Tuesday, March 12, 2019

St Matt's Annual Report 2019

St Matthew’s Tipton

Diocese of Lichfield

Annual Parochial Church Meeting

Sunday 3 March, 2019

St Matthew’s Church, Dudley Road, TIPTON, West Midlands, DY4 8DJ
To know Jesus, and make Him known


1. Agenda for the Annual Meeting of Parishioners (AMP)
2. Minutes of Annual Meeting of Parishioners of 4/3/18
3. Agenda for the Annual Parochial Church Meeting                         
4. Minutes of Annual Parochial Church Meeting of 4/3/18
5. Report of the Parochial Church Council to the APCM
6. Vicar’s report

Diocese of Lichfield
The Parish of St Matthew, with St Martin & St Paul, Tipton

Meeting of Parishioners

The Annual Meeting of Parishioners will take place in Church directly following the 10:30am service on Sunday 3 March, 2019.


  1. Prayer and Minutes of last meeting

  1. Appointment of two Church Wardens

  1. Date of next meeting: 8 March 2020

Those entitled to and attend and vote are all adults resident in the parish and 
all members of the electoral roll.

Minutes of the Meeting of Parishioners, 4 March 2018

Chairperson: The Revd. Allen Bower

Opening Prayer

Allen Bower opened the meeting in prayer.
Minutes of last meeting

The Minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 March 2017 were accepted as a true report.

Proposed: Ann Watson Seconded:    Orlen Johnson
All in favour; None against; No abstentions
Appointment of two Church Wardens 

Appointment of two Church Wardens
Suzanne Whitehouse and Nigel Watson both indicated they wished to continue as wardens for another year.

Nigel and Suzanne were duly elected as Church Wardens.

Proposed: Eileen Reynolds Seconded: Joan Lovell
All in favour; None against; No abstentions

Allen added his personal thanks for the vast amount of work that the wardens do.
Proposed date of next meeting

The date for the next meeting is Sunday 3 March 2019.

Diocese of Lichfield
The Parish of St Matthew, with St Martin & St Paul, Tipton

Annual Parochial Church Meeting

The Annual Parochial Church Meeting will take place in Church following the 10:30am Morning Service on Sunday 3 March 2019.


  1. 1.  Minutes of the previous meeting (The Revd Allen Bower)

  1. 2.  Changes in the Electoral Roll (Vera Wilkes) 

  1. 3.  Annual Financial Report (Chris Neat)

  • Independent Examiner’s report for the year ending 31 December 2018
  • Examined statement of funds and property of the Council
  • Appointment of Independent Examiner for period to 31 December 2019. 

  • Election of twelve lay representatives to the PCC

  • Appointment of Assistant Wardens and Sidepersons

  • Church Wardens’ reports (Nigel Watson, Suzanne Whitehouse)

  • Report of the Parochial Church Council to the APCM  (John Pymm)

  • Vicar’s Report (The Revd Allen Bower)

  • Date of Next meeting – 8 March 2020.

  • Closing Prayer

  • Date of next business PCC meeting Monday 11 March 2020, Church Hall, 7:30 pm.

Those entitled to attend and vote:

Members of the electoral roll

Minutes of the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, 4 March 2018

The meeting was attended by 47 electoral roll members and was chaired by The Revd Allen Bower.
Minutes of the meeting of 12 March 2017

These were accepted as a true record of the meeting.

Proposed:   Paul Garrett   Seconded:    Bill Newby

All in favour; None against; No abstentions
Changes in the Electoral Roll 

Allen Bower offered a massive vote of thanks for Vera Wilkes, the Church Administrator, for all of her work on the Electoral Roll, and a huge number of other things. The Electoral Roll has been updated since the APCM of 9 February 2014:

  • There are 124 names on the electoral roll as at January 2018
  • 18 new names have been added 
  • 9 names have been deleted since the APCM of 12 March 2017
Annual Financial Report

This was received and accepted by the meeting.  Allen Bower thanked Chris Neat in her absence for all for her hard work on finance.  

Gift Aid and Open offerings have increased and the financial situation of the Church is stronger.  Allen thanked everyone for their commitment.

