Monday, November 8th, 2021, 7.30 p.m. at Shefford Methodist Church


  1. Welcome and Opening devotions


Lorna welcomed those present at the meeting and led the devotions reading from Jeremiah 29: 4-11.  From which she posed the question “What do you think God’s future for Shefford Methodist Church looks like?” and encouraged those present to hold this question throughout the meeting, perhaps jotting down thoughts as the meeting progresses.


  1. Opening Formalities
  2. Record of those present: Revd. Lorna Valentine, Mairi Perks, Les Davies, Mark Valentine, Shirley Course, Pam Moakes, Derek Willows, Julie Fisher, Andie Pepper, Graham Scrase, Kath Smith, Colin Smith, Nick Guy, Jackie Williams, Beckie Gray.

Apologies for Absence were received from:  Andrew Hollins, Helen Boshier, Peter Crossley

  1. Any Other Business


  1. Conflict of Interest:

Lorna:  The Circuit Share discussion as it will include Stipends.

Nick Guy:  Circuit Share and Mission Resources Mission Stream as he is circuit representative.

  1. Minutes and matters arising:

The minutes for Shefford Methodist Church Council meeting on Monday, June 28th, 2021, had been circulated, Nick Guy pointed out that confusion could arise between the use of ‘stewards’ and ‘stewardship’.  After this was addressed and two corrections were made to mis-recorded financial figures in the text, the minutes were signed by Revd. Lorna Valentine as a true and correct record of that meeting.

Matters Arising  The GDPR documents were circulated before the meeting and attached to the minutes.  GDPR has been considered by Lorna Valentine and Les Davies:

The Data Mapping Exercise, Annual Checklist and Privacy Policy have all been completed.

The Data Security Policy will be presented at the next Church Council.

People were reminded not to keep out of date paperwork.

The report was accepted unanimously by the members present.

  1. Correspondence



  1. The Life and Work of the Church.
  2. God at Work

Lorna asked those present at the meeting where they had seen God at work in Shefford Methodist Church.

Andie noted the receiving of new members into the Church.

Mairi spoke of the interchange between her grandson and a visitor to the church at the coffee morning.  She also noted how the final hymn from Andrew Hollins service on October 24th led into the service the following week.

Shirley commented on how we connected through creating the shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Peter Cooper told us that the Church has bookings every evening of the week, Monday to Friday.

It is a real connection with the community, on some evenings both the main hall and the church are booked.  Some people have commented that they prefer to meet in the Church itself, rather than the main hall.

Colin Smith spoke of the coffee mornings fulfilling a need in the community as other organisations have closed.

Les told us that Sam has noticed people sitting in the pews and reading bibles while attending the Sliming World meetings.

Lorna said to the meeting ‘I believe we have a God who is not done with us.  Even as some churches are closing and congregations moving on’.

  1. Worship

There was discussion of services that we have been involved in and services to come, including thinking about the Remembrance Service.

Looking forward to the Christmas season, the Christingle service was planned to be a walk -through last year and we need to think about whether to consider that this year or have more of a ‘drop in’ version.  Other churches in the Mission Group are having similar conversations.

The Christmas tree has kindly been donated by Bessie Wall’s son for several years but we cannot continue to assume this will continue.  It was noted that the usual tree is really too tall, partly because those who put it up are getting older and also, it may be time to consider an artificial tree.  Pam Moakes commented that we are now more about planting trees than digging them up.  Les suggested that we have several options – we could continue as usual, rent a tree for £120.00, consider getting an artificial tree (reusable) or create a ‘cone tree’.  Shirley asked that the tree be a reasonable size, partly for visual effect, particularly for children.  Mairi asked us to consider what the significance of the tree is; It is a focal point for the Toy Service, children love it.  Where is God in the tree?   Shirley told the meeting that she has seen a variety of artificial trees on line and was happy to meet with a small group of others to progress this.  The meeting agreed.

The meeting also thanked Shirley for producing a multi coloured Church Rota.

  1. Learning and caring including Pastoral Matters

The team meets regularly to ensure that nobody falls through the net.

Several people are no longer able to be a part of this team, Lorna asked for anyone willing to join the team to let her know.

All were asked to let Lorna and Kath know if there was anyone in need of support.

  1. Evangelism and service including coffee mornings and Gift Day

The coffee morning held on Saturday, November 6th, was a Gift Day coffee morning. Lorna will also receive gifts at the Church Anniversary service.

