Parish of St John The Divine Acklington

   Statement prepared by the P.C.C. describing the Church’s ministry and mission within the parish

1. The Local Community

The parish includes two rural villages (Acklington and Guyzance) and a number of farms.

As well as the parish church, Acklington also has a village school, a village hall, a public house, a railway station, an agricultural mart, a farm shop and an agricultural garage. Situated on the eastern edge of the village is a sizeable estate of houses where the majority of parishioners live. A mile to the south of the village (and on the edge of the parish) is HMP Northumberland.

Guyzance Village is a small hamlet situated in the north of the parish in a designated conservation area. The village consists of a small number of cottages and also Guyzance Hall which is a popular venue for weddings and other events.

The parish consists of a mixture of people who are involved in country and country-town employment (including professional, commercial, building construction and agriculture). There are over forty businesses in the parish, including many small ‘home-based’ businesses, but also many of our parishioners are retired.

Acklington village hall is the hub of the community where meetings are held and recreational activities take place. Acklington has a Parish Council, a Community Team (ACT), a Carpet Bowls Club, a Women’s Institute, a Young People’s Sports Club, an Art Group and a Dance Group which all use the hall regularly. The school and the church also hold numerous social and fund-raising events in the village hall.

In 2007 judges voted Acklington the best village in Northumberland. They stated that “despite its small size it has a fantastic community spirit and a real sense of things happening”. Such was the vibrancy of the village that Acklington also went on to become a finalist in the national “Calor Village of the Year” competition in 2008.
The village has not entered any such competitions since then but recent community celebrations such as the church’s sesquicentennial and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee are testament to the fact that the community spirit continues to thrive.

2. The Church Community

The congregation averages 30 at the Sunday Morning Services. Two or three members attend from outside the parish. The majority of these regular worshippers are in their “senior years” and the lack of young families and children attending church is a real concern. Sunday School numbers have dwindled in recent years, although numbers of children attending special services such as the Christmas Eve Christingle Service is very encouraging.

3. Statistics

Population :                                                                     472 adults / 51 children
Electoral Roll :                                                                    53
Average Sunday Communicants :                                      30
Average Baptisms per annum :                                           3
Average Confirmations per annum :                                    2
Average Weddings per annum :                                          2
Average funerals per annum :                                             4
Average house communions for the sick or housebound :  3

4. Church Buildings

The church of St John The Divine is the only licensed place of worship in the parish.
The church was built in 1861 and is in relatively good condition. There is, however, no toilet or kitchen facility within the church building and this is a real drawback and concern for many members. The lack of these facilities means that certain activities are restricted and this is a problem that members would dearly like to see rectified.

Please give details of church halls and any other ancillary buildings (and an indication of the level of their use).

There is no church hall or other ancillary buildings.

Is there a churchyard to maintain and who is responsible for its maintenance?

There is a large churchyard (including an extension) to maintain and the PCC is responsible for its maintenance. Acklington Parish Council usually makes an
annual donation of £250 towards the maintenance of the churchyard.

5. Patterns of Worship

Sunday Services:

8.00 a.m. Holy Communion (First Sunday of the month only)
10.30 a.m. Parish Communion

Weekday Services:

9.30 a.m. Wednesday Morning Prayers

6. Church Tradition

Neither “high church” nor “low church”, we regard ourselves as Anglicans with
a traditional but flexible and informal approach to worship. All denominations
(and those of no particular faith) are always very welcome to join in with our
services and celebrations.

7. Church Activities

House Groups are held for Bible Study, mainly during Advent and Lent.

Strong Links with our Church of England First School. Members of the church frequently take school assemblies and the school uses the church for special services.
A Sunday School is held at 10.30 a.m. every other Sunday during term time.

We have “100 Club” for fund-raising purposes

We support various home and overseas missions and in particular we annually give donations to The Church of England Children’s Society and Christian Aid Projects.

In this small community we are able to be actively aware of people’s needs as they occur and be ready to respond accordingly.

Regular church worship together with home Bible study groups.

We regularly support “People’s Kitchen” a Newcastle based charity for the needy and homeless and often respond to other local needs as they arise.

We hold regular social and fund-raising events. These include concerts, fairs, coffee mornings, exhibitions, sponsored events, etc.