Proposed:   Louise Reid                     Seconded:  Rob Whitehouse

All in favour; None against; No abstentions

It was further proposed to appoint Peter Bradley to the role of Independent Examiner for the coming year, 2018-2019.

Proposed:  Ann Watson   Seconded:  Bill Newby 
All in favour; None against; No abstentions
Election of lay representatives to the PCC

Allen thanked the members of the PCC in the current year for their hard work and commitment.  There are two changes to the PCC 2017-2018.  Wendy Ralphs and Lynn Hickman are stepping down and being replaced by Gary Smith and Cas Morrall.

Church Wardens
Nigel Watson
Suzanne Whitehouse

Deanery Synod representatives (3 years)
Janice Atkins (2018-21)
John Pymm (2018-21)
Robert Whitehouse (2018-21)

Louise Reid
Elaine Lewis-Roberts
Orlen Johnson
Stuart Hutchinson (Safeguarding officer/H&S)
Lucy Hickman
Matthew Jebb
Cas Morrall
Chris Neat (Treasurer)
Bill Newby
Eileen Reynolds
Gary Smith
Ann Watson (Deputy Warden)

Proposed:  Kevin Smith    Seconded: Paul Morrall
All in favour; None against; No abstentions
Appointment of Assistant Wardens (legal: sidespersons)

The following were nominated as assistant wardens:

Paul Garratt
Paul Morrall

Proposed:    James Watson         Seconded:   Mick Atkins
All in favour; None against; No abstentions

Wardens’ Review of 2017

Nigel Watson referred to the Warden’s Report, which was distributed at the meeting.  

He drew attention to completion of work for the quinquennial and gave an outline of the work that had been undertaken in the last year.  He also pointed out that the Church architect acknowledged that the heating system was unsuitable and it was problematic finding parts for the boiler as these are not made any longer.  One part had increased, for example, from £100 to £370. Nigel also updated the meeting as to disability access to the church, and also on storm damage during the year.  

Nigel thanked everyone for their hard work and commitment and requested that anyone who wished to get more involved should speak to him or Suzanne as there was no shortage of work to be done.

Report on PCC meetings – John Pymm 

The PCC had met on six occasions during the year to take forward the spiritual and practical business of the Church.

Vicar’s Report

Allen Bower showed a short video that presented a summary of the very large number of activities going on at St Matthew’s.

He followed this with an encouraging presentation on the large number of thriving aspects of church life, including:

  • Connect groups
  • Worship
  • Training Hub
  • Life-Changing Courses
  • Pastoral Care Team
  • Sermons
  • Leadership Team
  • Re-ordering
  • Children’s ministry
  • Youth
  • CAP
  • Sunday attendance – up to 104 average
  • Electoral Roll – up from 83 (2013) to 124 (current), which makes us the largest church in the Deanery
  • Services and Events

Allen gave a very big thank-you to everyone from him and Karen for all the things that everyone has done – godly, competent people stepping in and volunteering.  God is continuing to grow the Church at St Matthew’s.  Allen encouraged everyone in reckless faith.

Joan Lovell asked whether the plans for the re-ordering would be on show and Allen answered that this would be the case.

Rob Whitehouse gave a vote of thanks for Allen and Karen for their ministry.
Date of Next Meeting 

It was confirmed that the next meeting will take place on 3 March, 2019.
Closing prayer

The Revd Allen Bower closed the meeting in prayer at 13.15 pm.
Date of first meeting of the new PCC – Monday 12 March, 2018 at 7.30pm in the Church Hall.

Report of the Parochial Church Council
to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting 2019

Section 1: Administration

Members of the Parochial Church Council from March 2018 - March 2019

VICAR The Revd Allen Bower (Ex-officio)

CURATE The Revd Kate Watson (Ex-officio)


Warden & Deputy-Chair  Mr Nigel Watson

Warden, Vice-Chair Mrs Suzanne Whitehouse

Assistant Wardens Mr Rob Whitehouse
Mrs Ann Watson

DEANERY SYNOD REPS Dr John Pymm (PCC Secretary)
(Term 2018-21) Mrs Janice Atkins 
Mr Robert Whitehouse (Assistant Warden)        
Miss Louise Reid
Dr Stuart Hutchinson
Mrs Chris Neat (Treasurer)
Mr Bill Newby
Mr Orlen Johnson
Mrs Elaine Lewis-Roberts
Mrs Eileen Reynolds
Mrs Ann Watson (Assistant Warden)
Mrs Cas Morrall
Mr Gary Smith
Matthew Jebb
Non PCC officers

