The Parish Church of St James, Merton

SM4 4AR - Corner of Martin Way and Beaford Grove, Morden.


Icon of St James

St James's Church:
Growing Up towards God;
Growing Out to our community and the wider world;
Growing Together for support and strength.

I am now well past the title of “new” parish priest, thus I greet you at the APCM as your pastor and friend, as together we strive to re-dedicate ourselves and this place to the purpose of Christ's mission and will for God's world.

I continue as best as I can to be faithful to the express desires noted in your Mission Action Plan as we, together, seek to plan, build, celebrate the kingdom of Christ in the heart of this community, always with the community at heart. I am only an email or phone call away. Although I am “part-time” I am happy to hear from you at any time of need.

Three points I share as we enter into our time this evening:

  1. I am overjoyed and pleased with the generosity shown to the varying charities that we attempt to support, locally, nationally and internationally. Well done indeed.
  2. The need is still vividly before us to grow spiritually as numerically. Where will we all be in 5 years? Where will this church be in its hopes and vision? The diocese is asking this of itself and we should be as well. Worship attendance, Sunday School, Bible Study need your presence and support. There are small signs of growing interest, but our re-dedication must be one of action. Pray, yes, but firm resolve to be Christ for the world, is what Christ demands of us his disciples. Bringing someone to Mass or whatever is not a pious thought but a mandate if we claim Christ as king of our lives.
  3. Be open to the Holy Spirit to enliven our worship, our study and our fellowship. Inclusive yes, caring yes, inviting we must be. I am here as one who serves, but together we serve as evangelists to bring people closer to a lively relationship with our Lord. Word and Sacrament combine to be a powerful way to live lives fully in accord with the Gospel of Love.

One of the most precious times for me is the Thursday Healing Mass with Anointing and Holy Communion. The always near full chapel and the petitions for prayer be shared aloud, help form a community of faith that sustains and rejoices in our community fellowship together.

I close with a prayer I say daily ever since making a Cursillo Renewal Retreat in the Diocese of Chicago 30 years ago. This truly can be our call for action.
Richest blessings,

Fr Jim's signature

The Revd Canon Dr Jim Rosenthal
Priest in Charge

A Prayer of Self-Dedication
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt, and always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Report from the Parochial Church Council (PCC), on the year in the life of St James Church, 2017.

2017 was another busy and exciting year in which we worked to build and consolidate on our Mission and Outreach, setting ourselves where we feel we belong – at the heart of the Community, with the Community at our heart. We continued to work to ensure that St James was no longer that “well-kept secret half way up Martin Way” but known in the Parish, the Deanery and the Diocese as a place of passion and joy, “The Church with the Open Door” & “A place to come, a place to belong.”

We continued to take our Mission Action Plan seriously, working towards our aim of increasing our congregation by 50% over 5 years while recognizing that is an indicator only and would mean only that we reach more people with the joy of Jesus Christ. A healthy church is like a healthy child - growing in size, developing in wisdom and strength, becoming less self-focused and thinking more about those around us, near and far, that need our prayer, our compassion and our help. Our ethos has always been to reach out into the community, offering more of the blessing and joy of knowing and worshipping God together, to more and more people. This report hopes to show how we tried to do that, where we have succeeded and, perhaps, in some cases failed.

PCC Structure and Process

The Parochial Church Council is the elected body that makes decisions on behalf of the church on issues about the church. It met formally on five occasions during 2017, with an average level of attendance of 70%, while committees and working groups

(made up of PCC members and others from the congregation), met between meetings, and individuals attended a number of Diocesan or Deanery meetings or training sessions – all with feedback to the main body. These meetings are the driving force of “keeping the show on the road”; everyone who takes a place on the PCC has the church’s best interests at heart and brings their own viewpoint, experience and skills. We discuss business, the plans and the mission of the church, over a glass of wine or cup of tea and work out what we would like to do, and then what we can do given constraints of time, people and money. While the meetings are also a great way of getting to know more people well, and being part of the “partnership”, without the PCC, there would be no St James’s Church and we thank them for their effort and commitment during 2017.

Worship, Spirituality and Mission

As every year, there were many opportunities for worship and study, with huge variety and diversity.

Our main service in every week was the 9.30 Eucharist, on Sundays. Thursday Mass with Healing continued to be well attended – by both regular Sunday attenders and those from other churches – as is the way at St James’s, all were made welcome to the service and the coffee and chat following. Fr Jim continued to welcome visitors at the front door, and from the altar during services, and many people went out of their way to welcome before and after. The message was very clear – we are a diverse community and all are welcome at St James's.

During the year, the first week of the month services changed somewhat; by the end of the year the first Wednesday evening was Bible Study led by Simon Emdin and Fr Mark Budden, first Thursday was Healing Mass led by Fr Graham Derriman, followed by CAMEO, first Friday was Mass or Holy Hour led by Fr Jim, first Saturday was Rosary and Walsingham Prayer Cell led by Mike McCormack and first Sunday was Sunday School led by Linda Laffar, Elaine McCormack and Fr Jim, with help from Debbie Haine and others.

There was opportunity for Confession at Easter and Christmas and other times by request. The front door was open each day during daylight hours with an invitation to the chapel for private prayer and reflection, and prayers left on the noticeboard in the chapel were taken to the Thursday Mass and prayed for there as well as in private prayer. A new innovation was the installation of a prayer box outside the door of the church and the distribution of cards advising people that their street would be prayed for on a certain day, and inviting them to use the cards to request prayer. Take up of this has been small so far, but will continue during 2018. Home Communion was also taken to the sick, those in hospital, and housebound by Fr Jim and Mike McCormack, and Fr Graham, Fr Mark, Simon Emdin are all able and willing to do so if requested.

