If you were to ask the Diocesan Office at Lichfield how many
people in our parish go to church each week, you would probably
be told about100. This is because they count only those who attend
particular Sunday services during the year. Ask the same question
of John Daimond, the Priest in Charge at Pattingham, and he will
tell you that it is at least double that and frequently more
There are many
other reasons which can and do attract folk to the church. Some
willingly give of their time to help maintain the building and
fabric by preparing for services, arranging flowers, cleaning
the church, maintaining the churchyard, laundering the vestments,
and by practising for bell ringing, choir, drama and reading
we forget those who may not attend church so regularly but come
to celebrate family weddings and christenings and to mourn the
passing of loved ones. For example in August this year a total
of 1500 people attended 8 weddings, 4 baptisms and 4 funerals
: sufficient to boost the average weekly attendance for 2007
by at least 25.
About 35 youngsters
enjoy each of the special "Fun and Faith" events held
on weekdays at Christmas, Easter and Harvest. Congregations of
150 to 200 are common at the important services held over these
festivals our largest in recent times being over 400 at the Christingle
Service held last year on the Saturday afternoon before Christmas.
A lively Sunday School comprising 15 to 20 children is held in
The Loft during Morning Service on the third Sunday each month.
A well established Youth Service guided by two experienced leaders
but planned and led by teenagers replaces Evensong on the third
Sunday in the month. An adult Fellowship Group and a smaller
but dedicated Prayer Group also meet monthly. Anyone is welcome
to drop into our "Cafe" on Wednesday mornings for a
cup of coffee, a slice of home-made cake and, importantly if
they so wish, simply to have someone to talk to. Suddenly finding
oneself alone for whatever reason can be devastating, especially
if there doesn't seem to be anyone to help.
Then there is the excellent Holiday Club held for a week towards
the end of the long Summer holiday. This is usually fully subscribed
by enthusiastic 4 to 16 year olds, the number being limited by
the availability of trained leaders and assistants.
Every child in the village school has an opportunity to visit
St Chad's at least 3 times a year when the school plan and lead
services of special interest to their needs. These services are
usually very popular also with parents and especially grandparents.
The Church Council actively supports closer liaison with the
school and warmly welcomes opportunities to provide practical
and financial support for special projects.
I could go
on to describe concerts, plays, courses, civic receptions etc
which have both made significant contributions to the numbers
visiting St Chad's at various times and confirmed its central
role in the day-to-day life of the community.
Despite a small
number of less welcome visitors (Yes, we have a few of those
as well !), we are fortunate that we can usually leave the church
open during daylight hours. Thus it can fulfil possibly its most
important role, providing a haven for those visitors wishing
to rest, reflect and pray.
If these notes
suggest that currently St Chad's is a lively and caring congregation
willing to embrace change where necessary to meet modern needs,
then I will be partly satisfied. But our mission is by no means
For if St
Chad's, the church building is our refuge and source of inspiration,
then our workplace is wherever and whenever there is a neighbour
In a world
where natural disasters seem both more numerous and more severe,
where the gap between the "haves" and "have nots"
seems to be widening rather than closing and in which there seems
to be no end to man's inhumanity to man, we need a sustained
increase in the resources made available to overcome these challenges.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbour as ourselves. In His great
parable of "The Good Samaritan", He also left us in
no doubt as to who is our neighbour.
simply enjoy the current comfortable status quo, can we not use
it as a springboard from which to launch further exciting progress
In a subsequent article I hope to develop this idea and describe
how we might begin to make a real and lasting difference.