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AGM 2018: reports/review of 2017

Chaplain’s Report

Such a lot has happened at St. Mary’s over the past year, adjusting to a new Chaplain, a somewhat different role for the Chaplain, and considering how to best serve the congregation of St. Mary’s as well as the surrounding community. With the advent of programming for teens and the launch of the student group The Anchor (run in conjunction with the SICR and IFES), we are seeing renewed possibilities. Attendance is up slightly, and special programs such as the Lenten Study have been well received.

At the same time, St. Mary’s is facing the same hard truths being faced by congregations all over Europe: general church attendance is down, donations are down, and our buildings and congregations are aging. Society is rapidly changing, giving the Church an almost constant turn over in challenges to reaching out. And yet, this is exactly what the Church is called to do: reach out, serve, share, minister, bless. How do we do this effectively?

The 2017 Archdeaconry Synod addressed this question in depth, along with other pressing concerns such as Safeguarding and privacy issues. (This last is vitally important with the new EU legislation on privacy coming into effect in May.) We were privileged to have the Rev. Mike Ireland, one of the authors of the book How to do Mission Action Planning, join us for some in-depth teaching and discussion on effective future planning for our chaplaincies.

Mission Action Planning (MAP) is a tool to help local churches/chaplaincies enable effective growth and change. It begins NOT by rushing ahead with new programs or fundraising initiatives, but with careful ‘inventory taking’ of where the chaplaincy is now and how it came to be there. After this, a process of prayer and discernment is undertaken, leading to a plan for working toward the ministry the chaplaincy is called to enact. In short, MAP is a process to reflect on experience, to develop vision, and to turn vision into action.

Over the past several months the Chaplaincy Council have been discussing the current situation at St. Mary’s, thinking over history, and wondering what the future might hold. In sermons and announcements I have been speaking of the importance of prayer, of listening to God’s direction, and of faithfully ‘stepping out’. Throughout the coming year we will be expanding our use of the MAP program, continuing with reflecting on where we are right now and how we have come to be here, and moving into discernment. We will be giving regular updates on this process AND we will be asking the congregation to join us in a variety of ways, through prayer and participation.

Where do we hope to be at the end of this process? A faithful congregation working in God’s mission. What exactly will that mean? We don’t know! Please ‘stay tuned’ and please pray as we embark on this exciting journey.



Lay Reader’s Report

This year has passed quickly. My health is still not up to par, which I find difficult to accustom myself to as it prevents me from doing what I would like to do in St Mary’s.
In the handbook of the Diocese, the possible job as Reader is described as: “As well as preaching and leading non-eucharistic services, Readers may teach children and adults, prepare people for baptism and confirmation, and lead discussion groups and study courses”.  I am sorry that, at this moment, there is no regular Bible study group, for I would love to support it. Just ask me?   
Most of my work at the moment consists of preparing the monthly Rota for our services and searching on the Internet for the pics on the first page of the pewsheet. I enjoy this work very much as it also helps me to inwardly prepare for the service of the day. 
I have also begun to work on the renewal of the St Mary’s webpage, with the kind and patient help of the webmaster. He is very good at asking questions about St. Mary’s daily work, and it is funny to find then out how much “we as St Mary’s” take for granted, as being known; as an “of course” that is the way it goes. 
It is far from being self-evident, as I realize when the webmaster reasonably asks for clarification on some point, since he does not even ask so much ‘why’ things are done in certain way, but rather how they are done at St Mary’s. His questions sharpen me to be more on the alert to explain and clarify so that most questions need not to be asked for people who are new in coming to St Mary’s. 
Looking back involves for me also looking forward, I can only hope that I  may keep on serving as you Reader for the coming years.

Grada Schadee

Warden’s Report

In fact there is not much to be reported to our parishioners. Last year was one without any hiccups. I have the impression that our vicar Jenni settled well and knows her way around by now. Without exaggeration I think that I can say that she is doing a very good job and is taking it seriously. The sick people in our congregation get her special attention by paying them several visits and praying for them. Being still young herself she is also focusing on the youngsters in our congregation. Not only the toddlers but also the ones in their twenties. It is heartwarming to see that this age group is increasing. For our survival we have to depend on our young generation.