Numbers were dwindling for “Reaching for God,” the monthly
Family Services led by Elaine and Lyn, and there did not seem to be a simple way of “moving” the children along as they outgrew these sessions. After discussion, it was felt that the “separate” timing and nature of the

service may be the cause of that so it continued up to the picnic in July and in October a “First Sunday School” was started at 9.30. Still mostly using the format of Godly Play story, wondering and craft response, with song and prayer, parents come in with younger children, older children come in alone while their parents and even older siblings are in church and everyone goes into church in time to receive Communion or a blessing. We hope this will encourage children and their families to feel part of the wider congregation, and to feel comfortable in both settings. We make clear that children are welcome to every service in church, not just the “special” ones for them, but this is a chance to break the ice and for all – adults and children – to learn more about our faith in an informal setting.

2017 started with a month of celebrations; January 1st was a Sunday this year, and both the 9.30 Mass and the Family Service were well attended – even if some people may have looked a little more tired than usual. On Epiphany we were visited by three guests, robed and bearing gifts as we continued to celebrate the great mystery of Christmas. The following Sunday we took great delight in welcoming Fr Mark's family and friends, and the Ven Simon Gates, our Archdeacon, as we celebrated Fr Mark's licensing to St James as Associate Priest. In less celebratory mode, Fr Mark was taken ill during the following week and we

then missed him for some while but he recovered and although we share him with other local parishes and his full time and demanding job, he has become a hugely important and welcome part of the worship and study at St James. Throughout the year we continued to be blessed by the retired but active ministry of Fr Graham, who supports all our worship in person and in the choir, and also leads where needed – both at St James and other local churches. On Trinity Sunday we joined with Fr Graham celebrating the 50th Anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood – and he is forward looking and challenging to us in that role. It is not lost upon us, we give regular thanks and praise, that in 2015 we found ourselves without a Parish priest (Fr Graham being unwell at that time) and with the distinct possibility of not being able to get one; two years later we had the support and leadership of three; our worship is lively, reverent, varied and enhanced by their links and support with and to local churches.

The first interaction of the year with Joseph Hood School came as we led an assembly on Christmas and Epiphany, and we were glad to welcome The Society of Catholic Priests for Mass, meeting and lunch. The year calmed down a little, but throughout the year, every opportunity was taken to extend the worship of those already attending St James, and to welcome in anyone else who wanted to come – visiting clergy, stray passers- by, people and their pets; all were made welcome and to feel that St James might be “A place to come, a place to belong.”

As usual, the intent in Lent was for everyone to be able to attend, worship and study something, and it started with services and ashing on Ash Wednesday, and continued with two

separate weekly Lent groups – one in the evenings, following the York course “Encounters with Christ,” and on Thursdays after Mass, we studied the Miracles in John’s Gospel, followed by Lent lunches. There were also Eucharists on Saturday mornings and Stations of the Cross followed by Benediction on Friday evenings. Mothering Sunday saw us back in celebratory pink mode and Archdeacon Simon preached on his links with, and the work of, the International China Concern. Fr Jim led another assembly at Joseph Hood School, on the great mystery of Easter. And a small group from St James’s went to St Paul’s Cathedral to hear (actually, to experience, so special was it) David Suchet read the whole of the Gospel of Mark from the pulpit. As Easter drew nearer we processed from the Methodist Church on Palm Sunday, and Holy Week was celebrated with evening Mass on the first three days, Footwashing and Vigil on Maundy Thursday and, on Good Friday, Stations of the Cross, the Liturgy, and “The Seven Last Words” led by Fr Graham in the evening. Easter was celebrated firstly on Easter Eve with the Easter Vigil and First Mass, and then again on Easter Day with a joyous Parish Mass.

June was another joyful month, with Pentecost at the beginning, celebrated in red with procession and balloons. A group of 15 made Pilgrimage to Walsingham and, on St Peter’s Day, we celebrated our Diamond Jubilee; 70 years since the dedication of the Church building, on that day in 1957. Bishop Christopher celebrated, Fr Geoffrey Owen (past Vicar of St James) preached and Margaret Day, who had been present (as a mere child!) at the dedication, read the lesson. A month later we again

welcomed Bishop Christopher, and a number of visitors – both clergy and laity, this time to our patronal Mass, another great and celebratory occasion.

The next few months offered further opportunities; Mass on the Grass in the vicarage garden for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Back to Church Sunday and Harvest Festival. Then in October our wonderful Pet Blessing with a visit from St Francis himself (possibly) and Bishop Michael Doe (definitely) – mainly dogs and cats but the odd teddy bear got in too, and photos of those elderly or plain unsocial animals who couldn't be brought along. The animals (and their owners, of course) processed around the garden and into the church, got sprinkled with Holy Water, and then blessed individually at the altar. There were many smiling faces in church that day – and all the animals were on their best behavior – especially the lovely dog who joined in all the singing. The service was supported by the Dog Trust charity and there was a retiring collection direct to the Dog Trust which was very well supported.

