Interim Report: St James Church Mission Grant

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1 ST JAMES CHURCH, COWLEY Interim Report: St James Church Mission Grant Prepared for: Diocese of Oxford, Prepared by: Howard Thornton St James Church Parish of Cowley Beauchamp Lane Oxford OX4 3LF Date: 16 December 2013 and 12 January Telephone: Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

2 SUMMARY This Project: Family Fun Days Methods Through a series of events including Family Fun Days and a Barn Dance, we would like to learn how to welcome the people of Cowley and show them genuine hospitality and friendship. Goals This is a long-term project which began in September It is intended to discover ways to "raise up the next generation" in the Parish of Cowley, to develop a warm and caring church equipped to welcome new people (young and old) into the life of the church, and to demonstrate that the church is relevant in the community and is a place where people come together to celebrate life. Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

3 Results Funding provided by the has allowed St James Church to begin to: 1) encourage and equip church members to engage with mission development and ideas. This was done at our Parish Vision Day. We looked at everything we are doing in the community and thought about new and fresh ways we might engage the community. Result: It was an exciting day that allowed church members to become more aware of how to be a truly welcoming community. 2) look at ways we could physically and spiritually fling open our doors to the greater community. Result: The Family Fun Day became a focus and symbol of what we could do to introduce ourselves to our neighbours and begin to develop relationships. Through the creation of promotional materials we have worked to let people know about the parish, the location of our churches, regular church events, and special events that have been planned for the community. As a church we've begun to believe that the best practice in welcoming the community is by providing relevant activities which are fun and creative (Saturday Fun Days are one example), and through building authentic relationships between church members and the community we seek to engage. Through schools (St Christopher school has 400 students and St James almost 500) we can connect with a large segment of our population. In the autumn term, for the first time, we have provided a whole school assembly in each school every week. This has been important in raising our profile and relevance in the community. Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

4 Time line 1 June to 31 December 2013 Project Activities and dates Purpose and Objectives Day of Vision and Purpose - 6 July 2013 To analyse what we have done in the past to welcome people to the church, and from that evaluation to develop and plan events that will provide opportunities. Discussion and evaluation concluded that a series of Family Fun Days had potential to engage families from the schools, change perceptions of the church in a positive way and raise the profile of the church. 20 July - Cowley Advertising An advertising leaflet called the "Cowley Cowslip" was initiated. It included maps of church locations, information about programmes and an invitation to the Cowley Family Fun Day. In addition, smaller postcard sized invitations and large posters were created. A timetable was developed to ensure that advertising and invitations were out on time. 31 August Planning Group Meets The Family Fun Day provided a mix of attractive opportunities for fun. We wanted to provide entertainment that would be enjoyed by children and parents. So we made final decisions about what people would find at the Fun Day: face painting, a bouncy castle, and lots of crafts to make and games to play including Giant Jenga and Giant Connect 4. We hired entertainer Nick Cope. There was also a Fun Day Barbecue, with cakes, tea, coffee and squash. Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

5 Time line 1 June to 31 December 2013 (contd) 1 September - First Advertising 7 September - Second Advertising 15 September - The Fun Day We ordered 6,000 "CowSlips". They gave information about both churches and contained maps, information about our autumn programmes, and an advertisement for the Family Fun Day We put up a lot of posters along all the streets near St Christopher and St James Schools. We put them up in the windows of businesses, in Templars Square Shopping Centre, in car windows of members of the congregation and of course on the streets near the church. We also gave postcard sized invitations to all the students of the two schools (over 900) to let parents know of the Fun Day. St James Church Centre was set and ready to go by 9:30 and so was the bouncy castle. It was set up outside the Centre as a highly visible advertisement for anyone walking down the street. We opened at 10:00 am. The first children and parents began to drift in about 10:10. We had a steady stream of people throughout the 4 hours we were open and believe that 250 people (adults and children) visited during that time. Members of the congregation had friendly chats with people. They were instructed not to bring up church services or anything to do with the church unless asked. If they were asked why we were holding a Fun Day, they were to say we were doing it to help people in Cowley have fun. People did seem to have fun; many stayed for an hour and a half, and many said they couldn t wait for the next one. Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

6 16 September Post-mortem Those who helped run the fun day had a good time and thought we had met our objectives of increasing our visibility, improving our public image, and learning how to attract people to a church-run event. A few were disappointed that we didn t see any new people in church as a direct result of the Family Fun Day. However, we had achieved another important objective - to get more church members into the right mindset to reach out into the community and begin to develop relationships with others. Team members agreed that the most important thing to improve for future fun days would be there should be a programme of attractive events that we could offer to visitors. Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

7 1 October to 31 December Our second Family Fun Day was held Saturday 14 December, in conjunction with an annual event: our Cowley Festival of Christmas Trees. The Fun Day offered children an opportunity to make crafts to decorate their Christmas trees, to create Christmas cards, and to play games and have fun. We invited Father Christmas too. He was set to listen to what the children wished to tell him about Christmas, and to hand out treats. We had a lot of events to invite families to, including a jazz concert and a children's Christmas Carol Service, at which one of the school choirs sang and the head teacher of St James School, aided by his son, was one of the readers. As a result of our heightened sense of community we decided to offer an Alpha course, to begin on the 14th of January. As a direct result of our first Fun Day, both schools included an invitation to parents to join our Alpha course. We also advertised the course directly to teachers at both St James and St Christopher schools. We now have 20 Alpha participants. Time line: Plans for January 2014 We are busy preparing for our next event a Fun Day and Family Barn Dance which will be held this spring Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

8 How we spent the Grant Money DETAILS BUDGETED EXPENDITURES Fun Day SEPTEMBER Advertising (6000 leaflets) Entertainer (September) Craft materials Catering Giant games Catering (V Hall) Barbecue Craft materials (HT) Bouncy Castle hire Catering (CW) 6.18 Total Expenditure September Fun Day Fun Day DECEMBER Crafts (HT) Catering (CW) Advertising (6000 leaflets) Total Expenditure December Fun Day Total expenditure of Missions Grant to date Total expenditure of Church Funds to date Missions Grant not yet spent Church Funds not yet spent Parish of Cowley - Interim Report - 10 December

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