Ted Gregory RIP

Ted died on Tuesday in Galloway. His funeral will be in St Augustine’s at 10.30am on Wednesday of next week, with a buffet in our hall afterwards.

Introducing ….. Marcus!!

It is with great pride that we introduce Marcus, with mum, Suzie. Of course Marcus makes grandparents of Margot and Tim, who are obviously dead chuffed that they have someone so handsome in the family!

Marcus will be baptised in January.

Annual Report From The Rector

If I were to sum up the last year in St Augustine’s it would be to simply state: “We built a hall!” It took almost all of David McWhinnie’s bequest to pay for it, but it was built, and we survived! The past year, with the church doubling up as a hall and church has not been without its difficulties and stresses, but we got there in the end.

It is a wonderful tribute to this congregation that we adapted, and with the help of screens everything bumped along as usual. The congregation was forced to sit a little more closely together, and that didn’t do us any harm, and even Community Groups such as AA, the Slimmers Group, and the Thursday Tots continued to meet during the building work. Much of this report is set against that background.

We are now ready to enter a New Era as a congregation, with our beautiful building back to being simply “church” again, and a hall fit for purpose as we set our “mission goals” for the next few years.

New Hall: The building work started in February, with DCF Joiners and Builders our chosen contractor. Now, although almost complete, there are lots of little things that need to be finished, and some others needing to be sorted before we part company with Heather the Joiner and her faithful team. I need to thank Fran Walker and Janette Barnes for helping this on from design to completion, and Fran deserves extra praise as she managed to find external funding of over £30,000. I think we thought of everything, and pondered every possibility, but as time goes on, no doubt, there will be folks telling us about the things we didn’t think of! Can I thank, too, those who lent the parish money in short term loan deals? This has eased our budget crisis until the value of our investments rise a little more.

Friday Lunches/ Saturday Coffee: The faithful band of people who sustain these fundraising events are to be commended for their continued commitment, not only for raising money to keep us afloat, but for keeping our profile high in the Town Centre, and using these fundraisers as a vehicle for our mission and outreach. It has not been easy to maintain these events from the church kitchen, but we managed it, without someone being poisoned, intentionally or not.

Numbers: There is no doubt that our Sunday communicant numbers dropped during the hall build. Whether that was due to the church being part cafe area is not yet clear, but numbers are growing a little again now that the hall is up and running. I have looked closely at the Parish Roll and amended it all recently, and that explains the Communicant membership showing such a severe drop. Shown below is the numbers I submitted to the Synod Clerk on Advent Sunday 2008.

Parish Roll 180, Communicants 134, Baptisms 4, Marriages 5, Burials 6, Confirmations 0, Eastertide Communions 95, Sunday Average Communicants 54.

Lent Group and Study Group: After a twenty session course on “Confirmed in Faith”, we returned this year to a more conventional Lent Study Group, looking at one of the York Courses. The group is now ploughing through the Apostles Creed. Theologically, things can get quite intense at times, but the group is fun to be part of and certainly makes everyone think.

Friends: A report on the Friends of St Augustine’s will be presented at the AGM, but I continue to give thanks for all that Friends’ does for the parish, not only in enriching our social lives and the life and mission of the congregation, but also for the funds that are raised in doing so! This year has seen a wonderful Parish Outing to the Trossachs, and has included the infamous “PantoDine” (which will live in our memories for a long time to come). I cannot express how grateful I am for the commitment and enthusiasm of the Executive who arrange all these things. I also thank Friends’ for the £9,000 they managed to contribute towards the cost of the hall, without which we would have been in big trouble!

MAD (Music Arts Drama): There have not been as many MAD Events as we would have liked this year, but the Accordion Duo from The Ukraine came back to entertain us, and Jessica Weidman in concert stands out as being an incredible night. Ghislaine and Ricky had their Big Concert in the Denny and raised £1500+ for CHAS and St Augustine’s Hall Project. It was an unforgettable evening, with the visitors from The Raploch making their presence felt!

Visit of Fr Jimmy and Matilda Cole: It was wonderful to have Fr Jimmy and Matilda with us in November last year. The Gambia connection goes on, and many of us were bowled over and humbled by their faith and commitment. They continue to pray for us, as we do for them!

