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“Back to Church Sunday”, an initiative to invite people to consider coming back to church on the last Sunday in September, took place on 28 September 2008. The Diocese provided us with free invitations, posters and publicity and parishioners were asked to think about whom they may invite back to St Mark’s. The service was followed by a parish lunch; this special service has now become a annual event. (Details of Back to Church Sunday are on the Key Events web page.)
Hilda Hooley reached her 90th birthday in September and we were on hand to help her celebrate it. Barbara Smart made her a cake and we bought her a planted tub for her garden.
On 1 October 2008, the new Church of England Marriage Measure came into effect, making it easy for couples to marry in a church where they have a family or other special connection, even if they don’t live in the parish.
The Revd Cox made a grant application to the Diocese in August listing the range of resources we would like to have to modernise our hall and church. A Parish Mission grant of £6,000 was awarded in October towards replacing and improving the signage of the whole of the St Mark’s site, installing a state-of-the-art audio-visual system in the church, and buying new folding tables for the hall.
Lesley Bunce, Organist at St Mark’s for over 10 years, left to become organist at Christ Church, Ashton, in May.
After months of waiting, we were finally able to confirm the appointment of Stella Leigh as our new organist and pianist. She completed her commitments to Denton Chapel and attended study weekends at the RNCM in order to complete her certificate of teaching for the ABRSM Exam Board, and now plays at St Mark’s on a weekly basis. Stella has lessons with the renowned organist, Joyce Alldred, to learn to play the organ “pedals and all”. She is the daughter of Cyril Carrington, a former organist for almost 25 years here, and Stella is delighted to be following in her father’s footsteps.
Stella Leigh with Priest-in-Charge, The Revd Alison Cox
Bonfire night fell on a Wednesday this year when the MU planned to meet. They hosted a Bonfire Party combined social event with the Communicants’ Guild in the vicarage garden. The bonfire was so big that it attracted a crowd of local children who made pretty short work of the packet of sparklers; lots of people came - church members, neighbours and friends. This has now become a regular event.
The PCC agreed to support the Operation Christmas Child shoebox appeal and details on what to provide or pack (and not to pack) in them were provided.
The Christmas Tree Festival ran from 28 November to 1 December, when the church was full of decorated trees. We combined our Christmas Market with the Tree Festival for a bumper weekend of events. (Details of the Christmas Tree Festival can be found on its web page, from which you will be able to view the latest trees.)
At our Christingle service on 7 December, when many families came along, everyone received a Christingle orange, the red band around the orange the blood of Christ; the candle at the top the light of the world; and the four sticks bearing fruit the four seasons of the year. A special collection was taken for the Children’s Society. (The Christingle Service date for 2011 can be viewed via the Key Events web page.)
A new Praise & Play Group for carers and toddlers, was trialled for five weeks, and then offically launched in September. By the end of the year, there was a regular group of seven carers and their children coming along each week. The mums acted out a nativity play at the Carol Service on 21 December at St Mark’s. By the following Easter, a young volunteer, Diane Lindley came along to help with our children's work. (Details of the Praise & Play Group can be found on their web page.)
It was with enormous sadness that we said goodbye on 23 December to Kathy Staff, a lifelong member of St Mark’s. Kathy died on 13 December and the church was packed at her funeral; the Yew Tree Singers and Willow Wood Singers supported the singing of her favourite hymns and songs. Following the service, refreshments were served in the Jubilee Hall in Dukinfield Town Hall. A Kathy Staff Memorial Fund was set up.
On Christmas Eve, a traditional 'Midnight Mass' was very well attended and it was uplifting to celebrate such an important Christian Festival with so many other Christians. At the end of 2008, the hard work done by the Revd Alison Cox since her ordination was showing very encouraging results.
Alison started off the new year by encouraging the parishioners to think about our prorities for the coming year:
We held our first Dinner Dance at the end of January at the Masonic Hall in Ashton when everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal, entertainment and dancing. This is now an annual event.
In January, the Mothers’ Union had enrolled a new member, with another rejoining. Another lady joined in February, bringing membership up to 12. On 11 March, the MU held their “Wave of Prayer Service” at the morning Eucharist and on 25 March, all six Branches from the Mottram Deanery attended the Lady Day Service when St Mark’s MU received the Deanery banner. Sadly, Mrs Evelyn Jarvis passed away on 24 July at the age of 94. She was enrolled into the MU in 1949.
(Details of the Mothers’ Union can be found on its web page.)