Lorna told the meeting that we need to consider Evangelism and Service and also to think about ways of reaching out to the community.

Although Prebend Street Centre no longer need donations, they have alerted us to the needs of the Night Shelter.

Colin raised concerns for people living on their own, particularly in relation to accessing the Covid booster jab and not bothering because this is too difficult.

Lorna responded that she is aware of this and is feeding the concerns back to the local council.

We need to think and reflect on both this and reconnecting with the Need Project.

She reflected that this may be our call to reach out to the most vulnerable in the community.

Lorna then encouraged the people present to continue to support the coffee mornings and to let both her and Kath know if people wanted to come but had no means to get there.


  1. Stewards/COVID team update and Q & A

The latest user list was circulated in advance of the meeting. 
Continue their work adapting the Church space.

Les continues his work keeping the paperwork up to date.

Please raise any concerns with them.


  1. Finances

Papers were circulated in advance.  There has been an increase of £11,000 in the Managements Accounts, which is a positive thing.

Lorna remarked that it is really helpful to have the spreadsheets available to us.

Derek shared the two documents that he has to complete for examination of the formal accounts.  The meeting agreed to this being carried out by Ann Porter.

Churches had been encouraged to think carefully about the independence of the examiner.  We noted Ann Porter is a professional based in Shefford and is being paid a fee.  This is deemed to be right and appropriate for our context.

It was requested that someone write to Ann Porter, previously a task carried out by Jim Ragless.  Shirley Course offered to send the letter this year and this was agreed.

Derek had provided a budget for this year, just for interest.  He forecasts a surplus of £9,000.00 in unrestricted funds, although assessment for repairs may have to be adjusted upward as the boiler may require attention.

The Reserves Policy is based on six months of expenditure on the budget to be done at the next Church Council meeting

CIRCUIT SHARE:  At present it is £3,100.00, topped up by £500.00.  A proposal was made that we combine these two figures and offer £3,600.00 for the next connexional year.

We noted the Circuit Treasurer is expecting to hold a meeting to discuss circuit shares and how we arrive at a Circuit Assessment.  The current method was first agreed when the Circuit came into being and the Circuit Share is not currently paying Circuit costs.


We set aside the share discussion temporarily to reflect on a request from the Methodist Conference that churches look to offer 15% of any spare reserves to the Pension Fund.  Lorna shared her understanding of this which is that at present the funds are sufficient for the people drawing from it. However, there are questions over having sufficient funds for the future.

The first call on any church finance is the Circuit Share, however, this circuit is running at a deficit making the question of ‘spare reserves’ difficult in our context.

It was noted that the matter was discussed at District Synod which did not accept the recommendation.

After much discussion and including some confusion about this item of business, the meeting agreed that, given the Circuit works to a deficit and given that the Circuit Share that the churches offer cannot meet our running costs, we are not in a position of having spare reserves to offer.

The meeting wanted its uncertainty about this whole matter to be heard.  Lorna apologized that she may not have presented the issue to the meeting in the most helpful way and agreed to circulate the link to a video about this.  A written paper will be presented should this need to be discussed again. [link as requested www.methodist.org.uk/for-churches/finance/newsletters-and-latest-news/ ]

We returned to the issue of the Circuit Share and the treasurers proposal was seconded by Colin, and the meeting agreed and the paperwork for the circuit completed.

Colin said that we need to review our Circuit Share at intervals.

Lorna responded that this was agreed at previous meetings.

CONNEXIONAL FUNDS:  Derek said that this has been set at £845.00 per annum for some years now.

Lorna asked the meeting whether this should continue at the same rate, increase or decrease.

Colin proposed that we increase this by 5%, Shirley seconded the proposal and the meeting agreed.


As Derek has indicated his intention to step down from this role Lorna asked whether there was anyone willing to take it on.  The Treasurer must be a Church Member, however, some of the work can be done by a non-member.

There are no obvious candidates, but the vacancy does need to be filled.

The Gift-aid element of the role can be done separately.

Lorna expressed the thanks of the meeting to Derek, remarking that the work he has carried out is much appreciated.


Lorna spoke of the struggle that we had been having financially and that this had entailed the use of money set aside for the P.A. system.

The grant from the Robert Lucas Feoffment Trust has lain in abeyance as time has been in short supply so the plan now is to get the amplifier and to upgrade the audio-visuals across the system.