Perhaps a more reflective period followed as in October a group of us went to Westminster Abbey for St Edwards day – a day of

services, and opportunities for awe, reflection and prayer as the Abbey closes to tourists and functions as “just” a church. As with all pilgrimages from St James, there was a feeling of being part of a group and doing things together, but also the freedom to take time alone and find each personal space for worship and reflection. A week later, there was a healing service on St Luke’s day. More reflection at All Saints, All Souls and Remembrance Day, then before we knew it, we were at the start of the Church’s calendar again at the onset of Advent.

Advent started with a service of carols, music and readings that was atmospheric and mystical. Fr Jim, Lyn and Elaine led the two Joseph Hood School Nativity and Christingle Services in Church – a great joy to have the church filled with children, teachers and parents enjoying the story of the Nativity and the symbolism of the Christingle. The children know Fr Jim and Elaine through the school assemblies, and they know the nativity story and the meaning of the Christingle and took an active and enthusiastic part in the whole thing (so many volunteers for all the roles in the Nativity!) but their singing of the carols they have learnt, and the prayers as they held (and with the marginally older children –lit) their Christingles while standing around the church was simply lovely. For the first time, these services took place on a Thursday, while the morning mass was on; both the children and our congregation benefitted from being aware of what else was happening in the church at the same time.

The annual leap of faith that is our carol singing outside the church, took place on the Saturday before Christmas. With brass

accompaniment from Rob (who we know from the Wimbledon Community Orchestra which rehearses in our hall) and his friends and colleagues – who now have the great title of the Putney and Wimbledon Brass Band – this year the small miracle of the cold rain stopping just 5 minutes before we were due to start allowed the event to be the magical and joyful event it always has been. And made the hot chocolate, mulled wine and mince pies even more welcome.

Christmas Eve, being a Sunday this year, was a busy day, with 9.30 Mass being Advent 4, then gearing up to the regular Nativity and Christingle service at 4pm. There was nothing regular about the service this year though, as we were joined (for the first joint service since they have been using our church) by members, and the choir, of the Wimbledon Korean Baptist Church (WKBC.) The church buzzed with anticipation as it filled and then rang with laughter, children answering questions, and carols as they entered into the Nativity Story with the tableau. For a while we had one Virgin Mary, with a real baby and then, the excitement came too much and the live Mary with Jesus doll understudies (!) stepped up to the crib. Adults and children dressed up and joined the tableau, the WKBC choir and soloist sang and then everyone collected their Christingles and formed the circle of light around the church as we prayed and sang again.
Later, the worship started with candlelit music and readings, seguing into Midnight Mass; as always, a fine and fitting start to Christmas. The smaller number who attended on Christmas morning welcomed the day joyously with carols and said service.

In 2017, as well as “our” three priests – Frs Jim, Mark and Graham - we were blessed with preaching, praying, teaching from a wide variety of people – bishops, priests including Fr Ian McCormack and Fr David Hastings, readers including Barbara Moreland and Tom Kavanagh, academics, laity and we thank all of them and give thanks for them.

Children and Families

Family Services continued on the 1st Sunday in the month, at 11.00, with a small number of families enjoying their Godly Play sessions. We felt this was neither reaching enough people, nor facilitating the children (and adults) moving towards regular attendance at Eucharistic services. We decided to keep the concept and broad pattern of the sessions, but move to 9.30 and go into church in time for Communion, thus “marrying” the two congregations somewhat, and making 9.30 the “time for church.” The first of these sessions was in October and initial response was good – watch this space.

Links with Joseph Hood School grew again; in addition to the assemblies taken by Fr Jim and Elaine McCormack, and the Nativity and Christingle services, the choir from Joseph Hood came to our Christmas Fair and sang, bringing parents and families to the fair and, meeting St Nicholas in the process. The PTFA had stalls at our fairs and we lent tables and stall surrounds for their fairs.

We try to be clear, by provision of play space, and by Fr Jim and others welcoming families with children during services, that children are an integral part of the church and welcome at every service – not just their “special” ones. There are opportunities to join the choir, to serve at the altar and to take a full part in the life at St James.

Church Members

The number on the Electoral Roll reduced to 62, ten names having been removed, and eight added. This year, average attendance at “ordinary” Sunday services increased to 52, but we are looking for an attendance of 60+, rather than the 50 - 55 we regularly got. The “Annual Count” (Sundays in October) peaked at 89, due to our well attended Pet Service; average Thursday attendances were 18, a slight reduction from last year, and there were good attendances at many “one off” and “special” services. Our target is for attendance to increase by at least 50% from 2015 to 2020. Most members of the congregation took an active part in services by reading, praying, serving, acting as chalice assistants and welcomers, collecting the offertory and singing in the choir. And we are ever mindful of the “behind the scenes people” who, for example, print and photocopy leaflets and service sheets, keep the linen beautiful, count the collection, and buy and arrange fresh flowers for the church, chapel and lobby.

There were funerals in church for Joyce Kirton and Thelma Harris – both of whom had been regular worshippers at St James in the past, and many of us attended the funeral of Carol Thomas who worshipped here regularly for years until too unwell to come to us. Both Joyce and Carol had been on Walsingham pilgrimages in the past. There were also 2 baptisms and it was a joy to welcome new members to the Church.