ASSISTANT WARDENS (Sidepersons) Mr Paul Garratt
Mr Paul Morrel

Gift Aid Secretary Mrs Suzanne Whitehouse

Electoral Roll Officer 
& Church Secretary      Mrs Vera Wilkes 

Safeguarding Officers The Revd Kate Watson/Dr Stuart Hutchinson
DBS Administrator         The Revd Kate Watson/Mrs Lynne Hickman

Health & Safety Officer Dr Stuart Hutchinson

Church membership (Electoral Roll)
Electoral Roll:    There was a revision of the Electoral Roll in January 2019 and there are now 114 names on the roll.

Sunday Attendance Usual Sunday attendance for 2018 was 112 people (96 adults & 16 children) which is an increase from 104 people in 2017. 

These figures are based only on attendance at main Sunday services, and do not include attendance at baptisms, seasons, or weekday events.

Bank: HSBC Bank, High Street, Dudley, 
West Midlands. DY1 1PP
Barclays Bank, 9 Bull Ring, Dudley DY3 1RR.

Independent Examiner: Mr P Bradley, 19 Wren Street, 
Woodsetton, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 4LP

Section 2: Structure, Governance and Management

2.1 PCC Constitution
The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is a corporate body established by the Church of England. The PCC operates under the Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956. The PCC is presently excepted by order from registering with the Charity Commission.

According to the PCC (Powers) Measure 1956, the PCC is to co-operate with the Minister in promoting in the Parish the whole mission of the Church: pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.  

The PCC elects a standing committee comprising of at least five members. The following are ex-officio members: the Vicar and the Church Wardens.

2.2 How PCC Members are appointed
Nominations for the Parochial Church Council for the following year are invited from the Church Members for submission to a meeting of the church members, called the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM).  This meeting has to be held before 30th April each year.  A two-thirds majority is required at this meeting for each appointment to the PCC and voting is by ballot. These members of the PCC are elected for one year only.  Church Wardens (elected at an annual meeting of parishioners called the Annual Parishioners’ Meeting) are automatically appointed to serve on the PCC.

The PCC has powers to co-opt additional members to fulfil specialist or required duties.  Such appointments will last until the end of the current year in which they are co-opted at the latest, or shorter period if the specialist or other duties needed cease to exist.  

Any Clergy licensed to the parish (Vicar & Curate) are automatically appointed as a members of the PCC (Ex-officio), as also are the three triennially-elected representatives to the Deanery Synod.

2.3 Induction of new PCC Members
At the first meeting of the newly appointed PCC, the Vicar, or lay Chairperson in an interregnum, distributes guidance notes and leads discussion on How to Conduct Church Business at the PCC Meeting.

2.4 Sub-Committees
Various sub-committees may be convened as required.  

2.5 Risk Management
Risks which may have financial implications and/or fabric-related matters are under constant review by the PCC.  

The Safeguarding Officers are responsible to the PCC for ensuring that all workers associated with children’s activities, or who are in contact with other vulnerable parties, are checked for clearance under DBS procedure and undergo safeguarding training.

Section 3. Objectives and Activities

3.1 General
To promote the Gospel and doctrines of the Church of England.

3.2 Mission Statement
To know Jesus and to make Him known.

To raise a growing missional community of God, which seeks to know God deeper, and together with other churches bring the love, presence and power of God to transform our local community, our nation and the world.


When we pray, we are partnering with God to seek His kingdom.  We desire to be a ‘praying community’ where prayer underpins every area of our lives and everything we do.

We desire to be a ‘missional community’ that reaches out and boldly shares God’s love in word, and in practical ways, to the least, the last and the lost, in Tipton and beyond.

Above all, we desire to be a worshipping community where we love God through our conversations, actions, service, and our entire being.  We desire to hold nothing back and live fully surrendered to His purpose.

We desire to be a ‘radical community’ that serves each other sacrificially, supports and encourages one another, and celebrates God’s glory through our unity and diversity. 

