Wantage Parish

The Parochial Church Council (PCC)

Wantage Parish is a charity, and the PCC is the legally responsible governing body. Members of the PCC are Trustees, elected from the worshipping members of both churches. The PCC meets approximately every other month.

Summary of the Meeting of Wantage Parochial Church Council

held on 19 September 2023 at Holy Trinity Church

▪ The majority of the meeting was given over to discussing the refurbishment of the Parish Church.

A paper prepared by Alastair Hunter and the Vicar had previously been circulated. The energy audit report, and the organ report were circulated following the meeting.

The Vicar began by saying that the Parish Church was in need of some TLC. That there are things that are not working, others are increasingly deteriorating, others just plain worn out. This also gives us an opportunity to think about what improvements we might want to make, whilst also dealing with those items that need attention and have come to the end of their useful life. The first proposal is about developing a vision about what we want the church building to do. Then there are a number of proposals for things that we can do now. We know that the lighting needs replacing, and that the organ needs significant work. We also want to be thinking about moving towards and achieving net zero, and we have already had an energy audit from the Diocese.

It was felt that accessibility needed to be addressed further. Access to the church has been mentioned, but accessibility to the toilets is not so great. The disabled toilet is inaccessible to wheelchair users, also the front door is not easy for wheelchair users.

The other proposals are about moving forward in parallel whilst we develop the vision. We won’t actually approve any work or upfront expenditure at this stage, but we can start to get quotes for the things we know need attention and take the next exploratory steps. We need to get professional support in place, and will need to interview potential lighting designers, architects, building services engineers, so that by the time we have spent time on the vision, we will be able to move forward more quickly. We may already have quotes and appropriate support in place. So, it isn’t about making decisions about what we are going to do, but that we take a number of steps in preparation.

A number of proposals were put to the PCC. After further discussion around each one, these were all carried unanimously:

▪ That the PCC, in consultation with the congregation and with local stakeholders, determines a vision for what we need the building to do in order better to serve our current and future needs and to be an asset to the wider community.

▪ That we ask Light Perceptions and one or two other suitably qualified firms to put forward initial ideas for new lighting, with examples of their work in other churches and a quote for preparing a detailed design.

It was recognised that the church lighting needs some immediate attention. Our electrical contractors will be asked to replace all the high bulbs so that as many lights are working as possible.

▪ That we obtain quotes to replace the burner unit on the boiler. if the quotes indicate that the payback period is 3 years or less, then the Churchwardens are authorised to go ahead, and to seek any necessary permissions if they are required.

The work will extend the life of the boiler by some 10-15 years, it will make it more efficient, and it will pay for itself in energy savings in two to three years. By the time the boiler needs replacing, technology will have advanced, and we will be able to get a better system. The estimated cost is £3k with a £1.5k yearly saving.

▪ That we invite proposals from suitably experienced firms of building services engineers to provide advice on:

  • solar panels, including feasibility and visual impact,
  • re-piping the radiators and adding additional radiators; and
  • the heating and electrical systems generally.

▪ That we identify specialist firms to provide proposals and competitive quotations for stabilising and restoring the Chancel floor.

▪ That we prepare proposals to replace the existing chairs with new ones suitable for those occasions when additional seating is required.

The current chairs are in dire need of replacement as past repair and represent a potential health and safety risk.

▪ That we draw up an invitation to tender to be sent to three or four firms of organ builders.

The organ was not very well designed or built. It has mechanical issues, which have been experienced by two other organs that were built around the same time by the same firm. All three have suffered the same deficiencies, and the other two have already had significant rebuilds done.

▪ That we invite three or four suitably experienced firms of architects to put forward initial ideas, with examples of their work in other churches and a quote for drawing up detailed plans and acting as advisors to the PCC.

▪ That the Project Group prepare, and the PCC keep under review a project plan which will see initial priorities addressed in 2024 and the refurbishment programme completed by 2028.

▪ That the Finance Group research potential grant funders and prepare an analysis of their requirements and expectations.

▪ That the PCC establishes a Parish Church Project Group to take forward the PCC’s decisions regarding the refurbishment of the PC.

The proposed members are the Vicar, Alastair Hunter, plus two other members who will be proposed by Alastair and Katherine after discussions with individuals, of which at least one is a PCC member.

An additional PCC meeting is being arranged to look at the vision. To think about what improvements we might want to make, and what we want to ask others about, for instance, storage, accessibility, how the churchyard can be a better resource for the local community. Do we want to keep the church open and the implications for security etc. Does the kitchen area meet our future needs, do we want space for the church office.

▪ The Worship PAD group submitted a paper reviewing midweek service provision and introducing a programme of alternative (mostly non eucharistic) services in place of the 5pm Vigil Mass at Holy Trinity, had been circulated. This is partly to address the time when we only have one clergy and proposes that instead of a Eucharist on Wednesday morning, there will be some lay-led prayers on Wednesday lunchtime. This will be trialled for six months following consultation. The second part is a proposal that the 5pm Saturday slot could be used to meet a variety of other pastoral and spiritual needs, including reaching those who are currently associated with the church but not worshippers (e.g., Around Table, Trinity Tots) and as outreach to Kingsgrove and other areas of new housing.

▪ Whilst hand sanitiser will no longer be provided at communion, the clergy and those administering the chalice would continue to use it. It was noted that the Wardens and the Standing Committee will keep the national and local position on Covid under review.

▪ It was reported back from a Deanery meeting about the Parish Share that we will be paying £89k this year.

▪ Parish Giving day will be 8 October 2023.

▪ The Communications PAD group will be developing branding guidelines for a consistent and effective visual identity and that these should be taken account of for all communications on behalf of the Parish.

▪ Rosi Barlett was authorised to assist in the distribution of communion.

▪ The Around Table Steering Group had circulated a paper for the proposed Terms of Reference and Delegations for the group. The Group reported that the HT kitchen had passed its inspection with a score of 3 out of 5 – Satisfactory. There were ten recommendations, in particular about the need for extended refrigeration and a separate hand wash basin. These two priorities have been quickly addressed. The Group is also investigating other kitchens that may be used on occasion if needed.

▪ Reports were received, as at all PCCs, on Health and Safety and Safeguarding.

▪ The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 15 November at 7.30pm at the Parish Church, preceded by Eucharist at 7pm. The focus of the meeting will be the budget for 2024.

Janet Kingdon

PCC Secretary