The usual hive of industry went on behind the scenes – preparing for services, making lunches and coffees – and clearing up, taking food to the food bank, lifts, visits, shopping, home communions, organizing the hall lettings and opening and shutting up the church, daily, and the hall for one off lets – all and more carried out by very many members of the congregation. And practical help was always available when

needed by a variety of people with many skills; whether for the church as a whole or for an individual seeking help. There was a thriving arts and crafts group (The 4th Wednesday Group) that among other things, repaired some of the church kneelers and made craft goods to sell at the Summer and Christmas fairs. A small group took part in the Ecclesiastical insurance Competition to make and submit a picture representing our church. There were very many entries and our entry did not win, but was a wonderful representation of us, the church with the open door, at the heart of the community with the community in its heart.

Creativity of a different sort was evident when Talia Alexandrou wrote, directed and acted (with others) in a short film in the church, for her GCSE course work. It was a who-dunnit in which the priest was murdered – so Fr Jim worked hard not to take it personally and it was a delight to welcome them.

Members of the Wimbledon Korean Baptist Church continued to use the church, hall and chapel several times a week for worship, services and fellowship. Their style of worship is undoubtedly different to ours – as Fr Jim and Pastor Ha, who have both attended the other’s services, can testify. But we worship the same God and it is good to have the church filled with worship for more of the time. We can learn from them and try to increase our numbers and copy their enthusiasm.


As well as the regular, ongoing, maintenance and repair work that must be done, there was one major piece of work completed during 2017. The hall roof was insulated and the increased warmth during the colder days was immediately noticeable, and we were glad to reduce our carbon footprint and heat less of the atmosphere above us and more of the people within. Laws of unintended consequences applied; the thermostat in the hall turns the heating off as the hall reaches temperature ….. making the church colder. So the heating remained an active issue and lots of work has gone on behind the scenes, looking into the best options eg replacement of boilers or other alternative heating systems, possible grant applications etc. A lot of progress was made and we hope to get a faculty application in to the Diocese this year, to allow things to happen. These issues take up a huge amount of time and effort from a relatively small number of people and we continue to be grateful to them for their industry and perseverance in pursuing the best we can afford.

Health and Safety is one of those things that takes regular attention, from the yearly Fire Inspection “walkabout” to observing problems and dealing with them before they become a bigger problem. Following some minor but worrying incidents at the end of 2016, new precautions were taken over candlelit services with no candles on the old stands attached to the rows of seats, but many still around the sides of the church, battery candles for those who prefer over real ones, and fire wardens during candlelit services. The Churchwardens and Fr Jim worked closely with Robin and Sandra (our Community Police Team) and Faith in Action to help a homeless person who was using the church and grounds. 23 people, the vast majority from St James, froze while attending a Safeguarding training session in the church in December, which opened our eyes to difficulties specific to churches where we welcome all, and things we could and should be doing, and raised awareness of issues that may not have occurred to us before. Graham Coverdale PAT (Portable Appliance Tested) all our portable electrical appliances – amazing how many we have – from kettles to Christmas tree lights. He also rodded all the drains – so many thanks to him.

2017 was the year of the Quinquennial inspection – a five yearly examination of the church by an architect advising us of the various works that could be, should be, or absolutely must be done in the following 5 years. This requires the churchwardens to spend the entire day there with the architect and cost us just over £1,000 and will be the focus of work over the next five years.

The hall continued very well-used. CAMEO to Kumon, fairs and book sales, small clubs, classes, meetings and children’s parties, to larger groups and endeavours; all used the facilities and see the pictures on the wall illustrating what St James is really about. In 2017 both the lobby and the church were increasingly used, and the task is to move people from the hall into the church . Richard Thomas worked like a Trojan to keep the bookings timetable up to date and workable, in fielding problems about heating, plumbing, etc, sending out invoices and, on occasion, chasing tardy and reluctant payers. He has long said he would like some help with (or, better still, to hand over) this important work and Sheila Coverdale works the “one-off” bookings, but it is the regulars that have grown this year.

We take pride in our lovely building and grounds, (maintained largely by Hilary Godwin, Graham Aslett, Mary-Jane Jeanes and Mike McCormack) and pleasure in the lobby and chapel being open for private prayer and shelter during most days, managed by a small group of people opening and closing, led by Simon Emdin. There are risks to this; there were some small issues with graffiti and litter, and keeping loose paper in the lobby to a minimum (and balancing this with the wish to offer information) is part of our fire risk management

but the message from the open door is a powerful one. The front doors were damaged by kicking when closed – they have been patched up by Michael Pilgrim and Dave Ashby but will need further attention. The notice boards in the porch and lobby tell the story of St James with notices, rotas, photos and displays of events, and a display of the work done with the children at the most recent 1st Sunday School and this is seen by a large audience as the lobby is used, by agreement, as a waiting area for the parents of the children at the Kumon Maths Centre, three times a week, and an occasional rehearsal room for the wind section of the Wimbledon Community Orchestra.

Fundraising and Social Activity

Another busy year for the members of the small Social and Fund Raising Committee and myriad others who helped with so many events - attached to services, mainly fund raising with outreach, and purely secular for fun and fellowship. We always held hospitality as an important part of life at St James’s and this was true across the whole of the year at big events and small. At the reception in January, following Fr Mark’s licensing, it was great to meet and mingle with his family and friends and so many people from across the Deanery that know him and love him for his work with each of their churches. At the end of the month the hall rocked to music supplied by our friend Joey d’Aguiar and 70+ people from within the congregation and without danced, played silly games, chatted, laughed, ate and drank, and had a generally very good time. £580 profit went towards the heating fund – although on that night with so many people hopping about, it was plenty warm enough.

