Anglican Church of Luxembourg

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1 Anglican Church of Luxembourg Draft Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday 22 April 2015 at 7.00 p.m. in the Sœurs Franciscaines, Salle Fëschmaart, 50 Avenue Gaston Diderich, Luxembourg 1. Opening Prayer The Chaplain opened the meeting at 7.15 p.m. by welcoming everyone. There were 33 members present. The Chaplain read from Ephesians, Chapter 3, starting at verse 14, and said a short prayer. 2. Notice of Meeting The Chaplain read the notice convening the meeting. It was acknowledged that due notice of this year s meeting had been given via the magazine, the website, the pew sheets, congregational s and announcements during services in the weeks leading up to the Annual General Meeting. 3. Apologies for absence Apologies for absence had been received from Liz and Stuart Alexander, Elaine Birch, Hilary Cole, Cheryl Fisher, Deborah Chamier, Ann and John Overstall, Dennis and Margo Robertson, Rani Roloff, Edward Seymour, Michiel Sweerts, Geoff and Ruth Thompson, Carole Vlachavas, David and Sadie Young. 4. Declaration of the closure of the list of candidates Two nominations had been received for the Church Council and two for the election of two Churchwardens. The list of proposed candidates for the election of Church Council members and two Churchwardens was declared closed. As one of the candidates for Churchwarden was already a Council member, the Chaplain proposed that the AGM ask the Church Council to co-opt someone to cover the remainder of that person s term of office on the Council; the AGM agreed to this. 5. Approval of the Minutes of the AGM of 29 April 2014 The Chaplain referred the Meeting to the Minutes drafted with regard to the previous Annual General Meeting held on 29 April It was acknowledged that these Minutes had been posted on the website of the Anglican Church of Luxembourg and had been available for comment well in advance of the Meeting. The draft minutes were unanimously approved as a true record of the last AGM. 6. Ministry Report The Chaplain presented his report: The last twelve months have been both extremely challenging and very stimulating at many different levels. Institutionally, there were three big issues, two of which have taken up considerable energy and have achieved what appears to be a successful outcome: The Vicarage o The Vicarage and its site have been sold, in principle, to a developer for a sum of 1.25 million. We took appropriate professional advice to find best value, and our decision has the support of the Diocesan Board of Finance. We have expressed an interest in a new property being built 1

2 nearby, and we hope that, if the Ville de Luxembourg approves the developer s building plans, the sale will proceed in time for us to buy offices and accommodation for a chaplain. In the intervening period of up to two years, we will rent the accommodation that we need. I would like to pay special tribute to Chris and Catherine as Churchwardens for their work on this project, and also Dennis Robertson, whose timely intervention enabled us to get good advice in several different areas and thus to establish our tax situation. The Convention o The second major focus of concern in the last year was the Convention which we have with the Government of Luxembourg, which pays the salary of the present chaplains. Last summer the Government announced its intention of abrogating the Conventions and withdrawing all support for religion, which was in line with the manifesto commitments made by the separate parties making up the coalition. However, it became clear that this was more difficult than they had imagined and much less desirable for them than they had realised, for many reasons. The result for our Church is that the amount of support will be reduced for future clergy, although it will still be very substantial. Ours is one of the smallest of the cultes conventionnés and we presently receive the least funding, so the level of our support does not change a lot (we will lose approximately 10% of present funding). The financial support in the future for the Catholic Church will diminish by 70%. This proposal still has to clear all the legislative hurdles, and is due to come into effect in October next year. It will not affect me personally, but it will affect those recruited after me and Andy. However, there is a hold on recruiting any new clergy until the new regime comes into force. I would like to thank very particularly Simon Norcross and Philippa Seymour for their presence at these negotiations, and the preparatory meetings which preceded them. These meetings were long and chaotic, did not always have an agenda, and were held in French and Luxembourgish. The outcome for us is as successful as we could make it. The Conseil d État may not be happy with the arrangements. If the present Government falls, the new scheme may not be put into effect. The Konvikt Centre o Last year it seemed as if we would be expected to leave the Konvikt Centre by October. However, we have received official word from the Catholic Centre that this timetable is not possible, and that there have been some considerable changes of plan. They will let us know in good time, and help us to find future accommodation. It seems to be that the Konvikt Centre will remain our place of worship for at least another three years, and maybe a lot longer than this. There seem to be some snags holding up any development of the site. Anglicans on the map? We are certainly more on the map than before. The Convention negotiations gave us a lot more publicity than we would otherwise have received, much of it in French. As Chaplain, I was featured in a podcast by the Luxembourg Parliament s media team, and our Church was given very positive treatment by the Luxemburger Wort online edition, again in French. Earlier, at the annual Te Deum service in the Cathedral for the Grand Duke s birthday we got more exposure as I and some members of the choir prayed and sang at the start of the service, in the part of the occasion led by non-catholic religions. 2