The Christmas Bazaar this year was a great success with a good turnout. We are lucky that the last few years the Theaterschool is helping by providing a nice specious hall for a reasonable price. Last year we even got a second hall without any additional charge! Nevertheless the Chaplaincy Council will discuss in one of its future meetings whether the Bazaar in its current format is still viable or not.

As you know the organ needs a renovation. Specially the bellows need to be replaced. The organ builder promised to start the work after Christmas but up to now no action has been taken. I will chase him to start the job as soon as possible.

I take this opportunity to thank everyone who in one way or another has an active role in the day to day life of the church. So many church members are active behind the scenes but contribute to the smooth running of St. Mary's. We owe them much gratitude.

Finally I want to inform you that this has been my last year as churchwarden. Legally spoken I should have stepped down a year ago as my term was finished.  With special permission of the Archdeacon I could serve for another year now that there was no candidate for this position. I hope that a suitable candidate (or preferably two) will step forward at the AGM. He or she can rely on my full support.

Aad van Elswijk

Treasurer’s Report

Dear all,

One of my former employers always began his annual ‘state of the company’ speech with the words "Dark clouds are gathering," yet his firm's profit always turned out to be more every successive year.

Taking the financial position of our church into account I can easily state, "Dark clouds are gathering" for sadly enough I cannot tell you that we have made a positive financial result during the year 2017.

To the contrary: the money received has been E 11.064 less than the money spent. (During the year 2016 a positive result of E 1.075 could still be booked).

The big difference in results can for the greater part be attributed to the following circumstances:

  • as we have the privilege of having our own priest since the beginning of 2017 (so not sharing a priest with the Mission to Seafarers as has been the case for a long time) we have to pay our priest's stipend in full *;
  • the people of the Catholic Apostolic Church left us in 2017, because they do not accept a female priest. As a consequence we lost their substantial financial contribution to our church.

We still have an amount of approximately 250.000 Euros in the ABNAmro Vermogens Spaarrekening, but this amount will vanish rapidly if the deficit remains unchanged over the coming years.

I think it is our mutual responsibility to prevent this from happening, and so I strongly apply to you on behalf of our church and its community to reconsider your financial contribution.

Nora will be very much willing to inform you about the fiscal possibilities regarding the Free Will Offering scheme, if you do not know about it yet.

With your help I am confident that I will be able to produce a more positive financial message to you next year.

Harry van der Meiden

Freewill Offering (FWO) Report

Dear members of St. Mary’s:

Our Church is entirely self-supporting. We receive no money from the diocese or from other sources. All our income comes from members of the congregation; we are dependent on the financial giving and support of the congregation for the smooth running of our Church.

Your giving enables us to benefit from the services of our Chaplain, the Choir, Organist, Children’s Ministry etc. Keeping up the building, maintenance and paying the bills.

The Church Free Will offering scheme (FWO) currently has 33 active members.

In 2016, 38 members.

Income by Scheme:

  2016 2017
General Fund 23.786,00 25.171,00
Ministry Fund
(own members)
2.550,00 3.730,00
Ministry Fund
(Old Catholics)
10.526,00 3.460,00
Total 36.862,00 32.361,00

These pledges provide a means for the Church to plan its budget. Knowledge of your planned giving is therefore extremely useful to the church in his planning for the year to come. Please can we ask you to consider joining the FWO scheme?

Using the weekly gift envelope or to give regularly through a bank transfer? Your pledge is known only by the F.W.O. secretary. If you need more information, feel free to ask me.

I thank all of you again for your donations to the FWO program and all your support to St. Mary’s.

F.W.O secretary, Nora Reitsma

If you donate by automatic deposit, please consider increasing the amount to keep up with yearly interest rate increases.

Donations Committee Report

The Chaplaincy Council annually reserves a budget for charities. The Donations Committee gathers ideas and information about different good causes, preferably with help of the congregation. After looking into suggestions, the committee recommends charities to the Chaplaincy Council.

In 2017, the congregation was represented at the Donations Committee by Corrie ten Brink, Nora Reitsma and Gera Clarkson. The Chaplaincy Council was represented by Grada Schadee. Harry van der Meiden, as Treasurer, was the ex officio committee member.