Our regular “St James Café” – coffee after services on every Sunday and Thursday continued, but in February we opened the doors more and started “CAMEO” (Come And Meet Each Other) on the first Thursdays of the month. This was an informal, and free “village hall” type morning – homemade cakes, tea and coffee, tables to sit and chat, board and card games available, toys available for young children and some books to bring and buy, and was widely advertised by posters, leaflets and on the Nextdoor local info/sharing website. It was welcomed by a smallish number of people who have become regulars and by our Community Police who pop in with information and just for a chance to meet and be met. We know there are lots of lonely people out there – but how to reach them and get them across the threshold is the issue. It was suggested that making it a weekly event would be good – but at the moment there are too few people to do the considerable work involved in baking, setting up and putting away every week; perhaps a hope for the future. More cakes on our now traditional (well, second year running) Simnel Cake Competition, on Mothering Sunday – won this year by Fr Graham – but with all the bakers winning something and everyone tucking in to the cakes, everyone was a winner. The start of Lent was preceded by a pancake party in the vicarage on Shrove Tuesday, then a modest lunch served each Thursday after the Lent group – donations for these went towards the Bishop's Lent Appeal and, with other gifts, £542 was sent.

Easter Eve service was followed by a small party, with a musical interlude from Dylan, Beckie and Wendy, and on Easter Day the service and Easter Egg hunt, were followed with drinks and cold

cross buns. The Easter Saturday cleaning, polishing, flower arranging, gardening etc to make the church building ready to greet Easter Morning was a good and sociable experience – with the real pleasure of seeing the church bright, gleaming and glorious the next day

Our second go at a film night was very different to the first but still entailed changing the hall into a “proper” cinema, good food and drink, and some dressing up. An audience of nuns, lonely goatherds, one Bishop, a couple of sweet 16s, quite a lot of “me – a name I call myself”s etc etc, ate loosely Austrian food, followed by choc ices and popcorn at our Singalonga Sound of Music night. We sang, boo’d, cheered and aahed as instructed, and laughed and laughed. And raised £370 for the heating fund.

Our regular events of Jumble and Book Sales, Summer and Christmas Fairs, Patronal and Harvest Breakfasts, Outdoor carols, and post-service parties in the back of the church all came and went with, in general, good success both financially (for church funds and various charities) and in terms of fun had by us, our neighbours and our visitors. The Christmas Fair, in particular, was a wonderful event with a

visit from St Nicholas, with Fr Jim in attendance, and the choir from Joseph Hood singing. The hall was packed and the atmosphere was great. As too, the August Mass on the Grass service and barbecue which was blessed with lovely weather and lots of people. As part of our “move them from the hall to the church” campaign, the pictures in the hall of us at various services have grown and many visitors to the hall now can see something of what occurs on the other side of the lobby and are interested and comment on them or ask about them.

We continued to support the Wimbledon Foodbank, Christian Care, Faith in Action and the Bishop’s Lent Appeal. Substantial donations were sent to Embrace the Middle East, The Childrens' Society, plus many other smaller donations. A suggestion from Colin Sturge led to support a drive for WaterAid and half the Christmas Fair profit went to that - £700.

Aside from gifts given (toys, food, clothing etc) charitable donations overall this year were £2,577 – a reduction from last year mainly due to a lower key patronal, keeping all our Summer Fair profit for our heating fund, rather than giving half to charity, and direct collection for the Dog Trust.

Administration and Finance

During the year, the PCC continued to implement the requirements of the Health and Safety Policy, Fire Policy, and A Safer Church Policy but also to work on and extend our Mission Action Plan (MAP) with its long term goal of increasing our average attendance by 50% over 5 years (from 2015).

The MAP for 2016 was reviewed at the end of April at the APCM (Annual Parochial Church Meeting) and then in more detail at an Awayday in May. It was noted that on one level we have already achieved our long term goal since Fr Jim had introduced so many additional, and special, services which are very well attended; but we agreed that this was not what we had intended when we set the goal and agreed that we would firm that goal up to be average attendance on Sundays and Thursdays.

Of 2016's short term goals…

  1. Improve publicity about who we are and what we do, including use of website and social media. Partially achieved and ongoing.
  2. Get heating done. Not achieved – actively working towards.
  3. Nurture existing congregation. Achieved and ongoing.
  4. Increase invitation to non-regular (potential) congregation. Partially achieved and ongoing.

It was agreed that the 2017 goals should stay broadly the same and they were set as:

  1. Improve publicity about who we are and what we do, including website and use of social media.
  2. Get heating and hall insulation done
  3. Nurture new and existing congregation
  4. Increase Invitation to non-regular and potential congregation.

As before, under each of these targets, individuals or small groups took on responsibility for “stepping stone” manageable actions and these were reviewed and either acknowledged, changed or progressed at each subsequent PCC meeting.

2017 was again a very good year for St. James financially and our excess of income over expenditure enabled the roof in the hall to be insulated, and an increase in spending on mission activities. It also enabled funding to be put aside for the heating in the church and hall to be addressed, hopefully in the near future, while at the same time supporting the work of the Diocese through the Parish Support Fund. While we greatly benefit from the increased use of both church and hall, and the income that this generates, it must be stressed that it is the regular and generous giving of the congregation week by week that enables St. James to carry on and meet all its financial obligations.

In 2017 we continued to look in depth at how we would try to live to our ideal of growing up towards God; growing out to our community and the wider world; growing together for support and strength. This aspiration drove our life here at St James with our new leader during the past year, and now carries us forward to the next stage in our journey of faith together in the year to come.