Leading Your Church Into Growth: On November 8th we held a Parish Day called “Four Studies and a Party”, led by Revd Kirsten Freeman. It was designed to enable the Vestry to formulate a strategy for mission in the coming months and years. Of course, because of the hall build, there has not been too much progress here, but we did dip our toes into Back to Church Sunday as a result, with some success. This is worth doing properly in the coming years. Anne Tomlinson, the Diocesan Ministry Development Officer, is coming to do another Parish Day on December 5th and we will get the opportunity to think through how we can maximise the impact of our hall on our mission strategy and our service to the community. Please try to attend on this day.

Groups Using the Hall: All the old groups are still around, but we have managed to pick up some more tenants over the last month or so. These include a Family Support Group from Alternatives, a Brain Injury Group, the Richmond Fellowship, and indeed Alternatives itself, who ran a staff training day in the premises. The new hall is a “community” building, and it is hoped that new groups and new ventures will be going into partnership with us as we serve the community God has put us into!

Holy Week: Continuing in matters ecumenical, we shared Holy Week with the mainstream churches in the town, with services in different buildings as the week progressed. Our highlight was, again, sharing the Passover Supper and our ceremonies for Maundy Thursday with our brothers and sisters from other denominations, although this year it had to be an “all ticket” event for the supper bit! Those visiting were uplifted by the way we do things on Maundy Thursday, and I hope this will become an ecumenical fixture in Dumbarton’s calendar.

Prayer Group: This started this year on the first Monday of the month in Shirley Currie’s house and is faithfully attended by a few. It is important to have this prayer at the heart of the parish, praying for the parish, as we enter this New Era!

Music: When I listen to the standard of music in many small parishes, as I mentioned last year, I am eternally grateful for what we have to offer God in the way of music in our worship. The Music Group is something we take for granted, perhaps, but we need to say a big thank-you to all who select our songs, hymns and psalms, and lead our singing on Sunday mornings. It is good, sometimes, to have a Praise Band leading our Sunday worship, although our core group are as good as any band we have had over the past few years. The organ restoration has been put on hold for the moment. Perhaps the standard of our music is a testament of how urgent we feel this to be. Nobody is chasing me to have the organ restored!

Fabric: There is at present a vacancy for Convenor which needs to be filled! This should not be a clergy job. During the year we have fitted two new boilers in church at a cost of almost £14,000. Our old boilers had been a bad investment and we have learned from our mistakes. The new system is cheaper and easier to run. The Rectory has had a new garage door fitted, at last, but the most unexpected thing in the year was the gable end of the next-door tenement coming through the roof of the Upper Room. The Insurance Company denied liability and we were left with a bill of over £4,000.
Sunday School: The Sunday School continues to flourish as we seem to have more children around these days, and I’m grateful for that, but we always need to encourage our little people by bringing them along to the 11am service on Sundays!

Website: Our website, www.staugustinesdumbarton.co.uk has been busy this year and attracts a lot of visitors. The magazine can be downloaded and there are photos of parish events and some video too, along with recordings of sermons and services.

Thanks: I wrote last year: “There are so many people to thank that I would surely miss people out if I began to single out individuals. Suffice to say that I am often quoted as saying that I am Rector of the best wee parish in the West of Scotland. It is folk like you who make it so. However, I need to say a special “Thank You” to both our Trustees, Barbara Barnes and Margaret Wallace, for their tremendous support and hard graft, and a “Thank You” to Tim Rhead for his work as a “Pastoral Assistant” through the last year. Without those three we would all be sunk!” I simply echo these words again! Barbara was voted Citizen of the Year in Alexandria, and we are so proud that she’s one of us! Obviously, I have had a lot of stress over the past six months due to my father’s situation, but the level of love and support from you has kept me going.

So we embark on this New Era, knowing that God will be faithful to us, and with hope and prayer that we can be faithful to God. Often things aren’t easy. We are a family, and sometimes families fall out with each other, sometimes there are differences, and sometimes we just have to get on with things! Things change, and people will always come and go, but we hope and pray that more will come than will go! It is important that you remember how special you are as a congregation, and how much you have to give, but always be open to the Holy Spirit who will ensure that we are never comfortable, inspiring us on to greater and better mission and ministry!

Kenneth Macaulay (November 2009)