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Wimbledon Road 

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SW17 0UQ 

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MISSION ACTION PLAN

What we have been able to do,
what we will continue to do, and
what we plan to do
with the available resources
to the best of our ability
God being our helper
April 2015


OUR VISION OUR MISSION

To enable every member of our diverse congregation to
flourish in their Christian lives,
to reach out to our parish,
and to grow in numbers

CONTENTS
Our Mission Action Plan
Appendix 1 Introduction and Notes to accompany MAP Questionnaire
 
Appendix 2 Summary of MAP Questionnaire Returns

1
METHOD

In 2014 three PCC members attended a MAP launch event presented by the Southwark Diocesan Canon Missioner.

A close reading was made of the resource book: Mike Chew & Mark Ireland, How to Do Mission Action Planning: A Vision-Centred Approach (London: SPCK, 2009).

Members of the congregation were invited to complete and return a questionnaire (see appendix) with questions suggested in the resource book (November/December 2014).

The agenda for our MAP emerged under four headings from the returned questionnaires, from two PCC meetings (November 2014 and February 2015), and a planning group:

  1. What are our strengths?

  2. What are our weaknesses? 

  3. What are our opportunities?

  4. What would we like St Mary’s Summerstown to be like in five years’ time and what do we need to do to achieve this?

A draft copy was discussed by the PCC (March 2015) and published with amendments in April 2015.

The PCC will keep this plan under review as a regular agenda item at future meetings as recommended in the resource book and by the Canon Missioner.


2
THE APPEARANCE OF OUR CHURCH AND HALL

It continues to be the aim of the PCC to keep the church, church hall and grounds tidy, clean and presentable for the congregation and visitors.

We remind ourselves that in 1988 the church, hall and grounds were in a dangerous state of neglect and disrepair. See Our Recent History page at the church website.

As well as carefully looking after our church during the year, our method is to have two cleaning mornings when volunteers sweep floors and polish pews before Palm Sunday in preparation for Easter and on the last Saturday in September in preparation for our Harvest Festival. Gifts of tins and packets of food are brought to church for the big harvest display and collected by Wandsworth Salvation Army Food Bank. Dedicated volunteers pride themselves that they are able to leave St Mary’s clean and ready for the Sunday morning service that follows.

The PCC has a happy working arrangement with Liz Maitland, the head teacher of the Montessori Nursery School who hire the church hall during school terms. Liz kindly arranges and pays for the grass in the church grounds to be cut by professional gardeners each month. We are thankful that the tidy appearance of the church grounds is remarked upon by parishioners and visitors.

We have recently appointed a PCC Environment Officer having adopted Taking Care of God’s Creation, the environment policy of the Diocese of Southwark. We continue to make our buildings energy efficient, to recycle waste, and to keep the church grounds free of debris and litter. The matters of heat loss from the church and a replacement church hall boiler are under consideration. We would like to become an ‘animal friendly church’ as proposed by the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals. We continue to hold an annual celebration of St Francis of Assisi on the first Sunday of October.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to monitor the appearance of our church, church hall and grounds, and continue with our good church practice as outlined above.

 

3
PUBLICITY AND OUTREACH

St Mary’s two churchyard notice boards are colourful and informative. The first, facing the corner of Wimbledon Road and Keble Street, is a large shared notice board publicising the Summerstown 182 First World War project (see below) and service times with contact details. A second smaller noticeboard facing Wimbledon Road has a bright poster publicising the time of services and a colourful text poster supplied by Christian Publicity Organization (CPO, Worthing). Both posters are changed from time to time. A brightly painted yellow ‘A’ board bearing the words Church Open is placed outside on the pavement when services are held.

The church website is kept up to date and is a source of information: www.summerstown.org.uk

We have made occasional magazine and leaflet letter box drops. When we have new events to publicise we will make them known. However, we acknowledge that publication and distribution of printed material can be a heavy work load; it takes a considerable amount of work to produce and deliver creative parish publicity. Our Duplo printing machine is regularly serviced and in good order. The PCC has recently acquired an Ideal 8305 folding machine.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to keep the matter of publicity under review.

 

4
HEALTH AND SAFETY

There are three current health and safety problems with the church building which are not neglected by the PCC.

Firstly, the boundary wall to the front of the church yard is leaning in and we have taken our architect’s advice to have the wall securely propped with temporary timber beams. The PCC is unsure how to finance this repair.

