On Thursday evening the PCC met on one of those dreadful Zoom meetings. No one ever knows when they can speak or if they are talking over someone else!

The most important topic was church finances. Obviously, with the church closed, income is down. Add to that the absence of social events and it’s easy to see why our Treasurer, David Prothero, is concerned and forecasting a £9,000 deficit for the year. This then impacts on whether or not we can afford to pay our Parish Share, currently £58,000pa. The PCC agreed that we would continue to pay our full monthly share for June until end of September. At the end of August our financial position will be reviewed and it may be, if things haven’t improved, that we will have to reduce our giving.

The PCC also approved the furloughing of our Secretary, Sarah, and that SMO would make up the 20% of her salary. This amount goes up in September to 30%.

Next,  the PCC approved unanimously a proposal that Rev Steve Oram should have his expenses paid for out of our Vision Fund rather than the general Income/Expenses account. This is very much in keeping with the “vision” of St Mary’s having its own priest.

Mike Wright gave the PCC an update on the Tower restoration and the appeal. We are still £35,000 short of the £200k cost and virtually all charities have now closed their doors to appeals from churches, preferring to divert their giving to bodies affected by Covid 19. This means that the outstanding balance will have to be raised in the community – not an easy prospect at a time when people are not allowed to meet together.

Martin presented a plan towards reopening St Mary’s when finally permitted by the Government. At the moment it seems that pubs will be open before churches – which doesn’t make any sense! However, a Risk Assessment has been carried out and Debbie and Martin have prepared protocols for cleaning and meeting and greeting. These instruments mean that our church will be safe for anyone, of whatever age, to worship in St Mary’s (subject to social distancing of course) once we reopen. The church can actually seat 270 people in normal times but with the distancing policy that number will reduce to 50.

Other news: the South Glos and North Bristol Covid 19 support group offers help in many areas through volunteering. It’s interesting to hear that generally speaking, all of the sub groups (such as Olveston’s Village Volunteers) have more volunteers that the demand for help. It speaks volumes for the community spirit of our nation. Again, interestingly, volunteers don’t want any recognition – though a “thank you” never goes amiss.

Humour:

A very drunken man decided to walk home at 2am in the morning. He left his car behind and set off. A few minutes later a police car drew up alongside him and the officer asked him: “Where are you going?”

“To a lecture.” He replied. The policeman says “Who’s going to give a lecture at this time of night?”

The man replied “My wife.”