May 2021


Meeting of the Parochial Church Council of St. Mary’s Barnard Castle 

                                     with Whorlton held on Monday 17th May 2021 7.00pm in church

The purpose of the PCC is to promote the whole mission of the church, 

pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.


  1. Present: Alec Harding (chair), Sarah Cliff (curate), Joan Kemp-Ambler, Roy Long, David Walker (secretary), Abi Littlefair, Frances Stenlake, Robert Stenlake, Bob Ward, John White, Malcolm Makepeace, Geoff Knott, John Emerson, John Chadwick, Gillian Lunn (observing). 
  2. Apologies: Allan Jones, John Trevett.
  3. Welcome to new members: Geoff Knott was welcomed as a new member and it was agreed that John Chadwick be co-opted onto the PCC to fill one of the vacancies. Astley Fenwick has agreed to be churchwarden to fill the outstanding vacancy. His nomination was accepted unanimously. 
  4. Declarations of interest: There were no declarations of financial interest.
  5. Items for Any Other Business: Review of church monuments; fundraising (to be dealt with under item12.                                                                           
  6. Minutes: The PCC received minutes of the Standing committee 29.3.21 and of PCC meeting for held 22.3.21 and 26.4.21 (post APCM). They were agreed as being a true record.
  7. Matters arising:
    1. Windows to the World
    1. Church website: Considerable work that has been undertaken since the last meeting and the website is taking shape. A meeting of the small team that has contributed to this will be held later this month to discuss the way forward and to determine arrangements for management of the website in the future. The team will also consider how to widen participation to allow for others who might be interested to get involved. 
    2. Arrangements for a stained-glass exhibition are in hand (12-24th July). This is an exhibition curated by Jonathan Cooke which will tour the country. There will be three associated concerts (17th, 20th, 23rd) at Barnard Castle church featuring amongst others Tristram Cooke who is a Lay Vicar at Westminster Abbey. Details of these events are on the church website along with ticketing arrangements. For now the ticketing will be for virtual concerts in line with current COVID guidelines.
      1. Pittuck Mural: The work has been completed and the Mural has now been fully restored. 
      2. East end of Whorlton church: RL reported that he is still waiting to hear from Mr Walton but that the work should commence once the weather is more favourable to the use of lime mortar.
      3. Living in Love and Faith: The aim of this project is to provide a better understanding of the issues which face us over human sexuality, gender and relationships and to encourage an enlightened approach to disagreements where they occur between us. This has recently featured at both the Deanery and Diocesan Synods. FS reported that the Diocese has outlined a plan to encourage people to engage with this at either Parish, Deanery or Cathedral level. Diocesan clergy will receive training on pastoral aspects and the aim is for courses based upon the materials to begin later this year with the intention, where appropriate, of collecting feedback to be passed on to the church at the centre. 
      4. Title to Amen corner: There is still no news from the Land Registry on our application. Assuming the land is finally registered to the PCC it is worth noting the poor repair of some of the stones which will need attention in due course.
      5. Whorlton Quinquennial inspection: The QI has been received (attached). One item that requires clarification is the responsibility for the Lych Gate. RL is meeting with Durham County Council this week and will raise this with them. 
      6. Barnard Castle Building report (previously circulated but attached for new members): RS spoke to this and stressed the importance of moving on with establishing and progressing priorities. He pointed to the proposals made at the end of his paper and suggested that as a starting point the 2017 windows report should be updated. As the Cookes will be on site for the exhibition in July it was proposed that they be asked to complete this. This was agreed. The next stage would be to ask the architect to begin preparing a project incorporating works to the windows and the external masonry work with the aim of starting to seek out potential grant support. It was agreed that this should be a principal task for one of the sub committees that it is hoped to form at the next PCC meeting.
  1. Safeguarding:
    1. There are no concerns. 
    2. The Safeguarding Policy (attached) was agreed and it will be signed by each of the churchwardens. There are no changes from the Policy agreed in October 2020. On the advice of JKA and SC it was decided that a copy be displayed in the Vestry as well as in the church porch.
    3. Training needs: The new PCC members, Geoff Knott and John Chadwick will need to complete the Basic Level training. Churchwardens require the higher level of training which has recently been completed by JKA, AJ and RL. DW will check with AF as to whether he has yet completed his training which was due for renewal in autumn 2020. 
  2. Deanery synod report: 
    1. PCC members were invited to attend Synod’s meeting which included a presentation about the Diocesan ‘Caring for Creation’ priority. This was the main item on the Agenda and was presented by the two Diocesan ‘champions’ Danie Lindley and Catherine Walton. Catherine provided a biblical reflection on creation whilst Danie filled in the more practical aspects of the Diocese’ approach. This led to encouragement of churches to become Eco Churches. 
    2. Eco Church: We are now registered as an Eco Church. There is no fee for this. AL and JT have been working through the Eco Church survey to assess where we are at the moment. AL reported on this to the meeting. There are five sections to the survey each of which produces a score and assigns a level of current achievement (being Gold, Silver, Bronze or no award). Our current position is as follows
      1. Worship and teaching – we score Silver.
      2. Buildings – we score Silver.
      3. Community and local development – we score Bronze
      4. Land – we have not achieved an award. We should begin to work on this. Some of the easier things to achieve in this section would be to grant permission to place bird boxes, hedgehog boxes, bug hotels and wildlife feeding stations in the church grounds. We could also complete annual wildlife surveys.
      5. Lifestyle – we have not achieved an award. This is an area we can really improve on and which will require the wider participation of the congregation. For this section, we can promote walking/cycling and reduction of car use for our members, promote Fairtrade, recycling and reducing energy to members. We could also promote LOAF – Locally sourced, Organically farmed, Animal Friendly and Fairtrade. (There will be an article in the Pilgrim magazine). More things we can do are: Giving practical lifestyle tips on caring for God’s Earth and undertaking an environmental audit (provided by Eco church and allows participant to measure their carbon footprint).
      6. Overall we are only 25 credits from reaching our Bronze award and it should be possibly to achieve that in the next couple of months. 