A second problem is the church roof as identified by our architect’s Quinquennial Survey Report (August 2013). Keith Garner has made an application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund (January 2015).

A third problem concerns winter heat loss through church main doors which will be brought to Keith’s attention for his advice.

Regular health and safety maintenance is strictly adhered to as required by the archdeacon’s annual inspection.

The PCC have made an informal access appraisal of our buildings in order to monitor a better environment for people with disabilities. It is fortunate that there are no steps at church or hall access points and that the church offers space for wheelchairs. The condition of the temporary wooden church hall is under review. We are considering how to install a disabled toilet.

The PCC is able to present many examples of how a small underfunded but dedicated congregation of volunteers have been able to keep the church and hall safe and secure for all users.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to carefully monitor building conservation for the purpose of health and safety as outlined above.


5
SUNDAY SERVICES

Every Sunday at St Mary’s is Back to Church Sunday! We will continue to make our Sunday services informative, accessible, helpful, and hopeful. St Mary’s Sunday services are sometimes described as unique because we do not follow the pattern of what is fashionable elsewhere. St Mary’s Summerstown is neither a clone nor a copy of others.

Sunday services are followed by free tea and coffee served in quaint china cups and sometimes with a choice of homemade cakes or biscuits or both to which the congregation and visitors are invited.

We are delighted that the Reverend Jonathan Fletcher recently accepted our invitation to join the staff as Hon. Assistant Minister.

For 2015 we are to adopt an occasional mission theme entitled Bring Another! which simply encourages members of the congregation to invite others to church on Sunday mornings.

We are to hold a monthly shared evening service with Summerstown Mission Evangelical Church beginning on Sunday, 3 May.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to hold Sunday services that are informative, accessible, helpful, and hopeful as outlined above.

 

6
SAFEGUARDING

We are thankful to acknowledge that children and young people at St Mary’s are the church of today. We are immensely proud of our young people. Sadly numbers of those regularly attending Sunday school have declined in recent months. The ‘cast’ of young people for biblical storytelling at the Morning Service is also less than in the past. We are reluctant to invite children to church who are junior school age unless unaccompanied by a responsible adult.

The PCC have adopted the Diocese of Southwark Safeguarding People: Children and Vulnerable Adults and appointed a Safeguarding Officer who has attended courses at Trinity House. Safeguarding is a regular agenda item for the PCC.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to provide a safe environment, where children and young people are nurtured in the Christian faith and protected, where all people, especially those who may be vulnerable for any reason, are able to worship and pursue their faith journey with encouragement and in safety.

 

7
SOCIAL

St Mary’s social events include an annual barbeque in the church garden in July, occasional outings by members of the congregation and their guests quaintly named Summerstown Strollers, occasional church hall socials and quizzes with food provided on a ‘bring and share’ basis.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to be sociable and welcoming and look for other opportunities.

 

8
STUDY GROUPS

Since Jonathan has been a member of the congregation, and more recently Hon. Assistant Minister, he has led Christianity Explored and Discipleship Explored courses in a local home, each course being attended by about ten people. Jonathan is also currently contributing a preaching series on ‘The Cross’.

Question Time is an occasional Bible Study/discussion group and described as ‘always good and one of the high spots at St Mary’s, not to be missed’.

St Mary’s prayer group meets once a fortnight.

A Women’s Bible Study is to meet weekly in June.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to meet together in order to grow as Christians and to understand the application of the Christian Faith in the modern world. It continues to be our primary aim to pray about local, national, and international matters of concern. The PCC will review group meetings as outlined above.

 

9
GIVING

Giving is under review by the PCC during 2015. The PCC have just elected a new treasurer who has attended a treasurer’s course at Trinity House and is soon to introduce the new procedures for Gift Aid. Like other churches in the Diocese of Southwark, the PCC is about to review finance and giving for the new Parish Support Fund.

The congregation is delighted to support Faith Gordon, CMS mission partner at Hope House in Recife, Brazil. We were pleased to attend her commissioning service in London in January 2015.

OUR MISSION: we will to continue to give as we are able in response to God’s generosity in order to support the mission and ministry at St Mary’s.

 

10
GIFTS AND ABILITIES

Every member of the congregation is valued and appreciated for their unique contribution. Every member of the congregation is invited to participate in the work and mission of the church. Participation over the years has been considerable and includes: volunteer rotas for readers, flower arrangers, bell tollers, lesson reading, leading intercessions, welcoming, tea and coffee provision after the Sunday service, cleaning, occasional work parties, PCC members, and much more.