The Communicants’ Guild decided at their AGM that it would no longer continue. Kathy and John Staff had been hard working supporters from 1965 and, during the interregnum, the Guild carried out a very important role in maintaining a social activities programme. Without Kathy, John felt it was time to stand down, and the church now had developed new social events, many of which are linked with church services. A team was being formed to co-ordinate these events. One such event was a sponsored walk organised by Pauline Clarke on 14 March when those members representing St Mark’s raised over £300. The Social Activities Team (a sub-committee of the PCC) is now responsible for planning the social programme for the church and co-ordinating it, and need volunteers to provide food, make teas, sell tickets and invite friends, depending on the event.
Our first Messy Church was well attended on Sunday 15 March, when the children enjoyed activities following the story of Noah’s Ark. The idea behind Messy Church is to provide a fun way for people to encounter God by connecting to a bible story through craft. It is particularly aimed at families. (Details of Messy Church can be found on its web page.)
The Rt Revd Alan Chesters, Honorary Assistant Bishop, preached and presided at our special St Mark’s Day service on 26 April 2009. Before closing the service he blessed our children’s corner.
St Mark's Children's Corner
Alan most certainly enjoyed our shared lunch and the quiz in the Church Hall after the service.
(Details of St Mark’s Day are on the Key Events web page.)
After the first in March, the second “Messy Church” in May was on the theme of the Pentecost (New Life in the Spirit). Blow painting and windmills to demonstrate the mighty rushing wind, flame headdress for tongues of fire and birthday cakes to remind us of the birth of the church, were the crafts at this session. We all marched over to church wearing flame headdresses, carrying windmills and birthday cakes, where we had a small act of worship singing and listening to the story of Pentecost. We had a lovely supper of pasta and sauce afterwards in the hall. A Messy Church team was formed after this for the next event on 19 July.
After the summer holidays, Messy Church went monthly on 20 September 2009.
On Sunday 14 June, our local hospice Willow Wood, which holds an annual remembrance service for mourners who lost a loved one in care there, chose St Mark’s this year, and this was a very emotional service.
This year we took a different banner out to accompany us for the annual Whit Walk to Dukinfield Town Hall. Barbara Smart worked hard creating a new name heading on an existing banner, plus altering the back to feature our church’s name with June Redford and Val Jackson, and two of the husbands from Praise & Play carried it. It was another glorious day with more people in our procession than there has been for a long time. Alison preached as St Mark’s was the lead church this year. (Details of Whit Walks are on the Key Events web page.)
Once again the annual Summer Fair was held in the vicarage garden on 27 June. We were encouraged by the money raised, and the number of people who are not regular church members who helped set up the fair, run stalls and help clear up afterwards. (Details of the Summer Fair are on the Key Events web page.)
On Sunday, 28th June, five candidates from St Mark’s were confirmed at St Paul’s Church, Stalybridge.
With the increased activity at church, to keep abreast of all the paperwork involved in administration, an Honorary Administrator accepted the invitation to assist Alison with some of this work, as did other volunteers. The Parish Office was kitted out to make the administrative processes easier.
Some significant training started in the autumn when Chantelle Tunnicliffe began her training as a Reader and Maggie Halliday began a course to complete a Certificate in Children’s Ministry. Maggie was already assisting in leading the Praise and Play group and Messy Church.
On Saturday, 3 October, Tameside Macmillan Cancer Support organised a coffee morning in church. Stalls were set up in the children’s corner and new tables were placed in the Meeting room for guests. The turn out was good, the atmosphere excellent and the resulting funds a fantastic result for the charity.
On Saturday 17 October, we hosted a Remembering Kathy Staff event in our hall. People dressed up as characters from ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ - Kathy’s most popular TV series - and we watched a DVD of her memorial service held in St Paul’s, Covent Garden, London in April.
Over 60 people joined us on All Souls Day in Church on 1 November to remember their loved ones who had passed away either in 2009 or in previous years. This was a very moving and emotional service and, whilst Chantelle Tunnicliffe and Katherine Riddell read out the names, we were all invited to light a candle in memory of those loved ones, which was a lovely way of reflecting on our lives with those no longer with us. At this service, our new hymn books were dedicated in loving memory of Frances Bintliff and her parents, Ada and Arthur Bainbridge, all life-long members of St Mark’s. (The All Souls Service date for 2011 can be viewed via the Key Events web page.)
Just before 11:00 am on Remembrance Sunday, we proceeded outside to our church war memorial for prayers, and Paul Broadhurst played “The Last Post”. The Revd Alison Cox laid the wreath. (The Remembrance Service date for 2011 can be viewed via the Key Events web page.)
