Last year was a mixed bag. On the down side we had Covid restrictions that curtailed worship, stopped us singing for much of the time and then our vicar, Revd Jane Ball left to take up her appointment at Christ’s Hospital School. On the up side however we were able to work outdoors to improve the look of the churchyard and return it to its parkland setting in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the consecration of the building in 1871. That was a marvellous weekend in September with Vox Cantab’s concert on the Saturday and the anniversary service followed by the village lunch on Sunday.
We do not know how long we will be without an incumbent vicar; indeed the vacancy could last for two years or more as the diocese gets its financial house in order, works out what groupings of parishes would be best and how many clergy posts can be afforded to minister to these groups. We are lucky in the interim to have Revd. Philippa Good appointed to us as an Associate Vicar until July to tide us over, part at least, of the vacancy. She has been appointed to the whole Upper Meon Benefice (Warnford, West Meon, East Meon and Langrish) so, since Phili has four churches to cover, we only have a service in St John’s on the first and third Sunday in the month at 9.00am but there are always services in the other churches we can go to when there is not one here.
Despite all this your Parochial Church Council (PCC) is making plans for this year. We have engaged the very popular FB Pocket Orchestra again to put on a concert in the church on 22 April and we want to put on an exhibition in the church over HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday 2 – 5 June. There will be many parts to this exhibition showing of old photographs of Langrish and Ramsdean, memorabilia with a royal connection, children’s artwork celebrating the jubilee and possibly a local artist’s work. More information on this will be advertised on social media in the coming weeks with details of who to send stuff to. Everything sent in will be copied and the originals returned. There will be a ‘special’ viewing at 6.00pm on Saturday 4 June with fizz and nibbles to which everyone is invited. The church service on Jubilee Sunday, 5 June, will be at 10.30am and taken by Revd. Canon Terry Louden, the previous incumbent before Revd. Jane who many of you will know, and I believe the Friends are planning a ‘street party’ that lunch time on the church field where the village lunch was held last year. In the autumn we are hoping to get Louisa Denby’s group, Vox Cantab, back again for a concert in late August or September. This will be a money-raiser for the Church Organ Fund as we need to build up a reserve for impending restoration work in a few years’ time.
On church finances generally, our income was hit by Covid lockdowns, the fewer services after Revd. Jane left and we lost a very generous benefactor when Rosemary Hopewell died. Nonetheless we have a sufficient cushion in the bank to keep us going and we have reluctantly taken the decision to reduce the amount we pay to the diocese – our ‘parish share’ as it is called. We assessed our likely income over 2022 and set our parish share payments at what we reckoned would remain of our income after essential operating costs had been paid. This comes to £4,800 for this year as opposed to the £10,700 we are invited to pay. The PCC felt this was a necessary step if we are to keep the church going for current and future residents of Langrish and Ramsdean to worship in, get married in, christen their children and eventually be buried there! In this context the PCC are very grateful to the secular Parish Council for their £400 contribution to the upkeep of the churchyard. We are budgeting £1,500 for churchyard maintenance this year and £5,000 for fabric repairs to the church building and this money will come from our reserves, not income, and these reserves will run out in 4 to 5 years’ time. If anyone feels they can contribute in any way, however little, to the preservation of this iconic building that belongs to all of us, please let me know.
Anyone wishing to join in with our Lent Study Group will be most welcome. We shall meet every Wednesday afternoon from 1-2.30pm in All Saints, East Meon Church Hall and for those who prefer evenings there shall be a Zoom evening session from 7.30-9pm again on a Wednesday.
Our subject matter will be the Book of Ruth which we shall use as a springboard to explore different themes within the book. “Trust, loyalty, kindness and faith-these are the central themes contained in the book of Ruth. This is a moving story that also deals with fundamental issues of poverty, bereavement, childlessness, racial tension and human rights.”
Our first session will be on March 9th and they will run for five weeks. Tea and Coffee will be available. If you wish to make it a working lunch do bring your own along!
Philippa Good (Phili)