We desire to be a ‘Spirit-Empowered Community’ that experiences the reality of God’s love in our hearts and sees lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We desire to be a ‘discipling community’ where we live lives rooted in Jesus’ teachings and are focused on becoming more like Jesus everyday.

Section 4. Financial Report

Report from Chris Neat (Treasurer)

As you view the accounts, you will see our total income was £79,197.97 and our expenditure was £79,394.00. In 2018 we gave £4374.81 to charities which includes Alpha, which has had such an impact at St Matthew’s; Barnabas Fund, who resource the persecuted church; Christians Against Poverty who have had such an impact in alleviating poverty and bringing people to faith in Tipton and the surrounding areas. 

Through external funding and donations we have been able to fund a Worship/Youth Pastor, a Kids’ Pastor and reopen the CAP Centre.

Please consider using standing order for your offerings and donations. Our bank details and forms are available from the church office.

If you are eligible please complete a Gift Aid form and if you are able to, please consider increasing your offering.

Thank you for your amazing generosity and support throughout 2018: every penny you give is so important in seeing lives changed.

The following pages consist of

4.1 Statement of accounts - the balance sheet for the year

4.2 Statement of Accounts - where the money is invested

4.3 Independent Examiner’s Report to the PCC

 Section 5. PCC and Deanery Synod Report

Report from Dr John Pymm (PCC Secretary)

Parochial Church Council (PCC) 

The PCC is the central decision-making body of the Church.  The Council met on six occasions during 2017-2018.  All meetings were quorate and attendance was very good.  During the year, increased amounts of time were allocated during meetings for small-group prayer, which reflects the way in which we increasingly wish to place our decision-making in the hands of God.

Deanery Synod (DS) 

The Deanery Synod met three times during the year. There were opportunities to update any news or joys from individual parishes  Each meeting had a speaker covering a topical issue for the parishes. These were diverse in nature, ranging from a reflection on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage to information on dementia-friendly churches.

Practical matters that were discussed include the purchase of a Deanery minibus, which is to be made available for events organised by constituent parishes in the Deanery, a deanery mission strategy and website.
Section 6. Report on St Matthew’s activities

6.1 Church Wardens’ Report

Report from Nigel Watson & Suzanne Whitehouse

The Church Buildings:

The Quinquennial inspection arrived on 6 June, 2017. The inspection was multifaceted covering not only the buildings, structure etc. but also safety, access to all, including those with disabilities, and how fit for purpose the building is, with a view to tailoring the reordering plans to our needs and the needs of our recently enlarged parish.

General comments from the inspection:

It was noted in the report that the heating system is not sufficient to heat the church due to a poor distribution system of cast iron pipework and old inefficient boilers, making it costly and difficult to heat the church quickly.  It was noted that frequent repairs had to be made to the boilers, that are now obsolete and parts are expensive and difficult to obtain. We now have to use the electric storage heaters in the offices in the vestry to supplement the heating during the week to enable a pleasant working environment. It said; “This situation is not sustainable and works against the mission of the church”. It is also progressively more expensive to run. Heating of Church and Hall amounts to an average, over the year, of approximately, £25 a day! 

The report also commented on Disabled Provision and Access. It noted that an Access Audit had been carried out and highlighted problems for wheelchair users, Mobility Scooters etc. and coffin bearers. Essentially, the front doors, and central aisle are too small, the width of the centre aisle prohibits two wheelchairs to pass each other and there is no disabled access to the side aisles and chancel. Because of the pews, users of wheelchairs or mobility scooters cannot sit in the body of the congregation with friends, family, or carers and there is no toilet facility for disabled persons or toilet provision in the church itself for the congregation. The position of the cast iron heating pipes and the raised pew platform not only make the aisles smaller, but are an extra obstacle for members of the congregation who are physically less able. For funerals, coffin bearers are not able to carry a coffin down to the chancel because there is inadequate room, which can be distressing for mourners.  