8. Ministry

Together with Warkworth we have a Local Ministry Development Team. This has been in place for five years and its main responsibilities include: encouraging vocation, pastoral outreach, organising united services and developing work with young people.

Authorised ministers & staff regularly involved in our services include:
Revd June Barras – Curate and OLM
Revd Margaret Hobrough – retired NSM with PTO
Revd Ben Hopkinson – retired priest with PTO
Revd John Maddox-Lyons – retired priest with PTO
Revd Aubrey Richardson – retired NSM with PTO
Reader Mrs Christine Shield
Reader Mr Roger Styring

There is a high level of lay participation in most services. Four lay members administer the chalice; eighteen lay members read lessons; thirteen lay members have been elected sides persons and lay members occasionally lead the intercessional prayers.

Several lay members are involved in administrative work. Such work includes editing the parish magazine, maintaining the church website and producing church rotas and minutes.

There is a good level of lay involvement in pastoral work across our parish. Some involvement is formal but much more is informal and areas such as baptism preparation, home communion and sick visiting are very well covered.

The PCC meets monthly to discuss church matters - including administrative work, pastoral work and ministry in general.


9. Finance

The church of St John The Divine Acklington has no debts and the parish share is paid regularly and in full. It could not be called a parish that practises stewardship although many members do gift aid their offerings and there is an envelope scheme for those who request it.

Expenses to the incumbent are paid in full and include travelling, telephone and postage (all expenses shared with Warkworth).

Our total annual income for the year ending 31st Dec 2011 was £20,562 and our annual expenditure was £19,032. A copy of accounts for the last financial year is attached.

10. Community Involvement

Being a small, rural parish our church members are heavily involved in all aspects of community life. There is a great deal of liaison and co-operation between the church and other parish groups and organisations.

The village school (built 1852) and the village church (built 1861) have always had very strong links. Five of the current school governors are also regular church members. Indeed one of our churchwardens is the Chairman of Governors at the school. Three church members frequently take assemblies at the school and the
school regularly hold special services in the church.

Church members have leading positions on the Village Hall Committee,
the W.I. Committee, as well as in the Bowls Club and the Art Group.
There are good links between the church and the Parish Council
and our PCC lay vice chairman is also the co-ordinator
of the highly acclaimed parish website.

11. Relationships with neighbouring parishes

There are obvious close links with the Parish Church of St Lawrence, Warkworth
(as we share the incumbent). Our church is also part of the “Coquet Churches Together” group, although we are a relatively new member of this group and there
are considerable opportunities for closer relationships to develop.

Members of our PCC are not aware of how these relationships fit in with any Deanery Plans, nor are members aware of the implications such plans may have for future ministerial deployment in our parish.

12. Ecumenical Relationships

Apart from the “Coquet Churches Together” group mentioned above, and the occasional shared services within the Alnwick Deanery, the ecumenical relationships in our area are quite limited and ripe for development.

13. The Parish and the future

Our current strengths:
• a lively, involved and enthusiastic congregation who carry their commitment into
   wider community life, activities and contacts
• a hunger for fresh opportunities for theological and spiritual exploration
• a valued church school ministering to children and their families
• a strong development of lay and ordained ministries (supported and encouraged by
   the Local Ministry Development Team)
• a valuing of each person’s gifts, with humour, diplomacy and good management
• a church building in good shape, with potential for further development and use

Our current needs:
• a deepening of our theological and spiritual understanding and expression
• a wider practical application of Gospel priorities for our mission and ministry
• an enthusiastic and effective leadership
• a continuation of support for, and involvement in, our church school
• a continued strong desire to work with the young and their families
• a continued development of active pastoral care
• a readiness to work even more collaboratively and share future decision making and
   ministry together
• a continued willingness to work more effectively with each other and with other
   local churches

14. The new incumbent

We are praying for a disciple of Jesus who endeavours to be:

• an understanding listener to hold the ‘old’ and develop the ‘new’
• an encourager to help people, attitudes and systems to change
• a communicator with highly developed interpersonal skills
• a team player who can discern, use and develop the many talents available
• a leader who can strengthen vision and focus people’s commitment
• a carer who is approachable and will model love in action to all
• a manager who can bring a true perspective to our complex common life

15. Parsonage

There is no parsonage within Acklington Parish. Recent incumbents have lived in the vicarage at Warkworth and details of this dwelling will be listed on St Lawrence’s Parish Profile.