The following is a transcript of the address given by Christine Battersby and Bill Murrells on behalf of Holy Trinity Church to the members of Haddenham Parish Council and Parishioners at the Annual Meeting of the Parish Council held on 10th April 2019.
Christine said : “When I contacted Jenny last autumn it was with a view to tell you about the Church’s dire financial position. Since then there have been other developments that you may be interested in hearing about. I hope you are interested as Holy Trinity IS the parish church of YOUR parish.
Firstly, our Church is a Grade 1 listed building on a site in the village that has been used as a place of worship for hundreds of years. Services are held regularly throughout the year and the Church is open to everyone, every day of the week for private prayer or meditation or simply as a quiet space to escape from a hectic life.
In addition to services on a Sunday,the Church is the distribution center for Haddenham’s foodbank and its use in the past three years has increased. There is an active Mother’s Union based in the Church offering support and help to families here and abroad. Each month there is a Saturday when a soup lunch with delicious cakes is available between 12 and 2 to anyone. The Church is dedicated to Fairtrade and in addition to using those products such as tea and coffee, all Traidcraft Products including crafted items and jewelry can be purchased through the Church. In this last year, the Church hosted an evening to hear about the work of the homeless shelter, Jimmy’s in Cambridge and the Church was also a collection center for the refugees in northern France. There was a tremendous response to the appeal for tents, sleeping bags and warm clothes and blankets. There is a youth group who meet once a month called the T Club. They meet in Church and/or the Vicarage if the Church is too cold.
Our Church benefited from a project at the turn of the Millenium to provide toilet facilities suitable for the disabled, changing facilities for babies and a meeting room, within the Church and a small kitchen area. An asset which many churches still seek to fund and to dream about. From this, you can see that we have a very alive and active parish church.
Our problem is, as you may have guessed – lack of funds. We have an ageing congregation but we are hopeful of welcoming younger people, couples and families to join us. The Church is financed by regular donations from just 16 people and other income is derived from events held during the year and the occasional legacies. Year on year, our costs have continued to rise due to increases in insurance premiums, electricity bills and other utilities. For a number of years, our Church has had to contribute an annual sum to the Diocese of Ely in order to meet the costs of the Vicarage, the costs of training Clergy and its many officers in the Diocese but this contribution does not go towards the stipend of the Clergy. Unfortunately, our Church has not been able to pay its full contribution to this fund for several years and this is now a real issue with the Diocese. Many Churches in the area have failed to meet their quota or contribution, but none so much as Haddenham and there seems to be no end in sight for Holy Trinity’s impecunious state.
Secondly, and still on an economic theme – the Deanery of Ely, of which we form part is looking at reorganization or re-ordering of its priests in order to reduce costs. Given that our Church has not been able to pay its quota to the Deanery for a number of years, Holy Trinity Church Haddenham is currently a prime topic for discussion with the Diocese. Does this mean closure of Holy Trinity Church? A Church can only close with the approval of our Parochial Church Council. There are a number of stages for a Church before it will close, this includes a sleeping or dormant Church, a Festival Church, where services are held at Christmas and Easter, weddings and funerals. My personal thoughts involve arranging peaceful protests, banners, lots of press coverage to convince the Deanery that our Church is very much awake, alive and open for business.
Thirdly, as you may know, Fiona will be leaving us at the end of July. Fiona is taking up a new post as Chaplain at the Little Gidding retreat center and Assistant Priest in North Leightonstone Benefice (off the A1 near to Sawtry!) and we all wish her well in her continuing Ministry.
Despite all of this, we view the future excitedly as it will be a great opportunity for change albeit challenging. To all intents and purposes, our Church will still be here for weddings, baptisms and funerals and of course, Sunday services. In addition to using the Annual Parish Meeting as a Forum to inform the Parish of the state of play at Holy Trinity Church it is to ask if the Parish Council could help with our annual overheads of £44,000. “
Bill Murrells has been very involved with Holy Trinity Church for more than 40 years and added the following “ The expenses facing the Church now are as a result of so much maintenance and repair works having to be carried out by qualified contractors in order to conform to current Health and Safety requirements and insurance regulations. The days when members of the congregation could help with cleaning out gutters, sorting out the drains, re-positioning the lead on the roof and even changing a light bulb are gone. Over the years, vast sums of money has been saved by volunteer labour and people sharing and using their own skills, such as engineers, carpenters and builders but today everything has an inherent cost and we cannot get away from that fact.”
If you would like to make a donation to Holy Trinity Church or would like to become involved in any way, please contact Christine Battersby at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org or David Ogilvie at email@example.com
Thank you for taking the time to read this article.