Work to be done as a result of the inspection:

As a result of the inspection, several lists are made to assist in planning future work. You will be glad to know that all the work on the Requiring Urgent Attention list have been completed and we are now working through the Works Requiring Attention within 18 months

Other work completed:

  • Work to the top of the tower, including pointing of stone and brickwork, reaffixing lightning corona and clearing drains. (QI)
  • Emergency work on the Hall roof after storm damage
  • General roof repairs; slipped or broken tiles and inspection of areas hidden from view.(QI)
  • Repointing in several places as a result of historical movement and weathering.(QI)
  • Removal of over grown plant growth at back of car park and continued work on garden at the front of the church (Many thanks to Trevor and Joan Round for their hard work)

Becoming more urgent at every inspection:

  • Continuation of replacing the weathered bricks on the Tower and other elevations; Re-covering the Lead on the Tower roof
  • Overhaul of high clerestory and aisle windows and other High Level Stone, brick and roof work
  • Removal of hessian wall paper in chancel to inspect plaster where roof leaked

Other yearly items completed:

  • PAT testing
  • Fire Safety testing
  • Gas Inspection and service of boilers  
    • The testing of the lightning conductor
    • Clearing of all drains and gutters around the church

New additions:

New projector and wiring in the hall, (plus cleaning of the church projector)

  • New speakers and speaker brackets in the hall
  • Additional tableware for communion services
  • Upgrading of Church sound equipment and keyboard
  • New office furniture

We would also like to express our thanks to all who give their time and energy to enable this church to function from week to week, especially the deputy Wardens and Welcomers.  A special thank-you to everyone on the rota who serves in any way, for those involved in the work parties, and those cleaning the church and grounds.  We couldn’t do this without you, and thanks to our youth workers & Sunday school leaders who nurture and encourage the next generation.

Can we encourage everyone to play their part?  There are many and varied jobs which need to be carried out in order to maintain a growing church like ours, if you feel you can offer your time to serve in anyway, please speak to us, we’d love you to join the team - Nigel & Sue

6.2 Christians Against Poverty (CAP)

Report from Andy Watson (Debt Centre Manager)

The St Matthew’s CAP centre closed in December 2017 when the long serving Debt Centre manager, Eileen Reynolds, took well-deserved retirement after 10 years of running the centre on a voluntary basis. ,After much effort, prayer and hard work the Debt Centre re-opened in September 2018 when 12 months’ funding was confirmed by Lichfield Diocese.  This allowed us to appoint a part-time Debt Centre manager working 16 hours a week. From September to the end of December 2018 we were working with 14 clients/families and currently have a further 12 clients booked in up to April 2019. 

The St Matthew’s debt centre is run by the Centre Manager who is currently supported by a team of 5 volunteer befrienders and we aim to meet with 4 new clients each month. Each client is met with 3 times during the process where we begin by explaining the journey to becoming Debt free and telling them that God loves them. We also offer to pray with the client and invite them to Sunday services, Alpha and other Church activities. It’s a privilege to meet with each client and bring hope and God’s love into what are often very difficult and chaotic circumstances.

6.3 Mission & Discipleship

Report from Rob Whitehouse, Allen Bower & Mick Reynolds

In 2018 we ran 3 alpha courses. One was a women's daytime Alpha in January. Five women (plus a few of toddlers) attended and they all gelled well together. By the end, everyone had made a profession of faith or grown in their faith and all but one (due to work commitments) were keen to continue to meet and so a new Connect group was born. In September, an evening Alpha ran with 8 guests. The group bonded really well, good friendships were born, 3 people made a commitment to Jesus and 1 re-committed their life. The group has gone on to be a part of a new connect group. Another group was run during the daytime before the Places of Welcome coffee mornings. On average, 3 people attended that course and 1 committed their life to Jesus. A great year for the Alpha ministry with 9 people coming to faith, 1 re-commitment, good friendships formed and 16 people heard about Jesus’ love for them.

Living Free
In 2018 we ran 2 courses with 10-15 people on each course. We were assisted by friends from Rowley Regis Christian Fellowship on the first course and we were able to train up our own team from St Matt’s for the Prophetic Prayer on the second course. We have had very positive feedback from many of the attendees: “I now feel a lot more confident in my faith and can now talk more about it,” “It has reinforced my faith,” “it reminded me who I am in Christ and that I have complete freedom in Him.” We have now sent a team to help support a church in Stoke begin their course.