Signed, on behalf of the PCC:

Fr Jim's signature
The Revd Canon Dr Jim Rosenthal
Chair of PCC8th March 2018.


Café St. James.

CAMEO (Come And Meet Each Other) has been running for a year, and the numbers have varied each month; mainly the people attending are known by congregation members, a few have come via the community website. Thank you to Robin and Sandra our Community Police and PSO Officers, who have been a great support for CAMEO. One month they arranged a neighbourhood watch meeting, talking about safety and security in our homes, info was given out, and personal alarms etc;. this swelled our numbers. A dedicated team make homemade cakes each month, set up the hall, and put out board games, we also have a second hand book stall and a play area for young children, and the kitchen set up for tea and coffee. A big Thank You to all who are involved, it is great team work, without you it couldn’t happen. We pray for its continual growth, as part of our being there for the community. Thank you also to all who are on the rota, to serve that welcomed cup of tea or coffee, on Sunday and Thursday mornings each week. If you would like to help with Cafe St. James, we can always add more names to the rota. This is a great way of meeting and getting to know each other. I have handed to the treasurer £700 this past year money raised through the cafe, this is put into church funds. Jean Lamb


As usual the Choir had a busy year providing all the music for Sunday services and the important festivals that fall within the Christian calendar. Over the year we have sung some familiar music and learnt some new.

We have become rather thin on the ground as far as tenors and basses are concerned, but although we are small in number we still try to do our best to provide music of a good standard for our worship.

I appreciate the continuing support of choir members and their willingness to work hard.

In September Clare Davies was officially presented with her gold award at a service in St Georges Roman Catholic Cathedral, Southwark.

Many thanks to Beckie Sturge for deputising for me when I was away. Wendy Faulkner

Merton Deanery Synod

Deanery Synod met twice last year. In May there was a presentation of 'Thy Kingdom Come' - a national initiative led by Archbishops Selby and Sentamuu. This encouraged us to 'Pledge2pray' for people to know Christ through talking to family and friends about encountering Jesus in our everyday lives and not just talking about 'going to church'.

Rev Bruce Rickards was confirmed as the new Area Dean and Martin Osborn as the new Laychair at the October meeting. 2 presentations were given: Rosemary Haslam, a Merton Schools worker talked about the support given to assist teachers in delivering RS in schools. This is mainly done through drama and role play.  In addition a nativity play was to be performed at Dean City Farm in December. Where possible children are given their own copy of St Luke's gospel. Anne Dearing then talked about a working party that the bishop has commissioned to encourage the growth of lay ministry, affirming what is being done already and to develop further initiatives. Examples of current lay leadership in the deanery includes night shelters, Faith in Action food banks and befriended working within Christian Care. Anne Fleming

Fabric Report

The new Heating Committee has continued to meet and has looked at the wide variety of quotes that have been obtained. There have been two strands to this work:

  1. Insulation of the hall roof and ceiling
    With Pete Smith’s help, the hall ceiling has now been insulated and hall users have commented on how much warmer it now is. The downside is that, because the hall retains heat so much better, the church is colder because the system’s thermostat is in the hall.
  2. Replacing the boiler and radiators
    The committee has recommended to the PCC that we replace the radiators in both the hall and the church with gas heaters. This has been discussed with the diocesan Heating Engineer, Martin Dow, and with Simon Gates, the archdeacon at his visitation in March. The Archdeacon recommended we should now apply for a faculty for the work. We are also researching various grant making organisations to see if we can get financial help.

In October, the church architect carried out the five-yearly inspection (the “quinquennial”). His report suggests a number of things that need to be sorted out, such as re-pointing some brickwork, over the next few years.

A small group of volunteers carry out regular and ongoing jobs such as removal of ivy from fences and walls, and preventing branches & brambles from overhanging the pavement; clearing moss off tarmac areas; keeping gutters and rainwater hoppers clear, carrying out regular inspections, such as the fire safety audit, carrying out the

annual portable appliance tests on electrical equipment. Last summer, Graham Aslett kept the weeds around the church under control with regular spraying, for which we are most grateful. In February, Graham Coverdale cleared the gully heads, and rodded the drains; again we are most grateful to him. We have also had to call in the plumber and electrician to carry out various minor repairs.

There was some damage done to the front door (when locked shut) by vandalism; this was repaired by Michael Pilgrim and Dave Ashby, to whom thanks, but may need further work in the future. There are still recurring problems with the external switch for the disabled access door. The engineers have visited on several occasions and replaced bits and pieces but the external switch, presented large bills and then the switch fails a few weeks later. Very few companies install and service such systems, making it difficult to resolve this problem which is very frustrating.

A number of other projects have been suggested to the PCC:

  1. Increasing the number of car parking spaces;
  2. Improving outside signage
  3. Investigating more comfortable seating in the Lady Chapel

The first two would require submitting planning applications to Merton Council, while the third will need a Faculty from the diocese. The Standing Committee feel that our current energies are best served by focusing on getting the heating sorted out and then looking in more detail at the others, depending on the state of church finances. Graham Aslett, Graham Coverdale, Mary-Jane Jeanes, & Elaine McCormack

Family Services

As mentioned in our PCC report, our monthly mainly Godly Play sessions have continued throughout this year, and have now, since October, moved time-wise to run in tandem with our main 9.30am service, then joining the main congregation for Communion.

