So, it’s Annual Report Time for us all again. This is a great opportunity to look back at last year and to look ahead to the coming year – tracing the journey of our family life together. Here is my first draft for 2023.


Our vision (what we hope to see) is to see God changing lives, families, and churches again and again.

Our mission (what we seek to do) is to make whole life disciples of all ages, to create and support communities of people who worship God with their whole lives, and to model and reproduce this as widely as possible.

Our strategy (how we seek to do this) is to draw people into intentional apprenticeship to Jesus through

  • reaching out to a world in need,
  • drawing people into a new identity in Christ,
  • developing a culture of discipleship,
  • loving one another as family, and
  • giving ourselves away for the sake of others.

Given this, the work of the church is wide-ranging.  Members of our wider parish community have continued to benefit from the mission and ministry of the church and its members, in a variety of settings and across all age groups.  When reviewing these and other activities, the PCC has had due regard to Charity Commission guidance on public benefit.

We are very mindful of the fact that the church could not operate without the generous contributions of its staff and its host of volunteers.  We are enormously grateful and indebted to all who contribute in so many ways to the life and health of St Mary’s Parish Church with the Heath Church.


2023 was a year of transition marked in large part by a number of key staffing changes – Richard Wilson taking a sabbatical, Nigel and Gen Griffiths moving to Merstham to help revitalise the parish along with a number of church members, Kate Capper stepping down as Associate Vicar, Ben Forbes being appointed and starting as our new Head of Community Life, Martin Saunders stepping down from leading our Youth Work with Emily Irving being appointed and starting as our full-time Youth Minister, and Mandy Childs starting her work as Children’s Minister (6-11yrs).  Esther Lyth joined Leslie Jackson, Nick Rayner and Becky Beggs in the warden team and there was a new PCC with a number of new members.

This level of change within our leadership has been significant.  Noting the inevitable discomfort that comes from change, it is also natural that new staff and post holders all need time to become established.  However we have also notices that the process of creating new roles or reimagining old ones has not only brought renewed clarity and focus among the leadership around discipleship, community building and mission, but also brought new energy into church life that we hope will bear much fruit in the coming years.

Giving ourselves away

This year it has been wonderful to see the vision of sending a group of people with Nigel and Gen Griffiths to join in with the mission in Merstham come to fruition.  This ambition of ours was supported with financial and practical support of the Diocese and the Central Church, and our investment has been multiplied many times over.  It has been really exciting to see how this group have grafted themselves into the life of the parish and how God has blessed the whole community even in a short time.  We give thanks, and continue to pray for our extended family up the road.

Investing in children, young people, and parents

With so many young people and children engaged in the church and with so many families being part of our community, the PCC has continued to be very keen develop this area of ministry.  For many years we have been delighted to see our children’s and youth work flourish.  Post-covid, and with changes of staff and volunteers, there has been a transition to new models of working and meeting these needs.  As an area of such importance for us we have decided to increase our investment in our provision of oversight and leadership. 

Being able to appoint a full-time Youth Minister (to build on all that Martin Saunders grew) alongside two part time Children’s Ministers has been a major achievement.  Emily Irving joined the team in the summer leading the group who went to the Satellites Festival, and then she officially joined the team in October.  She has already brought much.  It has been so good to see new Children’s team leaders join and grow under Mandy Child’s leadership and others step up to fill the gap following Gen’s move to Merstham.

We have also been working on placing parents at the centre of our strategy for the discipleship of our children and young people.  This found expression in how we shaped our new roles, and in the initiation of a Parenting for Faith course.  There is still much to learn about how to embed this ethos into our church life.  We were excited to be able to advertise for a new Associate Vicar to lead and oversee this as part of a wider brief of Leadership Development and Discipleship Growth and look forward to seeing Simon Russell taking up that post in 2024.

Reaching our town and area

As a church, especially since Covid, we have been taking time to reflect deeply on our approach to mission and evangelism.  The Alpha Course in January to March was well attended and fruitful.  It was a delight to see the way a relatively young life group grew in maturity and faith as they took leadership of the course, and to see baptisms and the subsequent growth of new life groups arise out of the process, all of which continue to grow strongly.  The progress of St Mary’s Local has been slower than we had desired, but it will be exciting to see the momentum and activity grow in 2024 and 2025.

