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Memories of St Margaret's - Being a Member of the Parochial Church Council (PCC)

In April 1967, the Church Treasurer, Archibald Chase, suddenly died and in desperation, as they had no-one on the PCC to take over the post, I was asked if I would become the Treasurer as I had worked in a bank.

Although I had been involved with a great many aspects of the Church from a young child, I had never had any dealings with or knew much about the PCC, and if I was to be bsp; I am pleased to say, that from that time onwards, the finance was always considered properly and the whole Council worked as a team to have events, which bolstered our income, so that we were able to survive and our Church started to expand.

It is an honour to be a member of the PCC, but it is a responsibility which should not be taken lightly.  Each member represents the congregation and therefore each member should make an input into the proceedings if they have a sensible and cohesive perspective to air, so that the correct decisions can be made after hearing all sides.  Members should not be passive unless they are 100% in favour of proposals.  Having been a member for 44 years, I was relieved to stand down, but hope that as a member I had been able in some small way, to assist in keeping our Church not only open, but looking forward to the future.

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Treasurer, then I had to be co-opted on to the Council too.  As a young person, thrown in at the deep end, I struggled.  Firstly, there was no-one to explain what the Treasurer had to do, or show how it was done.  I was handed the huge finance ledger, with a myriad of columns, which scared the life out of me, should I inadvertently enter an item in the wrong column, the bank paying-in book, and a cheque book.  The only help I had was by looking back on the previous year’s entries to see where items had been placed, and play it by ear.  Miss Hudson, the Treasurer of St Mary’s Church, Sundon, did offer to help me if I had a query, but as most queries were to do with the fact that we were a daughter Church to their ‘Mother’ Church, she couldn’t offer answers.  I was very much in the dark, so to speak, but gave my reports at each PCC meeting and hoped for the best until the end of the first financial year, when it all had to be balanced and prepared for the Accountants, who officially audited the Accounts.

However, the financial state of the Church was not good.  There really were not sufficient funds coming in from the collection plates to cover all the expenses for each year.  It was obvious that things would have to change, but how?  I worked hard to increase the number of FWO Envelope Members and to introduce the use of Deeds of Covenant (now Gift Aids).  This did make a difference, but we were a poor Church, with few annual donations and, as with all old churches, there were many jobs which needed to be done and which would take a lot of money that we just didn’t have.  In addition, we were also trying to pay off the purchase of the Curate’s house.  Unfortunately, most people do not fully understand how much money has to be found each year, even now, just for a Church to be open, let alone operate.  For instance, our own Church at the end of 2010 had outgoings to the extent of £66,654.  Sadly, there is still not enough donated each year to cover the same amount, and members of the congregation should heed this when thinking about their weekly collection.

The Rev ‘Jack’ Spread, Vicar of Sundon, would come to take the PCC meetings in the Church.  It was perishing in the winter and after Betty Robinson had joined the PCC, she very kindly allowed us to hold them in her farmhouse at Little Bramingham, in the winter.  The Rev Spread was very abrupt and had little time firstly for meetings, and secondly for having to come to Streatley, as he was very much into Sundon and what they were achieving.  Of course meetings were held in the correct manner, but one did feel that they were bulldozed through and woe betide anyone who wanted to question or discuss an item of importance.  I really tried to put my point across that we needed to raise some serious money to keep us afloat, let alone succeed ahead and I felt it should be discussed.  Nobody said a word.  In my frustration, I suggested then perhaps we should think about selling the Jacobean chalice, our only asset.  Well, it was a wonder I wasn’t ex-communicated, by the outrage which was shown, but then it did seem to galvanize the Council into taking the position seriously.  From then on, there was a concerted effort by them, despite the Vicar, to think up ways of fund raising.&n