Steward of the Gospel
Chris Chandler – Steward of the Gospel
What is a Steward of the Gospel? … details
21 September 2018
It is a little while since I Have written here, largely because there has been comparatively little happening. Some of you have been asking how the proposal for linking our parish with St Joseph the Worker at Hutton is progressing. All I can say about that is that the strength of the views we expressed have been and are being taken well into account by Bishop Alan and the Diocesan Strategic Planning Group. We will have to wait until Advent to learn what the Bishop decides to do.
For me the most exciting thing that has happened was the Adoremus National Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage in Liverpool in early in September. I was on that pilgrimage with ten others from the parish including Fr Patrick. It was truly wonderful. I have written some of my reflections about it.(click here for the reflections).
Apart from that Stewards have just started on a formation course focusing on evangelization that will run until next May. The first session on 15 September presented by Teresa Carvahlo from the office of the Bishops’ Conference . The title for the session was The Role of the Steward. It was very enlightening and demonstrated that there is so much more to evangelization than just preaching the word of God. It is about spreading the eternal love of God in our community by what we do and say, how we behave towards others. The Celebration Lunch we had in July, our reception after the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday, our quizzes, race nights and prayer groups are all examples of evangelization. So are our scouts and altar servers etc. Our schools are extremely important. We must give thanks for the enormous amount of work that goes on in our parish already in this field already while keeping our eyes open for other opportunities. I could fill whole page or more with examples of what is happening. I came away feeling that our parish is doing quite well on this front but perhaps there is a bit more we can do for others in Brentwood that are presently not joining in with us.
As this term rolls on I will keep you informed of what is happening. In the meantime can I please ask you to keep praying for the work we are trying to do and for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
May God bless you all …. Chris Chandler, Steward of the Gospel
13 March 2018
Thank you to all those who attended the Open Parish Meeting on 15 February and to everyone who wrote in to Fr Martin about the proposal that two priests at Brentwood should serve St Joseph The Worker at Hutton as well.
Please click here to see the report of that meeting .. which has been submitted to Cathedral House on behalf of our parish. Your letters have also been submitted and have been read by Bishop Alan.
There was also a meeting of Clergy and Stewards on 24 February … Click for an account of that meeting …
I encourage you all to take some time to look at this please. It sets out very clearly indeed what the Stewardship Project is seeking to do and some details of how we will be moving forward with our discernment in the coming months. This is no small task and I ask you to continue to pray for all those working on this project that we will continue to receive the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in good measure.
12 January 2018
A very Happy and Blessed New Year to you all.
This is a very important issue for consideration in our parish community. There is to be an open meeting for this purpose in the parish hall at 7.30 on 15 February. After that meeting I will be expected, as Steward, to report on the views expressed to the Bishop and the Diocesan Strategic Planning Group via Steven Webb the Director of Development for the diocese.
It will help Fr Martin and I enormously if you would take the trouble to read the document in question, if you have not already done so, send your comments to Fr Martin, as he asks, and attend and take part in the meeting on 15 February.
Wednesday 28 June 2017
Our recently appointed Director of Development, Steven Webb, has just published some Preliminary Observations on the Parish Questionnaires completed by the Stewards in time for Easter and those Observations are (set out below). Our completed Questionnaire is already on this site.
Please read Steven’s document:
Watch this space, keep praying and God bless.
Sunday 6 May 2017
I have now submitted to the diocese the completed Parish Questionnaire together with an Executive Summary of what I found in our parish as set out in detail in Parts A and B of the Questionnaire .. corrected May 2017.
Those documents are set out below.
Part A of the Questionnaire is very largely statistical while Part B is reflective and Part C sets out some thoughts about the future. Parts B and C reflect, as far as I have been able, the information in Part A together with what I have gathered at the three discussion meetings that I held, your responses to the short questionnaire circulated last month and conversations I have had with a variety of people and clergy in the parish, after Mass, at social functions and so on. I really am most grateful to everyone.
I outlined at the end of my note of 26 March 2017 the programme that will lead to us publishing a Formal Proposal for our Diocese in Advent 2018. I will keep you informed as we progress and involve you in consultation as widely as possible.
