by Phil Andrews
A just-about-quorate Annual Church Meeting in November 2022 heard the various reports of the various outgoing officers and elected, or one should say re-elected, a team of three deacons to serve the Church for the coming year and our various already-serving officers. Recurring fears over achieving a quorum would abate somewhat later in the year, when the required number would be reduced from eight to six, but for now a collective sigh of relief was breathed.
Our traditional Carols by Candlelight service in December was sadly scantily populated, which was a shame as a lot of work is always put into its presentation and delivery. Let us hope and pray that this year’s event sees a turning point.
Some similarly poor turnouts at Church Meetings early into the New Year prompted much soul searching. As has already been mentioned the case for lowering the quorum in recognition of lower membership numbers was made and rapidly became quite inarguable, and a well-meaning but ultimately, and regrettably fruitless attempt to encourage valued regular worshippers to consider taking the one further step up to full membership was made. It was acknowledged that as things stand our numbers are slowly declining due to natural wastage and this trend really does need to be reversed if we are to survive as a Church in the long term.
In April a “Friends of Isleworth Congregational Church Group” was launched on Facebook, primarily as a means of building bridges with well-wishers and friends in the community who may not attend Church services. Yes, we are a Church but we are also part of a community and it can be helpful to harness goodwill where it exists. Thus far we have built up a modest but not insignificant tally of 58 members whilst our Facebook Page is currently at around 1,200 followers.
The next month saw us enjoying a well-attended and very memorable joint service with our friends from Hosanna Church in celebration of the King’s coronation, which culminated in a wonderful “bring and share” meal which included some truly scrumptious Ghanaian food kindly contributed by our guests – one of the leaders of whom jokingly commented that his brothers and sisters “always turn out when there is food”. Maybe there’s a lesson for us in there somewhere?
Whilst newcomers to the Church were generally welcome, we found ourselves playing host to an unexpected new congregation going into the summer which brought some problems of its own. The arrival of a number of pigeons, who set up home immediately outside the building and serenaded us throughout as we gathered for meetings in the Quiet Room as well as leaving a good deal of mess in their wake, compelled us to look for ways to humanely remove them to another place. Eventually we called in a specialist, made possible thanks to a very kind and generous donation from our good friends at Wimbledon Congregational Church, and the problem was thankfully resolved.
In July we learned the sad news that our long-time friend Nick Buss had passed away. Nick had worshipped with us for several years and even on one occasion gave us cause to bask in the reflected glory of his appearance on national television on the X-Factor talent show. In later years he chose to attend worship at his family Church closer to his Chiswick home, but we remained in touch with him and with his family. We were represented at his funeral in Mortlake.
Our traditional Harvest Supper in September was a successful and very enjoyable event, with the usual high quality food from Mario’s Fish ‘n’ Chip Shop. As well as conversation and fellowship we were able to put our knowledge to the test thanks to some interesting puzzles and quizzes. Friends absent through injury, illness and infirmity were inevitably missed, and we continue to remember them in our prayers.
Approaching the end of our Church calendar and the coming of the Advent season we give thanks for our continued survival and worship as a congregation. We are mindful, as ever, that we need new blood and new ideas, and our prayers for God’s help in this endeavor are hopefully matched by our determination to knuckle down and to begin to put things right over the coming year.