Men’s Ministry
The Men’s Ministry ‘DY4MEN’ has formally been re-launched and our first meeting in church was attended by 16 men. We have a number of men now on our WhatsApp/text group and all will be contacted whenever there is a men’s event coming up and they will be encouraged to attend and bring a non-Christian friend. We have a quiz booked for March, a BBQ in June, Tough Talk in September and we will hopefully be inviting our friends to Alpha at the end of the year. A number of other events are in the pipeline as the year progresses.

6.4 Children’s Work

Report from Leanne Smith (Kids’ Pastor)

Kids’ Church
We currently have 38 children registered, 10 volunteers and 3 that lead each session. Our average attendance varies between 12–17 children, aged between 3-10 years. Our normal routine consists of: Welcome; 2x Worship Songs; Session Introduction; Game; Word & Witness; Snack & Conclusion; Craft & Prayer and close with Dancing & Praising the Lord.  Each child volunteer and parent sign in and out for heath and safety reasons. A safeguarding folder has been put into place, consisting of: Good Practice Forms, Signs to Look Out For, Accident/Incident forms, Conversation Logs, Pre-Existing Injury Forms. A Risk Assessment is carried out at each session. A prayer space has been introduced for the children to use any time during Kids’ Church where they can explore different ways of praying. This has worked well in encouraging the children to be confident in talking to God. Since splitting into age appropriate groups the children show they are highly engaged in the Bible by asking questions that lead to amazing discussions. From October 2018, we learnt about ‘The Fruit of the Spirit.’ The children openly shared their experiences of how they had shared these qualities with others. From January 2019, we are teaching who Jesus is based on Hebrews. Here are some of their feedback: I enjoy Kids Church because… “It teaches me about God and what He has done for us,” Kids Church helps me to… “Understand what God’s power is,” “Learn more about God,” “Learn about Jesus,” “Believe in God,” “Worship Jesus.”

GR8! Is St Matt’s After School Club for children aged 7 – 11 years old and led by the Tipton Youth Project. Numbers have averaged 15 children per session – the majority from non-christian backgrounds. Children enter the session, with a warm welcome; with freshly-made toast and juice ready and waiting. A variety of activities are provided such as: craft, board games; table tennis; table football and team games - before spending time learning about God. We have looked at topics such as: David, Christmas and Jeremiah.

Playgroup is offered to parents, carers, grandparents and their babies and toddlers from birth–4 years of age during Term Time every Monday and Friday mornings. The average weekly attendance is between 8–16 for both children and parents. Playgroup is led by volunteers from the community and members of St Matthew’s church with several parents assisting in the running of Playgroup. The children are offered a wide range of Free Play activities that meet their Early Years Foundation Stage needs, such as; Craft, Role Play, Construction, Physical, Small World, Songs and Stories. Parents/carers have a wonderful opportunity to build up relationships and chat with other parents/carers, whilst playing with their own children through-out the whole session. Parents/carers have stated how, “warm, welcoming and friendly our Playgroup is.”

Kids’ Pastor’s Activities
Thanks to external funding I commenced the role of Kids’ Pastor in October 2018. I assist at our Playgroup every Monday and Friday mornings (Term Time). I help to set up, share faith through prayers & stories, and build relationships with parents and children. I have joined Revd Kate (Curate), in her ‘Life After Alpha’ group Monday noons. We chat, have coffee, dig into a Bible study and pray for each other. It’s wonderful to be part of this fellowship where I have met new mums. Monday late noon is spent leaning theology with other team members. Once a month on a Tuesday noon I join Tipton Youth Project with their Lunch Club at Foxyards Primary School. I enjoy eating a school dinner with the pupils, chatting to them about their day and playing board games with them. Through this, I have begun to build a relationship with the school. After school on a Tuesday, I help assist Tipton Youth Project with GR8! Wednesdays I mentor a volunteer on the Kids Team. We have a chat to see how they are doing Spiritually, and I encourage and equip them in their calling for Children’s ministry. Thursdays, we have staff meeting, prayer, 121’s with Allen, followed by Places of Welcome where I make relationships with parents and children. During the half term holidays, we have introduced “Cooking Sessions” for the children which has been very successful. Sundays (Term Time), I lead St Matt’s Kids Church. When not participating in any of the groups, I spend precious time, doing a daily devotional and prayer time. I also spend my time in the office on: admin, planning, evaluating, updating and being inspired for future events and activities.