OUR MISSION: we will continue to value one another. We will continue to look for, invite, and welcome the participation of faithful members of our congregation.


11
OUTREACH AND LINKS WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

The children, staff and parents of Smallwood Junior School attend St Mary’s for their carol service in December each year. We have been unable to cultivate sustainable links with Burntwood School but have recently met with a school music teacher in order to invite an orchestra to put on a concert in the summer. Hopefully this will lead to closer links. Tooting Sea Cadets march to St Mary’s and parade for the annual Remembrance Sunday service in November which is always well attended.

The site of Wimbledon Stadium (dog track) is currently the subject of a major planning application submitted to Merton Council for 600 medium to high rise flats and a 20,000 seat stadium for Wimbledon AFC. If planning is approved, the proposal will be an exciting mission opportunity for St Mary’s when completed in 2018/19. Are we able to start a ‘dads and lads’ football club to join in with Wimbledon AFC’s work in the community? Might a younger vicar of St Mary’s be appointed chaplain to the club in the future? Are we ready to welcome 1200 new residents to the parish?

It is to be acknowledged that local residents and Earlsfield councillors at Wandsworth  Borough Council have raised concerns about the extent and local impact of the proposal. Merton Council Planning Department have delayed their decision until June 2015 and some aspects of the application may be revised.

Could we start community bridge projects such as ‘mums and tots’ and ‘men’s breakfast’ that will enable us to invite the unchurched to step through the doors on Sunday and hear the gospel preached? However, we are short of leaders and suitable space. Who, therefore, will be responsible for organizing and leading these and other group ideas? St Mary’s needs project leaders who are interested and committed.

The PCC is to conduct a parish audit as part of this plan.

OUR MISSION: we will research the parish to remind ourselves how we may engage with our parish. The PCC will monitor progress at Wimbledon Stadium.


12
A UNIQUE ‘FRESH EXPRESSION OF CHURCH’: SUMMERSTOWN 182

A fresh expression of church is a new gathering or network that engages mainly with people who have never been to church. There is no single model, but the emphasis is on starting something which is appropriate to its context, rather than cloning something that works elsewhere. www.freshexpressions.org.uk (accessed 21 February 2015).

 

A ‘Fresh Expression’ can be defined as a new form of church for the changing culture that are established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.

The Bridge (February 2015).

Summerstown 182 is a unique international history project and a Fresh Expression of Church that brings about 30 new visitors to St Mary’s every month for an introduction to the names of the 182 servicemen listed at the church war memorial followed by a local history walk in Summerstown pausing outside houses where those named lived at the time of enlistment as servicemen (1914/18) in order to consider their stories. The project is headed by Geoff Simmons a local historian and member of the congregation.

Details of the project may be accessed at www.summerstown182.wordpress.com

In February Geoff was presented with a Community Hero Award at the Speaker’s House in the House of Commons by the Hon. Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting.

Geoff’s recent informal report to the PCC is as follows:
An incredible emotion-charged walk yesterday. 32 people, inc family members of 3 of the 182. It was the anniversary of the death of one of them, Samuel Ambrose Tickner of 7 Franche Court Road so we placed a poppy tribute outside his house and had a minute's silence.

We made a number of new contacts among people on the walk and by engaging 'on the street' and in The Corner Pin.
Lovely service today, good to meet Jonathan and a few other new faces. Glad to hear about the continuing partnership with Summerstown mission and I like the sound of the evening service. There is an energy in the air, exciting times! 
Geoff (email, 1 March 2015)

OUR MISSION: we will continue to support Summerstown182 and look for other Fresh Expressions opportunities.

 

CONCLUSION

We have learnt to be realistic about our limitations. We are cautious not to start what we are unable to sustain. What we do, we aim to do well.

2015 © Roger Ryan and The Parochial Church Council of
St Mary’s Summerstown, London SW17
 


NOTE

It is unfortunate that the resource book (p. 1, cf. n. 1, and p. 145) criticises church use of the statement ‘business as usual’ attributed to Winston Churchill (Guildhall, London, 9 November 1914). Does ‘business as usual’ imply no change, missed opportunities and underperformance?

The phrase ‘business as usual’ must be understood in its context. It was adopted as a positive statement of defiance and hope by those who lived in Summerstown during the blitz in the 1940s and particularly following the fall on the parish of a V2 rocket at 8am on the morning of Sunday, 19 November 1944 with the loss of at least 34 parishioners and the destruction of 55 homes. It is in this context that Mr Churchill’s statement is to be understood; he is to be quoted with more care.