3 As well as inviting the German Ambassador to join us again for Remembrance Sunday, I also invited leaders of the Jewish and Muslim faiths here, and invited the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and his partner to take part in the laying of the wreaths at the start of the service. In the event, the Government was represented by the Deputy Prime Minister, M. Etienne Schneider. The German Ambassador was deeply touched by the invitation and by the service itself. Pastoral care The pastoral workload continues to be increasingly heavy. That may be because I am increasingly well known in our community, but I think it is also a reflection of increased stress in our community. I notice that divorce statistics increased considerably last year, according to the newspaper (a 30% increase). Of course, I am not alone in offering pastoral support, Andy does this too, as do many people in our congregation, who quietly come alongside the people they meet. That is also very important. What Andy and I deal with tends to be the heavy stuff. I put people in touch with professional support whenever that is appropriate, and I myself also make sure that I am supported in this. The situations which we are called to support involve: Major tragedy, including suicide, which remains an important issue in Luxembourg (the suicide statistics are rarely published; many fatal road accidents involving trees may in fact be suicide); Family breakdown, an issue which is hidden but continuing; Serious illness; Personal distress. Probably the reason Andy and I pick this up is that we do not talk about it. A gospel for this world The mission of the Church is not actually to deal with people s problems, but to offer good news for this world and to act on this. Trying to articulate the Anglican perspective was a major focus of my role in the Convention negotiations. How can the Church resource our society, not just the individuals in it? We need to talk about new ways of doing things and we need to be careful of the language we use. In a newspaper article, Katie Hopkins recently referred to drowned migrants as cockroaches. That kind of usage has not been current in Europe since the days of the Third Reich. But the BBC, for example, also uses terms such as boat capsized, migrants not people being drowned, and thus the use of a certain vocabulary dehumanises the situation. I renewed my contact with MEPs by attending one of their meetings in Strasbourg and discussions with David Fieldsen, a lobbyist, who advises the Bishop on his political role. I also participated in academic conferences, notably with John Millbank, a UK theologian, last October, and with the Confederation of Catholic Jurists, where I asked questions. Inclusivity, diversity and the concept of religion as a resource for building social capital. As a Church we try to be inclusive and diverse. At the Convention negotiations it was clear that we offered a different approach, and the Government picked up on this. Also, we give a lot our giving is higher than the other faith communities except the Muslims. Inner life of our Church As regards how we are resourcing our Church and society, you only have to read the various reports on our Church s activities (circulated on paper and posted on the website) to see what is being done. For example, the Environmental Footprint Group has 3

