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St Andrew's

The parish

The area of Poolbrook is situated on the eastern side of the Malvern Hills, 1.5 miles from Great Malvern town centre and a short walking distance from the busy local shopping centre in Barnards Green. Poolbrook is characterised by easy access to open spaces afforded by the areas of common which afford panoramic views to the Malvern Hills.

There is a mix of owner occupied, rented and social rented housing. The latter (about 17%) is concentrated on the Brook Farm Estate and owned by Fortis. The Octagon Community Centre (link: www.theoctagoncentre.org.uk ) , situated at the heart of this estate, hosts a weekly community cafe (Coffee Shop) which is run by St Andrew’s as a Fresh Expression of church.

Malvern has a good housing stock and prices are generally above the average for the UK. There are proposals to build new houses in the parish, in particular the development of approximately 250 dwellings based on a mix of housing types on the now unused part of the QinetiQ site, only 500m from the church. A further 63 dwellings (of which 40 per cent would be affordable housing) are planned on a former recreational site on the Brook Farm Estate.

The church as people

         

St. Andrew’s has become known over many years for its work amongst children and young people. It is also regarded by the Archdeacon as a “Centre of Mission” in the Diocese. Our vision is “To hold God at the centre of all we do, communicate the love of Jesus with the communities in which we serve and be open to the possibilities of change, as guided by the Holy Spirit.”

Our Church family life is active and varied. We have our own Mission Shaped Communities including the Divorce Recovery Workshop and the Octagon. The Divorce Recovery Workshop programme draws people into the sphere of Christians in the church, though it is not, in itself, evangelistic. At the Octagon Community encouraging things are happening as they develop a new expression of Church. A number of church members are also involved in running ‘the Bridge’, a specialist training and development centre for young people, some of whom have suffered emotional trauma and not been able to cope with mainstream education. The church tithes its income to support mission partners in South East London, Tanzania, Lebanon, Ukraine and Thailand. The church family is encouraged to be actively and regularly involved in all areas of ministry.

           

We have five worship leaders and a worship band leader. We have one retired ordained minister in our congregation, but all the Lay Readers are authorised to administer Communion by Extension and this provision is well accepted by our members in both congregations. We have a very effective and friendly Welcome Team who also arrange 'Meet and Eat' evenings to welcome newcomers. A number of social events are arranged and these usually involve food and entertainment. While week-time meetings are normally within the six Community (Home/Cell) Groups, we from time to time hold enquiry evenings in the church centre, such as ‘Reason to believe’. As part of our response to change, a communications team has developed a new website and producing electronic weekly notice sheets. Over half of our congregation live outside the parish and travel to be part of our church family. For the past few years between 30 and 60 people (mainly families) have gone to Spring Harvest, demonstrating their enthusiasm for worship, learning and sharing together.
Responses to our Mission Action Plan questionnaire show that our community groups are seen as vital to our sense of outreach within the community and to the development of a deeper faith. We would like to see these grow further and a day-time group established. There is also a desire to start an Alpha and/or youth Alpha course, and something for young mums. Three of our young people have recently been elected to the PCC.

The church at worship

SUNDAYS - Our approach to and style of worship characterises and shapes who we are as a Church family.
Services - we have a spoken, traditional communion service at 8.45 with hymns. This early service follows Common Worship style and attracts around 24 people. It has a committed core of regular attendees with a strong sense of church membership. Many have been members of St Andrew’s for a long time and involved in mission in the local area during that time. Fellowship continues after the service over coffee, which enables an overlap/interaction between the earlier and later congregations.

Our main service attracts between 100-120 people
The main 10.30 worship service attracts an average of 100-120 people; typically 90-100 adults and 25-30 young people under the age of 16. Once a month this service takes the form of All Age Worship which is led in varied, imaginative and informal ways, including ‘cafe style’. The 10.30 services are contemporary in style and substance (informal, no robes, the organ was removed last year).