6.5 Pastoral Care Team

Report from Mick Atkins

Firstly, I would like to thank all who are on the Pastoral Care Team for their dedication and time to this very special calling.  The team provides a valuable contribution to the work of God at St Matthew’s, which often goes beyond the care that the Connect Groups provide. This year we have supported a number of people inside and outside the parish, going through very challenging circumstances, by visitation at home or hospital, phone calls, and through the prayer network. May God bless all who are involved in this precious calling.

6.6 Connect Groups

Report from The Revd Allen Bower

Connect Groups remain at the heart of life at St Matt’s as places of discipleship, fellowship, pastoral care, and where we learn to do faith together amongst friends in a safe environment. They have continued to go from strength to strength and again we have seen new church members and former Alpha guests find a group that’s just right for them. It’s been so exciting hearing stories from all the groups of how people are growing in faith, giving talks, engaging in worship, praying with new confidence and supporting each other through the challenges of life.

6.7 Music & Worship

Report from Eileen Reynolds

The worship team comprises 24 members including singers, keyboard players, guitarists, drummers, flautists, sound and visuals. The aim of sung worship is to help bring worshippers into the presence of God and this is done in the main using contemporary worship songs although updated arrangements for hymns are also used.

Section 7. Vicar’s Report

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland…  because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Isaiah 43:18-21

As I reflect on 2018, I am overwhelmed at God’s faithfulness and grace in the life of our church. Thank you all for giving so generously of your time and resources. I am humbled by those outside of St Matt’s church who have also given very generous donations to aid us in seeing lives transformed here in Tipton. 

When we prepared the ‘Join the Adventure’ series in early 2018, the verses I felt God lay on my heart for us as a community were the same verses I received in 2014 when feeling called to join St Matt’s: Isaiah chapter 43, verses 18 & 19. God encourages His people through Isaiah, that even though the path ahead is unknown and full of challenges, He is doing ‘Something New!’ This new thing always begins with us.

Our mission statement is ‘To know Jesus and make Him known.’ Our Join the Adventure series firstly highlighted the importance of ‘knowing Jesus’. Each of us must focus on our ‘Personal, Shared, Sunday & Team journeys’, so we can each grow in our relationship with Jesus and with each other. The second part of this statement is to ‘make Jesus known’. After merging with our neighbouring parish our boundaries have been enlarged; we have grown from a benefice of 4,500 to 17,500 people. The needs of the community are vast but this provides us many new and exciting opportunities for sharing God’s love and generosity. It is vital we continue to pray and discern together how God is calling us to make Jesus known in our community for this season.

We now have a Leadership Team tasked with praying and encouraging us in the six strands of our vision: Prayer, Reaching Out, Worship, Radical, Supernatural & Discipleship.  I am so encouraged by the way we have moved forward as a church in these areas over the past year.

Prayer (a Praying community)

Prayer continues to underpin every part of life at St Matt’s. There are now opportunities to pray together, Monday evenings, Wednesday mornings and through monthly prayer & fasting in the church. Teams continue to prayer-walk the parish and I think we would all agree that we are seeing the fruit of this through church growth. 

Reaching Out (a Missional community)

Mission is part of our DNA and permeates everything we do. It’s been such a joy to see the reopening of the CAP centre. After employing a Kids’ Pastor we have finally stopped the trend of decline in children and begun to see growth in children and young families attending services and events. Through the Alpha courses we have seen people find faith and go onto join Connect Groups. I am saddened at the decline in our youth ministry. We held an open consultation in the autumn and it was obvious to all that a new strategy is needed; we will continue to pray for a way forward in this. However, reaching this demographic is a responsibility for the whole church, not just a few, and will need support from us all. After a number of years praying into a Care Home ministry it has been very exciting to see a team lead services monthly at Matthias House and we have now been asked to hold services in three other Care Homes in the parish. Do hold this ministry in your prayers and do pray that more volunteers would join the team. One challenge that hinders our mission is our buildings. You will read in the Wardens’ report that the current layout is far from ideal and plans to reorder the church buildings have been progressing throughout the year. Our hope is to create a space, fit for purpose, to be a wonderful resource to our community, where we can worship God and draw others into a relationship with Him.