Colin confirmed that this would ensure that the grant of £1,500.00 would be taken up.

Lorna confirmed that Les had been given the go-ahead to proceed with the scheme.


  1. Property

The report was circulated before the meeting.

A part of the first sentence in the main first paragraph was to be amended.

There are concerns about a leakage of oil from the tank could lead to potential soil pollution.  Corrosion of the tank is a concern and Colin will speak to Graham about this.

Peter Cooper pointed out that the boiler is 25 years old but needs a new burner to replace the original one.  To fit this would cost      £650.00 plus VAT but it will take time to order.

Members of the meeting agreed that the boiler should be inspected, and a new burner fitted.  Peter was asked to liaise with Graham.


Peter Crossley has carried out the task of filling out this annual form for some time.  This year he completed the return with Graham Scrase.  It was noted that we need to give Peter our support.

Peter was asked to consider how much he would project for repairs in one, three and five years.

He said that, as last year’s outgoings were less than anticipated and the boiler repairs notwithstanding, he would suggest £2,000.00 over one year and £5,000.00 over five years.

The advice is to withhold from signing off the annual return until it essential to do so.  As it is due in March it will be signed off at the next Church council Meeting on February 21st.


The last inspection review was done in 2020. 

Lorna suggested reinstating the Property Committee meeting to put in place a Plan of Action to be brought to the next Church Council meeting.


  1. Safeguarding

Report circulated before the meeting.

The updated Church Safeguarding Policy was signed by Lorna with the agreement of those present at the meeting.  

One date on the training program was amended to Tuesday, December 7th.


  1. Ecumenical matters and Churches Together

Someone is needed to coordinate Christian Aid for Churches Together.

Thanks were expressed to Helen for the work that she does for them on the church’s behalf.

The Town Carol Service will be held out of doors and there will be mince pies and mulled wine afterwards.


  1. Circuit Matters

The sudden loss of Revd. Dalwyn Atwell has raised difficulties within the Circuit, particularly as it reduces the number of active ministers to five - this was not expected to happen until 2022.  In June 2020 we had 6.75.  His death has also been a personal loss for the ministerial team.

Lorna has taken on pastoral responsibility for some of Dalwyn’s churches along with Silas.  Dalwyn’s absence is felt more keenly due to the added loss of those who would provide support. 

As Andrew Hollins is moving on in 2022, we are now seeking a new minister.  A potential match has been offered and will be meeting with the Circuit Stationing Team.

Due to this situation, we must be careful not to over-stretch our ministers.

Revd. Chris Sandy is working with the SCALOP churches and is going to be a great minister in the days going forward.

The number of Circuit Stewards is decreasing, at present there are eight, but one has said she needs to spend more time in her own church and two may soon be leaving the circuit.  People were asked to consider the role and to talk to Nick Guy for further information.

There has been no Circuit Meeting Report issued yet but Lorna will circulate copies to any Church Council member who would like to receive it.

Difficult conversations will need to be had.  Lorna brought us back again to the question: ‘What do you think God’s future for Shefford Methodist Church looks like?’  We should consider this also in terms of the Mission Group and the Circuit.


Both Lorna and Michael Giles are due these in 2022-2023.  To keep the dates of both apart, Lorna is looking to take September, October and November 2022.

Lorna will be following the BBC Maestro course and plans to compose a song for Christmas, Easter and Pentecost.  Lorna and Mark also have some key dates to celebrate.

Those present at the meeting expressed full support for Lorna in this and the Stewards Meeting will appoint someone to join Lorna’s Sabbatical support group.


  1. Future Dates for 2021/2022

14th November:   9.30 a.m. Remembrance Service led by Helen Boshier then

11.30 a.m. Churches Together at the War Memorial.

21st November:  Church Anniversary

12th December:  Toy Service.  Local Worship

24th December:  Christingle Services.  Format TBA

Christmas Day worship

2nd January 2022:  Covenant Service, Mission Group worship led by Revd. Lorna Valentine. 10.30 a.m. at Langford Methodist Church

24th January:  Stewards Meeting

10th February:  Circuit Meeting.  On Zoom

21st February:  Church Council Meeting


  1. Closing Prayer

The meeting closed in prayer

To know and love God more fully and to encourage others to do the same

Sunday Services

   Regular service time 9.30 .  

See the Newsletter page for details.