4 a wider outreach than just our Church members, and the Charities Committee is looking at how our Church can make a difference in the outside world. One of the ways in which we seek to sustain our vision is through worship and music. This can be very uplifting, and here Dana Luccock, who has now left, made a huge contribution, as have Jim Kent, Jon Grocock, the First Sunday Group and the choir. We need to continue. To find out about the search for a new Music Director, I would ask you to read the Choir report by Fiona Turner. On the subject of more technical matters, the Church now has a new website, and here I would like to thank Patrick Granger, who developed the site, John Dimond, who has taken over as webmaster, and Chris Vaudrey, who, as webmaster for the old website, has brought us so far and now handed over to John. The new safeguarding requirements mean that we are obliged to comply with a large number of technical rules designed to ensure that children and vulnerable adults are safe. This is a big issue and one that we will be tackling between now and the autumn. It is very complicated, however. The Safeguarding Officer, Hilary Cole, has identified some Catch 22 situations encountered in trying out the procedure. The organisation of rotas for the various tasks in the Church is challenging, as we are thinner on the ground than we would like; this needs attention. Thanks I would like to thank: first of all, our Churchwardens, Chris Vaudrey and Catherine Allen, for six years of supporting the Chaplain. I wish to thank them for their discretion, energy, loyalty and support; Felix Rusere, for taking on the post of Treasurer he already has a big job and travels a lot and nevertheless he has taken on another big job as Treasurer; John Dimond, for taking on the task of webmaster and for his work with the office computers all this is very important for communications; The inner team : Andy Markey, for his warm support and presence; Elaine Birch and Lynn Barclay, for their even closer presence, and for the very complex stuff they have to deal with; Tania Buhr, for her quiet presence and for writing the minutes of sometimes long and complicated Council meetings; All of you in the Anglican Church for being who you are. The Chaplain then responded to a question from the floor. Simon Norcross asked about the status of the search for new accommodation. The Chaplain said that the planning application to demolish the Vicarage was currently on the Mayor of Luxembourg s desk and was due to be approved shortly; a more detailed approval should be finalised by the end of the summer. Consequently, the Chaplain was hoping to move out of the Vicarage by the summer. We were therefore looking for places to rent nearby in the rue de Mühlenbach. 7. Churchwardens Report (by Chris Vaudrey and Catherine Allen) Looking back over the Churchwardens Reports for the last 5 years, it is interesting to observe how some matters have progressed. For instance, the Government investigation into the financing of Cultes initiated in 2012 has resulted in the signing of the Convention entre l État du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg et l Église anglicane du Luxembourg on 26 th January of this year (2015). On the other hand, the winding-up of the asbl in June 2012 the rather joyous end of a long and bumpy road may now have to be reversed, as the new Convention demands a similar body to administer the Government s subsidy to our Culte. Heavy sigh. 4

5 The road most lengthily travelled, perhaps, has been the protracted negotiations for the sale of our vicarage, which has culminated in the signing in late July 2014 of a Compromis de Vente. This should result in a move in the next 10 months. Prayers are being offered. However, the most important duties of Churchwardens have always been to support the Chaplains and act as a conduit for the Congregation. It has been a privilege to do this as well as we could over the last six years. We hope that we have helped to smooth out some of the clerical upheavals, and that we have been seen as approachable by members of our Church. Our very best wishes to our successors. Further to their report, Chris Vaudrey said that the Churchwardens had to go with the flow, whether up or down. Working with the Chaplains had been a very interesting and positive time. He thanked Catherine Allen for unfailingly providing lunch during their meetings. The Churchwardens were there to listen to the congregation and the clergy, and he thanked everyone for their support. 8. Treasurer s Report (by Felix Rusere) (The Anglican Church of Luxembourg s financial statements for 2014 were circulated, together with three appendices, showing the beneficiary charities, Church income and an expenses analysis respectively.) The Treasurer, Felix Rusere, asked the AGM to look first at the last two pages of the documents circulated, showing an analysis of income and expenditure in the form of doughnut charts, where the outer ring represented 2014 and the inner ring 2013 financial years. From 2013 to 2014, monthly donations had increased by 3%, collections in church by 16%; net proceeds of the Church Fair had decreased by 5%, grants and donations by 11% and interest by 35%. Total income for 2104 was as compared with for 2013, an increase of 6%. As regards expenditure, the Treasurer pointed out that the following items had increased in 2014 as compared with 2013: employment costs (34%), fuel and utilities (15%), Church of England quotas (8%), travel and relocation costs (2606%), administrative overheads (15%), and publicity and Konvikt magazine (11%). There had been a decrease in the following items: accommodation and rental costs (-2%), the Konvikt Centre (-1%), music (-54%) and other expenses (-27%). The Other expenses item covered the cost of services, training and youth events, hospitality, sundry expenses, bank charges and Junior Church. This meant that the total expenditure (before depreciation) for 2014 was as compared with for 2013, a 17% increase. The increase in expenses had mainly been driven by the Church incurring employment costs for the Music Director, Dana Luccock, for the full year (whereas she had only been employed for part of the year in 2013), and fuel & utilities, which mainly related to gas and electricity at the Vicarage and the Assistant Chaplain s house. The large increase in the item for travel and relocation costs was due to the Church having to make provision for all of Susan Bolen s removal costs. Some of the music costs in 2013 also covered the employment of the Music Director, but this was not the case in 2014, which explained the big change in that item. Overall there was thus a deficit in income over expenditure of nearly The Treasurer drew the AGM s attention to the Notes to the accounts, in particular Note 5.1 Compromis de vente for sale of the Vicarage. The Vicarage was still ours: the 5