We truly hope that this will help to bridge the gap between the two services and give more opportunities for both groups to meet, worship together and get to know each other. Linda Laffar

Flower Arrangers Guild

During the past year we as a team have enjoyed working together arranging the flowers to beautify the church.  We have a flower fund that pays for them but it is lovely that some people sponsor the flowers on occasion, in memory of a loved one of for a special event. There is a notice on the board if you would like to sign up for a week. It is also nice that people notice and comment on our efforts.
It is very therapeutic and we particularly enjoy the period after Lent when flowers reappear in church after an Easter “explosion”, and hope that more people male or female will join us. Elaine Lambie


Thanks to Richard Thomas and Sheila Coverdale who manage the many people who use the hall and comment on how much people like it. Richard has been doing this for many years and would like more help, and Sheila would like a few more volunteers to be on the list of those she pesters to open and close. She does always seem to manage and particular thanks to her and Graham who carry most of that burden and to the several others who will stand in when needed. Elaine McCormack

4th Wednesday Group

The 4th Wednesday Group's main focus is to discuss and make craft items to sell at our fairs to support our church and other charities.

At our Summer and Christmas Fairs, the craft stall had an array of handmade goodies such as knitted dolls and toys, cushions, children's clothes, jewellery, cards, Christmas decorations and a multitude of gloves, created by the '4th' team.

We aim to share our diverse skills and interests. Although the majority of people who come to the meetings are 'crafty', an interest in making stuff is all you need.

Everyone is welcome to come to chat, laugh together, have a cuppa and a biscuit. Why not join us? – 4th Wednesdays in the month – from 2 to 4pm at Linda's. Linda Laffar


Since the Early Church, Christians throughout the world have turned to prayer for comfort, peace, and inspiration, and for many the intercessions are an integral part of our worship. Prayer can offer a quiet space for those who wish to bring their innermost thoughts and needs to a loving God.

Our practice is that at the Sunday Eucharist prayers are led by a member of the congregation, adding variety to our prayer life, and encouraging as many people as possible to take an active role in the liturgy. There are currently 8 members of the congregation who take on this privilege and responsibility, and each has their own individual and distinct emphasis. Last year, Fr. Mark held a workshop for those who are already leading intercessions, and he would very much like to hear from anyone who might be interested in joining this group. It is a most rewarding and satisfying ministry. Mike McCormack

Ladies group

The ladies group continues to meet for a cup of tea and an afternoon of chat and laughter – speak to Hilary for the next date.


For me it continues to be a pleasure as well as a privilege to serve in the altar party, because each member of the serving team is so co-operative and helpful out of heartfelt commitment to our Lord. Especially, our flexibility and mutual trust gives rise to 'that peace which the world cannot give' in the midst of unforeseen changes at short notice.
Our only regret this year is that Norlan and Cloyd, who were serving regularly at the start of each month, do not feel able to continue; using public transport to church early on a Sunday morning has been awkward for them, but we have appreciated their cheerful willingness over the past year and are confident that they will continue to serve our Lord in more convenient circumstances. On the other hand, we are very pleased that Nick Alexandrou has supplemented his starring roles as St. Francis and a Wise Man by joining the altar party from time to time.  We would be happy to welcome and guide anyone who may feel drawn to this form of service; in particular, it would be a joy to welcome any relatively young person who might aspire to swing the thurible with the ease and grace which Mike shows every week. Simon Emdin

I take this annual meeting opportunity to offer hearty thanks to our very faithful and well-skilled servers. I am especially grateful to those who serve as "Sub-Deacon" or MC and being Clerk.

I thank: Simon (who prepares the rota), Mike (Thurifer), Nick (aka St Nicholas/St Francis) Debbie, Elaine, Lin, Matthew, Daniel, Thalia and Tia.

Worship is central to our identity as Anglican Christians, and indeed our servers perform their duties with reverence and provide a most important ministry for us all.
"I will go the altar of God, the God of my joy and gladness".

Additional servers are always welcome. Speak to Simon Emdin for training. All ages, boys and girls. Fr Jim


We are a congregation committed to ensuring that this is a place of safety and inclusion for everyone.
Safeguarding at St Jamesinvolves implementing the policies of the Diocese of Southwark to protect the well-being of children, vulnerable adults and all people in the congregation and during church activities, to support and encourage safeguarding training needs and to keep relevant records.
In December 2017, we had an 'in-house' C1 safeguarding course, led by Jill Gregson, a Diocesan trainer. Some twenty members of our congregation, who kindly carry out duties at church, attended the training, as well as some parishioners from St Mary, Merton.
Our Parish Safeguarding Officers are Anne Fleming and Linda Laffar.
If you have any concerns about the safety of a child or adult in their home life, here at James's, in our worship, or in any activities that take place in our Church Hall, you can always discuss it with the Parish Safeguarding Officers, or with Father Jim, our Priest-in-Charge. Linda Laffar

Social and Fundraising Committee

The S&F committee's primary aim is, as always, to continue to support and increase our fellowship and outreach at St James'. It also raises money for our own church needs and charities, in particular, Christian Care and Wimbledon Foodbank, Faith in Action and the Bishop's Lent Appeal, Embrace the Middle East and the Children's Society.
We meet together regularly to organise and support a range of social events , as mentioned in the PCC report, as well as providing help as needed at other times, such as refreshments or meals linked to special services or particular events in the Church calendar.
I sincerely thank our team for all their hard work and commitment, and also, the many others who kindly and willingly give their time, skills and help to make our ventures so successful.
If you would like to join us, you'd be most welcome! Linda Laffar

