by Phil Andrews
Although Church services and events were once again being conducted in the “here and now”, as opposed to from our bedrooms or living rooms via a laptop, there was still some caution in the air, as well as a nasty virus, as the 2021 Annual Church Meeting approached the business of setting out its stall for the year that was to come. We were grateful to two retiring deacons – Elizabeth Crewes and Sally Moody – for their years of service, and we welcomed three others to join Trisha Lumm on the diaconate – Jeannette Butler, Rev. Antony Ball and myself – all returning to the role after a rest (in the case of Antony a “rest” of some fifty years, although he can hardly have been said to have been resting very much considering the pastoring duties that he performed during most of that time, not to mention such important tasks as publishing the newsletter, taking Bible Studies and regular preaching).
There was some shuffling of other Church offices too, with Sally taking over as Pulpit Secretary and Caroline Andrews adopting the role of managing the Flower Rota.
No Church Meeting in December, as is standard practice, gave us all less opportunity to catch the ubiquitous Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, which had arrived with a vengeance, but some of us managed to anyway. Fortunately nobody from our congregation was badly affected, either at the time or thereafter.
A modest increase
By late January we were noting with satisfaction that our modest evening services had begun to see an even more modest increase in the number of attendees. Unfortunately at around the same time we had begun to enter our traditional winter slump in terms of attendance at Church Meetings, and an unwelcome series of inquorate events was soon to follow. This caused us to discuss whether there might not be regulars amongst our congregation who might feel the time has come to make a further commitment and to take out actual membership of the Church, but the response thus far has been cautious to say the least. We continue to urge those who feel able to take on the responsibilities that such entails to give this matter some serious prayer and thought.
Storm Eunice was kind to us when it visited itself upon us all in March, as was (a little later) a Safeguarding Officer from the South-East Area of the Congregational Federation. We were dismayed to learn that the sell-by date on some of the items in our First Aid box predated certain members of the congregation, but generally we were relieved to be told that we were in quite good shape.
Trying to organise an event for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee proved challenging, as the repeated lack of a quorum at Church Meetings meant we were unable to take any of the logistical decisions which would be required to make it happen. Fortunately we were able to resolve this tricky conundrum in the very nick of time, on the last occasion that was open to us to discuss it, when the multitudes finally came together in earnest. In the event we enjoyed a tea in June, on a well-supported bring and share basis.
Also in June we were grateful to Jeannette and her husband Peter for continuing to undertake (often at their own expense) many of those little housekeeping and maintenance jobs which are so important to keeping the Church building in good working order. Peter has continued to assist us with our Gift Aid returns, and Jeanette has also provided some interesting thoughts and ideas for improving our messaging on the exterior of the building, giving clearer information about our forthcoming services, which are to be taken up shortly.
Some damage to our guttering needed to be attended to and dealing with insurance companies (the damage having been caused by a tree belonging to the local authority, or rather one its subsidiaries) was never going to be easy. But we got there in the end, and received a welcome cheque from the owners of the offending perennial to enable us to pay for the remedial work, performed superbly by our reliable roofer Elson’s. Also in the July heat we were pleased to team up with volunteers from our friends at Hosanna Church to embark upon some much-needed clearance work in the garden out to the rear of the Church building.
At the start of October Jeannette’s pioneering work on the Church notice displays (see above) was subjected to a most unexpected delay when she was unfortunately hit by a car on the way home from a morning service whilst walking on the pavement. I was hit too but, whilst she and I were both rushed to hospital, my own injuries proved to be much less severe and I was released later on the same day. Sadly Jeannette wasn’t to leave hospital for nearly a month, and is currently rehabilitating at home. We are praying for her continued recovery, and also for Dilys Williams who is presently at Hillingdon hospital following an incident at home.
Once again the ever-dependable Jemima Ocran laid our wreath for us at the War Memorial on Remembrance Day, whilst regular visiting preacher Paul Yarnell took the special service for us at our Church on the morning of the parade.
Though we are a small Church, we are blessed to have the services of people such as Caroline who does the cleaning, Sally who plays the organ, Antony who remains by some margin our most regular preacher as well as leading Bible Studies, Elizabeth who officially handles the money but who in fact does so much more running around besides, and many others who take on individual roles, sometimes behind the scenes and generally unacknowledged, which combine to provide the Isleworth Congregational experience.