Building our community life

The development of a new full-time ‘Head of Community Life’ role, to build on and expand on Kate Capper’s work, has been another important achievement.  Creating a full-time role is a significant investment and shows how important this area of life is for us as church.  It has been a joy to welcome Ben Forbes into this role.  Ben’s role is extensive, but it is focused on developing how we grow our sense of being family together with the idea that families do four things – the look after each other (Pastoral Care), they spend time together (Social activities and time together), they are a place to belong and grow (Life groups) and they make sure everyone is healthy (Emotionally Healthy Church).

Spiritual Formation

Richard’s sabbatical was another moment of change and transition, both for him personally as our Vicar and senior leader, and for the wider church.  The fruits of this time will perhaps be seen over years rather than months, but it is already evident that it was a time of growth for both him and for the church.  All Christian ministry is founded on an inner life with God that has its origin in the gospel, and as Richard seeks to deepen his own spiritual life in response to the gospel, he is also determined that the spiritual formation becomes the hallmark of our life together.  The development of the renewed Associate Vicar role further expresses this commitment.

We continue to put a high priority on teaching, where our focus this year was on the early chapters of Genesis, the meaning and identity of Jesus’ ministry, and exploring how our future hope shapes life in the present.

Worship and ministry

One of primary callings, as the body of Christ, is to be a community that gathers for worship, and we continue to invest in and develop our corporate times of worship and prayer.  Attendance on Sundays fluctuates through the month and over the year and, while this is inevitable, clearer communication around the importance of gathering has been develop (Come | Belong | Serve | Give).  In part this is a response to the Covid years where our patterns and commitments changed.  St Mary’s continues to offer a range of opportunities for worship at different times and in different styles.  It has been good to see growth at the Heath Church, and the 8.30am services and to see our mid-week communion service thrive.  The numbers involved in our music ministry has grown and the sense of team is also strengthening.  Given how technology is now an expected and routine part of our services and this has required extra attention, resources, and time. 

Numbers – or more accurately – People

Once again, we have been encouraged by our attendance at our Easter and Christmas services – 583 on Easter Day, 1082 at our Christmas Carol Services, 1707 over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Our average weekly attendance was 305 adults, and 82 under 16.  At the APCM in April 2023 there were 573 names on the electoral roll (544 in 2022).


If 2022 was a year of transition, we anticipate and pray that 2024 and 2025 will be years of increasing momentum, where we see a growth in community, connection, mission, and formation. 

We are mindful of our need to secure our finances going forward, raising income to be able to match our vision and sense of calling.

In line with our strategic priorities, we want to:

 Reaching out to a world in need:

  • Build on our mission and ministry with youth and children under the leadership of Emily Irving, Mandy Childs, and a new younger children’s leader
  • Firmly communicate, embed, and implement our approach to social engagement and local mission
  • Grow confident disciples able to share their faith naturally by teaching and training  
Drawing people into a new identity in Christ:

  • Welcome and induct new members into church life following Alpha
  • Draw people into deeper commitment marked by baptism
  • Further develop our ‘newcomer’s flow’ and draw newcomers into fellowship  
Developing a culture of discipleship:

  • Appoint and establish a new head of Discipleship
  • Teach on the grace of God as the foundation of our gospel and community life
  • Strengthen a core group participating in our monthly prayer meeting, and renew our approach to our annual 24/7 prayer weeks in the lead up to Easter
  • Strengthen our small groups – increasing leadership, engagement, transformation, and participation
  • Encourage families and individuals to participate in summer festivals of New Wine and Satellites
  • Develop our approach to family discipleship, and spiritual formation across the whole church
  • Expand the resources we offer that deepen faith and discipleship that changes lives  
Loving one another as family:

  • Deepen our belonging and develop our pastoral care
  • Launch a new termly publication called ‘Spotlight’ to share stories that celebrates our community life together
  • Establish and develop an annual diary of social events that build community and fellowship
  • Continue to develop the depth of community within our small groups
  • Plan for a whole-church weekend away together in 2025  
Giving ourselves away for the sake of others:

  • Continue to maintain our partnership with Merstham and continue to explore partnership with the parish of Nine Elms in Battersea.
  • Continue to deepen our partnerships with others in mission overseas and strengthen our communication and engagement within the church family
  • Develop our relationships with other Churches and networks as we seek to grow resilient disciples in our secular age