Because many people in our church family do not have an exclusively Anglican or church background our language in prayer and preaching is aimed at connecting our experience of God to our everyday lives. Preaching is thematic with linked bible readings (but not necessarily from the lectionary). We have been encouraged to use drama, illustrations, video clips, YouTube extracts, humour and engagement of the entire congregation in all elements of the service. This, by its nature, leads to less formality. We love our extended period of sung worship which is sensitive and contemporary, led by a worship band of up to 8 musicians, some semi-professional, but who see themselves first as worshippers, led by the band leader. We celebrate communion once a month at the 10.30 service and the informal and contemporary form of words used combines Common Worship elements with more accessible language. Our children and young people are always present for part or all of the services.

We see our welcome as part of our worship and have a great welcome team. A popular recent development is the provision of name badges for members and newcomers. We also have real coffee! We are fortunate to have a good demographic spread and we recognise this as one of our great assets. We are aware of the changing nature of modern family life and of the need to continually develop our approach to worship. The leading of services is shared between Clergy, Lay Readers and worship leaders. Often no clergy are present. We have a Youth Band which is hugely popular and gives our all age worship time a very special flavour.

We are happy to offer a time of thanksgiving and blessing for children and babies as part of our 10.30 service and baptisms may be carried out using a portable font or, where requested by older candidates, by full immersion in our portable baptistry.

Prayer life: Pre-service: All involved in leading the 10.30am service meet in the vestry for prayers at 10.10am. At the end of the service a word or message from the prayer team may be given to the congregation. After the service the prayer team ministers to anyone needing special prayer. Our times of communal prayer - e.g. bi-monthly prayer focus and weekday prayers are not so well attended and as a church we’d like to develop our practice of corporate prayer .

Our Mission Action Plan states our desire to develop more freedom in our worship time, led by the Holy Spirit, and to see Sunday worship as the springboard for our spiritual journey during the week. Our young people and their parent(s) are central in our future plans and so, as part of an overall review, we are starting a conversation about All Age Worship and the needs of people in their 20/30s. It also recognises a growing desire to reintroduce an evening praise and worship style of service. We also recognise that we need to be alert and prepared for change. We want to develop this thinking with our new rector and journey together wherever this takes us.

Our buildings

Our church was built 130 years ago. It has an adjoining 1980’s church hall with a stage and adjoining kitchen and a church-centre - with an inspired design with six community rooms, underfloor heating and modern toilets- constructed in 2009 at a cost of over £0.65m. There is no outstanding debt. This new-build, with car park, provides the community with facilities which we saw as vital in our ‘Growing for God’ scheme. The church is fitted with modern chairs and would be described as low-church with an open, well equipped and flexible feel that we hope appears contemporary. It can seat up to a maximum of 220. The main church can/has been used for social events, parties and dance classes, but is generally used only for services. By contrast the rest of the building is extensively used, six days a week, by the wider community of Malvern. A centre manager and cleaner are employed part-time to deal with the bookings and day to day arrangements.

Our Church Centre provides the community with facilities which we saw as vital

We have recently approved a 5 year Future Foundations scheme where we address the major lifecycle issues facing us - this involves expenditure of £150k over a 5 year period. This year we are aiming to replace the roof (c.£70k) as our first priority to improve energy efficiency. Subject to funding, future years will involve car park repairs, a new heating system, completion of the storage facilities, refurbishment of the kitchen and technical equipment upgrade/improvements.

We have a number of gifted people who help in the church building, including cleaners, a small maintenance team, those who welcome, technicians who operate the desk and IT systems, a catering team, coffee after service, flower arrangers and those who do the church decoration and banners etc. We are also dog friendly!

Our finances
As with other churches, in recent years we have faced a number of competing demands for our financial resources. We have achieved:

• giving 10% of voluntary income annually to our mission partners - £9k (2014)
• giving annually to Ukraine Mission Fund – c.£9k (2014)
• paying in full a church extension between 2006 and 2013 - £600k
• paying for major capital works to the main church – c.£70k in 2015
• paying 90% of our Parish share in 2013 and 89% in 2014