6 compromis was signed on 29 July 2014 and the buyer had until 29 January 2016 to obtain planning permission from Luxembourg City and to secure a loan. Refusal of the above permission or loan by 29 January 2016 would result in the agreement being called off. The Church was, however, hoping that all would proceed as planned. In the income and expenditure account, depreciation (for the Vicarage and other items) was included, so that increased our deficit ( ) for the year, but excluding depreciation the deficit was only about The Treasurer then responded to questions from the floor. Martin Curwen asked whether there was any concern in the Council about these deficits, given the present fiscal environment. Felix Rusere said there was concern, especially as we might have a bigger wage bill under the new Convention arrangements. Martin Curwen also asked how, if the compromis de vente were to go through, the difference between that amount ( 1.25 million) and the net value of the Vicarage ( ) would be handled in the accounts and when that would be done. Felix Rusere replied that there would be some entries to derecognize the asset at its book value and determine the profit on disposal of the Vicarage. The proceeds from the sale, together with the capital fund, would be channelled towards acquisition of the new properties. This would have to be done on or before the compromis de vente expiry on 29 January In response to Jacqui Spence s query as to whether provision had been made for rental, Felix Rusere said that this had been done, pointing out Note 9 to the accounts (Recruitment and Relocation Fund), which stated In anticipation of possible move from the current Vicarage, EUR was set aside for estimated removal costs, 2015 rentals and charges for office space and an apartment for the Chaplain. He explained that if we had to move this summer, provision had to be made for rental, so this had been done for the last three months of the year. As there would probably be a two-year transition period, a further provision of around to would have to be made in the financial years subsequent to Justin Loasby congratulated the Treasurer on all his work. He pointed out that in the early years in Luxembourg the Anglican Church had been struggling to make ends meet, and so he thought it was just as well that the Convention arrangements had turned out well because otherwise, as we were losing money, we might have been in a difficult position. The Chaplain said that, if depreciation were excluded, the balance between income and expenditure was not so far out of kilter. The good news was that the Convention negotiations had gone all right and we had a good tradition of giving, so we should not worry. Clive Munn commented that an appeal for more giving had in fact been made in 2014 and giving had increased. The Chaplain agreed and pointed out that that had happened without a big push for more giving. Clive Munn also asked about our charities giving, saying that whereas it was supposed to be 10% of our revenue, we had actually donated 18%. Felix Rusere explained that we used the Church Fair as the main fund generator, but what we gave to charities was not a division of Fair proceeds, as the figure for our giving also included donations to other appeals, such as the Bishop s appeals in Advent and Lent and the Christingle collection. The Chaplain thanked Felix Rusere for mastering this brief, which was a complex one. 6