CATHEDRAL OF ST MARY AND SAINT HELEN HOLY CROSS AND ALL SAINTS
Executive Summary of Parish Questionnaire .. May 2017
Chris Chandler … Steward of the Gospel
A copy of this Completed Questionnaire (in PDF format) is available by clicking this link:
Message from Chris Chandler – 6 May 2017 – Please Note: I have discovered that as a result of a system compatibility issue the completed Questionnaire published earlier on the website was not in the form in which it was submitted. It looked as though all the questions to be answered by marking a circle had been left unanswered as the circle markings I had made had been removed. With the help of our webmaster that has now been dealt with and the earlier version replaced. My apologies to anyone seeing the earlier version who may have thought that I had ignored what they had told me or whose contribution in the parish had been overlooked. I have also made one or two small alterations to the Executive Summary which I hope make it more accurate and clearer
Monday 20 March 2017
The meeting which was postponed from 30 November, will now take place on Tuesday 28 March 2017 in the small hall at 7.30 pm. I previously referred to this in error as the Fourth rather than the Third meeting. Please come to this meeting if you possibly can.
Below are the Questions for Consideration at this meeting:
Below is a summary of what took place at the earlier two meetings in the autumn.
After the next meeting I will complete and return the Parish Questionnaire to the diocese in time for Easter. Between then and mid May the Questionnaires from throughout the diocese will be reviewed by our newly appointed Director of Development, Steven Webb, who has put in place a rigorous programme of discussion and consultation to lead to a Formal Proposal for our Diocese which will be published on the First Sunday of Advent 2018. During this time we will have further meetings in the parish the first of which will be in late May or June of this year.
All the Stewards and Clergy are going to be in serious need of your prayers, and our own, in this work.
Saturday 18 March 2017
The discussion postponed from last November 2016 will now take place in the Small Cathedral Hall on Tuesday 28 March at 7.30 pm. I am in the course of preparing the material for the meeting, which will be published here in the next few days. Thank you to all those who picked up and have responded to the recent short Questionnaire. Your responses have been extremely useful. Chris Chandler – Steward of the Gospel
Wednesday 8 February 2017
You may remember that before Christmas I was expecting a document from the diocese for circulation, and that I was postponing the Discussion Group planned for the end of November until the New Year.
That document (flyer) has only just been published this weekend together with a short Questionnaire for parishioners and a Pastoral Letter from Bishop Alan. The flyer explains what we have been doing so far and outlines a bit more about the Stewardship Project. Fr Martin and I encourage you all to read and absorb that.
The Questionnaire sets out four questions for you and we would like you please to return those to me at Clergy House or electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the month. I will be distributing the flyer and Questionnaire after each Mass this weekend. I will now set up the final Discussion Group on a date to be announced in early March following the meeting of Clergy and Stewards, mentioned on the flyer, on 25 February.
Watch this space for more news! Chris Chandler – Steward of the Gospel
As a result of a mix up on my part last weekend there was no Questionnaire with the Flyer and Pastoral Letter from Bishop Alan. My apologies for that oversight and the inconvenience caused. The Flyer can be downloaded by clicking the link below and printed. You may then scan the completed flyer and email it to me at email@example.com. If you prefer, you may also hand in the completed form at Clergy House. I will endeavour to have hard copies available at Mass next weekend. Once again I apologise or my mistake. God bless, Chris Chandler.
Sunday 6 November 2016
The diocese have informed us that later this month they will let us have a short document about the Stewardship Project which they would like circulated in the parishes in order to generate some feedback from parishioners.
They have also extended the time for return of the completed Parish Questionnaire that I have previously referred to until Easter 2017.
With Fr Martin’s agreement I have, therefore, decided to defer the Discussion Group planned for 30 November until a date after Christmas which I will publish in due course.
Wednesday 2 November 2016
The Second Parish Discussion Group will be held on Wednesday 2nd November at 7.30 pm in the Parish Hall; topics for discussion at this meeting will be
‘Education and Continuing Formation’, ‘Outreach’, ‘Finances’ and ‘Young People ’
Questions for Consideration
Below are a series of questions for discussion at our second meeting. Where appropriate, I have added some facts from my gathering of factual information about the parish which may inform the discussion.
Education and Continuing Formation
a) What good experiences has your community had in the past and what opportunities would you like to see for ‘continuing formation’ in the faith for members of your community?
b) How can closer relationships be developed between the worshipping community, the school(s) the young people attend, and the families that belong to both?
A flourishing community extends a spirit of hospitality and invites people to become members. It also looks way beyond itself to discover how the spirit of Jesus can be brought to bear on everything that concerns us in the world: our relationship with other Christian Churches, women and men of other faiths and all men and women of good will in our world.
