Minutes of AGM March 2019

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of Shropshire Churches Tourism Group

Meole Brace Church Shrewsbury 7 th March 2019

The meeting was opened by the Chair Anne Pilsbury and she welcomed all present.

1. .Apologies were received from Mo Smith, Andrew Pike, Sue Gittins and Alan Venables

2. Minutes of the AGM of 19 April 2018 were tabled for approval. They were approved and signed

3. No matters arising

4. Chair’s Report is below.

5. Treasurers report was tabled, accepted and approved

6. Election of Officers. The secretary took over from the Chair who stood down until formally re-elected Proposer Kevin Evans, Seconded Peter Evans.

Secretary was re-elected Prop Fiona Pearson, Seconded Wendy Coombey and Treasurer was also re-elected Prop Chris Tinker, Sec Fiona Pearson.

Committee were re-elected as all had agreed to stand again Prop Amanda Bevan Sec Peter Evans.

A plea was made for anyone who would like to join the committee. No-one responded but anyone who thought about it could speak to a Committee member after the event as Secondment was possible.

Those present were reminded to take the NEW brochures for their churches home with them at the end of the meeting.

The Speaker was introduced – The Right Reverend Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield.

The Bishop gave an encouraging speech wondering why all churches were not members and making it clear that our buildings stood for 3 things: the reach to our past and our history while looking to our future ; the link between each other as no church is isolated and offer a pilgrimage of hope between buildings; as a witness to God visible on our skyline pointing out that sometimes their best evangelists were the buildings but ensuring they were well presented, welcoming and most crucial of all that they were OPEN. Getting people through the door was vital to our Mission and SCTG played a vital role in that.

The Bishop took a couple of questions before being thanked for his encouraging presence.

New Tourism Project – update from Wendy Coombey (SCTG Committee)

Discussions in Herefordshire Churches Tourism Group (HCTG) had brought people to a feeling of “bumping along but not expanding and not engaging with the general tourism sector. After discussion with SCTG and other interested organisations it was agreed t6o pull together a Tourism Project, managed by reps from the partners and financially managed through HCTG who would be the lead organisation. A Heritage Lottery application has passed the first hurdle in the process and we are waiting to hear this month (March 2019) whether it has succeeded in the second. It would fund:

  • Post holder working with Tourism Groups

  • Telling our church stories effectively

  • Demonstrating with new forms of technology that if we engage more widely we can become more sustainable buildings.

  • We must engage and run pilot projects in volunteer churches

To this end training in new technology (eg contactless payment devices), engage in Social Media with Training in setting up Facebook pages and Instagram etc will be open to all member churches whether pilots or not.

Another aspect is working with the Church Conservation Trust (CCT and one of the partner groups) in the development of Camping pods inside open churches in very rural areas.

We will know by the end of March whether we have been successful.

Questions were asked about contactless payments security, digital interpretation, whether drones can be  useful, Facebook can create a new congregation.

Survey of member churches

The SCTG Executive Committee had distributed at the AGM, a short survey to inform them of where churches were with welcoming visitors. It was for information only but will help inform us when choosing pilots for the project above.

The meeting ended at 3.30pm with attendees taking the new brochure home with them.

1.I’ll start with a quotation from the bishop of Gloucester.
'It is estimated that over 80% of the population visit a church for some reason each year. Of these,
over 20% are simply seeking a quiet place in which to pause, reflect or pray.'
Our aims are firstly to get them through the door, then to encourage churches to welcome
these visitors and give them a positive experience.
2.Since the last new brochure we have had 13 New members. 5 members have not renewed. We now have100 counting one church which takes care of a tiny unspoilt Norman chapel..
3.Last April we organised a Coach trip. This wasn’t simply a jolly outing, although it was
that too. It was a chance to see what other people do in terms of welcoming visitors. We went
first to Stokesay castle and then in Stokesay church we had a talk from the castle’s tourism
officer. We went on to St Cuthbert’s at Clungunford, Clun where we visited the little chapel
at Trinity Hospital,.and Clun church, then Bishop’s Castle where we visited the Town Hall,
and the church. Our own expert guide was Andrew Pike. There will be another coach trip
later this year, so look out for that. 
4. Another thing we did was sponsor a tree at St Chad’s Christmas Tree festival. This was a
way of supporting one of our member churches in a great charity effort. We also advertised
ourselves, as visitors took our brochures away. They have around 10,000 visitors each year
and it’s quite spectacular to see.
5. Wearing my other hat as Website manager;. Every member church has a page on our
website, and every page been improved this year. Please look at your church’s page and let
me know if you want to change or add anything. Plenty of room for lots of pictures and
information. We also advertise coming events, such as a concert at the Abbey this month.
HOW MANY AND WHAT CHURCH OR CHURCHES. This saves a lot of work later.

Anne  Pilsbury, Chair, SCTG