7 9. Auditor s Report Michael Chamier thanked the Treasurer, Felix Rusere, for his time and patience. He said everything was in order with the 2014 accounts and read out the audit certificate for the preceding year. He had made a comment in the previous year s report to the effect that the Church should seek external advice on its tax liability in the event of the sale of the Vicarage. This recommendation had been acted upon and the Church had eventually received a reply indicating that no capital gains tax would be due on the sale. That was the position under the existing Convention, it might be different under the new Convention. The Chaplain commented that the future tax situation was not entirely clear, as the new Convention that the Church had signed had not been complete in terms of tax details, etc. The Catholic Church s buildings would be transferred at a token price of 1, as they could not be sold on the open market. 10. Approval of 2014 accounts Justin Loasby proposed that the 2014 accounts be approved, this was seconded by Simon Norcross and the motion was carried. The Chaplain thanked the Treasurer, Felix Rusere, and the Auditor, Michael Chamier. 11. Adoption of Reports on Chaplaincy activities Archdeaconry Representative s Report (on file) Written by John Overstall. Assistant Chaplain s Report (on file) Written by the Rev d Andy Markey. Breakfast Bible Study Report (on file) Written by Graham and Isobel Weller. Charities Committee Report (on file) Written by Martin Curwen. Choir Report (on file) Written by Fiona Turner. Church Fair Coordinator s Report (on file) Written by Clive Munn. Crèche Report (on file) Written by Eyi Geers-Faderin. Environmental Footprint Group Report (on file) Written by Philippa Seymour. First Sunday Group Report (on file) Written by Jonathan Grocock. Junior Church Coordinator s Report (on file) Written by Joanne Smith. Koinonia and Cake Report (on file) 7

8 Written by Carol Birch. Lumen Magazine Editor s Report (on file) Written by Edward Seymour. Mothers Prayers Group Report (on file) Written by Rani Roloff. Music Director s Report (on file) Written by Dana Luccock. Safeguarding/Child Protection Officer s Report (on file) Written by Hilary Cole. Webmaster s Report (on file) Written by John Dimond. Wellsprings Report (on file) Written by Cheryl Fisher. Young Adults Group Report (on file) Written by Paul Townend. Youth Group Report (on file) Written by Andy Markey, Caroline Kafka-Markey and Evelyn Sweerts. The Chaplain urged the congregation to read these very interesting reports, which were available on the website. They represented lots of work and showed the very high professional standards being applied. In response to a query, he said no report had been submitted by the Lions and Lambs group. He invited any questions from the floor about what had been reported. The adoption of the Reports was proposed and accepted. 12. Election of Churchwardens, members of the Chaplaincy Council and Archdeaconry Synod representatives The Chaplain explained that two new Churchwardens needed to be elected, as Christopher Vaudrey and Catherine Allen had reached the end of their six-year term of office. Two nominations for Churchwarden had been received: Simon Norcross (proposed by John Overstall and seconded by Moira Hogg) and Philippa Seymour (proposed by Wendy Loasby and seconded by Jacqui Spence); they were duly elected by acclaim as Churchwardens. Cheryl Fisher and Philippa Seymour were stepping down as Council members at the end of their three years. Two nominations for the Church Council had been received, namely Gerd Gebhard, proposed by Christopher Vaudrey and seconded by Edward Seymour, and Victoria Hodgson, proposed by Evelyn Sweerts and seconded by Michiel Sweerts. Both were duly elected by acclaim to the Church Council for a three-year period. As Simon Norcross, now elected Churchwarden, had been a Council member, the Council would coopt a further member to serve for the remaining two years of his term of office. John Overstall, the Archdeaconry Representative, and Moira Hogg, the Assistant Archdeaconry Representative, had already been elected in 2014 for a three-year term. 8

9 13. Appointment of the Honorary Auditor Michael Chamier was re-appointed as Honorary Auditor for a further year. 14. Any Other Business None. The Chaplain pointed out that, having just closed down one ASBL, we might have to set up another one in order to be able to receive the government subsidy, under the terms of the new convention. 15. Closure of the Anglican Church of Luxembourg AGM Meeting The Chaplain, having thanked those present for their participation, closed the meeting at 8.45 p.m. The hymn Now Thank We All Our God was sung, followed by the Grace. 9

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