DW has provided a brief introduction to this on the church website. This will now be updated with this additional information and it is intended that the website can be used as a source of information for the congregation on progress and on what they can be doing to contribute to our aims. 

AL explained that in order to access our survey details you just need to create an account on the website. From there you just add our church and as we already have a church account, you just need to search the post code or name to access the details.

FS informed the PCC that at Diocesan Synod the Diocese had voted to become an Eco Diocese and to encourage all churches to sign up to Eco Church.

SC volunteered to contact Maxwell’s and other retail outlets in the town with a view to asking them to sponsor bug hotels, bird boxes etc. 

  1.  Dwelling in the Word: Acts 6.1-7
  2. Miscellaneous
    1. Memorial Tree: The Rotary Club has asked for permission to plant a tree in the churchyard in memory of those who have died from the Coronavirus. Rotary would meet the costs. The PCC agreed in principle with this but the meeting felt that there are substantial issues that would have to be resolved before it could be done. The preferred siting of the tree near the ‘cholera burials’ might cause damage to existing unmarked graves. The graveyard is maintained by DCC who would need to be willing to maintain the tree. There is also the question of any faculties or legal permissions required from the Diocese. Suggestions were also made that the area could be ‘wilded’ and seeded with wildflowers (which might also fit with Eco aims). It was also suggested that before any action is taken archaeologist’s opinion (DigVentures) is sought.
    2. David Walker: DW’s PTO has expired and the PCC must agree to its extension before the Bishop can re-issue it. This was agreed. 
    3. Parish Hall guttering: The guttering on the roadside of the Parish Hall is in need to repair/ replacement. Under the terms of the lease this is the Parish hall’s responsibility but they need our permission to proceed. The current guttering is cast iron and replacement would be very expensive. At this stage the PHA is seeking PCC permission to investigate the financial implications and whether Conservation Area regulations require the use of cast iron or permit plastic. This was agreed.
  1. Finance report: 
    1. PCC’s Financial controls. It is necessary each year to review and agree financial controls. RS prepared and circulated updated controls. He explained the need for some change mainly due to changes in the nature of transactions (less cash and cheques) and our new banking arrangements. The updates controls were agreed.
    2. To receive financial results for the first quarter (January to April). RS explained that we were on schedule per the budget but warned that the budget had already taken into account the likely effects of the pandemic on the first half of this year. The assumption is that we can get back to normal in the second half. Whatever happens there is likely to be a funding gap and the PCC is urged to think about how that gap might be bridged. RS reminded the PCC of previous discussions on this towards the end of last year. Some new forms of fundraising will be required. This would be a good starting point for a fundraising subcommittee should it be decided that we should form one at the next meeting of the PCC.
  1. Health & Safety: It was noted that 
      1. Fire Extinguisher testing has been carried out at Barnard Castle and Whorlton churches and in Barnard Castle Parish Hall.  
      2. PAT testing has been done at Barnard Castle Church and Hall (thanks to AF and AJ).
    1. Risk assessments for next stage of emerging from lockdown: These had been circulated prior to the meeting.
        1. Bell ringing. It was noted that bells will only be rung for twenty minutes prior to the  Sunday service (10.00 a.m.). There will be no practice. The assessment suggested that they might ‘consider’ lateral flow testing. JW advised that this would be unnecessary. The risk assessment was accepted.
      1. Community Choir and Band. There was some debate over equivalence   between the Community Choir and congregational singing. The congregation must comply with Church of England guidelines that there must be no singing whereas the arrangements for the Community Choir (and Band) have been relaxed to allow for up to thirty people to participate. It was suggested that as the Church has a duty of care that some disclaimer and/or acknowledgment of personal responsibility should be made by those involved. Lateral Flow tests were also proposed but (as per bell ringing) felt not to be necessary. The Band are already taking precautions with the use of brass instruments using devices to restrict the outflowing of air from the instrument. No visitors should be allowed in church during practices (during normal church opening times). 
      2. Church. The only additional point raised was in connection with ensuring soft furnishings were cleaned down sufficiently. 
  1. AOB: Memorials. The Church of England has issued guidance and a tool to help churches to identify and treat with memorials to people who had a close connection with the slave trade. The PCC acknowledged that it is important for us to go through the process although there are no statues as such and no obvious memorials to deal with. It would not appear to be a major issue within the church of the congregation. The matter, though, will be taken seriously and actioned if necessary.
  2. Date of next meeting: The next meeting will be Monday 7th June at 7.00 p.m. and it is envisaged that it would be longer than normal (with a possible 9.00 p.m. finish). There are important issues to discuss and it will be hoped that the meeting can concentrate upon  
    1. Creation of PCC committee structure. Membership and terms of reference

Buildings committee? Finance committee? Governance committee?

     Do we have the capacity for others…? Fundraising/social/Christmas Tree….etc?

    1. Support for church’s mission through music
    2. Budget update 2021
    3. Service pattern from June 21st 2021

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