Stewardship Report

This report provides an opportunity to thank everyone for their continued financial support of St James'. Being good stewards requires us to decide what we will do with all that God has entrusted to us. The familiar offertory response "All things come from you, and of your own do we give you" reminds us that all that we have is sourced from God's provision.
Financial stewardship not only allows us to pay the bills but also enables us to develop our mission and ministry as outlined in our Mission Action Plan. During the past year we have received a total of £31,254 through direct giving and those contributions (as well as donations) which were gift aided enabled us to claim £4,428.18 in recoverable income tax.
The Planned Giving scheme helps us to plan our church finances each year and offerings are made either by using a weekly envelope or by setting up a standing order with the bank. Please speak to the Stewardship Secretary if you are interested in becoming a member of the Stewardship Scheme and also if you are a taxpayer and would

like a Gift Aid declaration form to enable us to reclaim the tax on your offering - 25p for each pound given. (Your donations won’t qualify for Gift Aid if they are more than four times what you’ve paid in tax that tax year). Anne Fleming – Stewardship Secretary

Website (

Our web site provides information about us and our activities for members of our own congregation and makes our presence known to the wider on-line community. It has details of our regular and seasonal services and other religious activities and also of our social events. An important feature is the Picture Gallery which contains photos of recent events and activities.

The basic content of the site has changed little over the last year but it is not set in stone and anyone is welcome to make suggestions for improvements or the addition (or removal) of items, or to point out errors or clarifications. Offers to provide regular updates for items which change frequently would be particularly welcome. It helps if contributions are made in writing (so that I don't forget), preferably by email to Michael Pilgrim

Churches Together in Merton Park (CTiMP)

Your three representatives – Shirley Morse, David Ashby and myself - attended the four Meetings CTiMP held since our last AGM. With the other churches (Martin Way Methodist, St. John Fisher R.C, Merton Park Baptist and St. Mary, Merton) we followed our annual agenda: compiling, printing and distributing the Christmas Leaflet, arranging the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Service, and at each meeting receiving a detailed report from the Christian Care representative. Christian Care (which arose from the then “United Churches” Group Lent Studies) celebrated its 50th anniversary last year). This past year we have also gathered information for a leaflet detailing all the activities of our churches which have pastoral outreach, including our CAMEO.

Needing a fresh impetus we have suggested to the member churches that we all concentrate on becoming more involved with Christian Care which, through a variety of activities, invests a lot of time and energy in very practical, basic Christian caring. This is in no way confined to “Christian” people, but to anyone who comes to C.C. seeking help. They work with children, homeless families - getting them into accommodation and providing basic necessities, run the only Furniture Project in the Borough, arrange holidays for families and camps for youngsters from the families C.C. helps. There is always more need for volunteers which it is felt our several congregations could provide. It was felt that this work was an important visible sign of Christians of all churches working together for the good of the community. It is to be seen if the 5 churches agree with this new emphasis.
This year Merton Park Baptist Church will be celebrating its 90th anniversary, and St. John Fisher its 70th anniversary. Graham Derriman

Wimbledon Foodbank

The Wimbledon Foodbank continues its valuable work using the Elim Pentecostal church as its base. Teams of volunteers receive donations, date and store food, and package it up for those in need. The Foodbank is open there on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday each week between 12:00pm and 2:00pm. There is also now a Foodbank which has been set up on a Wednesday evening at the Baptist Church in Morden, and which is run from the Elim base.

In order to be able to receive food from the Foodbank, recipients have to have a voucher issued by the local council, a social worker, a GP or other authorised person and they can come to the Foodbank three times on one voucher. St James Merton donated 300kg of food to the Foodbank last year, which fed 42 people in crisis over three days, and provided 378 meals. We have also given cash donations. That is a marvellous effort by our congregation, and I would like to thank everyone for their generous donations. Eleanor Sturge

Worship committee

As Priest in Charge I have the privilege of ordering the forms of service that we use here at St James Merton. In such a process comes the desire to seek advice, share ideas and develop a pattern of worship true to the Liberal Catholic Anglican tradition. The Committee consists of Michael Pilgrim who actually produces the end products and is keeper of the memory; Wendy Faulkner, the Director of Music, Simon Emdin as Warden and Sacristan, Mike McCormack, and Fr Mark Budden. The truth of the matter is that we have a difficulty finding a time and place to meet. Our recent Holy Week meeting showed how valuable a meeting can be to all. We aim for 4 times a year or before a special service such as St Jamesfest or the Assumption Picnic Mass. Comments can be shared directly with me at any time. Fr Jim Rosenthal

Thanks to Fr Jim, our Churchwardens, Simon Emdin and
Mary-Jane Jeanes and everyone else who contributed to making 2017 the year it was.

Thanks to them and all who make St James's what it is.

the door is open most days during
daylight hours for quiet prayer, rest and reflection


All Sundays:        9.30am: The Parish Mass
First Sundays:          9.30am: 1st Sunday School
Thursdays:           10.00am: Healing Mass
2nd Wednesdays:           Bible Study
For changes, additional services and events see porch notices and website
Baptisms/Christenings, Weddings, Funerals, Blessings:
Contact Fr Jim M Rosenthal, Priest in Charge
020 3016 5156