Parish Council Meeting Monday 18th May 2020 (By Zoom)
Present – Gerald Melvin, Marie-Jo Brown, Evelyn Coyle, Gerry Higgins, Margaret Morrison, George Smith, Mary McCulloch, Chiya Steytler, Father John, Harry Tunstead, Máire Dobbin, Martin Hagen
1. Opening Prayer
2. Financial Situation: MJB opened the discussion around the current financial situation by referring to correspondence provided to the group by email, relating to the Parish Income Drive suggested by the Diocese. There was discussion surrounding the proposal and a co-ordinated, sensitive approach between both St James’ and St Columba’s. GS asked about the funds paid into the diocese, FR JOHN explained about the Building Fund and when funds are made available from this.FR JOHN explained that he didn’t want to put any parishioner’s under any financial pressure, people circumstances may have changed.He wants to keep people safe and doesn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, he advised the group that the number of standing orders was going up.There was discussion surrounding the online portal and it was agreed this seemed like a good idea.There were a number of concerns raised around some of the ideas.MJB suggested that if envelopes are sent out to people, they may feel obliged to return them to the parish house when they wouldn’t otherwise be going out. MMcC raised concerns about money being held in the house and the need for this to be banked. FR JOHN has drafted a letter to parishioners, which was read to the group. It was agreed this personal letter from FR JOHN was preferable to the letter from the Bishop. There was discussion surrounding the various methods of making a donation, using the charity portal, paypal and the charges these may incur.It was agreed it would be better if people could by direct debit/standing order.FR JOHN agreed to add the bank details to the parish website to allow people to set up standing orders, if they wish to do so. FR JOHN advised the group he had made a payment to SCIAF on behalf of the Parish as it was not possible for people to return their wee boxes at the moment. MH enquired as to the situation with SVDP. GH updated that food parcels were still being distributed weekly but that numbers had dropped, but they do have some money in reserve. FR JOHN advised the Parish would assist with finance if required.
3. Reopening of the Church: MJB asked when we are allowed to reopen the Church, how could we do this and be safe? MMcC thought there would be government guidance issued to assist with reopening. FR JOHN advised that the Church would probably be opened for private prayer in the first instance. It was agreed that the people who will be most keen to return to Church will be those that are the most vulnerable. There some discussion around the practicality of reopening, it was suggested that pews could be removed or rows closed off to maintain social distancing. A one way system would need to be put in place; people could enter through the front door and leave by the side entrance.Having stewards in the church to direct people was also suggested. GH suggested using the parish hall; FR JOHN agreed we could set chairs up in the hall and rotate the chairs out, as the virus dies on surfaces after 7days. There was discussion around the need to clean and sanitise the church and who would be able to do this, most of the current volunteers are retirees and therefore amongst the most vulnerable.FR JOHN advised that it would be unlikely we would be able to reopen if we do not have volunteers in place to clean the church. FR JOHN advised that live streaming of mass would continue as people will be reluctant to come out even when restrictions are lifted, live streaming of mass will become a permanent feature. There was some discussion around what was happening in other countries as regulations were relaxed and what we could learn from those countries, for example in Spain people are allowed out in age groups is that something we could consider? It was agreed that anyone attending the church would have accept some personal responsibility and respect social distancing rules so that everyone would feel safe.
4. AOB: GS advised the group that he offered his resignation from the Pastoral Council to FR JOHN and this had been accepted. EC advised that she had also offered her resignation to FR JOHN and this had been accepted. FR JOHN thanked them both for their contribution and noted they had agreed to remain until the end of lockdown. FR JOHN thanked HT for attending on behalf of St Columba’s Pastoral Council as it’s important that we have a joint approach to the matters discussed this evening.MJB will attend the St Columba’s Pastoral Council on behalf of St James’. The Pastoral Council all wished GS a happy birthday.
5. Date of Next Meeting: Monday 15th June 7.30pm
6. Closing Prayer