Radical (a Radical community)

Like many of you, I feel blessed to be part of the St Matt’s family and family is an apt word to describe who we are. Through events, fellowship and supporting each other, we demonstrate a deep love and affection that goes beyond Sunday services. It was wonderful to see so many attend the Naturally Supernatural conference in the summer. It was more than just the teaching, it was about hanging out together as family. We welcomed many from outside of the church to our annual day-trip to Llandudno. The ladies had a fun-packed evening of wine, cake and faith-building through listening to Cathy Madavan. The Men’s Ministry attended a CVM conference in Liverpool, a walk in the Shropshire Hills, a worship night, and have plenty of exciting events lined up for this year. Most of all I am so encouraged at the way friendships are being formed between new and established members. We have welcomed Tipton Christian Fellowship, an Asian Pentecostal congregation, to use our hall and it was a wonderful ecumenical sign of christian unity to worship with them in the autumn. We were visited by +Michael, Bishop of Lichfield, earlier in the year to view how we are welcoming our community and addressing social isolation through the Places of Welcome (POW) coffee mornings. Thank you to all the POW team who give up their time every week to serve others in this way. Let us continue to make ‘Welcome & Hospitality’ a priority to all who enter our doors and please do keep making every effort to befriend those you don’t already know. 

Supernatural (a Spirit Empowered community)

Our desire is that we wouldn’t be a community that just sings contemporary songs, but a community open to the transforming power and presence of the Holy Spirit in everything we do. We ran two Living Free courses in 2018 and have seen mature christians step out in new ways, new Christians encouraged in their faith, and many lives transformed. Previous attendees are now exercising a fresh confidence in proclaiming the gospel. We hosted a Conference in September which saw churches from all over the diocese attend. Out of this conference we have sent a team to support a new Living Free course in Stoke. A number of people have attended the Healing on the streets (HOTS) training in Aldridge. We have begun to form new partnerships with other likeminded churches where we can mutually support each other in the ministry of the Spirit. Personally, I have been greatly encouraged at the openness of our congregation to grow in this area and boldly step out in praying for those within and outside of the church.

Discipleship (a Discipling community)

At its heart, discipleship is simply becoming more like Jesus, and doing the things Jesus did. It was such a privilege to have 8 baptisms by immersion on Easter Sunday. Part of our Join the Adventure theme is a shared journey, doing faith together. Our joint Connect Group Central gatherings have been places of cake, fellowship and encouragement. I visited a few of our CG’s during the year and was so inspired at the excellent teaching resources being used. We had two new CG’s formed in 2018, which makes ten CG’s in total. Over two-thirds of the church now meet regularly doing faith together. I am so thankful for our amazing, CG leaders who give out so much, teach, encourage, inspire, host and go that extra mile. It is in these small, informal, gatherings, that we encourage each other to grow as worshippers and become more like Jesus.

Worship (a Worshiping community)

And at the forefront of all we do as a church are Jesus’ words of the Great Commandment, calling us to worship. God says through Isaiah “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” Worship is about our whole lives but throughout scripture the main expression of worship is our praise. The aim of our worship team is to help bring us into God’s presence through praise. I am so indebted to the sacrificial service of our diverse team and excited to see the new people who are stepping out in their gifts. With the many pressing needs of a vibrant, growing, parish, we must never lose sight of the importance of just ‘being’ in God’s presence.

From the depths of our hearts, Karen & I sincerely thank you all, for your prayers, support and for all you do. Many of us are facing challenges and great uncertainty in the coming year. However, we are reminded through the words of Isaiah that God is “making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  This is a wonderful reminder of the streams of the Spirit that bring peace, life and vitality in arid and dry places. The question we are asked is “do you not perceive it?” Are you willing to help St Matt’s achieve these aspirations? Are you excited to join the adventure? My hope is that you will continue to play your part in building God’s kingdom, here at St Matt’s, in Tipton and beyond.

Lots of love,


The Revd Allen Bower (Vicar) 

St Matthew’s Church, Dudley Road, TIPTON, West Midlands, DY4 8DJ
To know Jesus, and make Him known

0121 531 7778


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