on hold. The Diocesan surveyors helped with our research but the ‘ball park’ figure was found to be much too expensive. The re-building of the church, presbytery and school would have been in the region of ₤8million, before the purchase of any site. It was worth investigating but was not viable, so we revert to maximizing the site we are on. Following the delay, the Steering Group have now agreed to go forward with the proposed internal alterations. We are currently awaiting the plans for this from the architects. They have applied and received full planning permission for the whole scheme. This is valid for three years. All we need to do is raise the money. As we go forward with the internal alterations, the funding (from the sale of Nutbourne chapel plus some legacies and donations) is already in place. We meet again with the architects in three weeks’ time and hope to secure a finishing date for the internal re-ordering by the time we start to celebrate the church’s Golden Jubilee next year. This will also provide us with a suitable starting point for a major fund-raising initiative for the next phase of the alterations. The building is currently being considered by English Heritage for listing, because of the Loire glass, not the church itself. This is a long procedure but if we are successful, it will have far-reaching financial benefits for the building projects – it would make us VAT exempt, if listed. This all takes time but is being channeled through the Historic Churches Committee on our behalf. Even though we are not listed yet, we still need to keep them informed of our proposals. Our next steering group meeting will give us the opportunity to see detailed plans and get an idea of the approximate costings.

The Golden Jubilee of St. Richard’s Church

This occurs next year on 19th March, which falls in Holy Week. Our celebrations will be deferred to later in the year. After Easter 20 parishioners met to discuss all the possibilities of how and when we should have our celebrations next year. From that meeting the following three initiatives emerged:
A commemorative history of the church from 1958; an exhibition of memorabilia, artifacts, photos etc.; 2 liturgical celebrations, one in St. Richard’s Church in May, with past clergy invited plus the Bishop and Cardinal (if available) but no date has been set for this yet. The second celebration will be Mass in Chichester Cathedral on the Feast of St. Richard (16th June) which will be more Chichester-based with the Mayor and local CTiC leaders invited.

It is planned that we spread our activities over from May to July. Amongst the other ideas: a day’s walking pilgrimage, perhaps from one of the places St. Richard was known to have served or visited; a day out to Aylesford Priory; artwork produced by St. Richard’s School related to the life of St. Richard; a pageant about his life; a concert in the church linked to Chichester Festivities. It was suggested that we hold another Flower Festival but this was considered to be too soon after last year’s event. It would be possible to enhance the exhibition with special arrangements. As Chichester is twinned with Chartres, input from the Loire family (who produced the stained glass windows) was suggested. Majella Taylor was suggested as a useful link with the Loires, who may be prepared to give a detailed talk on the glass the stories it contains. Please contact Father Kieron or a member of the Jubilee team if you have any other bright ideas or would like to help in any way. Notices will be placed in the newsletter to encourage parishioners to get involved.

Parish Pastoral Team: Father Kieran explained this had been in existence for the past five years and the team of ten had met on a monthly basis to prioritise and set in motion certain projects. The ‘Hearts & Minds’ catechetical programme was initiated by one of the team. The members of the team felt ‘stuck in a rut’ by Autumn of last year, as so much has changed since its inception. For example, Nutbourne Chapel has been closed, and we have responsibility for St. Peter’s Church, Wittering. In the near future, Selsey will also join our Parish and there will be a need to form new structures. The current team have therefore been disbanded for the present. It has served its purpose and those involved will continue with their parish responsibilities: Susan Line: Liturgy; Mary & Martin Downy: Marriage and Family Life; Yvonne Bishop: small groups. We will need to embrace the wider parish community with a co-ordinating group with perhaps two from each mass centre, including Bosham, to look at the pastoral needs of a wider parish. The anomaly of the situation is, that St. Peter’s (and possibly in the future, St. Wilfrid’s) are independent parishes without a resident priest, so are autonomous. However, Bosham has never been a separate parish, but is becoming autonomous nevertheless. This is a positive move. When Selsey is on board, initially it will be another independent parish without a resident priest. The whole group should be a parish, each with its own autonomy, respecting each community’s individuality and strengths. It may be necessary to have a change in ‘governance’, encompassing consultation, prioritizing needs and changes. So while other structures come into play, there will be a ‘fallow’ period, with no pastoral team operating in Chichester.

Other business: Brian Taylor felt with the parish’s present evolution, we should always be as open as possible to the local public in general within the city and its surroundings. We should strive to make contact with the ‘man in the street’ and be outward-looking, and more importantly, relate to the rest of the city. In order to be ‘approachable’ we need to make an effort. Father Kieron pointed out that we should be the only ‘club’ which exists for the benefit of its non-members. He agreed that structures are necessary to help us to be outward-looking and evangelizing.

Peter Serna: how will the money be raised to fund the building project? Father Kieron explained that John Frost has been doing a lot of research on this and has much experience in this field. We are not in a position to launch an appeal just yet but 2008 will see progress in this area.

John said that we are committed to not going into debt and to this end, the parish will be consulted regarding how everyone can help. The milestone in the history of the building can be marked in its jubilee year by this generation of parishioners making their mark with the alterations. Father Kieron thanked John Frost for his continuing hard work and efforts to formulate a suitable fund-raising initiative.

Chris Dwyer: would there be suitable access for the disabled? Father Kieron: We are obliged by Building regulations to include these facilities. There are very strict regulations which we must adhere to in order to comply with our planning permission.

Maria Whitehouse. Could the Parish have a paid youth worker? There are lots of young people going through the sacramental programmes (20 confirmed recently) but there appears to be minimal involvement of young people in the parish. Is there an evaluation process following the Confirmation programme, and are they set aims to achieve as a result? Father Kieron: It is usually part of the course to invite the young people to make a commitment either through a ministry in the parish or in some other practical way. Two years ago a ‘follow up’ weekend was arranged but cancelled as only three candidates responded positively. The employment of a youth worker at some time in the future would be dependent on when funds were available. With the imminent fund-raising, this is not feasible at the moment.

Kathy Campbell: could we form an energy-saving committee and get young people involved in looking at ways to improve our environments within our parishes? This would provide our young people with a positive project in which to get involved

Marysia Dembinski: There is a gap between Year 6 and the Confirmation group, where nothing goes on. Father Kieron: There should be a seamless process here from the end of primary education through to confirmation so that candidates do not have to be ‘recruited.’ However this costs money and we currently have no resources to do it.

Sheila Lyons: could the servers at Mass be asked to wear black shoes and not trainers?

Parish Census update: this has been in the planning and it is hoped to take a new census before the end of the year.

Father Kieron: With reference to our young people, congratulations are in order for St. Richard’s School, who have just received an ‘outstanding’ rating from their recent Ofsted inspection. Our congratulations to the staff, governors, parents, friends and pupils on this fantastic achievement

Walsingham Pilgrimage: Maria Whitehouse encouraged those present to consider signing up for a 3 day pilgrimage to Walsingham with Father Kieron as our spiritual director. This is a special place which has been visited by Christians since 1062. Please take a booking form if you are interested.

Book of attendance: all present were asked to sign the book, so we would know who had attended the meeting. Light refreshments were served after the meeting, which finished at 9pm.