At the end of November and into December, we held our annual Christmas Tree Festival, the Christingle Service, Messy Church, The Christmas Carol Service, Midnight Mass and Christmas communion. A chance for young children to connect with the Christmas Story for a short service and simple songs took place in a new Crib service on Christmas Eve. (The Christmas Service dates for 2011 can be viewed via the Key Events web page.)
In 2010 work started on re-ordering: work got under way to refurbish the hall and, in the church, the new retractable screen was in place with two viewing monitors in the chancel and a third one in the nave. The church boiler was cracked beyond repair and had to be replaced. A “Buy a Boiler” fundraising programme was launched. The scheme to widen the aisles in church was taking shape slowly and the raised flooring around the font and former Lady Chapel was removed. The widening of the side aisle for wheelchair and baby buggy access made a marked improvement and the new boiler expected to be operational in April.
At the Annual Parochial Church Meeting on 14 March, Chantelle Tunnicliffe resigned as Warden in order to concentrate on her training for Readership. The Church Wardens are Sandra Austin and Maggie Halliday. Copies of the Annual Report were made available, which contained reports from all groups and individuals helping the growing ministry at St Mark’s. In particular it highlighted the growth and development of our church with a rise in the Electoral Roll to 70 (from 58), increased activities - launch of Messy Church; Back to Church Sunday; more people joining our branch of the Mothers’ Union; launch of the Social Activities committee and new events.
Warden Sandra Austin (left), Priest-in-Charge Alison Cox, and Warden Maggie Halliday
On Palm Sunday, some members from St Mark’s met at Dukinfield Methodist Church to walk back to St Mark’s along with the Methodists for the Joint Communion Service, led jointly by Alison and Kim Radcliffe of Dukinfield Methodist Church. In 2011 we hope to follow this pattern with a return visit to the Methodist Church.
The Archdeacon Rev Richard Gillings led the service for St Mark’s Day, and was presented with a cut glass wine goblet engraved with the St Mark’s logo, as he was due to retire later in the year. Richard blessed two books dedicated to the memory of Anne Herod’s grandparents, Jennie and Leonard Colclough - a new bible and a lectern lectionary. Following the service we all enjoyed a beautiful meal in the hall, where there was a fascinating exhibition of photographs of people and events in the life of St Mark’s. (The St Mark’s Day Service date for 2011 can be viewed via the Key Events web page.)
By June, at long last the chancel wall and the lower part of the chancel arch had been re-plastered following dry rot treatment in 2008. Also the wide outer aisles had been re-stained to a darker colour and varnished. The new notice boards (at the main site entrance and at the corner of West Street and Church Street) had been erected.
After attending courses in April, six members of St Mark’s church received their Food Safety Certificates. They are all involved in helping to provide refreshments after services and at special events, such as the Summer Fair, Christmas Market and Parish Lunches.
On Sunday, 18 July, Messy Church hosted a parish barbecue in the garden of St Mark’s Vicarage, which was open to everybody from church to come and relax, chat and eat in the garden. Chef Howard Kelly kept the beefburgers in baps coming while the ladies in the kitchen produced the hot dogs.
An Alpha Course started on Tuesday 5 October. The course ran through the foundations of what Christians believe and gave the opportunity to ask questions about the faith. Subjects included: why read the bible, how to pray, why did Jesus die?
At the annual All Souls Service in November, the Revd Alison Cox blessed our votive stand donated by Joyce Priestley in memory of her husband, Harold, and a memorial flower vase donated by Anne Wilson.
As usual our annual Christmas Tree Festival weekend was “terrific” with entertainment by: Bluecoats School Jazz band; Jennifer the magician; Tameside Gospel Choir; a Karate demonstration and a concert by Adamson’s Military Band. Our Sunday morning service was followed in the afternoon by a Festival of Carols with a fantastic puppet show by Kingdom Puppets. (St Mark’s has now launched its own Puppet Team - more details of the Lord's Lions Puppet Team can be found on its web page.)
On 12 December 2010, 40 members from church set out to the Old Bell Inn at Delph for our first St Mark’s Christmas Lunch. We had a very enjoyable few hours together - eating a wonderful Christmas lunch and singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.
Once again, the Midnight Mass was attended on Christmas Eve by many people who are not regular members of our church. Comments have been passed on to us that they come because it is always a lovely service. (The Christmas Service dates for 2011 can be viewed via the Key Events web page.)
The boiler fund was closed at the end of the year having achieved more than the £10,000 we set out to raise.