We argue that ‘business as usual’ at St Mary’s is an example of good church practice. However, we are not complacent as the resource book implies. We continue to welcome new people, we look for opportunities, and we are willing to pay the price of growth. There is no complacency at St Mary’s Summerstown.


APPENDIX 1
Introduction and Notes to accompany
Mission Action Planning (MAP) Questionnaire

  1. MAP is now adopted throughout the Church of England. Every church/PCC in Southwark is asked by our bishops to produce their own plan. I attended a preparation meeting earlier in the year.

     

  2. Church of England is waking up to a crisis of lack of money and of elderly congregations that suggest the church will not be here in a generation or two.

  3. Need to advise that I have had these principles very much in mind since I have been ordained. MAP may be the ‘latest thing’ but it is not new.

  4. MAP: is a living document that discusses our church priorities, the new things we might do, and strategic planning.

     

  5. Aims: for our church to thrive and flourish. We ask ourselves, what do we need to do?

  6. MAP encourages us to consider our opportunities, options, priorities, and our resources.

  7. Listen/research: to the congregation, to our occasional visitors, and to the public.

  8. Our MAP has 4 phases:

  • Review our situation (where we are at and how it is),

  • Choose future priorities (need to be realistic about resources required, skills, and finance). Be aware that the Diocese of Southwark has said much in the past about supporting small congregations but has done little (see How to do Mission Action Planning, p. 4 ‘strong parishes to help weaker ones’). But need also to be aware of the implications of David Hope’s key phrase, ‘prune for growth’ (p. 4).

  • Make plans (need to be attainable, not impossible),

  • Act on those plans (keep the plans/goals/ambitions under review).

MAP says that we need to have fundamental questions in mind:

  • Why does St Mary’s exist?

  • What purpose does St Mary’s serve?

  • How does St Mary’s relate to the parish/community?

  • What do we believe in?

MAP suggests that we agree and compose a vision statement that can become an inspiration, such as: St Mary’s will become a church community where all members are growing in faith and using their special gifts to spread Jesus’ saving love.

My response: I have heard it all before. Sadly the church seems to wake up about money and attendance every 10 years or so. Do you recall Faith in the City and Parish Audits? Do you recall a Southwark project called Working Together that promised help for small churches like ours but none appeared? Is this another fad with trendy buzz words? No doubt we shall see. In the meantime, lets be positive!

Our response: We do this because it presents us with an opportunity. This will do us good. St Mary’s is part of the Diocese of Southwark, and the project is commended to us by our bishop. Having attended a preparation meeting and read the book I suggest the PCC does the following:

  • Discuss the project among ourselves now in this meeting in response to this introduction, and to the questionnaire.

  • Take the questionnaire home to complete and return to me within 4 weeks (or respond by email).

  • Present the same MAP questionnaire to the congregation in a Sunday morning service in January.

  • Discuss all responses at a PCC meeting in February and review a draft in March.

  • Present our MAP to St Mary’s APCM for formal adoption in April 2015.

  • Submit a copy of our MAP to the bishop/archdeacon when requested.

  • Keep under review and revisit our MAP at future PCC meetings.

Roger Ryan
November 2014


APPENDIX 2
MISSION ACTION PLAN (MAP)
SUMMARY OF QUESTIONNAIRE RETURNS

what do we want our church to be like
in the next five years and
what do we need to do to enable this to happen?

  1. WHAT ARE OUR STRENGTHS AS A CONGREGATION?
    We work as a team. Caring. We are welcoming, friendly, and small enough so that visitors are not neglected. Generous international food provision at social events. We all get on well together. We are supported by our vicar and supportive of our vicar. We support one another. Willing volunteers. Clear biblical teaching. An excellent vicar. Church buildings are in a very good condition. Multicultural congregation that reflects Summerstown.
    A person new to the congregation writes: A dedicated and loyal congregation working in partnership with a well-established vicar. Strong sense of stability, togetherness and mutual support.

  2. WHAT DO WE DO WELL? WHAT ARE WE GOOD AT?
    Many responses are similar to Q1 above.
    We look out for visitors. Quality thought provoking accessible Bible focused teaching that is neither shallow nor lightweight. Not afraid to tackle difficult issues in church and at Question Time. Creative: we do not copy the ‘latest thing’. Involve young people in services (young people are the church of today, not the church of tomorrow!) Remembrance Sunday done properly, good relations with the community: MP, 182, website, school, Sea Cadets. Tea/coffee after the service is an important part of what we do. We like biblical storytelling, Question Time, being a welcoming multi-ethnic congregation, outings, harvest and annual harvest donation to Wandsworth food-bank.