Under this heading we include: hospitality; Ecumenism; Interfaith relationships; involvement in local social and political issues and much more. It explores the practical ways we have of becoming ‘missionary disciples’.
a) What good experiences has your community had regarding our call to be involved with other Christians, other faiths, all men and women of good will?
b) How can your worshipping community become more immersed in the local community?
A sustainable community must have an annual income that is sufficient to cover its expenses. There needs to be a reliable level of stewardship among the faithful who willingly give of their time, gifts and energy to sustain the work of the community.
In 2015/16 in Brentwood our offertory collection totalled £165,784 plus Gift Aid from HM Treasury of £25,914, donations of £2,385 and £20,500 of other income. Our surplus of income over expenditure was £52,927. At Holy Cross offertories were £20,397 plus Gift Aid of £3,344, donations of £250 and £20,221 of other income. As well as this we have a cost sharing agreement with the diocese to deal with the cost of maintaining and running the Cathedral building. Brentwood and Holy Cross together paid £42,100 to the diocese as the Diocesan Quota i.e. our contribution to the cost of running the diocese.
a) How do you feel about the average weekly offertory donation in your community? Does this need to increase to enable your community to flourish in 2030?
b) If you are a finance-rich community, how do you feel about sharing some of your resources with very poor parts of the Diocese?
Young people are not just the ‘future’ of the Church; they are very much part of the present. We all need to look at how actively young people are encouraged and affirmed in their contribution to the community throughout the year. The enthusiasm and energy of young people can sometimes be daunting to those who are older, but they are also signs of the Holy Spirit within us and among us.
a) What good experiences regarding Church life do the young people have in your community?
b) How can the presence and witness of young people be more encouraged and supported in the community?
All are welcome to attend
5 October 2016
St. Helen’s Cathedral Parish Questionnaire
Questions for Consideration at the First Parish Discussion Group. 5 October 2016
Below are a series of questions for discussion at our first meeting. Where appropriate, I have added some facts from my gathering of factual information about the parish which may inform the discussion. How might some of these facts change over the years?
1. How can your community look to sustain and increase the number of people worshiping with you towards 2030?
Since 1985 our Sunday Mass attendance figures at the Cathedral have averaged at about 1000 per week. At Warley the figures I have are incomplete but vary between 288 in 1990 and 209 in 2015. In 2014 it was 266. Our estimated catholic population in 2014 was 6500.
2. What lay leadership is currently available and effective in your community?
We currently have a Parish Pastoral Council meeting every 4 months chaired by a lay person. This is not required under Canon Law which does require a Finance Committee to advise the Parish Priest. This is also chaired by a lay person. The Parish Pastoral Council arranges an Annual General Meeting for the parish at which the Annual Accounts are presented and discussed.
We have a total of between 250 and 300 lay people fulfilling roles from the Personal Assistant to the Dean, through flower arrangers, altar servers, musicians and choristers, readers, Eucharistic ministers, baptism and confirmation group organizers, ushers, etc. Not all of these are leaders, of course.
3. For what other area of your community life could trained lay men and some assume responsibility?
This is an opportunity to think about some activities that we might like to see undertaken by priests, or are currently dealt with by them, that could be carried out by lay people as clergy time becomes more and more precious.
4. How diverse and active are parishioners within the community?
This question is about the reality that as people get older they usually become less active, with the risk that a parish could flounder if we do not have younger men and women who are able to take their place. Active leaders sometimes move out of the area and need replacing. How ready are we to deal with this?
5. How can the parish community invite and prepare more people to join it?
6. What good experiences has your community had regarding our call to be involved with other Christians, other faiths, all men and women of good will?
7. How can your worshipping community become more immersed in the local community?
20 September 2016
I have now arranged to have open discussions about the future strategy for our parish and diocese on:
Wednesday 5 October, Wednesday 2 November and Wednesday 30 November at 7.30 pm in the small hall.
These discussions will help me in the completion of the very extensive questionnaire upon which I have been working since May.
A copy of the questionnaire (in PDF format) of this is available by clicking this link:
At the first meeting we will be talking about how we might sustain and increase the number of people worshipping with us in Brentwood and Warley over the next, say, 15 years, the leaderships and involvement we presently have and how we might recruit and train more lay people to assume more responsibility.
Do come along, join in and have your say, over a glass of wine etc.
You may contact the Steward of the Gospel at: