Church attendance

One of the little tasks I seem to have ended up with is compiling figures for the annual statistical return to the diocese from our parish.

I have just finished processing the data for Valley Church Centre, Elmdon. Whilst I try not to get too obsessed with the figures, there is some good news – average weekly attendance is up, from 17.7 in 2007 to 18.5 in 2008!

The bad news – leaving out one special and very atypical service (at the end of the children’s summer holiday club) the total attendance by under-16s in 2008 was 2. Not an average of 2 for each service: 2 in total for the whole year.


WordPress 2.5

Fr. Gareth asks asks how people are finding the new and shiny WordPress 2.5. Basically I like it. I’ve managed to find everything I need so far. The new Media Library thingy and the the “Add media” buttons in the editor are a big plus. The visual editor feels rather more solid than before.

I duly upgraded The Parish of Elmdon. In fact, I decided to be very brave and used the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin to do the needful. A few minutes later everything was shiny and new, and (so far as I have been able to tell so far…) working just fine.

For the record, the parish site is currently using the following plugins:

  • Add meta tags 1.6
  • Akismet 2.1.4
  • cformsII 8.02
  • FAlbum 0.7.1
  • FeedBurner FeedSmith 2.3
  • Flickr Manager 1.5.5
  • My own Forthcoming Events widget
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • iCal Events 1.12
  • WordPress Admin Bar 2.0.5
  • WordPress Automatic Upgrade 1.1

which is more than enough for one site.

    Things I learned at the weekend

    • “Mothering Sunday” is an anagram of “unorganised myth”.
    • Our new 1:4 VGA distribution amplifier requires a male-to-female lead to connect it to the laptop, rather than the more common male-to-male lead.
    • It is a good idea to bring all possible computer leads to church, to make sure you have the right one to hand when you find that your new toy requires the opposite gender of connector to the one you expected (see above).
    • You can get from church to our house and back in around 10 minutes.
    • It is a good idea to make sure you know exactly when in the service a particular media item is required on the projector screen.
    • Getting things out of the cupboard in the vestry is easy. Getting them back in is harder.
    • The tie clip for the lapel microphone was not, in fact, still attached to my jacket following last week’s sermon.
    • It is hard to find lapel microphone tie clips when they are lost in a tangle of purple rope (such as that used for lowering a casket of ashes into a hole in the churchyard). But it is good to persevere.

    Another year is dawning

    In my youth, at Lisburn Cathedral, we always seemed to sing Frances Havergal’s hymn “Another year is dawning” on the first Sunday of the new year. I picked it as the last hymn for Sunday 30th December – not quite in the new year, but it fitted in well with the theme of the service. Following the old Lisburn Cathedral tradition we sang it to the tune Knecht (better known as the tune for “O happy band of pilgrims“).

    On Friday, one of the stalward members of Elmdon Church died, “full of years”. He had been at church the previous Sunday, as usual, as he had been for many years. The last verse of the last hymn that he sang in church was this:

    Another year is dawning,
    dear Master, let it be,
    on earth, or else in heaven,
    another year with thee.

    Leading worship … with the Bishop present

    Very odd leading worship last night at Deanery Synod. Now, it’s something I have done before; I was well prepared; I was even smartly dressed. (No robes but a nice shirt and tie.)

    The thing that made it that bit different was that our visiting speaker, Bishop David, was sitting in the front row. (He delivered a first-rate talk, by the way.) Why should that make a difference? Surely our worship is something for us to bring to God, something between us alone? Any yet it did feel rather odd, especially as a layperson leading worship in the presence of so many deacons, presbyters and bishops.

    Anyhow, we worshipped God together, and I guess that’s what matters.

    The smell of fish

    Our house smells of fish. This is my fault.

    Today was Harvest Thankgiving at St. Stephen’s and yours truly got to preach. We decided to switch the reading to John 6:1-13 – the feeding of the five thousand – after seeing the wonderful harvest loaf that was very kindly made for us by students at Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies, depicting the five loaves and two fish.

    It occurred to me that I had rarely if ever seen a preacher use real fish as visual aids when preaching on this passage and, as this was an all-age type service, decided that something had to be done about this. Five mini mince pies and two fillets of rainbow trout. Now I know why most people use cardboard fish!

    Coffee-haters unite

    I dislike coffee. So, it turns out, does famous blogger Tim Challies. (BTW you too can learn how to become a famous blogger.)

    The thing is, at Valley Church Centre (where I go from time to time to take services) they only serve coffee after the services. Once, I happened to mention in my sermon that I don’t like coffee. That Sunday, I was offered tea. Subsequently, coffee again. I am going there again on 25th November (Christ the King) so this is a chance to see if anyone at Valley reads this blog. (Pretty unlikely.)

    A certain good friend (who may be reading, who knows?) apparently told his new colleagues, on his first day in post, “Oh no, I don’t like coffee – it doesn’t taste like tea”. I always knew he was a sensible chap.