  3. WHAT WOULD WE LIKE TO DO BETTER?
    A manager for the church hall who could take bookings for revenue. Events to attract more people. More church outreach events. A larger Sunday School, more teachers. Young leaders who are role models for teenagers, a youth group. New hymn book and service book with a combination of traditional and modern hymns. We have a ‘good product’ which needs to be publicised. Could do with more families but we are not doing anything wrong. Prayer and bible study groups. Mission and outreach which is manageable and doable. Grow in numbers. Improve the presence of the church in the community; make St Mary’s more visible. Are the website, noticeboard and occasional leafleting enough? More young people and families. Church heating in winter!

  4. WHAT PROBLEMS DO WE FACE?
    Lack of finance. Costly repairs to the building. Few in number, getting older, an aging congregation. Financial demands of the diocese and insurance. Church building tucked away on a side road and not very visible, not located in a south London ‘nappy valley’. Parishioners who do not take time to attend church and are mistrustful of organized religion. Secular competition in London for people’s time on Sundays. Facing an uncertain long-term future (Strategy for Ministry Report, reduction in clergy numbers?) Need another member of staff.

  5. WHAT ARE OUR WEAKNESSES? WHAT HOLDS US BACK? WHERE DO WE FAIL?
    Responses are similar to Q3&4. Weak in numbers even though we have tried many different outreach ideas. Low profile in the wider community. We desperately need to encourage a choir/singing group. ‘Need everyone to exercise their ministry gifts’. No evening service. Cannot afford to ‘buy in’ youth leaders.
    ‘Unable to say where we fail, but we do try’.

  6. WHAT SPECIFIC GOALS/AMBITIONS MIGHT WE SET OURSELVES FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS?
    Increase numbers. Courses to help us grow spiritually stronger. Non-stop evangelism. Co-operation with London City Mission and Summerstown Mission. More ‘bring and share’ socials. To double in size. Church magazine and news sheet distributed locally with information about St Mary’s. We acknowledge that a magazine/news sheet takes a great deal of work. Youth group. ‘Continue as we are but incorporate new suggestions’. Develop a warmer spirituality with more prayer. Youth programme for the 12+. Heating and draft proofing. Disabled toilet.

  7. WHAT RESOURCES DO WE NEED IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THESE GOALS/AMBITIONS?
    People/volunteers with gifts and ability to organize events. Time needed to host events. Support for the church leadership. Finance. Better church heating. A board with photographs and names of church officers and regular congregation. Support from the diocese. Develop music and a choir/singing group. Larger congregation. Energy and hard work. Publicity.

  8. WHAT ARE OUR OPPORTUNITIES?
    To build the spirituality of our children. ‘Mission field’ on our doorstep. Work more closely with Summerstown Mission. Engage with local businesses which could lead to better finances. Work with local community: schools, young peoples’ group. Use ‘new media’. Invite new people, have a ‘bring a friend day’. Distribute regular flyers to the community, target specific areas. ‘We have a great building and a wonderful space which should be used more diversely’. A large clean church. A very good congregation.
    ‘Build on Summerstown182 and the walks which have raised the profile of the church. Put on history and heritage evenings’.
    ‘The proposed Wimbledon AFC development: 1500 residents and regular sporting events present great potential. In an age of instability and transience, St Mary’s church is a rock to which people will look. We need to attract their attention’.

  9. IN ONE OR TWO SENTENCES ONLY AND IN A FEW WORDS, WHAT IS OUR VISION?
    To win Summerstown for Christ.
    To make the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ known to the entire parish.
    For every member of our diverse congregation to flourish in their Christian faith.
    To build a congregation that is thriving and growing.
    To be a community of God’s people in Summerstown who are demonstrating an alternative Christian lifestyle and spirituality in an increasingly secular world.
    Reach out to others.
    To increase our congregation.
    To see more people involved in the life of St Mary’s, use their gifts, grow in their Christian lives, invite friends to church, and to see a steady growth in numbers, leading to every member having a ministry and part to play in the life of their church.
    To grow a lively church of disciples who connect well with God, each other and the local parish.

February 2015