The Donations Committee uses the following guidelines for choosing charities:

  1. A registered organisation (or a project from a registered organisation, or organisation closely and provably connected to a registered organisation);
  2. Sustainability, which means that the organisation/project should have a long-term vision;
  3. Proven involvement of the people who execute the project, if in a country outside Europe, involvement of the local people;
  4. If in a country outside Europe, connection to other organisations/projects;
  5. Preferably also some connections to St Mary’s and/or her parishioners.

In 2017 the committee met once and all other communication took place by e-mail.

The annual charity budget of 2017 was €1,000, from the General Fund. The money was equally divided between two organisations. If you want to learn more about these two charities, please find their websites:

Submitted by Gera Clarkson

Havenzicht Report

Once again I am very pleased that this OUTREACH has been a very important part of St. Mary’s ministry to the more less-fortunate souls of our big City of Rotterdam. The monthly retiring collection I take is imperative, enabling me to buy the fruit which is greatly appreciated and needed by the people staying for the night, (passanten), or being nursed in the sick-bay. These ‘vitamines’ are essential to someone who has roamed the streets, in all weathers, for whatever reason – there will always be the down and outcasts of our society, so much more the REASON FOR CARING!!

At the moment there are 22 passanten, the hospital (sick-bay), and in the new Havenzicht there are living quarters for 18 people who will never be able to live without being cared for by trained personnel. These people have their own rooms. I have been doing this ministry for approximately 22 years. Each bag of ‘vitamines’ I make is not only for bodily care but at the same time gives the opportunity of listening to and sharing with their various circumstances in life. Believe you me, I have learned a lot during these years as to how this can happen to anyone, despite creed or position in life! Life can be hard, and if it can be softened with a package of fruit handed out by ‘het fruit vrouwtje’ (the name given to me!) then it is experienced by all as a token that SOMEONE CARES!!

I dearly hope and pray that this outreach will not be neglected when I have to personally take time off later on this Summer due to surgery. As long as the retiring collections can still take place, then I am positive that this can continue. Thanks in advance.

Het fruit vrouwtje, Margaret Powell

Fabric Team Report

The Fabric Team is active throughout the year. With a frequency of approximately twice a month on a Saturday morning it takes care of a variety of small jobs such as :

  • removing candle wax from the carpet floor;
  • repairing broken chairs;
  • replacing broken lamp;
  • placing locks on doors;
  • building up and tearing down the Christmas tree;
  • cleaning the moss-grown tiles in the courtyard and the garden with a high pressure cleaner;
  • bleeding the radiators in the church and the hall;
  • cleaning the gutters with the help of Jos Hilberding who doesn't have fear of heights, and so on, and so on.......

We are always having fun being busy with these jobs and will continue doing them. In case you come across matters which need our attention, please report them to us.

Harry van der Meiden
Aad van Elswijk

The Fabric Team is in need of more members to help with the care and upkeep of our physical plant. If you can donate any time to help in this area, please speak with Harry or Aad.

Children’s Ministry Report

2017: The road from Sunday School to Children ’s Ministry

After many years being a Sunday School teacher, Corrie Vuerhardt left the Sunday School. We owe her a big thank-you! She was a person loved by the children and, as you might have noticed, almost every Sunday present.

During Lent we started with a Lenten garden. The children ’s lesson reflected what was taught in the service. The children provided materials for the Lenten Garden. Esther Hope made clay additons and the teens helped making Butterflys and painted Easter eggs for Palm Sunday. On Easter Sunday you saw the result : a beautiful Garden.

Due to Health concerns I was unable to lead Sunday School for several months and stepped down as full time teacher and coördinator.

Children ’s Ministry is very important to the life of the Church and has always been a priority.  I was still involved in searching together with Rev. Jenni and the parents for a solution to start Children ‘s Ministry again. One idea was a rotational schedule of coverage including parents, me and other volunteers. Sunday School and crèche were still running, not every week, but when it was possible.

Sunday, November 26th a meeting with the parents was organised. We shared possibility, wishes, problems, planning, and Safegarding information. 

