Fr. Robert's Annual Report, 2021

Chairman’s Report. APCM, 23rd May 2021.

 

In the twenty-one years I have been here at St. Augustine’s this is, without doubt, the most unusual APCM Chairman’s Report I have ever written.

 

The year 2020 started off well. I was so grateful to you all for joining me as I celebrated twenty years as your vicar. A full church and a splendid liturgy followed, in style, by a great party was, I hope, a great boost for us all, myself included.

 

However, on 23rd March the Prime Minister announced lockdown and words crept into our vocabulary like Covid, Pandemic, along with the mantra, hands, face and space, that are now so familiar that one wonders how we ever got through life without them.

 

As it was, we were all in lockdown and our churches were the subject of government legislation just like anybody else. Our longcast plan of 2020 events went on the back-burner.

 

However, in the true spirit of St. Augustine’s we adjusted many things. Our liturgy was recorded and made available on our website. Our pastoral care was extended by telephone calls, and the teaching ministry was web based.

 

All our organisations had to place on hold their activities, but I know all members of these organisations were contacted on a regular basis.

 

When restrictions were eased in the summer, we were able to return to worship, with an additional Mass at 0900 on Sundays. It was great to see a steady trickle of people returning. During lockdown I tried to keep the church open for private prayer, and weekday Mass was offered as and when. On positive note, our 6 p.m. Mass on Saturday is growing and catering for people who value the space provided.

 

With the help of our local MP, in November a petition was compiled in Parliament to see how open churches could return to public worship. As I have said many times, we can be proud that we made a small difference, and our voice created a wave that saw public worship to return.

 

Finance. You will be surprised to know that last year we sent the diocese £53,000.00 which was £3,000.00 more than we pledged.

 

However, with the hall and DR Room closed, this reduced our income by about £20,000.00. However thanks to your outstanding generosity we made a great contribution to the life of St. Augustine’s and the Church nationally.

 

We now move into another period. Yes, we have lost people, but we have also gained a few.

 

This year we have a full programme, both with church and all our other activities.

 

I now want to express my sincere thanks to you all for your support of one other and to me. I have, and will, be thanking individuals for their support as we have gone along.

 

We have all worked so well to see that the faith is still witnessed and our pastoral care is still extended. Eastbourne Lifeboat keeps me afloat in many ways, and as well as visiting many of the shops and local industries around the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, I’m now a regular visitor to both watches at Bexhill Fire Station.

 

I am moved by your care of me and to my family. Tom is now 21 and lives in the Middle East.

 

So, to you all, it’s onwards and upwards as we place our hands into the hand of the greatest healer of all and walk forward in the faith of the Resurrection with our eyes fixed upon heaven and our feet firmly on earth. May God bless and protect you all.

 

Fr. Robert.




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