On December 7th Jenni wrote:

“Dear Parents:

As many of you know, our Children ‘s ministry has taken a few hits over the past few months due to ill health and other unfortunate circumstances. However, I  have some good news now wich I am excited to share! We have a new team of dedicated people who are focusing on ministry with children at St. Mary, s (Nora, Sunil & Amber, Hendrik & Mavis) and we have come up with a plan for moving ahead with a re-boot of the children ‘s progamming at St Mary’s.”

Children ’s Ministry started with:

Children’s Church Dec. 10th.  Advent lesson and activity. That Sunday we had 9 children and thanks to Louise v.d. Vlies and Mavis Klaver enough hands to do the activity, learning a song and be part of the service.

Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24th, 16.00. The service was short and completely child-friendly. Reverend Dennis and Reverend Jenni were leading the service. The children were sitting in front of the Christmas Stable. Using little Christmas Bells, singing and enjoying the story. We adults enjoyed the scene.

The Children ’s Ministry has started and hopefully will continue for a long time. I would like to thank our Minister for all her hard work to get things going and the parents for their willingness to help.

Nora Reitsma

Flower Rota Report

As in previous years, I would like to thank everyone presently on the flower rota for all their help in the providing and arranging of the Altar flowers. All seems to have gone smoothly, the flowers were lovely and the old and sick were very thankful for the bouquets I take round each Sunday to a nursing home in Rotterdam. This is a part of SHARING and giving pleasure to the lonely on the usually quiet Sunday afternoon, less personnel, no activities, etc. My arranging of the flowers acts as a kind of therapy for these people, at the same time also cheering up the room and making things brighter!  Thus, our Altar flowers have a dual purpose.

There are still GAPS in the rota due to various changes in our congregation, so any volunteers would be greatly appreciated. However, I wish to mention that due to coming surgery, I shall be forced to lay down this activity, for how long I do not know!! Hopefully at some time I can resume.   Meanwhile, SOMEBODY will have to take over.  We oldies endeavour to keep on going, but sometimes, one has to depend on others taking over!!  So, any volunteers?

Floral greetings,


Seniors Ministry Report

St. Mary’s Church is the only Anglican Church in Rotterdam. A Church with a lot of history, memories and spécial people. I do not mean Princess Anne, Duchess of York, Queen Beatrix, Bishops, Minister etc., but the Seniors of St. Mary’s.

The Seniors from our congreation are experts in knowing our Church history and I am sure they can tell us a lot of stories. Many of them are long-standing congreation members and are a good example of full commitment to the Church.

It is not always possible for some of our Seniors to come every Sunday for worship, so the Senior Services give them a opportunity of still being a member of our congreation. Let us not forget the Church is crucial in a person’s life whether young or old. The services are lead by Reverend Jenni and our Organiste Sabine. We provide a lunch. This is usual a happening with a lot of laughter. We share news, memories and a good meal.

Every lunch has a theme:

February *Real story behind Valentine’s day*

Do you know that we have a “Valentinuskapelletje” close to Valkenswaard?

June *High Tea*

Every thing was home made and fresh by Syl and Ina.

September *Harvest Festival*

Everyone brought their own soup bowl and this was filled with homemade soup. The Pompoenen soep made by Harrie v.d. Meiden was great.

December *Carol Service*

This came with a Christmas lottery. We sang Christmas Carols and there was lots of time to talk.

On 20th April 2017 Jean Soetebier passed away at the age of 92. She was a special lady. We are very grateful that she was among us for so many years. We always enjoyed her compagny, her warmth, and kindness. Here are some of her activities: Reader, dedicated Choir member, leading Bible studies at her home. Played the organ in Church and at the Mission. Running a cake stall during the Christmas bazaars with her Christmas cakes. She was a cheerful and music-loving person. We miss you.

Nora Reitsma

Electoral Roll Report

The electoral roll is the foundation of the structure of synodical government in the church.  It contains the names and addresses of everyone who can vote at the Annual Church Meeting.

In 2017 the electoral roll was revised and 86 names were on the roll.  During the revision period in 2018, four names were removed and seven names were added.

The revision of the electoral roll was completed on 1st of April 2018 and the roll now contains 89 names.

Gera Clarkson
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